writer and historian

Public Writing


for Public Culture and Public Books

T.L. Taylor on Gamergate, Live-streaming, and E-Sports,” Public Books (February 27, 2019)

Siva Vaidhyanathan on Facebook and Other “Antisocial” Media,” Public Books (October 12, 2018)

"Jill Lepore on the Challenge of Explaining Things," Public Books (April 24, 2017)

Interview of Peter Galison,” Public Culture 26.1 (Winter 2014): 79-100

The Confidence Economy: An Interview with T.J. Jackson Lears,” Public Books (May 7, 2013)

for The Believer [contributor page]

Micro-interview of Peter Galison: Historian, Philosopher, Filmmaker,” The Believer 9 (June 2011): 20, 31, 48, 52, 55

Interview of Rebecca Solnit: Nature Writer, Environmental Activist, Art Historian,” The Believer 7  (September 2009): 43-49

Interview of Michael Pollan, Environmental Journalist and Agro-Food Writer,” The Believer 5 (April 2007): 63-71 [in full here]

Interview of Arnold Davidson: Conceptual Historian, Philosopher of Science, Scholar of Monsters, Sex, and Ontology,” The Believer 4 (May 2006): 66-73

Interview of Marjorie Grene, Living Philosophical Legend,” The Believer 3 (March 2005): 65-74

at The World’s Fair

Author-Meets-Blogger: a series of 17 interviews with authors in environmental history and STS


Why Do Visions of Farming’s Future Never Involve Farmers?,” Slate (June 20, 2019)

Three essays for the Lehigh Valley's Food in the Public Square NEH Project:

"Food Justice and Flood Zones" (October 24, 2016)

"Forests and Trees, Food Policies and Individuals" (May 14, 2016)

"Food as a Means Too, Not Just an End" (April 2, 2016)

Is environmentalism best pursued through technocratic means?" Aeon Conversations (June 10, 2015)

"Should the FDA Define ‘Natural’?New York Times (November 10, 2014)

All Praise the Civics of Food HubsCivil Eats (September 7, 2012)

What Bean-Counting ‘Contrarians’ Miss about the Local Food Movement,” Grist Magazine (April 14, 2011)

Why Blog the History of Science?History of Science Newsletter (October 2008): 3-5

B.R. Cohen’s Days at the Museum”: a five-part series at McSweeney's in 2009 (and then the last was in 2013)

B.R. Cohen’s Annals of Science”: a 13-part series at McSweeney's from 2003-2007

I co-authored The World’s Fair at scienceblogs.com with David Ng (University of British Columbia) from 2006 through 2009. The site itself no longer hosts the full catalog of posts from that time but when it did, oh there were tons. Here are two other areas in addition to that catalog, as examples of what dead links look like:

Food and Agriculture Posts: a subset at the World’s Fair of 50+ posts on industrial agriculture & alternatives

Cannonball Epistemology: a 14-part series about the intersection of visual evidence, objectivity, and truth


Various Breads and Butters, the world-beating podcast with Simon Tonev, Michelle Polton-Simon, and a slew of interns (iTunes; Twitter; Fb)

at McSweeney’s

The full author page at McSweeney’s and a selection of some highlights at the site:

Muscle and Flow (for L. Weschler’s Convergences series)

On anti-environmentalists

World Historical Cheneys

“Bathtub Gin” Songbook Essay

On Tour with Bob Edwards

Summer Vacation (part II)

Hot Chocolate


Important Dates in Machiavelli’s Life

Lists page editor at the McSweeney’s site from 2004-2007, helping put together Mountain Man Dance Moves (2006).

“Borges Was A Webelo” was not short-listed for the Pushcart Prize, but might have been. It appears in The McSweeney’s Joke Book of Book Jokes (2008).

Contributions to The Future Dictionary of America (2004) and Issues #35 (2010) and #39 (2011) of the Quarterly.

at Public Books

This Morning Was a Poem: On and Near Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby

at The Morning News

Trust Me


I Dream in Malcolm Gladwell” 

Blacksburg and Biography

Hoping for a Safe Return

at The Science Creative Quarterly

A Young Venn Heads to the Diagram Convention

Bisphenol-A: The One-Act Play

"Stratigraphical Analysis Of Friday-Sunday Identification In Relation To Sugar Consumption Preferences And Related Demographic Variables"

"Why Some People Make The Wrong Decision And Others Don’t: An Assessment Of Arithmetic And Geometric Projections Of The Friday-Sunday Divide Beyond The Mehspair Chasm With P-Values, Χ2, And Licorice"

at The Education of Oronte Churm

On ‘The Accident’

Too Much Culture But Not Enough to See


at Boing Boing

The Halloween Candy Hierarchy, 2017 survey and Final 2017 Ranking

The Halloween Candy Hierarchy, 2016 survey and Final 2016 Ranking

The Halloween Candy Hierarchy, 2015 survey and Final 2015 Ranking

The Halloween Candy Hierarchy, 2014 survey and Final 2014 Ranking

The Halloween Candy Hierarchy, 2013

The Halloween Candy Hierarchy, 2012

The Halloween Candy Hierarchy, 2010

The Halloween Candy Hierarchy, 2007 (at The World’s Fair)

The Halloween Candy Hierarchy, 2006 (at The World’s Fair)