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July 9th, 2020 at 2:08 pm

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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July 9th, 2020 at 2:02 pm

The CDC lost control of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The the agency disappeared

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The world’s premier health agency pushed a flawed coronavirus containment strategy — until it disappeared from public view one day before the outbreak was declared a pandemic.

 On January 17, the world’s most trusted public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced it was screening travelers from Wuhan, China, because of a new infectious respiratory illness striking that city.

It was the CDC’s first public briefing on the outbreak, coming as China reported 45 cases of the illness and two deaths linked to a seafood and meat market in Wuhan. Chinese health officials had not yet confirmed that the new illness was transmitted from person to person. But there was reason to believe that it might be: four days earlier, officials in Thailand confirmed their first case, a traveler from Wuhan who had not visited the seafood market.

“Based on the information that CDC has today, we believe the current risk from this virus to the general public is low,” said Nancy Messonnier, the CDC’s director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Messonnier, 54, was a veteran of the CDC’s renowned Epidemiological Intelligence Service, where she had risen through the ranks during the national responses to the anthrax attacks and the previous decade’s swine flu pandemic to eventually head the agency’s vaccines center.

Most of the novel coronavirus’s infections apparently went “from animals to people,” she explained, and human transmission was “limited.”

There were many reasons why the information the CDC had on January 17 was wrong. It was wrong because China’s leaders withheld what they already knew about the virus from the World Health Organization. It was wrong, perhaps, because Trump administration officials had cut CDC staffers in Beijing who might have reported the truth directly from China. And it was wrong because past coronavirus outbreaks provided a false guide to an illness new to humanity.

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July 9th, 2020 at 1:45 pm

NASA is offering $35,000 in prizes to design a toilet that will work on the moon

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NASA is seeking new designs for a toilet that will work on the moon.

(CNN)NASA wants you to help put the loo in lunar, so it’s offering $35,000 in prizes to design a toilet that can be used on the moon.

The space agency has set an ambitious goal of sending astronauts back to the moon by 2024 and the crew will obviously have to go to the bathroom during the mission.

NASA may adapt the toilet design for its Artemis lunar lander, so it will need to work both in the microgravity of space, or “zero-g,” and on the moon, where the gravity is about a sixth of what we feel on Earth, according to the design guidelines posted by NASA and HeroX, which allows anyone to create challenges to solve a problem facing the world.

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July 8th, 2020 at 3:16 pm

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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July 8th, 2020 at 3:11 pm

Resale market expected to be valued at $64 billion in 5 years, as used clothing takes over closets

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A ThredUp warehouse.

KEY POINTS

  • The secondhand apparel market is valued at about $28 billion today and is forecast to reach $64 billion within the five years, according to a new report by ThredUp and GlobalData Retail.
  • “Resale is here to stay,” said ThredUp co-founder and CEO James Reinhart. “The next question is who wins and who loses.”

Despite the coronavirus pandemic upending much of the retail industry and putting a damper on apparel sales, the secondhand clothing market is expected to boom, according to one online resale marketplace.

The secondhand apparel market is valued at about $28 billion today and is forecast to reach $64 billion within five years, ThredUp said in its annual report, which is completed in a partnership with the third-party research firm GlobalData Retail.

It said the resale market grew 25 times faster than the overall retail market last year, with an estimated 64 million people buying secondhand products in 2019.

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July 8th, 2020 at 3:08 pm

The future of commerce belongs to the frictionless

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Striving for a frictionless experience for your customers, employees, suppliers, or other stakeholders isn’t just something that the digital era has enabled you to do. At this point, it’s a requirement.

 The businesses that will survive after the pandemic are the ones who give us back our time.

FOR A MINUTE there, at the start of the global lockdown, it seemed to be an open question: Would we all be able to get everything we needed delivered? Three months in, while nobody’s getting two-day deliveries anymore, it does seem as if Amazon alone might be able to provide almost all of us with our commodity needs.

Way back before Jeff Bezos began delivering almost everything to everyone, there was another open question: Was ordering just a few things at a time from Amazon bad for the environment? The answer is a little surprising. While it’s obviously more wasteful and damaging to place several small orders as opposed to fewer larger ones, it’s also obvious that having Amazon deliver everything to everyone is a more sustainable option than going to the store ourselves.

