The Best Stuff We've Ever Read

Josh Clark

Remote Control In a 2014 article in The Believer, Sarah Marshall thoughtfully unravels the truth and the fiction within the narrative the media developed around figure skater Tonya Harding and the attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan.

They Came in Through the Bathroom Mirror In a 1987 article in the Chicago Reader, Steve Bogira writes about the murder of a mentally ill woman in a housing project, whose death led to a greater awareness of the dangers posed there and inspired in part the movie Candyman.

On Being Sane In Insane Places In a 1973 article in the journal Science, psychologist David Rosenhan writes about his experiment to determine if mental health workers could distinguish sane people in their midst, a test that was roundly failed, and the larger and extremely important implications of the findings.

Prisoners of Rock 'n' Roll In a 2009 article in Milwaukee Magazine, Tom Matthews writes about the bizarre story about the time the 60s band Badfinger was trapped in America after a con man sold them on a comeback tour.

The Innocent and the Damned In a 1994 article in Texas Monthly, Gary Cartwright writes about the case of a husband and wife who were swept up by the moral panic over Satanic ritual abuse, rumored to be rampant in America's daycare centers, and the questionable judgment surrounding what turned out to be a modern witch hunt.

The Behavioral Sink In a 2011 article in Cabinet, Will Wiles writes about haunting population studies done with rats in the 20th century by John B Calhoun, who found that once a population grows too large, it slides into an inevitable and complete social collapse.

The Witches of Chiloé In a 2013 article in Smithsonian, Mike Dash writes about the late 19th-century witch trials that may or may not have uncovered a vast, powerful secret society of sorcerers in Southern Chile who were capable of forming disfigured henchmen and who carried out their will through supernatural assassinations.

Rodney Dangerfield: He Whines that We May Laugh In a 1980 article in Rolling Stone, Ben Fong-Torres writes a profile of Rodney Dangerfield as he crosses the threshold of legendhood.

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race In a 1987 article in Discover Magazine, Jared Diamond makes the case that humans' transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture was an egregious error that has led to virtually every basic and complex social ill humans face today.

Never Forget In a 2009 article in GQ, Michael Paterniti writes about dark tourism and specifically bearing witness to the violent self-genocide the Khmer Rouge carried out in the 1970s in Cambodia.

Mel's Hole On a site called Hideous Monsters, a post that breaks down the story of Mel's Hole, a mysterious and seemingly bottomless hole lined with stone and several other, similar, equally mysterious holes around the world.

Joe Arridy Was the Happiest Man on Death Row In a 2012 article in Westword, Alan Prendergast writes about the saddening 1939 execution of an intellectually challenged man who was almost certainly railroaded into a wrongful murder conviction and who could not grasp what was being done to him.

Understanding Road Rage In a 2001 article in Counterblast, Mercer Schuchardt posits that it is the protective anonymity and instant gratification provided by the internet that fuels the modern phenomenon of road rage and possibly the rage we tend to feel in general as of late.

Ghosts of the Tsunami In a 2014 article in the London Review of Books, Richard Lloyd Parry writes about the vast increase in Japanese reports of ghosts following the Fukushima tsunami in 2011 and the cultural safeguards in place to deal with such psychic trauma.

A Five Hundred Year Moment In Moorea Magasin, Dougald Hine writes about the advent of wage labor, once considered a pitiful situation and now considered a human right, that was initiated with the closing of the commons.

Trial By Fire In a 2009 article in The New Yorker, David Grann writes about the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, a putative innocent man who was convicted based on arson evidence, a field of forensics that has lately come to be seen as no better than junk science and intuition.

On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs In Strike!, David Graeber writes about the rise of what he calls bullshit jobs, ones that seem to be mostly concerned with busywork, that technically shouldn't exist in capitalist societies yet, suspiciously, do.

The Mystery of the Millionaire Metaphysician In a 2001 article in Lingua Franca, James Ryerson writes about the strange case of a mysterious and pseudonymous outsider who caused a stir in academia when he challenged a number of credentialed philosophers to review his attempt at the purpose and basis of reality.

