April 28th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Apocryphal Now

Today you’re going to get access to information that will, at long last, debunk some of our common, deep-seated, and longheld beliefs. That might feel a little soul crushing. But wait, there’s more. After that, you’re going to be provided with data that will call into question the information used to debunk your original beliefs. Don’t get me wrong. The things you’re sure of are indeed completely wrong. Just not for the reasons you’re about to be given. It turns out “that the mere act of busting myths makes [one] more susceptible to spreading them.” This leads us to a key question, elegantly posed by FiveThirtyEight’s Daniel Engber: Who Will Debunk The Debunkers? (The curators?)


Turn Your Head and Cough Up the Equity

We got you to share vacation photos and cute emojis. So is there any reason we can’t eradicate your health problems? We’re about to find out. Tech VCs are pouring billions into health-related technologies; giving new hope to an old-school industry, while raising fears “that pseudoscience is being confused with innovation.” (Don’t worry. That’s what they said about SnapChat.) From WaPo: There’s a new sheriff in town in Silicon Valley — the FDA.

+ At the intersection of tech and health, the NYT reports that British doctors are getting behind e-cigarettes, “saying they are the best hope in generations for people addicted to tobacco cigarettes to quit.” US doctors are not amused.

+ FastCo: Why so many doctors are advising startups.


Doctors without Air Cover

“It appears to have been a deliberate strike on a known medical facility and follows the Assad regime’s appalling record of striking such facilities and first responders.” At least 27 people were killed in an airstrike on a Syrian hospital operated by Doctors without Borders. Included among the casualties was one of Aleppo’s last pediatricians.


When a Leak Becomes a Deluge

“All my life, I put myself in harm’s way because I couldn’t be who I was. I decided now I was willing to die for who I am and fight for those who didn’t have a voice.” The controversy related to which restrooms can be used by the transgender community has garnered the attention of lawmakers, corporations, and the media. It’s also awakened “a new wave of transgender people stepping out of the shadows to fight a surge in state bills.”

+ And Brian Flood of The Wrap has written the most modern American headline possible: “Caitlyn Jenner has taken up Donald Trump’s offer and urinated in the women’s bathroom at one of his luxury buildings, sharing the entire event on her Facebook page.” (I’m convinced that when Narcissus gazed into the pond, he saw the reflections of Caitlyn Jenner and Donald Trump looking back up at him…)


Virtual Economy

“When you’re talking about inversions, or you’re talking about C.E.O. perks or the gap between what the assembly-line worker is making compared to what the C.E.O. is making, all those things used to be constrained by the fact that you live in the city, you’re going to church in that city, your kids might be going to the same school as the guy who is working on the assembly line because public schools actually were invested in. And all those constraining factors have been greatly reduced or, in some cases, eliminated entirely. And that contributes to the trends toward inequality. That contributes to, I think, a divergence between how the people who run these companies and economic elites think about their responsibilities and the policies that they promote with political leaders. And that’s had, I think, a damaging effect on the economy overall.” In the NYT Magazine, Andrew Ross Sorkin talks to President Obama about what might be the most confounding part of his legacy. When economic numbers seem so great, why do so many voters feel left behind?


Drawing a Line in the Bland

Sandra Bland’s mother just spoke to a group of Congressional leaders. And none of them will forget her opening remarks: “I am here representing the mothers who have lost children as we go on about our daily lives. When the cameras and lights are gone, our babies are dead. So I’m going to ask you here today to wake up. Wake up … The tears are real, the pain is real, the problem is real. So, I don’t come here playing games with you all. I don’t come to sit and be a part of a caucus where we talk and do nothing. You, you, you, you don’t know my pain.”


Your Mind is in the Gut

“With all the knowledge we’ve gathered, we made the best possible effort to capture all the factors we could imagine, and we could only explain 8 percent of the total variation. It’s very humbling.” The more we learn, the more convinced we are that the microbiome plays a key role in our health (probably both physical and mental). But it’s complicated in there.

+ (Somewhat) related: How laxative teas took over Instagram, one $250,000 celebrity endorsement at a time. (I don’t think anyone who’s consumed a cup of this tea needs a celebrity to assure them of its effectiveness.)

+ You might want to get a second opinion … on the price of your surgery. It could be a lot cheaper one town over.


Seed Investing

According to a recent study, “half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles.” And think about it. This was before Tinder.


Purp Walk

NPR’s explains why Bruce Springsteen’s tribute to Prince is a lesson in public mourning. (It’s also worth noting that E-Street guitarist Nils Lofgren had never played Purple Rain before that day.)

+ And if you missed it earlier in the week, I wrote a post on why these forms of public mourning are so important, and why the Prince outpouring has been so extreme: Purple Storm.


Bottom of the News

If you had to give aliens a picture of life on Earth, what photos would you show them? Here are10 National Geographic photos that explain Earth to extraterrestrials. (Today, we’d just show them ten photos of people staring at their phones.)

+ What do you do if someone calls on others to boycott you? You sell shirts that say Boycott Beyonce.

+ And for the last time, no, you can’t have a Lemur.

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