Rhaina Cohen

On June 28, 2018, reporter Selene San Felice was working in her cubicle on a local story. By mid-afternoon, she and her colleagues at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md., had become the subject of national news. Around 2:30 pm, a gunman had blasted his way into the newsroom and killed five members of the staff. San Felice hid under a desk and prayed.

Where do our minds live? A simple, scientific response would be to say our minds live in our brains. But Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji says we should not think of our minds as being solitary.

"The individual mind sits in society. And the connection between mind and society is an extremely important one that should not be forgotten."

"Fake news" is a phrase that may seem specific to our particular moment and time in American history.

But Columbia University Professor Andie Tucher says fake news is deeply rooted in American journalism.

In 1690, British officials forced the first newspaper in North America to shut down after it fabricated information. Nineteenth-century newspapers often didn't agree on basic facts. In covering a lurid murder in 1836, two major papers in New York City offered wildly differing perspectives on the case.

All of us are time travelers. If we just pause and close our eyes we can wander back to our first kiss, or the summer that went on forever. This week, we explore two emotions that pull us into the past: regret and nostalgia. How can we make these feelings work for us, and what can we learn from them?

After a disaster happens, we want to know, could something have been done to avoid it? Did anyone see this coming?

Many times, the answer is yes. There was a person — or many people — who spotted a looming crisis and tried to warn those in power. So why didn't the warnings lead to action?

Writers and filmmakers hoping to hoodwink their fans with plot twists have long known what cognitive scientists know: All of us have blind spots in the way we assess the world. We get distracted. We forget how we know things. We see patterns that aren't there. Because these blind spots are wired into the brain, they act in ways that are predictable — so predictable that storytellers from Sophocles to M. Night Shyamalan have used them to lead us astray.

Many people tend to push frightening realities out of mind rather than face them head-on. That's especially true when it comes to the terrifying event that no one can escape — death. Psychologist Sheldon Solomon says people may suppress conscious thoughts about their mortality, but unconscious ones still seep through.

"Fake news" is a phrase that may seem specific to our particular moment and time in American history.

But Columbia University Professor Andie Tucher says fake news is deeply rooted in American journalism.

In 1690, British officials forced the first newspaper in North America to shut down after it fabricated information. Nineteenth-century newspapers often didn't agree on basic facts. In covering a lurid murder in 1836, two major papers in New York City offered wildly differing perspectives on the case.

We just can't let go of some decisions. We replay them in our head and imagine alternate endings.

These sorts of looping mental videos are called counterfactuals. Northwestern University Professor Neal Roese says there's real value to wondering "if only."

"Counterfactual thoughts are generally useful for us in terms of providing a set of options that we might act upon in the future," he says. "This can lead to improvement. It can lead to learning from experience."

After a disaster happens, we want to know, could something have been done to avoid it? Did anyone see this coming?

Many times, the answer is yes. There was a person — or many people — who spotted a looming crisis and tried to warn those in power. So why didn't the warnings lead to action?

"Fake news" is a phrase that may seem specific to our particular moment and time in American history.

But Columbia University Professor Andie Tucher says fake news is deeply rooted in American journalism.

In 1690, British officials forced the first newspaper in North America to shut down after it fabricated information. Nineteenth-century newspapers often didn't agree on basic facts. In covering a lurid murder in 1836, two major papers in New York City offered wildly differing perspectives on the case.

Many Americans find it adequate to represent their love and devotion to one person in a single ring on their left hand.

Author Briallen Hopper would need to enlist far more metal to represent her commitments. She would have to wear stacks of rings on each finger or a clanging forearm's worth of bracelets to signify each close friend, sibling, godchild, student, author, fictional character, and sentimentally-imbued object that receives her time and support.

Bababababa, dadadadada, ahgagaga. Got that?

Babies are speaking to us all the time, but most of us have no clue what they're saying. To us non-babies, it all sounds like charming, mysterious, gobbledegook. To researchers, though, babbling is knowable, predictable, and best of all, teachable. This week, we'll find out how to decipher the vocabulary, and the behavior, of the newest members of the human family.

Companies buy back their stock from shareholders when they have excess cash lying around, and they want to hand some of it over to the owners. And they've been doing it a lot more recently: companies are on track to spend more than a trillion dollars on buybacks this year. Today on the Indicator, dueling opinions on buybacks. One economist says they're a way to get cash to companies that need it; another argues they're a brake on the economy.

Music: "Break Me"

In a way, all of us are time travelers. If we just pause and close our eyes we can wander back to our first kiss...our first breakup...that grandparent we should have visited...the summer that went on forever. This week, we explore two emotions that pull us into the past: regret and nostalgia. How can we make these feelings work for us, and what can we learn from them?

When Paul Kugelman was a kid, he had no shortage of friends. But as he grew older and entered middle age, his social world narrowed.

"It was a very lonely time. I did go to work and I did have interactions at work, and I cherished those," he says. "But you know, at the end of the day it was just me."

Kugelman's story isn't unusual: researchers say it can be difficult for men to hold on to friendships as they age. And the problem may begin in adolescence.

Women in the Middle Ages were excluded from many realms: the law,

Parents these days are stressed. So are their kids.

The root of this anxiety, one scholar says, is the way we understand the relationship between parents and children. Alison Gopnik, a psychology and philosophy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, thinks parents—especially middle-class parents—view their children as entities they can mold into a specific image.

"The idea is that if you just do the right things, get the right skills, read the right books, you're going to be able to shape your child into a particular kind of adult," she says.

All countries have national myths. The story of the first Thanksgiving, for example, evokes the warm glow of intercultural contact: European settlers, struggling to survive in the New World, and Native American tribes eager to help. But as many of us learned in history class, this story leaves a lot out.

We take it for granted that nostalgia is an ordinary, harmless emotion. You won't get a referral for a psychologist because you've posted a childhood photo with the caption #ThrowbackThursday, or because you have a weak spot for Lucky Charms or Fruit Roll-Ups. But that's a relatively new way of thinking.

The scientist who coined the term "nostalgia" in 1688 thought of this emotion as a neurological illness caused by demons. Other scientists latched onto this conception of nostalgia as a disease. It took marketers, centuries later, to realize that nostalgia has benefits.

Olutosin Oduwole was in his dorm room at Southern Illinois University when police knocked on his door one day in 2007. They were there to arrest him.

"In my mind I'm thinking, 'Okay, maybe a warrant for a ticket.' I really didn't know what was going on," he says.

What was going on was that the police suspected that Olutosin, a college student and aspiring rapper, was on the brink of committing a Virginia Tech-style mass shooting on his campus. He was soon charged with attempting to make a terrorist threat, and was eventually convicted and sent to prison.