All posts by Marc Parry

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The Science of Going Viral

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Just one in every 20 Facebook photos is shared. Most Twitter hashtags vanish into oblivion. Researchers want to understand the exceptions. Can you predict what content will go viral? That could be handy in many contexts—marketing, elections, revolutions.

This week two new papers are proclaiming advances in the science of virality.

“We have a method that allows us to predict the future on Twitter,” says James H. Fowler, a professor of medical genetics and political science at University of C…

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Study Casts Skeptical Light on Campus ‘Hookup Culture’

New York—The photo depicts a young woman in bed, one bare leg exposed, under the headline: “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too.” This recent story in The New York Times is the latest addition to the stack of articles and scholarly studies that examine the “hookup culture” on college campuses.

To Martin A. Monto, a professor of sociology at the University of Portland, the hookup discussion conveys a sense of moral panic—and an impression that young people are having more no-strings-atta…

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The Hidden Biases That Shape Inequality

New York—Take two equivalently qualified job candidates. One is known to be a parent. The other is not a parent.

With experimental scenarios like these, researchers have found substantial evidence of bias against mothers. In the studies of Shelley Correll, a professor of sociology at Stanford, childless women were roughly twice as likely to be called back or recommended for hire by an employer. And when childless women were recommended for a job, they were offered salaries approximately $11,000 …

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What Happened to Quantitative History? A Scholar Runs the Numbers

Scholars are increasingly taking a quantitative approach to history. You see that in the writing of the Stanford archaeologist-historian Ian Morris, whom I profiled in this week’s Chronicle Review, and in the work of even more radical quantifiers like Peter Turchin, a biologist at the University of Connecticut whose burgeoning discipline of “cliodynamics” is featured in a sidebar to the Morris article.

Yet scholars have experienced earlier infatuations with number-heavy history, notably the 70s-…

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Duke Graduate Student Unlocks ‘Mystery of the Lost Sonata’

It was an unsolved mystery of classical music. An “Easter” sonata, sometimes attributed to the 19th-century composer Felix Mendelssohn, had largely disappeared from history. Scholars suspected the work was actually by the celebrated composer’s sister, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel. But the manuscript seemed lost, so how could they prove it?

Duke University announced this week that a 28-year-old Ph.D. student in musicology, Angela R. Mace, had unraveled the riddle, demonstrating that the 1828 sonata w…