The Shazam Effect, The Curious Case of Jesus’s Wife, How Strict Is Too Strict?, Why God Will Not Die, Before the Beheadings, Things That Make You Go “Um”, and more...

This Month from The Atlantic

December 2014

The real roots of midlife crisis, the curious case of Jesus's wife, when schools are too strict, the coming fall of Facebook, the new science of hit songs, and more

Features

The Shazam Effect

Record companies are tracking download and search data to predict which new songs will be hits. This has been good for business—but is it bad for music?

Derek Thompson

The Curious Case of Jesus’s Wife

Lab tests have suggested that a papyrus scrap mentioning Jesus's wife is authentic. Why do most scholars believe it's fake?

Joel Baden and Candida Moss

How Strict Is Too Strict?

The backlash against no-excuses discipline in high school

Sarah Carr

Why God Will Not Die

Science keeps revealing how much we don't, perhaps can't, know. Yet humans seek closure, which should make religious pluralists of us all.

Jack Miles

Dispatches

Before the Beheadings

Remembering a time when Islamist extremists wanted to persuade reporters, not kill them

Jeffrey Goldberg

Things That Make You Go “Um”

How gender and place shape um and uh

Michael Erard

The Long Shot

Despite his best efforts, Maryland’s Martin O’Malley might be the most ignored candidate of 2016.

Molly Ball

The Pill Pusher

A better way to dispense prescriptions

Eleanor Smith

Turning Customers Into Cultists

Why many companies now take their cues from religious sects

Derek Thompson

Faking It

When to be yourself, and when not to be

Julie Beck

The Fall of Facebook

The social network's future dominance is far from assured.

Alexis C. Madrigal

The Water Next Time

How nature itself could become a city’s best defense against extreme weather

Eric Jaffe

How to Break a National Habit

The demise of America’s cigarette addiction has been greatly exaggerated.

Kenneth E. Warner and Harold A. Pollack

The Nicotine Fix

America’s cigarette addiction may seem to be mostly over. But low-income Americans continue to smoke—and die—at alarming rates. A radical new strategy could help them quit once and for all.

Kenneth E. Warner and Harold A. Pollack

Guys in Toyland

The toy-crazed "kidults" of South Korea

William Brennan

The Victorian Condom

A very short book excerpt

Ruth Goodman

The Culture File

The Last Rock-Star Poet

Dylan Thomas embodied the essence of poetry—even if his poems themselves have not held up well.

James Parker

Pregnancy and the Single Woman

Why unplanned births are a bigger problem than unmarried parents

Emily Bazelon

Drifter, Dealer, Madman, Spy

Working the literary landscape of international espionage, the novelist Denis Johnson specializes in madness.

Nathaniel Rich

The Secrets of Color

A Bauhaus artist’s classic, with a new app, is eye-opening.

Sebastian Smee

Your Airport’s Bartender Problem

Why it’s so hard to get a decent drink before your flight—and why that may soon change

Wayne Curtis

A Postmodern Riff on Thomas Mann

Peter Stamm’s All Days Are Night follows two characters in search of a cure.

Ann Hulbert

Departments

The Conversation

Responses and reverberations

The Big Question

What was the greatest gift of all time?

Poetry

Wedding Ghazal

Erica Funkhouser