The Most Popular Slate Stories of 2022

A gold trophy, with the words "Best of Slate" behind it, on a purple background
Photo Illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images Plus. 

Slate readers have exceedingly omnivorous interests, which are reflected in our most popular stories of 2022. In the past few years, two topics (Trump, COVID) consistently dominated the news and discourse. This year, those stories loosened their grip on the headlines, allowing other issues to bubble to the surface and get more attention.

Some of the articles on this list showcase Slate’s reporting on the year’s most timely news, including the midterms and Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, but others are more offbeat. The best of Slate’s work takes a sideways approach into important topics, like mental health care, the housing crunch, gun violence, and the culture wars. And lest it seem like the news is all doom and gloom, we spent the year playing—and reading all about—Wordle.


1. Last Fall, I Walked Into a Psych Ward and Asked to Be Locked In. It Was Nothing Like I Expected.
When you’re at your mental breaking point, what does it take to get the help you need?
By Sarah Erdreich, March 11

2. Sharks Are Right There at the Beach. We Can’t Accept What That Means.
After a summer of bites and panicked swimmers, it’s clear that humans and sharks are going to have to share the water from now on.
By Russell Jacobs, Sept. 1

3. The Brutal Moment That Sarah Palin’s Testimony Fell Apart at the NYT Trial
Palin started out strong on the stand. But then things careened off course.
By Seth Stevenson, Feb. 10


4. When I First Saw Elon Musk for Who He Really Is
“The CEO’s mythmaking often obscures an uglier truth. The public is finally reckoning with it.”
By Edward Niedermeyer, May 27

5. A Woman Who Spent Years Telling Sandy Hook Parents Their Kids Were Never Killed Explains Why She Did It
Ten years after the Newtown tragedy, the conspiracy theory that it was all a hoax just won’t go away.
By Elizabeth Williamson, June 13


6. A Religious Fable That Confounded Scholars for Millennia Finally Makes Sense Right Now
Why the Book of Job is the perfect text for our precarious times.
By Abraham Josephine Riesman, March 13

7. What a Perfect Wordle Guessing Strategy Teaches Us About English
A satisfyingly nerdy deep-dive into Wordle that will help take your playing strategy to the next L-E-V-E-L.
By Steven Weiss, Feb. 5


8. Bringing Back a Grand American Institution Could Transform Society. Why Don’t We?
Rents are out-of-control. The office is becoming obsolete. Buying a house is nearly impossible. Are hotels the key to addressing these huge changes to where Americans live and work?
By Henry Grabar, July 17


9. I Watched J.D. Vance Try to Charm Voters in Ohio. I Finally Get Why He’s So Angry.
“As the Senate candidate finally strode to the stage, an old-timer next to me turned his head. ‘J.D. Vance,’ he muttered. ‘So he does exist.’ ”
By Ben Mathis-Lilley, Oct. 30

10. The 50 Greatest Fictional Deaths of All Time
“The most tearjerking, hilarious, satisfying, and shocking death scenes in 2,500 years of culture.”
By Dan Kois, July 20

Honorable Mentions

My Eight Deranged Days on the Gone Girl Cruise
Wine tastings. Walking tours of European cities. A presentation by an Austrian homicide detective with a slideshow of dead bodies. What more could you want from your river cruise vacation?
By Imogen West-Knights, Oct. 18


Inside the Law School Meltdown the Supreme Court Has Unleashed
As the Supreme Court’s conservative wing flexes its judicial muscles, law school professors have been confronted with a thorny question: How are you supposed to teach the law—and maintain faith in it—when the highest court in the land keeps changing the rules of the game?
By Mark Joseph Stern, Oct. 2

What They Won in Ottawa
The “freedom convoy” that occupied Canada’s capital city in some ways resembled the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. How do these public displays of rage affect the protests’ targets—and the bystanders?
By Dahlia Lithwick, Feb. 23

What Really Happened at the Amber Heard–Johnny Depp Trial
“Officially, it was the conclusion of a six-week defamation trial between two celebrities. In reality, it was the culmination of the largest explosion of online misogyny since Gamergate—and a chilling vision of the future of the internet.”
By Michael Hobbes, June 3


The Brand That Conquered America’s Kitchens Won a Legion of Obsessive Fans. Can They All Be Wrong?
How OXO “diced, peeled, and salad-spun” its way to consumers’ hearts.
By Dan Kois, June 20


The Most Unexpected Consequence of the Texas Abortion Ban
Before Roe v. Wade was overturned, Texas passed one of the country’s most restrictive abortion laws. Health providers say the six-week ban turned patients’ pregnancies into “a ticking time bomb.”
By Christina Cauterucci, April 24


A Powerful Idea About Our Brains Stormed Pop Culture and Captured Minds. It’s Mostly Bunk.
The idea that the human brain isn’t fully developed until age 25 has quickly become conventional wisdom. How did this factoid come to dominate our understanding of neuroscience?
By Jane C. Hu, Nov. 27

What Happens When Psychedelic Treatment for PTSD Turns Into a Bad Trip
This year, Slate and Arizona State University launched State of Mind, a new section dedicated to telling nuanced stories about mental health, including this personal narrative from a man who tried an experimental treatment for his PTSD.
By Michael Pollack, Feb. 2