The Courting of Marvin Clark

Inside the pursuit of a high school basketball star:

The day after Mr. Clark returned from Iowa State, Mr. Weber arranged floor seats for him and four of his teammates for the Wildcats’ game that night against Kansas, which was then ranked No. 1 in the country. When Kansas State pulled off an overtime upset, Mr. Clark was there to rush the floor with the fans.

Kansas State’s coaches brought him into the locker room to enjoy the celebration. One coach later texted, “That could be you on that floor next year!!”

Published: Jun 1, 2014
Length: 21 minutes (5,402 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)

The Gates Effect

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is spending millions to change the way we think about higher education. It includes potential changes on how students receive federal aid, and projects that aim to deliver a college degree that costs no more than $5,000 a year. But is it a good thing—and what really needs fixing?

“In higher education, many leaders and faculty members voice concerns about the Gates foundation’s growing and disproportionate impact. Many private-college presidents, in particular, feel shut out of discussions about reform. Yet few of those critics speak out in public, and some higher-education leaders, researchers, and lobbyists were reluctant to talk on the record for this article. The reason? They didn’t want to scotch their chances of winning Gates grants.”

Published: Jul 16, 2013
Length: 21 minutes (5,252 words)

‘I Will Ruin Him’

A writer is stalked by his former M.F.A. student:

“Soon after that first volley, Janice (my agent) called, sounding upset. For several days, she had been receiving strange e-mails about me from Nasreen, and she was concerned for her safety. The e-mails contained the same baseless accusations of plagiarism, accompanied by threats of ‘hell to pay’ if Janice and I connived to ‘steal’ any more of Nasreen’s work. Later that day, Nasreen began threatening Paula, the editor to whom Janice had introduced Nasreen.

“‘You all play a part in unleashing the fury,’ Nasreen wrote. Soon after, with this ‘fury’ now apparently reaching for terms strong enough to account for its own escalating intensity, Nasreen brought on one of those words that scorch everything they come near. The word was ‘rape,’ and even though she used it figuratively rather than literally, I felt immediately the potency of its touch, as if I’d been splashed with acid: ‘I say if I can’t write my book and get emotionally and verbally raped by James Lasdun, a Jew disguising himself as an English-American, well then, the Holocaust Industry Books should all be banned as should the films.'”

Published: Jan 21, 2013
Length: 21 minutes (5,252 words)

The Education of Dasmine Cathey

How a semiliterate University of Memphis football player educated himself while facing countless obstacles:

You can’t hide for long in college when you’re semiliterate. But somehow Mr. Cathey slipped through his freshman year with just under a C average, taking classes like elementary algebra and music appreciation. Then he saw the syllabus for HIST 2010: U.S. to 1877, his sophomore history class. How would he ever finish five books in four months?

He knew there was only one way: He had to go back to the beginning.

After practice every night, he would close the door to his room in the Carpenter Complex, reach under his bed, and pull out his 10 learn-to-read books. Twenty minutes, he thought, looking down at his watch. I’ve got to beat 20.

Published: Jun 3, 2012
Length: 23 minutes (5,986 words)

Bloodlust: Why We Should Fear Our Neighbors More than Strangers

Civil wars are generally more savage, and bear more lasting consequences, than wars between countries. Many more people died in the American Civil War—at a time when the population was a tenth of what it is today—than in any other American conflict, and its long-term effects probably surpass those of the others. Major bloodlettings of the 20th century—hundreds of thousands to millions of deaths—occurred in civil wars such as the Russian Civil War, the Chinese Civil Wars of 1927-37 and 1945-49, and the Spanish Civil War. More Russian lives were lost in the Russian Civil War that followed World War I than in the Great War itself, for instance.

Published: Mar 27, 2011
Length: 11 minutes (2,974 words)

The Shadow Scholar

You’ve never heard of me, but there’s a good chance that you’ve read some of my work. I’m a hired gun, a doctor of everything, an academic mercenary. My customers are your students. I promise you that. Somebody in your classroom uses a service that you can’t detect, that you can’t defend against, that you may not even know exists. I work at an online company that generates tens of thousands of dollars a month by creating original essays based on specific instructions provided by cheating students.

Author: Ed Dante
Published: Nov 12, 2010
Length: 13 minutes (3,477 words)

The Pleasures of Imagination

While reality has its special allure, the imaginative techniques of books, plays, movies, and television have their own power. The good thing is that we do not have to choose.

Author: Paul Bloom
Published: May 30, 2010
Length: 11 minutes (2,759 words)

Faux Friendship

William Deresiewicz discusses the shaky future of friendship.

Published: Dec 6, 2009
Length: 14 minutes (3,502 words)

We Are All Madoffs

Our relationship to the natural world is a Ponzi scheme

Published: Aug 31, 2009
Length: 8 minutes (2,140 words)