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30 December 2015

Best of the NS in 2015: Science, Technology and History

Our best pieces from the past year. In this selection, our favourite writing about science, technology and history.

By New Statesman

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The Wikipedia wars: does it matter if our biggest source of knowledge is written by men?

By Jenny Kleeman

Wikipedia is the world’s most popular encyclopaedia, a collaborative utopia. But only one in every ten of its editors is a woman.

Before we give doors and toasters sentience, we should decide what we’re comfortable with first

By Ian Steadman

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It’s becoming more and more common for everyday appliances to have features we don’t expect, and the implications for privacy and freedom can be surprisingly profound. We should be sure we know what we’re buying into.

The echo chamber of social media is luring the left into cosy delusion and dangerous insularity

By Helen Lewis

News on Facebook travels through “Likes” and shares, and people won’t Like a crackdown on benefits, even if they secretly support it.

The patient in the spider’s web

By Caroline Crampton

In Sweden, Josefsson says, the idea that people with repressed memories of abuse could be helped was “an idea that belonged to the left wing”.

Unfair game: why are Britain’s birds of prey being killed?

By Mark Cocker

Are gamekeepers killing off Britain’s raptors? It’s a question that gets to the heart of our right to privacy – and to roam.

Records, books and handwritten notes: the rise of low tech

By Barbara Speed

When new technologies emerge, the old ones are meant to fall by the wayside – but sometimes, they manage to rise from the ashes. 

Martha hadn’t let anyone touch her for years and she wasn’t about to start now

By Phil Whitaker

A history of sexual assault prevented Martha from seeking an examination from a gynaecologist.

What’s wrong with older mothers? Nothing. Time to dispel the “fertility cliff” myth

By Tosin Thompson

We read between the lines of newspapers’ scare stories about infertility and “late” pregnancy to find the science doesn’t back them up at all.

Are you one of Twitter’s millions of ghost users? This could be why

By Barbara Speed

Over two thirds of Twitter users are inactive. Could a swathe of new features bring them back to life?

The British monarchy, in pie charts

By Jonn Elledge

Elizabeth II is 7 per cent of English history since the Conquest, fact fans.

The Conservatives’ rhetoric around data surveillance should frighten you

By Barbara Speed

Don’t let the Home Office mislead you: privacy and security aren’t mutually exclusive.

Guy Fawkes wasn’t a freedom fighter. He was a religious terrorist, and not even one of the good ones

By Jonn Elledge

The Jacobean equivalent of one of the minor characters from Four Lions.

Why is it so shameful to cry in public?

By Eleanor Margolis

I’ve been a grown-up public crier pretty much since reaching adulthood. But it hasn’t got any easier.

Dogs can be an unnerving presence on home visits – all dogs, except Hector

By Phil Whitaker

An exception to this doctor’s no-dogs rule was Hector, a white miniature poodle belonging to Gordon and Irene Ives.

Technology isn’t ruining modern dating – humans are

By Barbara Speed

Dating apps don’t change what we want, they just gives us better access to it.

Who owns the future? How the prophets of Silicon Valley took control

By Yuval Harari

In an era when politics is bereft of grand visions, bioengineers and Silicon Valley tech geeks are claiming the mantle of leadership and prophecy. But what do they want and where are they leading us?

The six wives of Henry VIII, in pie chart form

By Jonn Elledge

Not all wives are created equal.