Here are our best stories from 2015, based on how much attention they received from our readers. More precisely, these stories had the most eyeballs viewing them throughout the year. Besides that, all stories enjoyed a good amount of attention from readers who spent 4.5 to 8 minutes on a story on average (that is, if you trust Google Analytics, which you can’t always do, but at least you get a reference point and some basis for comparison).
So, technical details aside, here comes our glorious list:
Are you a language hacker? Try learning 10 difficult but fun Estonian words and phrases. Well, this one ain’t easy even for Estonians:
Francesco Orsi writes about his course on the ethics and philosophy of sex. The course contains a bit of everything that is central to doing philosophy. “First, in the course we learn to ask and answer a classical philosophical question since Socrates: “what is the essence of X”? The X in our case is, naturally, sex. A second aspect is the critical analysis of concepts. Two significant examples here are perversion and objectification. Third, in the course we practice ethical argument.
Marika Seigel, a visiting associate professor in the UT Department of English Philology last year, compares her Estonian students to their American peers. “Estonian students get dressed for class! In my experience, they do not come to class in sweatpants, or pajama pants, or pajama pants paired with Uggs, or (as happened to me once early in my teaching career) nothing but a bathrobe and slippers.”
Why study at university? Professor Mihhail Lotman gives some surprising answers. “Unfortunately, you don’t get wiser at the university. Good for you if you don’t become more stupid. Here lies an important university function: It is some sort of a greenhouse.”
A study by University of Tartu researchers and Skype dispels six myths that keep women in Estonia out of IT. Some of these include: IT is for long-haired geeks; IT work equals to programming or fixing computers; there are boys’ fields and girls’ fields.
Alexandra Yatsyk effectively shows how Russia pushes the WWII memory into the domain of sacred, while Estonia de-sacralizes the war. The war memory in today’s Russian society is being ousted from the sphere of the profane – as represented by war-time routine artefacts, documentary evidences, and oral histories. In contrast with Russia, Estonian memory policy is about its de-sacralization through reflective – as opposed to affective – transformation of its commemorative narratives and rituals.
Philosopher Uku Tooming explores why the beliefs and desires of others matter to us. Knowledge about the beliefs and desires of others is a form of basic social knowledge because these attitudes express a person’s take on the world: from the perspective of their possessor, beliefs are about what is the case and desires are about what should be the case.
The big question is whether bottled water that costs up to 1000 times more than tap water is actually any better? According to emeritus professor Astrid Saava, there is no significant difference between bottled drinking water and tap water in Estonia, because both originate from underground water pumped through artesian wells. The difference can be felt in Tallinn, where tap water originates from Lake Ülemiste and its taste is inferior to that of the underground water.
Sometimes people say that human brain is not fit for the tasks and challenges of today’s jobs. Neuroscientist Jaan Aru knows that the main problem is rather that we tend to use our brains very inefficiently. He explains why we do this and gives a recipe on how to improve.
We seemingly invest in our health – by staying physically active, eating ecologically grown food, and taking vacations. However, besides all this, we forget what is most important – sleep. Neuroscientist Jaan Aru explains why sleeping is so important and how to maximise its benefits.
Who knows, maybe you can author one of our best stories in 2016? It’s no rocket science – see our guidelines!
Inga Külmoja is an author and the editor of the UT Blog.