Monty Hall, Photocopying, 50 Shades, Phone Hacking

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

On 24th February, at 6pm, The Browser is hosting a free event in London about information overload. See details at the bottom of this email.

Three Doors, Two Goats, One Genius

Zachary Crockett | Priceonomics | 19th February 2015

When Marilyn vos Savant explained the Monty Hall problem to readers of Parade Magazine in 1990 she provoked "one of the most heated statistical battles" of modern times. More than 10,000 readers — including eminent scholars — wrote in to denounce her as a "a hare-brained idiot". But she was right. See if you can follow her reasoning. The puzzle involves three doors, two goats, one motor-car, and a hard choice (2,230 words)

How The Photocopier Changed The World

Clive Thompson | Smithsonian | 19th February 2015

The first photocopiers weighed half a ton and cost a fortune when Xerox launched them in 1959. They were conceived as a niche product, but they rapidly changed everything they touched — office routine, social life, publishing, art, politics, journalism. Courts loosened copyright, finding social benefits in copying. The potential now for 3D printing is just as great — copyright permitting (2,400 words)

Fifty Shades Of Literary Theory

Zeljka Marosevic | Melville House | 20th February 2015

Tongue-in-cheek dissection of the 50 Shades phenomenon in the language of literary theory. "Harold Bloom showed that nearly all writers are hindered by what he called 'the anxiety of influence'. E.L. James doesn’t even bother trying to shrug off this anxiety. She spat in the face of Bloom and wrote fan fiction based on the Twilight series and called it 50 Shades Of Grey, and not a single one of those shades was remorse" (2,220 words)

The Great SIM Heist

Jeremy Scahill & Josh Begley | The Intercept | 19th February 2015

Another mildly mind-boggling espionage exploit unveiled. American and British spies cracked the encryption used in mobile phone networks around the world by a simple piece of direct action. No maths involved. They hacked the factories that made the SIM cards for the phone companies. "The pipeline for producing and distributing SIM cards was never designed to thwart mass surveillance efforts" (5,400 words)

Video of the day: What Is Life?

What to expect: Basic biology explained in a cartoon (5'56")

Thought for the day

Any sufficiently advanced logic is indistinguishable from stupidity
Alex Tabarrok (

Information Overload

The Browser & Cronycle invite you to a discussion about information overload in London at 6.30pm on February 24th.

Discussants will include:
* Bill Emmott — editor and film-maker
* Anatole Kaletsky — columnist and economist
* Dayo Forster — international editor of The Browser

Moderated by Robert Cottrell, editor of The Browser.

Venue: Forge & Co, 154 Shoreditch HIgh Street, London E1 6HD.

Drinks from 6pm. Discussion starts at 6.30pm.

Admission free, but please reply to this email to register in advance.

Join 150,000+ curious readers who grow with us every day

No spam. No nonsense. Unsubscribe anytime.

Great! Check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription
Please enter a valid email address!
You've successfully subscribed to The Browser
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
Could not sign in! Login link expired. Click here to retry
Cookies must be enabled in your browser to sign in