Robert Merton

It's coming—and we just made it worse.

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Prophet Motive

This year, Nouriel Roubini, the economist known to the general public as Dr. Doom, Prophet of the Financial Apocalypse, spent the early hours of Mardi Gras on the floor of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. It was only 11 a.m., but the party was rollicking. Traders careened around the floor, hooting and honking, dressed as dragons and devils and convicts. Rock music roared overhead, and no one seemed to care that, by the bye, the market had tanked.

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Exceptionalist

SEYMOUR MARTIN LIPSET, the distinguished political sociologist who died on December 31, 2006, tells the story in a memoir of how he shifted in City College (CCNY) from science—as a prelude to dentistry—to sociology. During the Depression, the only member of his family who prospered was a dentist uncle, and that seemed the road to security.

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Here's Looking At You

As its new term began this week, the Supreme Court heard two cases involving the boundaries of privacy in an increasingly transparent society; later in the term, it will hear at least one more. The constitutional question in all three cases is whether the government needs to have individualized suspicion before it can conduct searches using relatively unintrusive, extremely effective technologies-- thermal-imaging devices that can detect heat emitting through house walls, for example, or random checkpoints with drug-sniffing dogs.

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