The 12 most-read 2011 articles in Life & Style
From 3D porn films to European superbugs, Steve Anderson runs down the most popular articles published in 2011, as well as a few editors' favourites
Covering fashion, food and drink, health and families, house and home, love and sex, history, gadgets and tech, and motoring, Independent.co.uk's Life & Style section is always full to the brim with news and features that stretch across a wide range of interests.
Therefore it's no surprise that the collection of this year's most read articles paints a balanced picture of a busy, diverse, section, and includes an amalgamation of pieces stretching across all of its sub-sections, from hard-hitting health stories and lengthy features on human psychology, to quirky bites of gadget news and amusing commentary on dieting and fitness.
The 12 most read are those Life & Style articles published in 2011 that have been visited by the greatest number of separate users to date.
The list (click the headlines to read articles in full)
1. Adult industry enraged as 'Porn Wikileaks' gives stars real names
By Guy Adams, Friday 1 April
With both 'porn' and 'Wikileaks' in the headline, this article was a search engine's dream. Guy Adams, The Independent's LA correspondent, reports on the anger of California's x-rated film business following the leaking of a database containing the real names, dates of birth, and official nicknames of more than 15,000 'performers'.
2. Cataracts, hips, knees and tonsils: NHS begins rationing operations
By Oliver Wright, Thursday 28 July
Illustrating the aforementioned diversity of the Life & Style section, this story by Whitehall editor Oliver Wright is far removed from Guy's tongue-in-cheek reportage above. Oliver exposes the shocking finding that two-thirds of health trusts in England are rationing treatments for 'non-urgent' conditions as part of the drive to reduce costs in the NHS by £20bn over the next four years.
3. How Google Translate works
By David Bellos, Tuesday 13 September
This extract from David Bellos' book Is That a Fish in Your Ear: Translation and the Meaning of Everything explains the way in which Google's pioneering language translator scours the web for instances where certain phrases have been used in various languages previously, in order to translate the text you input. Far from being just one for the techies, this piece raises some very interesting ideas about the nature of language and the quest for 'pure meaning'.
4. Antibiotic-resistant infections spread through Europe
By Jeremy Laurance, Friday 18 November
A disturbing report by The Independent's health editor on the increasing resilience of the bacteria K. pneumoniae against carbapenems, the most powerful class of antibiotics. The expert warning that we are heading towards the 'unthinkable scenario of untreatable infections' seems to be taken seriously by our readers, with 128,000 viewing this article in just over one month.
5. 'Glitch' sees Apple's Siri find its voice on abortion
By Guy Adams, Friday 2 December
Another light-hearted story from Guy Adams on the iPhone 4S, and its voice-activated, 'opinionated', personal assistant Siri, who refuses to give details of abortion clinics or directs users to Planned Parenthood clinics, much to the joy of pro-life groups, and dismay of liberals. Another late entry, having only been online since the beginning of this month.
6. Secret history of Stonehenge revealed
By David Keys, Saturday 26 November 2011
The only history article among the 12 most read, this piece by David Keys takes a look at the findings of recent research into Britain's most famous ancient site, including the revelation that it may have been a place of worship 500 years before the first stone was erected. Such propositions offer new insights into the landmark's mysterious past, and turn past archaeological theories on their heads.
7. Why a lack of empathy is the root of all evil
By Clint Witchalls, Tuesday 5 April
An intriguing feature about the theories of Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge, who suggests that acts traditionally labelled as evil - and written off as such - can be explained in terms empathy deficit. Clint Witchalls doesn't buy straight into Baron-Cohen's arguments, however, and it is the question surrounding culpability that makes this such a compelling read.
8. Don't let them see you sweat: Why Murdoch and other powerful men shouldn't exercise in public
By Will Dean, Thursday 14 July
Inspired by the summer's shots of the News Corp chairman being put through his 80-year-old paces by his personal trainer in a London park, this jovial piece by Will Dean argues that the power elite may be giving away a little more than intended when they're at their most primal. To paraphrase Will, the looks in the eyes of marathon runners are less windows into their souls than conservatories.
9. Does running make you fat?
By Sophie Morris, Tuesday 11 October
Continuing a running theme, this headline is an 'hallelujah' to exercisephobes everywhere, but, sadly, the content of Sophie Morris' fantastic piece isn't so kind on the sofa-bound. Sophie highlights the importance of a healthier diet and high-impact work-outs for weight loss, banishing the myth that donning lycra and hitting the tarmac will instantly sculpt that perfect beach bod.
10. China gets hot under the collar over world's first 3D porn film
By Clifford Coonan, Wednesday 6 April
The second entry on our list with 'porn' in its headline - is this telling us something about our readers? Clifford Coonan reports on the release of Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy, the first major 3D pornographic movie, and how tour groups from mainland China were planning to make the trip across to Hong Kong to catch the opening, due to its banning in their home country. Like Guy Adams, earlier, Clifford keeps his tongue firmly held in cheek, pondering whether "viewers' 3D glasses steam up during Sex and Zen's racier moments" and "3D could be box-office Viagra for the genre".
11. 'I woke up in the wrong life'
By Naomi Jacobs, Tuesday 14 June
"Where was my lower bunk bed and my pink bedspread? Why wasn't my sister sleeping soundly above me? Why couldn't I hear my parents making breakfast downstairs?" Naomi Jacobs' first-person account of transient global amnesia is as fascinating as it is terrifying, as the 34-year-old mother describes waking up one day convinced she was only 15.
12. The uncomfortable truth about mind control: Is free will simply a myth?
By Michael Mosley, Thursday 6 January 2011
A curious piece by Michael Mosley on the pioneering psychological experiment by Stanley Milgram in the 1960s, in which participants would deliver what they thought were deadly electric shocks to a stranger if ordered to do so by someone they perceived to be in authority, and the way in which such an experiment holds a mirror up to our own morality and forces to ask how far we would go if told to.
While the above list shows the most read articles of 2011, we asked our editors to nominate their favourite pieces of the year.
Susie Rushton, Editor, The Independent Magazine
'I haven't succeeded at love': A rare audience with rap legend P Diddy
By Guy Adams, Saturday 22 January
"My favourite feature of the year was Guy Adams's interview with Diddy. Getting him to turn up to the interview was a marathon in itself, but we we eventually got the date, he was very open about his career and personal life. I also loved the slightly awkward photographs that Stefan Ruiz shot for us of Diddy in his hotel room. A cracking cover story all round."
Laurence Earle, Executive Editor & Editor, The New Review
Béatrice Dalle: 'I am naturally quite bashful'
By Robert Chalmers, Sunday 17 July
"It may not have got as many hits as 'Mystery of the Mummy's Chinese travel ban' or 'The 10 Best fountain pens' ... but I'd like to nominate Robert Chalmers' eye-boggling interview with the actress Béatrice Dalle. After all, this too was a story that had everything: Shoplifting! Nudity! Drugs! A boyfriend who punched a monkey on TV!"
And looking forward: Alan Cleaver, Online House Hunter: 2012 HOUSING PREDICTIONS
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Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
Andreas Lubitz: Knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 enabled mass murder
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