Neglecting Hate

monkeys_viaNams82It hasn’t been a good week. You wouldn’t think much could be worse than a hate-motivated mass shooting against LGBTQ people who had gathered just to be themselves; but the killer also claimed to have been driven by an ideology of hate, inspired by a small segment of religion that hates people for not thinking the same things they do. And it isn’t just ISIS that does that, because there are large swathes of American Christianity and American Politics that say the same thing. So it was a bad start to the week.

And then something worse happened: while many people were still wrestling with how to think and feel and support each other and understand this attack, while many people were wondering if they were safe or if their friends were safe, a lot of people started saying horrible things. These people started saying things steeped in judgment, scorn, and self-righteousness. They buried the dead under a series of disproven talking points, and they buried the living right along with them.

They responded to hate by normalizing it.

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October Recommended Reading

 At the end of each month I compile links to articles I found thought-provoking over that month, categorized with pull-quotes for your perusal and edification. Each of these is a story that made me stop and think, and hopefully one or two of them will do the same for you.

Racism:

She was guilty of being a black girl: The mundane terror of police violence in American schools – Brittney Cooper

“Still, there are those who insist that we don’t know the full context. But we do know that this young lady did not do anything violent. We do know that she did not have a weapon. We do know that Ben Fields has been twice sued, once as a member of the police force and once during his time as a school administrator for excessive use of force. He has a documented history of online complaints about his mistreatment of students going back to 2012.

And we should know that this kind of violence is not acceptable. It is not discipline. It is terror and brutalization designed to compel compliance rather than to redirect negative behaviors. It is no way to educate. It is the way a system treats Black students when it decides that they are not worthy of hope, care, dignity or protection. This is the way the system and its arbiters view and treat Black life.”

Sexism:

A New Twist in the Fight Against Sexism in Science – Sarah Zhang

“What’s remarkable is what happened after each of these events occurred, when the hashtags trended and the voices clamored: The people responsible were held accountable for their actions. The Rosetta scientist issued a teary apology. The Nobel laureate lost his honorary professorship. The editor of the Science column is no longer there. The Berkeley astronomer resigned in disgrace.

In isolation, any one of these events could seem like an outlier: just one person getting his due. But taken together, so many and in succession, they suggest something bigger. A conversation about sexism in science broke open this year. Sharp organizing and social media are sparking real change. What was once whispered privately in laboratories and offices is being discussed publicly, loudly, and clearly.”

Even With Hard Evidence Of Gender Bias In STEM Fields, Men Don’t Believe It’s Real – Laurel Raymond

“One landmark study found that science faculty at research universities rate applicants with male names as more competent, more hireable, and more deserving of a higher starting salary than female applicants, even when the resumes are otherwise identical.

Now, a new study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) shows another level of bias: Many men don’t believe this is happening. When shown empirical evidence of gender bias against women in the STEM fields, men were far less likely to find the studies convincing or important, according to researchers from Montana State University (MSU), the University of North Florida, and Skidmore College.”

Cuts To Domestic Violence Services Are Placing Victims In Danger – Bryce Covert

“The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) recently released its yearly one-day census of most of the country’s nearly 2,000 domestic violence programs and shelters. Many have cut back on key services and have run out of enough beds to accommodate the massive number of people who need them.

That can leave victims in dangerous situations longer and keeps them from moving into stable, independent living arrangements. “When [victims] come into domestic violence shelters, their situations are more dangerous, likely because they’ve waited longer,” said Joyce Grover, executive director of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. “They have to wait for services even when they personally feel like they are in crisis.””

Politics:

What Could Raising Taxes on the 1% Do? Surprising Amounts – Patricia Cohen

“”Most economists today would agree that raising taxes modestly would bring in more revenue” without doing any serious damage to the economy, said Roberton Williams, a fellow at the Tax Policy Center. The big question is how much is too much, because at some point, higher tax rates would discourage extra investment and work.

All the Republican candidates share the party’s traditional opposition to raising taxes on the wealthy, arguing that it would ruin the economy by sopping up money that would otherwise be used to create jobs. Lowering taxes, they say, will unleash a torrent of economic activity that will in the long run spur growth and revenue.

But most mainstream economists, including some on the conservative side of the divide, concede that even with optimistic projections about growth and spending cuts, the Republican plans would leave a whopping budget gap, requiring more borrowing, not less. Revamping the tax code along these lines would also decrease the share paid by those at the top.”

