Maybe you call it a bubble. Maybe you call it a silo. Maybe you just call it an echo chamber. But whatever metaphorical, narrow and enclosed space you prefer, there’s a good chance you’ve been told that one of the great social problems of our time is Americans getting their political news from biased sources. Conservatives watch Fox News. Liberals watch MSNBC. The news tells us what we already believe and distorts reality around partisan talking points.
You can batten the hatches against a storm, but bureaucracy is harder to ride out. Last week, one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record made a direct hit on the northern Bahamas and stalled there, destroying nearly half the homes on Great Abaco and Grand Bahamas islands. Days later, with their homes in ruins and food and water scarce, hundreds of fleeing Bahamians were asked to leave a ferry bound for Fort Lauderdale, Fla., because they didn’t have a U.S. visa — despite visas not being required in the past. And while U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials blamed the ferry operator, the federal government announced Wednesday it wouldn’t be extending the Dorian survivors temporary protected status.
This summer, we asked readers to send us their climate change questions. A lot of those questions sat squarely under umbrella topics we expected: how climate science works, what individuals can do to prevent greenhouse gas emissions and what crazy technological solutions might actually be effective. We’ll be coming back to those later. But first, we wanted to address a different sort of question: Who is winning climate change? Sure, climate change is a very bad thing in a larger, existential sense. But are there animals and plants whose habitats will expand in a warmer world? Is there anybody who has figured out how to profit off the coming apocalypse? Won’t some places be nicer to live in than others? You wanted to know. We’re going to find out.
Everybody is cynical and few people are changing their minds. That’s the takeaway from the House’s impeachment hearings. (Well, that and Steve Castor’s unconventional taste in briefcases.) It’s the sort of national attitude that you might suspect would inspire political apathy. If you think all politicians are crooked do-nothings, you might care less what they do.
The Dickey Amendment is dead. Or, maybe it’s more that it has eroded into a shadow of what it once was. First passed into law in 1996, the Amendment is widely credited with ending federal funding of gun violence research in the United States. But while Dickey is technically still on the books, Democrats have chipped away at its power over the last couple years — first with an official clarification that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can study gun violence, and now a bipartisan agreement to provide $25 million of actual funding to back that up.
One man’s vandalism is another’s political dissent. Back in 2012, researchers from Kent State University presented survey respondents a hypothetical news story: A partisan political group has been caught swiping yard signs and defacing campaign ads. Then they asked the respondents to rate both the seriousness of crime (which, technically, it is) and how justifiable it was to break the rules. The overwhelming response: It’s not that big of a deal and it is reasonably justifiable — at least, as long as the party affiliation of the group doing the vandalism matched the affiliation of the person answering the question. If the other guys are doing it, well, by jove, Geoffrey, that is just not how things are done. Drawing squiggly moustaches upon an opponent’s face is fine for me … but not for thee.
How many Americans are shot but not killed each year? I can’t really tell you exactly. You’d think gunshot injuries would be easy to count, but as we’ve reported in the past, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls its own estimates “unstable and potentially unreliable.” The range of uncertainty has gotten so large that the agency removed the most recent two years’ worth of firearm injury data from its website.
When a presidential race that was supposed to be won by a mainstream moderate instead ends being captured by a far-right gadfly, you better believe pollsters are gonna get some scrutiny. But when this situation took place in the first round of French elections in 2002, bumping the incumbent prime minister from the final round, it wasn’t just the failure of prediction that led to a polling protest. Instead, people were concerned that opinion polling, itself, had caused the outcome.
Football’s concussion crisis has been part of the NFL for almost two decades. But the pros aren’t the only ones reevaluating their relationship with the game. Now, studies are finding that parents of younger children are increasingly concerned about the long-term impacts of playing football.
This summer, we asked readers to send us their climate change questions. And they did. We received many, many, many climate change questions. So many, in fact, that we’re doing several different projects around them. You’ve seen our columns on Who’s Winning Climate Change? Today, we’re diving into the mailbag for another edition of Climate Question from an Adult – a series that will explore the business, culture and chemistry behind your most pressing questions about global warming. Have a question? Send it to us!