What the Heck Is a Human Being Anyway?

Cancer Researcher Siddhartha Mukherjee and ASU President Michael Crow on the Questions Posed by Cutting-Edge Genetics

Near the end of a wide-ranging conversation about the complexity of the human genome and the history and future of genetics, Arizona State University President Michael Crow noted the almost inconceivably large number—“10 to the 14th” power—of microorganisms in our bodies. And then he turned to cancer researcher Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, and posed what Crow called “a complicated question.”

“What the hell are we?”

Crow and Mukherjee, author of the new book The Gene: An Intimate History and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, already had …

In Medicine, Dying Doesn’t Have to Be a Struggle

Options, Not Treatment, May Be What’s Most Needed at the End of Life

Grandma’s dying.

She lived a full life, but illness is getting the best of her. Could be days, could be weeks, the doctors say—unless, that is, she tries one particular treatment. …

Has Modern Medicine Made Dying Harder Than Ever?

Hospitals Have Gotten Better at Keeping Us Alive, But That Also Means Thornier Questions at the End of Life

In his 2010 New Yorker essay “Letting Go,” surgeon Atul Gawande stops by the intensive care unit at his hospital and describes the sad state of its patients at the …

When California Sterilized 20,000 of Its Citizens

The Golden State Was the Most Aggressive in the Country in Deeming the ‘Feebleminded’ and ‘Deviant’ Unfit to Reproduce

Not too long ago, more than 60,000 people were sterilized in the United States based on eugenic laws. Most of these operations were performed before the 1960s in institutions for …

The Movie the Mother of a Journalist and a Priest Can’t Bear to Watch

Cheering the Crusading Reporters in ‘Spotlight’ Felt Like Giving Up on the Catholic Church

If your son is a priest and your daughter a journalist, Spotlight is a jarring movie.

There are journalists and lawyers aplenty in this recently released movie about The Boston …

Why Can’t NBC Call Brian Williams a Liar?

TV News Networks May Be Betting That Viewers Have Simply Grown Accustomed to Exaggeration

Critics and social media commentators have picked apart Matt Lauer’s nine-minute Today Show interview with disgraced news anchor Brian Williams, making much of its “mistakes were made,” less-than-apologetic tone. What …