Climate Change:

Greedland is Melting Away – Coral Davenport, Josh Haner, Larry Buchanan And Derek Watkins

“For years, scientists have studied the impact of the planet’s warming on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. But while researchers have satellite images to track the icebergs that break off, and have created models to simulate the thawing, they have little on-the-ground information and so have trouble predicting precisely how fast sea levels will rise.”

What Is—and Is Not—Considered Settled with Climate Science? – Brenda Ekwurzel

“Three widely accepted scientific understandings in climate science: Carbon dioxide traps heat and exerts major influence on Earth’s temperature when its concentration increases or decreases: upheld since the late 19th century. Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. Human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

Health:

Processed meat and cancer – what you need to know – Casey Dunlop

“In this post, we’ll look at what IARC’s classification actually means, how red and processed meat affect cancer risk, and the likely size of this effect. But before we move on, let’s be clear: yes, a prolonged high-meat diet isn’t terribly good for you. But a steak, bacon sandwich or sausage bap a few times a week probably isn’t much to worry about. And overall the risks are much lower than for other things linked to cancer – such as smoking.”

Meat and tobacco: the difference between risk and strength of evidence – Suzi Gage

“The way this message has been framed in the media is extremely misleading. Comparing meat to tobacco, as most news organisations who’ve chosen to report this have done, makes it seem like a bacon sandwich might be just as harmful as a cigarette. This is absolutely not the case.”

Patients Assume ‘Breakthrough’ Drugs Are Better – Sarah Wickline Wallan

“The breakthrough designation gets awarded based on preliminary evidence, which can include changes in surrogate markers of disease that do not always translate into meaningful clinical benefit, Ross and Redberg added, suggesting that even when the designation is based on clinical outcomes, many of those benefits will not be confirmed in subsequent, larger-scale clinical trials.”

“Health” Supplements Send 23,000 to Emergency Rooms in the U.S Each Year – Gene Emery

“The supplements include herbal products, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other complementary nutrition products hawked for a wide range of uses, often with little or no testing to back up claims. The new study “illustrates the idea that something that’s ‘natural’ is not necessarily safe, and these products do not come without risk,” Dr. Curtis Haas, director of pharmacy for the University of Rochester Medical Center and a past president of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, told Reuters Health.”

Drug companies aren’t telling you the whole truth – Rob Waters

“Bottom line: studies showing that antidepressants worked got published; studies showing they didn’t went unpublished and few people knew they existed.

The study caused a bit of a stir. Jeffrey Drazen, the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, where Turner’s review was published, told me then it was evidence of “publication bias”—the tendency for positive, but not negative, findings to make their way into print. Despite the best efforts of journal editors to publish a balance of findings, Drazen told me, “what’s reported is really a much more rosy situation than actually exists.”

OK, you may be saying, but this is six-year old news, and by now things must have changed. Two recent studies suggest that when it comes to publication bias, in fact, things have not changed much at all.”

Religion:

White evangelical church-goers think their ‘science’ is better than the science those stupid scientists say is science – Fred Clark

“Here’s Pew’s own headline: “Highly religious Americans are less likely than others to see conflict between faith and science.” That’s not true. That’s not what Pew’s own survey shows. But this weird, distorting spin on the survey is being widely repeated. Here’s the headline at Christianity Today: “Churchgoers Least Likely to See Science and Religion in Conflict.”

Again, no. That is not at all what the survey shows.What the survey shows, rather, is that Churchgoers Are More Likely to Redefine Science as That Which Does Not Conflict With Their Religion. Or, in other words, that Real, True Christians also imagine they alone possess the Real, True Science.”

Science:

21764634350_8d9c3239b2_kRelive Our One Giant Leap in an Archive of Thousands of Apollo Photographs – Phil Plait

“If we can put a man on the Moon, why can’t we put 8,400 hi-res scans of the Apollo mission photographs taken by the astronauts themselves on Flickr? Oh wait. We can. And Kipp Teague did.

Teague is a network and IT director at Lynchburg College, and he and I have two things in common: We’re both University of Virginia alumni (wahoowa!), and we’re both unabashed fans of the Apollo Moon missions. But where I will sometimes write about the missions and talk about how they’re real, he went way, way farther: He rescanned more than 8,000 original photographs taken by the astronauts using their chest-mounted Hasselblad cameras, creating a huge archive on Flickr showcasing the epic journey to the Moon and back.”

