Coronavirus responses highlight how humans have evolved to dismiss facts that don’t fit their worldview

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Science denialism is not just a simple matter of logic or ignorance

Bemoaning uneven individual and state compliance with public health recommendations, top U.S. COVID-19 adviser Anthony Fauci recently blamed the country’s ineffective pandemic response on an American “anti-science bias.” He called this bias “inconceivable,” because “science is truth.” Fauci compared those discounting the importance of masks and social distancing to “anti-vaxxers” in their “amazing” refusal to listen to science.

It is Fauci’s profession of amazement that amazes me. As well-versed as he is in the science of the coronavirus, he’s overlooking the well-established science of “anti-science bias,” or science denial.

Americans increasingly exist in highly polarized, informationally insulated ideological communities occupying their own information universes.

Within segments of the political blogosphere, global warming is dismissed as either a hoax or so uncertain as to be unworthy of response. Within other geographic or online communities, the science of vaccine safety, fluoridated drinking water and genetically modified foods is distorted or ignored. There is a marked gap in expressed concern over the coronavirus depending on political party affiliation, apparently based in part on partisan disagreements over factual issues like the effectiveness of social distancing or the actual COVID-19 death rate.

In theory, resolving factual disputes should be relatively easy: Just present strong evidence, or evidence of a strong expert consensus. This approach succeeds most of the time, when the issue is, say, the atomic weight of hydrogen.

But things don’t work that way when scientific advice presents a picture that threatens someone’s perceived interests or ideological worldview. In practice, it turns out that one’s political, religious or ethnic identity quite effectively predicts one’s willingness to accept expertise on any given politicized issue.

“Motivated reasoning” is what social scientists call the process of deciding what evidence to accept based on the conclusion one prefers. As I explain in my book, “The Truth About Denial,” this very human tendency applies to all kinds of facts about the physical world, economic history and current events.

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Coronavirus has turned America into a nation of savers. But how long will it last?

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With a busy life in Los Angeles, Anna McKitrick has trouble saving. The 25-year-old waitress and aspiring actress estimates she spends $200 a month on coffee, snacks, on-the-go meals, and other purchases she could live without.

Now thanks to the coronavirus, McKitrick is stuck in her childhood home in New Jersey, living rent-free for the foreseeable future — and using the opportunity to permanently kick her impulse spending habit.

Without bills to pay and thanks to a surprisingly large tax refund, she’s already saved several thousand dollars. She says she’s also reevaluated what is actually important to her. “I just realized how much money I was wasting instead of putting it towards my priorities, like building a bigger emergency fund and paying for experiences I want to have,” says McKitrick.

It’s no secret that Americans struggle to save for the future. A study from JPMorgan Chase found that about two-thirds of us do not have the recommended six weeks of take home pay set aside for an emergency. And a recent Money/Synchrony Bank study revealed that 36% of people earning between $75,000 and $100,000 still worry about unexpected expenses. But now the coronavirus is forcing millions of people to cut down on unnecessary spending in a way that they’ve never been able to before.

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Americans are actually drinking less during the pandemic

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During the coronavirus pandemic, people are drinking less. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

While the masses are buying more booze from grocers and liquor stores to drink at home, that hasn’t been enough to fill the gaping hole created by declines in shipments to restaurants, bars and sporting venues that were closed to slow the virus. Global alcohol consumption isn’t expected to return to pre-Covid-19 levels until 2024, and the U.S. recovery will take even longer, according to researcher IWSR said.

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Data fog: Why some countries’ coronavirus numbers do not add up

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Reported numbers of confirmed cases have become fodder for the political gristmill. Here is what non-politicians think.

 Have you heard the axiom “In war, truth is the first casualty”?

As healthcare providers around the world wage war against the COVID-19 pandemic, national governments have taken to brawling with researchers, the media and each other over the veracity of the data used to monitor and track the disease’s march across the globe.

Allegations of deliberate data tampering carry profound public health implications. If a country knowingly misleads the World Health Organization (WHO) about the emergence of an epidemic or conceals the severity of an outbreak within its borders, precious time is lost. Time that could be spent mobilising resources around the globe to contain the spread of the disease. Time to prepare health systems for a coming tsunami of infections. Time to save more lives.

No one country has claimed that their science or data is perfect: French and US authorities confirmed they had their first coronavirus cases weeks earlier than previously thought.

Still, coronavirus – and the data used to benchmark it – has become grist for the political mill. But if we tune out the voices of politicians and pundits, and listen to those of good governance experts, data scientists and epidemiological specialists, what does the most basic but consequential data – the number of confirmed cases per country – tell us about how various governments around the globe are crunching coronavirus numbers and spinning corona-narratives?

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How to build a ‘rest ethic’ that is as strong as your work one

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The authors of a new book offer creative and thoughful ways to maximize your time off that will gift you with inspiration, ideas, and recovery.