America's Real Criminal Element: Lead In a 2013 article in Mother Jones, Kevin Drum makes a compelling case that it is widespread poisoning from lead, spread throughout the environment, that was the basis of the spike in crime rates in the middle of the 20th century.

Introducing Sociology In a 2000 article from Film Quarterly, Tim Krieder provides a fascinating analysis of the subtext to Stanley Kubrick's last film, Eyes Wide Shut, a movie not about sex as it would appear, but an indictment of wealth and the self-denigration it tends to inspire in all of us.

The Self is Moral In a 2014 article in Aeon, Nina Strohminger makes the case that what we consider the root of what we consider the self is found in the moral character of the individual.

Evil But Stupid In a 2015 article in n+1, the magazine's editors write about the revelations by Seymour Hersh that Obama administration's accounting of the killing of Osama bin Laden was largely fabricated, the attacks on Hersh's reporting in the media, and what the whole thing tells us about the "high-level lying" that has become government's M.O.

Coronado High: A Legendary Drug Smuggling Ring in a Sleepy California Town In a 2013 article in GQ, Joshuah Bearman provides a fascinating and movie-esque account of a 1970s drug ring made up of surfers.

Burning Down the Mouse In a 2015 article in Medium, Heather Havrilesky writes about the forced happiness and learned helplessness that Disney can produce, even among its faithful adherents, as a brand ambassador for the modern world.

The Case of the Vanishing Blonde In a 2012 article in Vanity Fair, Mark Bowden recounts the real-life, hard-boiled detective story surrounding the search for the attacker of woman in South Florida who was seen unharmed in a hotel one night and found battered in the Everglades the next day.

Is Google Making Us Stupid? In a 2008 article in The Atlantic, Nicholas Carr established the groundwork for questioning the effects the technology we've embraced in the past several decades has on us.

The Sad, Strange, True Story of Sandy Allen, the Tallest Woman In The World In a 2014 article in Buzzfeed, Sandra Allen writes about a gentle woman who shared her name who was famous for being 7', 7"-tall , as cited in the Guinness Book of World Records.

They Came, They Sawed In a 2004 article in Texas Monthly, John Bloom provides the history of the filming of the 1973 indie horror classic, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre through the people who were part of the production.

The Golden Quarter In a 2014 article in Aeon, Michael Hanlon writes about the seemingly insane idea that humanity hit a technological plateau after a growth spurt in the middle of the 20th century.

Reality Denial: Steven Pinker's Apologetics for Western Imperial Violence In a 2012 post on the Public Intellectuals Project, Edward S. Herman and David Peterson lay out an almost line-for-line take down of Steven Pinker's inexplicably obtuse Angels of Our Better Nature.

Why is Science Behind a Paywall? In a 2013 article on Priceonomics, Alex Mayyasi writes about the stranglehold a small publishing cartel has on the dissemination of scientific knowledge.

Raising the Dead In a 2005 article in Outdoor magazine, Tim Zimmerman writes about an amazing and catastrophic extreme cave diving expedition to both set the record for deepest dive and recover the body of one of the previous people who attempted to set it.

The Yankee Comandante In a 2012 article in The New Yorker, David Grann writes about an American soldier who moved to Cuba to join Castro's revolution, finding love and eventually death.

Tommy's World: The TV Legacy of St Elsewhere's "Tommy Westphall Universe" In a 2014 article in Paste Magazine, Jim Vorel writes about the hypothesis that perhaps hundreds of television shows are all set in the imagination of a boy with autism.

On Smarm In a 2013 article on Gawker, Tom Scocca writes an essay in defense of biting criticism and in opposition to smarm, a disingenuous manifestation of the concept that if you can't saying anything nice, don't say anything at all.

The Ax Murderer Who Got Away In Smithsonian, Mike Dash writes about the enduring unsolved brutal murders of six people who died as they slept in their house in Villisca, Iowa in 1912.