The complex nature of GMOs calls for a new conversation – Maywa Montenegro

“GMOs, in sum, point us to deeper issues that underlie the entire food system. A nonreductionist evaluation of GMOs can push us toward thinking about effects at multiple scales and time spans. Such an evaluation can get us to think deeply about who benefits from technologies, who controls their availability and access, and who makes such decisions. We get to think about the entanglements of politics, the media and public interest in shaping scientific validity and consensus. In short, we are invited to think socially and ecologically — indeed agroecologically — about the utility and value of engineered seeds.”

Writing:

Narrative X-Rays: Looking at Stories’ Structural Skeletons – Julia Rosen

“Structuring long-form nonfiction writing defies simple rules. Sometimes, you should start at the beginning of a story; other times, the middle or even the end. Sometimes you should follow a single narrative as it unfolds; other times, two or more tales tango through an article. The only hard and fast rule seems to be: Do what works. Do whatever will convey the information you want to share while also giving readers the feeling that they’re on a journey—one that might continue beyond the final sentence. …

To beginners, the whole process can sound, well, a little magical. What if we don’t know how to conquer our unruly notes? Or more importantly, what if we can’t recognize the right organizational pattern when we see it? Part of the problem is that there are as many successful structures as there are compelling stories. But that’s also part of the solution: By examining a range of stories, not only can you build a repertoire of possible choices, but you can also develop a sense of which narrative choices work, and why. So we’ve asked four long-form writers to reverse engineer some of their favorite tales—their own and those by other writers—to expose their narrative skeletons.”

 

September Recommended Reading

At the end of each month I compile links to articles I found thought-provoking over that month, categorized with pull-quotes for your perusal and edification. Each of these is a story that made me stop and think, and hopefully one or two of them will do the same for you.

Racism:

Cops: Texas Man Vandalized His Own Truck, Blamed It On Black Lives Matter – Caitlin Cruz

“A disabled veteran told Whitney, Texas, police on Sept. 8 that his pickup truck was vandalized by Black Lives Matter activists. As a result, he raised almost $6,000 from the public for repairs, according to a report from Dallas-Fort Worth television station KDFW.

But footage from the television station’s initial report told police a different story. On Friday police arrested Scott Lattin on suspicion of making a false police report.”

Sexism:

New Census Data Shows The Gender Wage Gap Hasn’t Improved In 7 Years – Bryce Covert

“The average woman working full time, year round in 2014 made just 79 percent of what a similar man made, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau. That’s not statistically different than last year’s 78 percent figure, and there hasn’t been a significant reduction of the wage gap since 2007.

Men earned $50,400 at the median in 2014, while women earned $39,600. both not stat from 2013. Neither gender has seen a significant increase in their median earnings since 2009, and women’s 2014 median earnings were not statistically different than what they made in 2007.”

Online posts about killing feminists prompt University of Toronto to increase campus security – Tristin Hopper

In the letter, Regehr says the university was the target of ‘anonymous threats made on a public blog,’ but provides no details. However, a later statement by CUPE 3902, the union representing University of Toronto academic staff, said the posts ‘were gendered threats made specifically toward women and feminists.’

‘We can also add that the threats specifically encourage violence and target our members in their workplaces,’ it reads. ‘Specifically mentioned are those working in Sociology and Women’s Studies classrooms.’ ”

Classism:

Wages Have Been Stagnant For 40 Years But It’s Not The Fault Of American Workers – Bryce Covert

“Stagnating wages aren’t workers’ fault. ‘People have been told that the economy isn’t doing well and therefore that’s why people haven’t done well,’ Lawrence Mishel, president of EPI and a co-author of the report, told ThinkProgress. But economic growth has kept increasing at a healthy rate. ‘Everybody’s wages could have grown substantially. But they didn’t.’

This isn’t accidental, either. ‘We haven’t been in an economic tsunami where people aren’t able to move ahead,’ Mishel said. ‘This is a man-made phenomenon.’ ”

Climate Change:

Secretive donors gave US climate denial groups $125m over three years – Suzanne Goldenberg and Helena Bengtsson

“The secretive funders behind America’s conservative movement directed around $125m (£82m) over three years to groups spreading disinformation about climate science and committed to wrecking Barack Obama’s climate change plan, according to an analysis of tax records. The amount is close to half of the anonymous funding disbursed to rightwing groups, underlining the importance of the climate issue to US conservatives. The anonymous cash flow came from two secretive organisations – the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund – that have been called the “Dark Money ATM” of the conservative movement.”

