Telling Who a Man is by Who His Friends Are

Heard Evan Osnos of the New Yorker being interviewed the other day.  Made my stomach do a turn or two.  Here’s the article about which he was being interviewed.  Set aside some time to read it.

On June 28th, twelve days after Trump’s announcement, the Daily Stormer, America’s most popular neo-Nazi news site, endorsed him for President: “Trump is willing to say what most Americans think: it’s time to deport these people.” The Daily Stormer urged white men to “vote for the first time in our lives for the one man who actually represents our interests.”

Titled The Fearful and the Frustrated, Osnos is writing about an ominous wave coalescing around Trump.  It was just such a wave in Italy and Germany, of the fearful and the frustrated, that was harnessed to incomprehensible evil.

“Natural” Means What, Exactly?

Timothy Eagan brings a valuable addition to the rising discussion about vaccinations. The doubts raised about them come from a perplexing behavior in this land of boasted individualism: we often don’t think through and evaluate as best we can. We do what those around us do. In a herd mentality, the glue of which is narcissism, the first line of defense against a threatening world is people like ourselves. If people like us tell us something, with energy and certainty,  it must be true.  Those who sow doubt will lose the protection of the believers. The belief against vaccines is the flip side of the coin of belief in all manner of untested, unproven and unknown “natural” cures.  Those who entirely distrust big pharma and big government swallow claims and “dietary supplements” of equally big industries with equally big war chests and armies of lobbyists.

“If you want to know how we came to be a nation where everyone is a doctor, sound science is vilified and seemingly smart people distrust vaccinations, come to Utah — whose state flower should be St. John’s wort. Here, the nexus of quack pharma and industry-owned politicians has produced quite a windfall: nearly one in four dollars in the supplement market passes though this state.

We’re not talking drugs, or even, in many cases, food here. Drugs have to undergo rigorous testing and review by the federal government. Dietary supplements do not. Drugs have to prove to be effective. Dietary supplements do not.

These are the Frankenstein remedies — botanicals, herbs, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, dried stuff. They’re “natural.” They’re not cheap. And Americans pop them like Skittles, despite recent studies showing that nearly a third of all herbal supplements on the market may be outright frauds.”

Read all

Altruism, Yes!

Interesting study at University College London picked up by Amina Kahn of the Los Angeles Times.

The experiment set up a scenario in which “deciders” were paid increasing amounts to increasingly shock either themselves, or a randomly assigned “receiver.

The researchers found that people were “hyperaltruistic” — that is, the deciders were less likely to harm the receivers for a little more cash than they were to harm themselves. While they were willing to take a few more shocks themselves to earn a higher payoff, they were less likely to raise the number of shocks for those extra bucks if it was the receiver getting zapped instead.


Matches my own experience decades ago when I put up with months of college hazing myself but got ulcers when I saw it happening to others.

Now if we could just get the feeling shared by trigger-pullers, knife wielders around the world.

Or, in the interim, learn what it is that enhances altruism and what diminishes it.