Madness and the Muse

Much has been made of the link between creativity and mental illness—but is it a fiction?

Published: Sep 19, 2014
Length: 11 minutes (2,905 words)

The Search for Psychology’s Lost Boy

In 2009 the decades-old mystery of ‘Little Albert’ was finally solved. Or was it?

In the following scene, the rat returns. The baby cries, attempts to crawl away. The rabbit and the monkey also return, along with a different dog, and the baby cries each time—even without the loud noise. The once-placid infant is now a wailing wreck.

The grainy, black-and-white footage, filmed in 1919 and 1920, documents what has become a classic psychology experiment, described again and again in articles and books. The idea is that the baby was conditioned to be afraid, instilled with a phobia of all things furry.

Published: Jun 1, 2014
Length: 19 minutes (4,990 words)

A Year After the Non-Apocalypse: Where Are They Now?

Radio broadcaster Harold Camping predicted the world would end on May 21, 2011. It didn’t. A look at what happened to some of Camping’s followers:

“I was struck by how some believers edited the past in order to avoid acknowledging that they had been mistaken. The engineer in his mid-twenties, the one who told me this was a prophecy rather than a prediction, maintained that he had never claimed to be certain about May 21. When I read him the transcript of our previous interview, he seemed genuinely surprised that those words had come out of his mouth. It was as if we were discussing a dream he couldn’t quite remember.

Other believers had no trouble recalling what they now viewed as an enormous embarrassment. Once October came and went without incident, the father of three was finished. ‘After October 22, I said “You know what? I think I was part of a cult,”‘ he told me. His main concern was how his sons, who were old enough to understand what was going on, would deal with everything: ‘My wife and I joke that when my kids get older they’re going to say that we’re the crazy parents who believed the world was going to end.'”

Published: May 18, 2012
Length: 11 minutes (2,809 words)

How Do You Explain Gene Weingarten?

You might wonder why the best writer in American journalism would have fake poop as his Twitter icon. Or spend an inordinate amount of time making prank phone calls. Or concern himself with monkey sex, fake sneezes, or bacon taped to cats. As he once put it in a column, “I mostly write about underpants.”

Weingarten is not a horrible person, but there may be something wrong with him.

Source: Washingtonian
Published: Dec 5, 2011
Length: 21 minutes (5,318 words)