Charles Fort.

In Praise of the Paranormal Curiosity of Charles Fort, Patron Saint of Cranks

On the porous, ever-shifting boundaries between science and speculation.
An 1890s advertising poster for Coca Cola featuring a well-to-do white woman.
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Who Took the Cocaine Out of Coca-Cola?

The medical profession saw nothing wrong with offering a cocaine-laced cola to white, middle-class consumers. Selling it to Black Americans was another matter.
Man and woman testing buttons on machine at Duke University Parapsychology Laboratory

Tomorrow People

For the entire 20th century, it had felt like telepathy was just around the corner. Why is that especially true now?
A stylized drawing of an insulin vial.

The Insulin Empire

Insulin transforms a sick body. It also has the potential to reconstitute our political economic realities.
Three immigrants with chained hands and feet ascending staircase to a plane to be deported.

America’s Medicalized Borders: Past, Present, and Possible Future

Undoing the politics of fear will require us to reckon with the legacies of nativism that divert our attention from the greatest threats to our health.
Boy receiving measles vaccination
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The Public Health Community Must Tell the Whole Measles Story

The anti-vaccine movement has gained ground because the public health community has denied the truth about measles.
A magnifying glass sitting on top of "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas S. Kuhn.

What Was the “Paradigm Shift”?

When Thomas Kuhn coined the term, he wasn’t referring simply to “out of the box” thinking.
Plastic kitchen containers in red liquid.

How 3M Discovered, Then Concealed, the Dangers of Forever Chemicals

The company found its own toxic compounds in human blood—and kept selling them.
Uncle Sam sleeping on the job, avoiding looking at x-rays of damaged lungs.

Asbestos Is Finally Banned in the U.S. Here’s Why It Took So Long.

The carcinogenic effects of asbestos have been known for decades. We should have banned it long ago.
Prehistoric people seen through a pair of glasses.

The Abuses of Prehistory

Beware of theories about human nature based on the study of our earliest ancestors.
Black nurses and Sea View Hospital.

The ‘Black Angels’ Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis

Professional nurses who moved north during the Great Migration worked in New York City’s most contagious sanatorium — and changed the course of public health.
A photograph of four children standing, one is slouching.

Are You Sitting Up Straight? America’s Obsession with Improving Posture

In Beth Linker’s new book, she applies a disability studies lens to the history of posture.
Students in Winnetka, Ill., are checked by a nurses as shown here on return to school following illness. 1947.
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To Address the Teen Mental Health Crisis, Look to School Nurses

For more than a century, school nurses have improved public health in schools and beyond.
network of connected smiling faces

Ecstasy’s Odyssey

When the creator of MDMA first experimented with the drug, he felt a mellow sensation that he compared to "a low-calorie martini."
Iodized salt.

How the Arrival of Iodized Salt 100 Years Ago Changed America

On May 1, 1924, the first iodized salt appeared on shelves, quickly solving an iodine deficiency crisis that plagued the northern U.S. “goiter belt.”
Richard and Pat Nixon plant a tree on the White House lawn on Earth Day, 1970.

The “Carbon Dioxide Problem”: Nixon’s Inner Circle Debates the Climate Crisis

A collection of records from the Nixon Presidential Library and other sources on the internal debates Nixon advisors were having about climate change and environment.
Beluga whales.

How P.T. Barnum Brought Beluga Whales to New York City

On museum ethics and animal welfare in 19th century America.
A copy of "On Death and Dying" with a magnifying glass in front of it.

Lost in the Five Stages of Grief

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s “On Death and Dying” sparked a revolution in end-of-life care. But soon she began to deny mortality altogether.
Nurses with babies

Legacies of Eugenics: An Introduction

Despite assumptions about its demise, it is still enmeshed in the foundations of how some professions think about the world.
A drawing of a hedgehog in Buffon's Natural History.

Waking From the Dream of Total Knowledge

Considering how relationships of cooperation and perhaps even solidarity might be forged between human beings and animals.
The island of Molokai, where the Ball Method successfully treated leprosy sufferers.

A Young Black Scientist Discovered a Pivotal Leprosy Treatment in the 1920s

Historians are working to shine a light on Alice Ball’s legacy and contributions to an early treatment of a dangerous and stigmatizing disease.
Nutrition Facts labels
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What ‘Nutrition Facts’ Labels Leave Out

The history of the Nutrition Facts label exposes the power — and limitations — of such transparency.
Pregnant woman.

What the Shadowy History of Women’s Health Tells Us About Its Uncertain Future

Clare Beams on the dark legacy of a purported pregnancy miracle drug.
An illustration of a tube of cream; reads "Hakka Cream Catarrh, Hay Fever, Head Colds, etc.)

Hay Fever

The nuisance of a new season.
A brown rat standing on its hind legs.

How Big Rats Took Over North America

Rat bones collected from centuries-old shipwrecks tell a story of ecological competition and swift victory.
The Chesapeake 1000 crane at Tradepoint Atlantic in Sparrows Point, Md., on Friday.

A Crane with Cold War CIA Origins Will Help the Baltimore Bridge Cleanup

The Chesapeake 1000, which can lift 1,000 tons, arrived in Baltimore on Friday. Decades ago, it helped build a ship for a CIA mission to recover Soviet secrets.
Death to Beauty book cover, featuring a gloved hand with a syringe.

The Eyes Have It: On Eugene M. Helveston’s “Death to Beauty”

Injecting the world’s deadliest toxin into one’s eye was always going to be a hard sell.
A woman in a dress shows off her drawings.

Pioneering D.C. Artist Inez Demonet Helped WWI Soldiers Put Their Lives Back Together

Meet the Washington artist who pioneered the field of medical illustration — and helped repair the lives of soldiers returning from WWI.
The 1917 Silent Parade march in New York City protesting antiblack violence.

The Social-gospel Roots of Environmentalism

America's environmental movement has always been moralistic, which has made it bad at weighing tradeoffs. This accounts for its successes and also its failures.
The receiving cashier’s cage at the US Treasury, to which money is returned after verification, late 19th-early 20th century.

The US Treasury’s Money Laundering Machine

The term ‘money laundering’ is often associated with mobsters, drug lords and morally dubious executives. But the expression’s first use was far less lawless.