• Are there universal expressions of emotion? – Sophie Zadeh
    Articles,  Blog

    Are there universal expressions of emotion? – Sophie Zadeh

    The 40 or so muscles in the human face can be activated in different combinations to create thousands of expressions. But do these expressions look the same and communicate the same meaning around the world, regardless of culture? Is one person’s smile another’s grimace? Charles Darwin theorized that emotional expression was a common human feature. But he was in the minority. Until the mid-20th century, many researchers believed that the specific ways we show emotion were learned behaviors that varied across cultures. Personality theorist Silvan Tomkins was one of the few to insist otherwise. Tomkins claimed that certain affects— emotional states and their associated facial expressions— were universal. In the…

  • How do US Supreme Court justices get appointed? – Peter Paccone
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    How do US Supreme Court justices get appointed? – Peter Paccone

    There’s a job out there with a great deal of power, pay, prestige, and near-perfect job security. And there’s only one way to be hired: get appointed to the US Supreme Court. If you want to become a justice on the Supreme Court, the highest federal court in the United States, three things have to happen. You have to be nominated by the president of the United States, your nomination needs to be approved by the Senate, and finally, the president must formally appoint you to the court. Because the Constitution doesn’t specify any qualifications, in other words, that there’s no age, education, profession, or even native-born citizenship requirement, a…

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    Why wasn’t the Bill of Rights originally in the US Constitution? – James Coll

    Take a moment to think about the US Constitution. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Freedom of speech? Protection from illegal searches? The right to keep and bear arms? These passages are cited so often that we can hardly imagine the document without them, but that’s exactly what the writers of the Constitution did. The list of individual freedoms known as the Bill of Rights was not in the original text and wasn’t added for another three years. So does this mean the founders didn’t consider them? The answer goes back to the very origins of the Constitution itself. Even prior to the first shots of the American…

  • Why is the US Constitution so hard to amend? – Peter Paccone
    Articles,  Blog

    Why is the US Constitution so hard to amend? – Peter Paccone

    When it was ratified in 1789, the U.S. Constitution didn’t just institute a government by the people. It provided a way for the people to alter the constitution itself. And yet, of the nearly 11,000 amendments proposed in the centuries since, only 27 have succeeded as of 2016. So what is it that makes the Constitution so hard to change? In short, its creators. The founders of the United States were trying to create a unified country from thirteen different colonies, which needed assurance that their agreements couldn’t be easily undone. So here’s what they decided. For an amendment to even be proposed, it must receive a two-thirds vote of…