How I Came To Jesus On Global Warming — Dan Vergano

“It took a jolt from someone I trusted before my mind started to change. Jim, another aerospace engineer, had started working with the Energy Department, which funded climate scientists. He had quickly discovered that these researchers were not the addled souls of our imagination, but a crusty and sharp-minded breed (something that I can attest, after two decades of interviewing them, is still true).

So, when I casually voiced something sarcastic about global warming, Jim said: ‘Have you checked the data?’ In engineering speak that translates as, ‘Dude, are you high?’

That stung. Not enough to actually engage seriously with the idea that I might be wrong. But enough to open the door to real thought.”

Environment:

“A Big Deal… A Big Move”: the U.S. Wind Industry’s New Plan for Protecting Bats – John Rogers

“The new voluntary industry guidelines involve wind project operators operating their wind turbines differently when they’re not generating power during peak bat migration time. Wind turbines can pose threats to bats at wind speeds that are too low for generating electricity. Under this agreement, turbines will have their blades turned, such that they spin very slowly, or not at all, when they’re not needed.”

Media:

Book Publishing, Not Fact-Checking – Kate Newman

“Fact-checking dates back to the founding of Time in 1923, and has a strong tradition at places like Mother Jones and The New Yorker. (The Atlantic checks every article in print.) But it’s becoming less and less common even in the magazine world. Silverman suggests this is in part due to the Internet and the drive for quick content production. ‘Fact-checkers don’t increase content production,’ he said. ‘Arguably, they slow it.’

What many readers don’t realize is that fact-checking has never been standard practice in the book-publishing world at all.”

Politics:

Stop Comparing Donald Trump And Bernie Sanders – Nate Silver

“Trump is a much greater threat to his party establishment. It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that Sanders is as threatening to the Democratic establishment as Trump is to the Republican one. Sanders’s policy positions, as I’ve mentioned, are about 95 percent the same as those of a typical liberal Democrat in Congress. And where they diverge, they push Democrats further to the left in a fairly predictable way,3 acting as a ‘supersized’ or slightly exaggerated version of the Democratic agenda. Indeed, while Sanders lacks support from elected Democratic officials, he has some backing from other influential constituencies within the party, such as some labor unions and liberal media outlets.”

Religion:

Everything That Claims to be Christian – Shaun King

“Without fail, the people who harass me daily (I don’t mean genuine critiques) with the ugliest racist words and threats, all claim to be Christian. The people who openly hate Latino immigrants and even state that they’d like to shoot and kill them almost always claim to be Christians. The people who make life difficult, daily, and mock my LGBT friends, are almost always Christians. Those who are calling the Black Lives Matter movement a ‘terrorist organization’ or a hate group…so-called Christians.

For me, I’m at a point where I just don’t want to be anything that those people claim to be and here’s the greater point that I want to make…

We can’t both be Christians.”

Medicine:

The Human Cost of a Misleading Drug-Safety Study – David Dobbs

“Count this as shocking but unsurprising, for GSK has been admonished and fined many times since 2001, including once for $3 billion, for exaggerating Paxil’s safety and marketing it improperly for use in adolescents. Yet this BMJ study deals an especially sharp blow, for it’s only rarely that researchers are able to crack open the tightly sealed file cabinets of drugmakers and look at raw trial data. This illustrates why they want to do so: It appears to be a direct demonstration of how a company and researchers can misinterpret the data to make a bad drug look good.”

Science:

Perplexing Pluto: New ‘Snakeskin’ Image and More from New Horizons – NASA

“The newest high-resolution images of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons are both dazzling and mystifying, revealing a multitude of previously unseen topographic and compositional details. The image below — showing an area near the line that separates day from night — captures a vast rippling landscape of strange, aligned linear ridges that has astonished New Horizons team members.

‘It’s a unique and perplexing landscape stretching over hundreds of miles,’ said William McKinnon, New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging (GGI) team deputy lead from Washington University in St. Louis. ‘It looks more like tree bark or dragon scales than geology. This’ll really take time to figure out.’ ”