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The Perils of Puffery

Nicholas Mason

The Perils of Puffery
No such thing as bad publicity: "A London Street Scene" by John Orlando Parry. (Credit: Alfred Dunhill Museum and Archive)
The use and abuse of “astroturfing” in on-line reviews is a reality in the digital world, but its roots go back to the dawn of modern literature.
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About The Author:

Nicholas Mason is Associate Professor of English at Brigham Young University. He is the author of Literary Advertising and the Shaping of British Romanticism (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).

The Tangled Roots of Polarization

David C.W. Parker

The Tangled Roots of Polarization
Tea Party Rally in Boston, April 2013. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
In the aftermath of the government shutdown, it is time to look at the drivers of our political differences.
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About The Author:

David C. W. Parker is Associate Professor of Political Science at Montana State University. He blogs at Big Sky Politics and is the author of The Power of Money in Congressional Campaigns, 1880-2006 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2008)..

Childhood Intervention and Earnings

Andrew Gelman

Childhood Intervention and Earnings
An intervention from the top: Michelle Obama talks to Head Start students, May, 2010, in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
How much do we trust a new claim that early childhood stimulation raised earnings by 42%?
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Andrew Gelman is Professor of Statistics and Political Science and Director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University. You can follow him on his blog as well as on The Monkey Cage.

The Changing Face of Violence

Joel F. Harrington

The Changing Face of Violence
How far have we come? Execution of a corrupt finance minister and thieving youth in Augsburg, 1579. (Credit: Zentralbibliothek Zurich)
A debate has kicked off among scholars on whether we have become inherently more peaceful. A more important question is whether we actually understand the many forms violence takes.
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Joel F. Harrington is Professor of History at Vanderbilt University and author of The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013).

Why Central Bank Transparency May Be Overrated

Brigitte Granville

Why Central Bank Transparency May Be Overrated
Can we talk? Ben Bernanke, Janet Yellen, Timothy Geithner, and Gary Gensler at a Financial Stability Oversight Council meeting, March 17, 2011. (Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Be it ever so brilliant, communication in monetary policy is no panacea in today’s world of slow growth, high debt, and fiscal policy uncertainty.
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Brigitte Granville is Professor of International Economics and Economic Policy at the School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University, London. Her most recent book is Remembering Inflation (Princeton University Press, 2013).

A Grand Illusion

Euny Hong

A Grand Illusion
Members only: In the first row, Paul Nizan (second from left) and Jean-Paul Sartre (fourth from left) among the first-year students, Ecole normale superieure, 1922 (Photo by Apic/Getty Images)
How the top French schools remain incubators for the elites despite the nation’s ostensibly egalitarian politics.
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About The Author:

Euny Hong is a New York-based journalist and author, previously with The Financial Times and France 24. Her new book, Welcome to the Future: South Korea’s Plan to Own the World’s Pop Culture, will be published by Picador Books in early 2014. You can follow her on Twitter @euny.

Merkel’s Victory, Or How All Politics Is Local

Kai Arzheimer

Merkel’s Victory, Or How All Politics Is Local
Angela Merkel savors her victory on election night, September 22, 2013. (Marcus Brandt/AFP/Getty Images)
An unspoken consensus across Europe to avoid upsetting anything ahead of the German election did just that: Europe hardly featured in the campaign.
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About The Author:

Kai Arzheimer is Professor of Political Science at the University of Mainz, Germany, and a visiting fellow in the Department of Government, University of Essex, U.K. You can read his blog here and follow him on Twitter @kai_arzheimer.

The Professor as Digital Native

Interview with Mary Beard

The Professor as Digital Native
Professor Mary Beard. (Photo credit: Robin Cormack)
Cambridge Professor Mary Beard has legions of followers on Twitter and has been blogging for more than eight years for the TLS. In September, Symposium Magazine sat down with her as she was traveling through Washington, D.C.
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About The Author:

Mary Beard is Professor of Classics at Newnham College, University of Cambridge, as well as classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement, where she writes the popular blog, A Don’s Life. You can follow her on Twitter @wmarybeard.

When Does Digital Activism Pack a Punch?

Philip N. Howard

When Does Digital Activism Pack a Punch?
Egyptian activists check Twitter updates on eve of elections, Cairo, November 2011. (Photo by Kim Badawi/Getty Images)
A new project is collecting data to offer insights from digital campaigns around the world.
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About The Author:

Philip N. Howard is Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington and the School of Public Policy at the Central European University. You can follow him on his blog and on Twitter @pnhoward.