Take in a deep breath and hold it. Keep holding. How long can you hold your inhale until it gets uncomfortable? Thirty seconds? A few minutes? It doesn’t take long until we all, eventually, need to exhale.

Think of your work ethic as the inhale (it is, in a way, as essential to your career as air is to your body). With a good work ethic, we make, execute, coordinate, manage, fulfill, and get things done. Task list—inhale. Project execution—inhale. Making our ideas come to life—inhale. But we can’t keep inhaling forever. Eventually we have to exhale. This exhale is your rest ethic, and it is just as essential.

A solid rest ethic gifts us inspiration, ideas, and recovery. It allows us to build up our enthusiasm and sustain our passion. Gaining a fresh perspective—exhale. Project ideation and “aha” moments—exhale. Letting big ideas incubate in your mind—exhale. And just as a deep exhale prepares you for a better inhale, your rest ethic enables you to have a better work ethic.

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Travel after coronavirus (COVID-19): Six ways it will change forever

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Flying with masks, for cabin crew and passengers, will become common practice.

Things might be better, or things might be worse, but if there’s one thing that is certain, travel will never be the same again.

Everything will change. It has to. Even if a vaccine is discovered for the novel coronavirus, the way in which we move around and see the world will be forever altered.

After an initial run of discounted fares, flying is likely to be more expensive post-COVID-19.

The big question is: how?

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Things that may become obsolete after Coronavirus

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Life as we know it has changed since the coronavirus outbreak. We have been forced to rethink simple things that could now contribute toward the spread of the virus.

From handshakes to open-floor offices, here are eight things listed by Insider that could become obsolete once the worst of the pandemic has passed:

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On the cusp of adulthood and facing an uncertain future : What we know about Gen Z so far

 

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One-in-ten eligible voters in the 2020 electorate will be part of a new generation of Americans – Generation Z. Born after 1996, most members of this generation are not yet old enough to vote, but as the oldest among them turn 23 this year, roughly 24 million will have the opportunity to cast a ballot in November. And their political clout will continue to grow steadily in the coming years, as more and more of them reach voting age.

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CDC says 40 percent of Americans surveyed tried using bleach to wash food to prevent coronavirus

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that over a third of Americans who took its survey reportedly misused household cleaners by using them on their fruits and vegetables in the attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Calls to poison control centers regarding disinfectants and household cleaners reportedly went up since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Thirty-nine percent of respondents reported engaging in non-recommended high-risk practices with the intent of preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, such as washing food products with bleach, applying household cleaning or disinfectant products to bare skin, and intentionally inhaling or ingesting these products,” the CDC report read.

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Artificial intelligence can make personality judgments based on photographs

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Russian researchers from HSE University and Open University for the Humanities and Economics have demonstrated that artificial intelligence is able to infer people’s personality from ‘selfie’ photographs better than human raters do. Conscientiousness emerged to be more easily recognizable than the other four traits. Personality predictions based on female faces appeared to be more reliable than those for male faces. The technology can be used to find the ‘best matches’ in customer service, dating or online tutoring.

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Neighborhoods where stores were destroyed become food deserts overnight

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A burned Walgreens in Minneapolis on May 30

In many neighborhoods that have seen looting and vandalism over the past week, residents are now left with few — if any — grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses. Which is made even harder by the fact that lots of stores are also closed because of the pandemic.

There’s a 6-mile long commercial corridor in South Minneapolis called Lake Street, and it has been destroyed.

“We no longer have pharmacies in our community,” said ZoeAna Martinez, who works for the Lake Street Council, a business association. “We no longer have gas stations as well. Our largest grocery stores are also gone,” Martinez said. “Right now, our community, we live in a food desert, which happened overnight.”

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Japan may have beaten Coronavirus without lockdowns or mass testing. But how?

Japan Lifts Coronavirus State of Emergency Nationwide

Japan’s state of emergency is set to end with new cases of the coronavirus dwindling to mere dozens. It got there despite largely ignoring the default playbook.

No restrictions were placed on residents’ movements, and businesses from restaurants to hairdressers stayed open. No high-tech apps that tracked people’s movements were deployed. The country doesn’t have a center for disease control. And even as nations were exhorted to “test, test, test,” Japan has tested just 0.2% of its population — one of the lowest rates among developed countries.

Yet the curve has been flattened, with deaths well below 1,000, by far the fewest among the Group of Seven developed nations. In Tokyo, its dense center, cases have dropped to single digits on most days. While the possibility of a more severe second wave of infection is ever-present, Japan has entered and is set to leave its emergency in just weeks, with the status lifted already for most of the country and Tokyo and the remaining four other regions set to exit Monday.

Analyzing just how Japan defied the odds and contained the virus while disregarding the playbook used by other successful countries has become a national conversation. Only one thing is agreed upon: that there was no silver bullet, no one factor that made the difference.

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