Cari Romm
Cari Romm
Cari Romm is a former assistant editor at The Atlantic​.
Daniel Dionne/Flickr

Rethinking One of Psychology's Most Infamous Experiments

In the 1960s, Stanley Milgram's electric-shock studies showed that people will obey even the most abhorrent of orders. But recently, researchers have begun to question his conclusionsand offer some of their own.

  • The Definitive April Fool's Prank Bracket

    March Madness is old news, guys. It’s April now, and you know what April 1 brings? Madness. Absolute madness. And the worst type of madness, as anyone who as been on or heard of the Internet knows, is #brand madness.

    So, of course, we made a bracket about it. We rounded up 16 pranks from 16 #brands and divided them into four categories: media, tech, stuff you can buy, and other, because some pranks are just so special that they defy categorization. Fill it out yourself, if you like! But also know that this is objectively correct and definitive. Enjoy!

    (April Fool’s! No one enjoys this.)

    Media

    • The New York Times announced it will stop publishing crossword puzzles. “There are plenty of perfectly good crosswords out there,” wrote the Times’ “puzzle constructor,” Deb Amlen. “They’re not the New York Times Crossword, but like I said, you’ll adjust.” This is probably the daddest joke in the bracket.

    • National Geographic tweeted that it would “immediately stop publishing nude animal pictures,” an announcement that was accompanied by an embarrassed-looking hedgehog thing (as Caroline noted earlier). Shows that Playboy can still be an industry leader.

    • GQ replaced every image on its homepage with a photo of Jason Alexander, perhaps better known as George Costanza from Seinfeld. We’ll give him this: the man knows how to wear a raincoat.

    • Writers for sister sites Deadspin, which focuses on sports, and Jezebel, which is geared toward women, switched roles for the day. Jezebel’s writers did a better job, occupying their colleagues’ homepage with headlines like “Man Achieves Adequacy” and “I’m Pretty Sure Most Straight Men Would Have Sex with The Rock.”

    Tech

    • Samsung announced a new line of “intelligent trousers,” which ostensibly monitor their wearer’s vital signs and send them a smartphone notification to keep their pants on if they get too excited. Coming from a company that recently released a 5,000 dollar refrigerator with a 21.5’’ touchscreen crammed into it, we weren’t at first sure if this was a joke.

    • Google showed off its latest virtual-reality headset, the see-through Cardboard Plastic. “What’s realer than real?” the voiceover deadpans in an announcement video. “Probably nothing. Or maybe something. I doubt it, though.” Points for self-parody.

    • Google tried a little too hard with a cutesy addition to Gmail it called MicDrop, which added a new button to the email screen. When clicked, it appended a mic-dropping gif of a minion (from the Despicable Me movies) to outgoing messages and muted the responses. The prank went over very, very poorly, and Google pulled the feature last night.

    • In a better, happier world, Zoosk’s dating site that matches users based on their burrito preferences—delightfully named Burrit-OH!—would be real. And it would be a smash hit, and it would save all kinds of bickering on the Chipotle line, and the people would rejoice. Alas, it’s not actually happening. To all you tofu-bean aficionados tryna make it with a carnitas lover: Godspeed, you crazy kids.

    Stuff

  • The State Department Is Spring Breaking, Badly

    You know how sometimes, little kids will make up really bad jokes that don’t make sense? Ones where the punchline is just something like the word “butts” yelled really loudly? And then they’re so delighted with said joke that they’ll tell it roughly a zillion times in a row, repeating “butts!” to anyone who will listen and then just dissolving into satisfied giggles at their own cleverness and everyone else is just like, Ugh, please don’t do that anymore?

    Well. This is kind of like that. Except instead of a joke, it’s a Twitter hashtag. And instead of a little kid, it’s the U.S. Department of State, which recently started using the tag #springbreakingbadly on outlandish travel warnings with something that feels a little bit like glee.

    To be fair, both of these situations would make for a not-so-great spring break, if not a nightmarish fever dream starring James Franco. The one that whipped the Internet into a frenzy, though, was this:

    Some questions: Has the State Department’s social media team started spring break early? Has the State Department indulged in a few too many expensive drinks? Is the State Department … negging spring break travelers?

    Whoever runs the account attempted to swat away users’ accusations of sexist language, tweeting, “We made no mention of gender. This can happen to anyone, unfortunately.” A later tweet apologized, sort of. And then, last night, the offending tweet was deleted. But there’s one lingering question that still hasn’t been answered:

    Oh. Go right ahead, then. In the immortal words of James Franco, spring break forever, y’all.

  • Jacky Naegelen / Reuters

    How a Distant Ancestor's DNA Helps Reveal What Makes Us Human

    Modern Melanesians share genes with Denisovans, but it’s the missing ones that are most telling.

  • Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters

    Bonobos Just Want Everyone to Get Along

    New research suggests that unlike humans, the peaceful primates pay more attention to bonding opportunities than they do to threats.

  • Wikimedia

    A New Skeleton and an Old Debate About Syphilis

    The recent discovery of ancient remains with signs of the disease shows how mysterious its origins are.  

  • CBS

    A New Way to Appreciate Those Awkward Jeopardy! Interviews

    "My Latin teacher was great" and other contestant fun facts, collected on one dedicated Twitter account

  • Marta Mirazon Lahr / Nature

    A Prehistoric Mass Grave Suggests Hunter-Gatherers Weren’t So Peaceful

    The discovery of 27 skeletons in Kenya hints that warfare has been with us for a very long time.

  • AS400 DB / Corbis

    A Mammoth, a Spear, and a New Timeline for Humans in the Arctic

    A new paper uses prehistoric animal injuries to argue that people populated the region thousands of years earlier than previously believed.

  • STR New / Reuters

    Secrets From a Prehistoric Mummy's Gut Bacteria

    The Iceman cometh, and he’s raising some questions about ancient migration patterns.

  • Image Source / Corbis

    Don't Lick the Tinsel

    A tale of Christmas-tree decorations and lead-poisoning prevention

  • Olivia Harris / Reuters

    Second Helpings: Delicious Journalism

    Staff picks of our favorite science, technology, and health stories from 2015

  • Alexandra Mlejnkova / AP

    Can a Predator Really Be Friends With Its Prey?

    The murky science of interspecies bonds

  • Dylan Martinez / Reuters

    Fat-Shaming on the London Underground

    The cards Overweight Haters Ltd. is handing out to passengers on the Tube aren’t just cruel; they’re ineffective.

  • Marcos del Mazo / Corbis

    The Agony and the Ecstasy of the Single-File Line

    What do an airport and a Star Wars premiere have in common?

  • Brian Snyder / Reuters

    Save the Gourds

    A new study argues that they would have gone extinct if humans hadn’t intervened.

  • Alabama Department of Archives and History / Wikimedia

    A Newspaper Written Entirely by Mental-Health Patients

    The Meteor, staffed by residents of Alabama’s first psychiatric hospital, was part of an experiment in the way the U.S. cared for the mentally ill.

  • Bernhard Richter / Shutterstock

    How Poop Made the World Go 'Round

    Extinct? More like ex-stink.

  • Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

    The Changing Vocabulary of Mental Illness

    Why your doctor no longer says you’re “going mad”

  • Bogdan VASILESCU / Shutterstock

    There Will Be Blood

    The backlash to the man who founded the Museum of Menstruation raises the question: Is there a right way for men to talk about periods?

  • Yuna Shino / Reuters

    Americans Are More Afraid of Robots Than Death

    Technophobia, quantified