The economic toll of Islamic law: Thanassis Cambanis on Timur Kuran, an economist at Duke who argues that economic development in the Islamic world is being hampered by Islamic law. "The way traditional Islamic law handled finance, inheritance, and incorporation, [Kuran] argues, held back both economic and political development... Islam’s emphasis on fairness and a division of assets among children had the unfortunate effect of preventing large-scale businesses from taking root."
A very young Judeo-Christian tradition: Andrew Preston on the surprisingly short history of America's "Judeo-Christian" religious tradition. "If it had a precise date of origin, we would likely be marking its 75th anniversary this year. And perhaps more surprisingly, considering how the term is used now, the notion of a 'Judeo-Christian tradition' was born during the presidency of a liberal Democrat, Franklin D. Roosevelt."
All mystery plots revealed! Daniel Friedman on "the biggest secret in crime fiction": "there are very few ways to end a mystery novel, and you’ve already seen every one.... Get ready to have an entire genre irrevocably spoiled."
The "parade of horribles": Ben Zimmer on the weirdly local roots of this Supreme Court phrase. "On Wednesday, continuing a 150-year-old tradition, 'parades of horribles' will proceed through a number of New England towns, mostly clustered in Massachusetts’ North Shore."
Plus, Kevin Lewis on an old-fashioned approach to crime-fighting: "Analyzing data on religious beliefs and crime rates for countries around the world, psychologists found that the prevalence of belief in heaven significantly increases crime, while belief in hell significantly reduces crime."
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Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.