Our Top Stories of 2019

Images from left: John Todd; Jasu Hu; Toni Bird

You visited more than a million pages on Stanfordmag.org this year. But just in case you missed a story or two, here are the most popular articles we published in 2019.

15. What You Don’t Know About the Stanford Seal
From mistranslations to wandering (off) sheep, here’s trivia you didn’t know you wanted to know about the university’s strongest emblem.

14. 8 Life Lessons You Can Learn from Improv
Be obvious. And other lessons you can apply to life without ever having to step onstage.

13. Branner Will Never Suck?!
Where they sunbathe on a picturesque green, you see the ghost of Meyer Library’s 24-hour study room. Here are 23 ways the Class of 2023’s Stanford experience will be unlike yours.

12. What Should Free Speech Mean in College?
Universities must cultivate a climate in which students feel comfortable taking intellectual risks. Four faculty members weigh in on why setting that culture is hard.

11. The Legend of the Almost Lost
How a team of editors and librarians saved Sunset magazine’s archives—and helped preserve the history of the American West.

10. Westworld’s Wrangler
Lisa Joy, ’99, was a lawyer with a high-paying consulting job when she got the phone call that changed her life.

9. Deceit Gets Smarter. Can Truth Keep Up?
Artificial intelligence is remaking the news. Those who control it are reshaping society.

8. First-Gen, Low-Income and Claiming a Community
Students are shedding the stigma of being FLI—and transforming the university for everyone.

7. The Psychology of Heroism
Professor Philip Zimbardo explores whether ordinary people can be trained to be saviors.

6. What Eric Left Behind
Karen Law, ’05, MS ’06, wishes her husband, Eric Sun, ’05, MS ’09, could see how people remember him.

5. 9 Tips for Smarter Decision-Making
We tapped experts from across the university to explain how the science of decision-making can help you make better choices.

4. ‘When You Don’t Know, You Feel Alone in the World’
Doctor after doctor. Test after test. And you still have no answers. Enter the Undiagnosed Diseases Network.

3. Why Dance Matters
OK, OK, it can be intimidating. You have to follow the beat and maybe even put yourself in uncomfortable proximity to total strangers. But the cognitive and emotional payoffs, say faculty, students and patients, are profound.

2. This Is Your Brain On . . .
. . . alcohol, sex, gambling—maybe even your cell phone. New science tells us how to better manage our addictions.

1. What to Read This Summer–2019
We collected recommendations from faculty, Stanford’s Three Books program for incoming undergrads, and our very own books editor. Some are new; others are classics. But they’re all good for any season.

Bonus: The story that is always ripe.

Bananas Are Berries?
Honestly, we don’t know why this six-year-old story continues to be one of the most read Stanford stories. Don’t get us wrong: It’s good. And it’s short. But its perennial popularity strikes us as, well, bananas.


Summer Moore Batte, ’99, is the editor of stanfordmag.org. Email her at summerm@stanford.edu