Curious about Everything

Day: October 12, 2021 (Page 1 of 3)

Governments need to trust Joe Public with hard truths

Here’s a revolutionary concept » Governments being open and honest with citizens.

Michael Bang Petersen, Nature »

Former US president Donald Trump admitted to playing down the risks of the coronavirus to “reduce panic”. Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil, blamed the press for causing “hysteria”. The UK government delayed its lockdown, fearing the British population would rapidly become fatigued by restrictions. And, in my home country of Denmark, the authorities tried not to draw public attention to pandemic preparations in early 2020, to avoid “unnecessary fear”.

But Denmark pivoted to a strategy of trusting its citizens with hard truths. The buy-in that ensued led to low death rates and laid the groundwork for a vaccination rate of 95% for everyone aged above 50 (and 75% for the population in general). In September 2021, my country announced that COVID-19 is no longer classified as a “critical threat”.

When Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced a lockdown on 11 March 2020, the rhetoric of the government had changed towards impressive clarity and acknowledgement of uncertainty. The #FlattenTheCurve graph (popularized by The Economist magazine a few days earlier) was used to show how an uncontrolled epidemic would strain hospitals. This created a sense of urgency and crisis, but not panic. And Frederiksen clearly acknowledged uncertainty. “We stand on unexplored territory in this situation,” she said. “Will we make mistakes? Yes, we will.”

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The Intercept has revealed Facebook’s list of 4,000+ “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations”. It is disturbing to see which groups have been left off the list.

Experts say the public deserves to see the list, a clear embodiment of US foreign policy priorities that could disproportionately censor marginalized groups.

Sam Biddle, The Intercept »

“The lists seem to create two disparate systems, with the heaviest penalties applied to heavily Muslim regions and communities,” Patel wrote in an email to The Intercept. The differences in demographic composition between Tiers 1 and 3 “suggests that Facebook — like the U.S. government — considers Muslims to be the most dangerous.” By contrast, Patel pointed out, “Hate groups designated as Anti-Muslim hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center are overwhelmingly absent from Facebook’s lists.”

Anti-government militias, among those receiving more measured interventions from Facebook, “present the most lethal [domestic violent extremist] threat” to the U.S., intelligence officials concluded earlier this year, a view shared by many nongovernmental researchers. A crucial difference between alleged foreign terror groups and say, the Oath Keepers, is that domestic militia groups have considerable political capital and support on the American right. The Militarized Social Movement entries “do seem to be created in response to more powerful organizations and ethnic groups breaking the rules pretty regularly,” said Ángel Díaz, of UCLA School of Law, “and [Facebook] feeling that there needs to be a response, but they didn’t want the response to be as broad as it was for the terrorism portion, so they created a subcategory to limit the impact on discourse from politically powerful groups.” For example, the extreme-right movement known as “boogaloo,” which advocates for a second Civil War, is considered a Militarized Social Movement, which would make it subject to the relatively lenient Tier 3 rules. Facebook has only classified as Tier 1 a subset of boogaloo, which it made clear was “distinct from the broader and loosely-affiliated boogaloo movement.”

A Facebook spokesperson categorically denied that Facebook gives extremist right-wing groups in the U.S. special treatment due to their association with mainstream conservative politics. They added that the company tiers groups based on their behavior, stating, “Where American groups satisfy our definition of a terrorist group, they are designated as terrorist organizations (E.g. The Base, Atomwaffen Division, National Socialist Order). Where they satisfy our definition of hate groups, they are designated as hate organizations (For example, Proud Boys, Rise Above Movement, Patriot Front).”

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The author tweeted »

Here’s what longevity research says about adding years to your life

Diet, exercise, optimism, and long-term, loving relationships all play important roles in how long and how well we live.

Matt Fuchs, Washington Post »

All humans share 99.9 percent of their genes. This explains why even “super-agers,” born with tiny genetic differences that promote longevity, almost never surpass 110. (Jeanne Louise Calment of France was an outlier, living until the age of 122, the current record.) Some animals make it well beyond that mark, according to Jan Vijg, a molecular geneticist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Scientists know just one way for humans to live 170 years like a giant tortoise: become a giant tortoise.

What’s clear is that certain lifestyles help individuals live longer than they otherwise would — including the genetically blessed. Harvard researchers found that healthy habits add nearly 15 years of life expectancy. “That’s over $100 trillion in health-care savings,” said Harvard biologist David Sinclair.

Today, our bodies still infer a state of scarcity if we consume lots of vegetables, switching on the longevity genes. Indeed, such a diet is associated with longer lives, according to the Harvard study. Becoming a full-fledged vegetarian probably isn’t necessary, but, to maximize what longevity experts call “healthspan,” at least 50 percent of protein should come from vegetable sources, Longo said.

He advises getting other proteins mostly from fatty fish while moderating your intake of starchy carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes. Research has shown that older people who routinely devour such carbs may be more likely to become cognitively impaired. Try to replace them sometimes with foods such as lentils or extra vegetables, which have more fiber and minerals than refined carbs, said Kris Verburgh, a nutrigerontologist and author of “The Longevity Code.”

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