National Geographic

This is an Anniversary Post

A year ago today National Geographic Magazine launched this blog network, Phenomena, and I launched this blog. The idea for Only Human came from the realization that almost all the stories I write are about people — “what we’re made of, what we do, why we do it,” as I put it in my first post. My “human beat” turned out to be a hybrid of mostly genetics, neuroscience, and psychology.

I love blogging because it provides a space for me to practice my writing and reporting skills and to experiment with new forms, all with real-time feedback from smart readers. This year I’ve published 71 posts of many genres: narrative featureshistorical asideshard-core explanatory journalismcute-video clickbait, personal essaysnews from scientific conferences, and a Q&A. Each post has contained a story (hopefully, an interesting story) about science. This is not one of those posts.

This post celebrates the Phenomena anniversary with: 1) lists of the most popular and most underrated posts on Only Human; and 2) a short! reader survey to help me learn about who you guys are and what you like to read.

Most importantly, I’d like to give a warm and public thanks to the humans who have made my blogging year so rewarding — Jamie Shreeve and the other friendly overlords at NatGeo, my unbelievably sharp and distressingly prolific co-bloggers Brian Switek, Carl Zimmer, and Ed Yong, and to everybody who reads Only Human. I’m looking forward to year #2 and beyond.

Top 5 Most Popular Posts

Notice a pattern, much?

1. Why Does Music Feel So Good?

2. Why Does Music Move Us So? 

3. When Experts Go Blind

4. Why Does Music Help Us Exercise?

5. How Forensic Linguistics Outed J.K. Rowling (Not to Mention James Madison, Barack Obama, and the Rest of Us)


Top 5 Most Underrated Posts

These posts didn’t get much traffic but, IMO, should have.

1. A New Gene Therapy, an Old Hard Truth

2. Romania’s Science Problem: A Tale of Two Florins (Part 1 and Part 2)

3. The Jumping Gene: Friend or Foe?

4. Generosity and the Social Brain, One Neuron at a Time

5. We Are All Mosaics


Reader Survey!

If you have a few more moments, please help me learn about you by filling out this quick 10-question survey. (None of the questions are obligatory — tell me as much or as little as you like.)

Thanks, everybody!

(P.S. If you’re wondering about the aforementioned Gray Matters, it’s my weekly email newsletter, which goes out on Fridays. You can sign up here. It’s free and just for fun; I will NOT sell your email address to any other party.)

There are 2 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Ed
    December 18, 2013

    I would have to agree with you that “Romania’s Science Problem: A Tale of Two Florins (Part 1 and Part 2)” & “The Jumping Gene: Friend or Foe” are vastly underrated posts, at least in terms of stats I guess. But I am very happy you wrote them. The Floins ones especially differentiate you form the crowd and I’d love to see more like this… Africa, SE Asia etc. What is science like there?

  2. David Gilliland
    January 3, 2014

    I hope you are ready for a new puppy..and I think of your previous one often. I highly recommend clicker training. We are having great success and enjoyment from it and the puppy loves it. For brain exercise in addition to physical exercise is is great for all.
    Thank you for your thoughts and your work.

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