What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

There seems be an attractive quality to things that are ostensibly unhealthy or dangerous. Alisusha/Shutterstock.com Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending. And how many…

The bizarre phenomenon of vacation surprise videos

Sometimes the reaction doesn’t go as planned. Lily & Chloe Official/YouTube Parents have long surprised their kids with a family vacation. However, the practice of parents recording their kids’ reactions – and then sharing them…

Why does it feel good to see someone fail?

To feel a pang of pleasure at the misfortune of others is to be human. VixCompaNi/Shutterstock.com In the Pixar animated film “Inside Out,” most of the plot plays out inside protagonist Riley’s head, where five…

The rise of modern loneliness: 4 essential reads

‘The Dog’ (1820-1823) by Francisco Goya. Museo del Prado Editor’s note: As we come to the end of the year, Conversation editors take a look back at the stories that – for them – exemplified…

The humble origins of ‘Silent Night’

This undated score, written by Joseph Mohr and titled ‘Weynachts Lied’ (‘Christmas Carol’), is the earliest known surviving copy of ‘Silent Night.’ Salzburg Museum One of the world’s most famous Christmas carols, “Silent Night,” celebrates…

In ‘Mary Poppins Returns,’ an ode to the gas lamp

Lin-Manuel Miranda plays Jack, a lamplighter, in the sequel to the original 1964 film. Disney “Mary Poppins Returns” transports audiences back to 1930s London. The beloved nanny at the center of the original 1964 hit…

How stereo was first sold to a skeptical public

Record companies released stereo demonstration albums that showcased how sound could move from left to right, creating a sense of movement. From the collection of Janet Borgerson and Jonathan Schroeder, Author provided When we hear…