Jared Diamond: ‘150,000 years ago, humans wouldn’t figure on a list of the five most interesting species on Earth’

The bestselling biogeographer talks to Oliver Burkeman about dealing with the critics who condemn him as a cultural imperialist

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Electrodes, brain games and diet supplements -- billion-dollar industry wants to make you 'smarter'

What happens when you attach several electrodes to your forehead, connect them via wires to a nine-volt battery and resistor, ramp up the current and send an electrical charge directly into your brain? Most people would be content just to guess, but last summer a 33-year-old from Alabama named Anthony Lee decided to find out. "Here we go… oooahh, that stings a little!" he says, in one of the YouTube videos recording his exploits.

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Pedalling myths: The anti-bike lobby is flat out of plausible arguments

Oliver Burkeman: With the 'bikelash' reduced to incoherent rants, pro-car common sense is losing traction. Allow me to ride to the rescue

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Why the 2012 campaign 'optics' really don't look good

Are there any bits of American campaign jargon more annoying than the word "optics"?

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How Google and Apple's smartphone mapping technology is mapping us

Digital maps on smartphones are brilliantly useful tools, but what sort of information do they gather about us – and how do they shape the way we look at the world?

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Oxytocin scientist studies what makes humans good and evil

The American academic Paul Zak is renowned among his colleagues for two things that he does to people disconcertingly soon after meeting them. The first is hugging: seeing me approach across the library of his club, in midtown Manhattan, New York, he springs to his feet, ignoring my outstretched hand, and enfolds me in his arms. The second is sticking needles in their arms to draw blood.

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