Ellen Ruppel Shell

Ellen Ruppel Shell is a professor and science journalist who teaches at Boston University. She is the author most recently of Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. More

Atlantic contributing editor Ellen Ruppel Shell teaches at Boston University, where she co-directs the Graduate Program in Science Journalism. She writes on science, medicine, the media, economics, and sometimes even sports and the arts, and tends to focus on the underlying cultural and societal implications. She is the author most recently of Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture.
  • Grade Point Average Tyranny

    An opinion piece I wrote on the tyranny of the grade point average in last Sunday's Boston Globe prompted a surprisingly supportive…

  • Diaspora

    Writer Jeremy Miller reminded me this morning that "we are in an unprecedented age of migration and slum building.... The U.N. projects that over the…

  • Cone Snails and Copenhagen

    The U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen was characterized by the Guardian as a "sad tribute to collective failure." The Guardian also pointed…

  • Swedish Meatballs

    Spiegel Online International reports this week of a shocking tell-all penned by IKEA managing director Johan Stenebo.  I investigate IKEA in…

  • It's About the Money, Stupid

    Contrary to what we're so often told, American students are not bad at math and science.The John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development…

  • Let Them Eat Hot Fudge and Whipped Cream

    In Wednesday's New York Times, Tom Friedman posited (yet again) that Americans are losing ground because we are lazy, passive, and/or just plan…

  • The (Not So) Great Walls of China

    The New York Times reports today that drywall imported from China and used in newly built homes in the U.S. emits fumes that can lead to headaches…

  • A Snake, After All, is a Snake

    Last month, Hyatt Hotels Corp. fired 98 housekeepers, many of them veteran employees who made $15-per-hour, and replaced them with $8-per-hour…

  • The Big Business of Keeping America Fat

    It's rare for me to write two posts in one day, but Michael Pollan's brave opinion piece in today's New York Times deserves applause, and…

  • Keep your Hands off my Cheap Junk

    Last week the Los Angeles Time published an attack on my new book, Cheap: The HIgh Cost of Discount Culture by wacky blogger Charlotte Allen. …

  • Decoding the Supply Chain

    China, "factory to the world," sends fleets of container ships to our shores, as do many other nations. But who precisely makes the stuff contained…

  • Your Thoughts?

    The formidable Megan McArdle and I have just begun our discussion of CHEAP on her site, and, not surprisingly, several of Megan's…

  • Flying Fur and Ruffled Feathers

    This entire week I'm discussing CHEAP: The High Cost of Discount Culture with Atlantic colleague Megan McArdle on her fascinating and informative…

  • Two for One Sale!!!

    To Reason and Beyond has been dormant these last few weeks, thanks to an arduous promotion schedule for my new book: "Cheap:  The High Cost of…

  • Cheap Self Promotion

    My new book Cheap:  The High Cost of Discount Culture (Penguin) publishes this week.  It's a narrative investigation of the history, science,…

  • Buy to Last

    everyone loves a bargain, as long as we believe it’s in good taste. And nobody does low-price, high-style better than IKEA, the world’s…

  • Outsourcing Death

    Years ago, I wrote about lead poisoning for The Atlantic--reporting that blood lead levels in the United States had declined dramatically since the…

  • Skip College and Get a Job

    Today's Times features a front page piece by labor reporter Louis Uchitelle (author of the estimable The Disposable American on the shortage…

  • High Fashion in Low Times

    The New York Times gave a nod to sensible cheap chic this week, with a lengthy piece touting second hand haute couture describing shoppers…

  • Have It Your Way

    Last week, the food pages of the New York Times  had a long piece on dry cooked ham.   Seems that "country ham" doesn't always come from a…

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Save your eyes. Take breaks.

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What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

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