The brain as mindless obsession: An excerpt from Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nation by Charles Barber. The end of the critic? There was a time when they were our arbiters of culture; those days are gone. A review of Bondage of the Mind: How Old Testament Fundamentalism Shackles the Mind and Enslaves the Spirit by RD Gold. Might the worst be over for Africa? David Warsh investigates. A look at why Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan's early mentor, would have been proud. For all their invincibility at chess and prowess in calculus, robots using neural networks have performed miserably in duplicating the behaviour of higher organisms such as mammals. A review of A Conservative History of the American Left by Daniel J. Flynn. A review of Bastard Tongues: A Trailblazing Linguist Finds Clues to Our Common Humanity in the World's Lowliest Languages by Derek Bickerton (and more). Inner-city muse: With his fourth novel set on America’s mean streets, Richard Price lays claim to the title of urban laureate. From The Smart Set, class struggles, identity, democratization, and postmodernism — they're all tied up in the shopping bag; and gold-beater skin, English raincoat, French letter: There were many historic names for the condom, and just as many origin myths. A review of Media Madness: The Corruption of Our Political Culture by James Bowman.

From the latest issue of Bookforum, J. Hoberman reviews Mark Evanier’s Kirby: King of Comics (and more); Chris Ware reviews David Kunzle’s Father of the Comic Strip: Rodolphe Topffer and Rodolphe Topffer: The Complete Comic Strips; and Comics Relief: Rocketship in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, is a destination for anyone serious about comics. Popular culture and the American way have never been comfortable bedfellows — even cartoons were accused of corrupting the nation's youth. More and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more on The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hajdu (and an excerpt, and more from Louis Menand, and more from Vanity Fair). From TAP, an article on Dr. King as forgotten radical. The Importance of Seeing Ernst: Who was Lubitsch? The greatest director of wit, sex and sophistication laughs insouciantly from a distant world. The emerging moral psychology: Experimental results are beginning to shed light on the psychological foundations of our moral beliefs. A look at why humans bother with emotions. Suitors can tell a young person’s attitude to sexual relationships by the look on their face, according to new research. A review of The Hitler Salute: On the Meaning of a Gesture by Tilman Allert. A review of Safire's Political Dictionary (and more).

From The American Interest, John Mueller on on Terrorphobia and our false sense of insecurity. A review of Richard Rorty's New Pragmatism: Neither Liberal Nor Free by Edward Grippe. From Kritika & Kontext, an essay on Nietzsche's anti - democratic liberalism. Foreign Policy takes a look at the world’s worst religious leaders. From Sign and Sight, Tilman Nagel looks at the beginnings of Islam and the rise of Mohammed from prophet to power-conscious religious politician. Why the surge doesn’t matter: The US is still far closer to having created another failed state than a functioning democracy. A review of Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era by Houston A. Baker, Jr. Is America a center-right nation? Paul Waldman investigates. Olympic regret: Why China is the only world government scared of Bjork. From TLS, Raymond Tallis on the neuroscience delusion: Neuroaesthetics is wrong about our experience of literature – and it is wrong about humanity; an eighteenth-century memoir with a timeless refrain: all men are bastards; and a review of books on wife-beating in Ancient Rome. Paul Theroux claims new biography reveals the true monster in V S Naipaul. Behind door no. 1, a fatal flaw (and more on The Monty Hall Problem). An article on Hillary Clinton and the action bias, or the desire to do something rather than nothing.