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July 7th, 2020 at 11:40 am

“No one needs to die from Covid any more.”

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Houston medical team credits 96% Covid cure rate to novel “MATH+” protocol: IV steroids, blood thinner, IV vitamins, maybe some Pepcid.

The most widely accepted (and plausible) explanation for the apparent disconnect between coronavirus cases and coronavirus deaths over past weeks, in Texas, Arizona, Florida, California, is a temporal lag; that is, deaths typically show up a month or so after hospital admission is required. A few weeks from now the numbers will catch up with each other, the experts say.

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July 7th, 2020 at 11:40 am

The beer barometer and the reopening of America

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Microbrews are providing us with macro clues about the state of the U.S. economy — and how confident Americans actually feel about reopening amid the pandemic.

The big picture: The national trend shows that more watering holes are opening up, with 85% of locations open and pouring beer last weekend. And if the bars are open, it’s a good sign that those communities have opened up, too.

But the glass is half full: In open establishments, only 49% taps are open, compared to 96% last June.

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July 7th, 2020 at 11:31 am

The pandemic is doing to credit cards what iTunes did to CDs

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Mastercard’s head of digital solutions says the pandemic has forced many consumers to reconsider how they think about paying for things, and thinks many of those changes will last.

Mastercard’s head of digital solutions explains how the pandemic has upended the way we buy.

How many times have you used your credit card since the pandemic started?

In just a few months, the pandemic has upended the way that many people are paying for things. People who rarely bought things online are now ordering all their groceries via Instacart, and the few times they’ve gone outside they’ve likely also turned to digital and contactless payment methods. Much of that behavior is likely to stick around once life returns to normal, according to Jorn Lambert, Mastercard’s EVP of digital solutions.

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July 6th, 2020 at 11:44 am

Trump executive order directs feds to prioritize skills over college degrees in hiring

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President Trump is reportedly preparing to redirect employers on how they should hire, prioritizing an applicant’s skills over a university degree.

Fox News has learned that the president will likely sign an executive order Friday, instructing the nation’s largest employer, the federal government, to take a new direction in its hiring tactics.

The order is expected to occur during a board meeting that advises the administration on worker policies.

Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, adviser and co-chair of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, has recommended the federal government — which employs more than 2 million civilian workers — re-strategize who they hire.

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July 6th, 2020 at 11:41 am

Google will pay publishers to license content for ‘new news experience’

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Google announced it will begin paying news publishers for “high-quality content” with the launch of a “new news experience” later this year. The move marks a major departure for Google, which has until now steadfastly refused to compensate news publishers for content. As news organizations’ digital advertising revenues have plunged, critics in the media, and even many politicians, have been pressuring Google to pay to license content.

Many details of the new program remain unclear. But with the news industry further weakened by economic fallout from the coronavirus, any potential revenue will likely be welcomed.

“A vibrant news industry matters — perhaps now more than ever, as people look for information they can count on amid a global pandemic and growing concerns about racial injustice around the world,” Google vice president for news Brad Bender wrote in a blog post. “But these events are happening at a time when the news industry is also being challenged financially. We care deeply about providing access to information and supporting the publishers who report on these important topics.”

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July 6th, 2020 at 11:38 am

Is an MBA worth it ? After Covid-19, absolutely not.

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For my parents’ generation, the default option for career development was getting an MBA. At one point in the late 2010s, I considered the degree, too. But as much as the brand glittered, a price tag of $200,000 plus two years of lost wages just didn’t seem worth it. And now?

Is an MBA worth it in 2020? It’s becoming more and more clear that an MBA degree is not just a questionable investment—it’s a risk that’s simply not worth it.

Let’s step back: The value of business school has been diminishing for a while. (Just ask Elon Musk, Sheryl Sandberg, or Mark Cuban for their opinion of the MBA or take a look at the declining application rates, even at the top schools.) The model of taking students out of the workforce to study decades-old cases was designed for a different era, when technology didn’t shift entire industries at such a breakneck speed.

Covid-19 has shone a glaring spotlight on just how archaic this type of education is. Almost overnight, business plans have been torn up, the rules we’ve played by scrapped. Executives can’t lean on the tactics they learned from outdated case studies—all of us are learning about our new world in real time.

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Understanding the future through the eyes of a child