A study gave cash and therapy to men at risk of criminal behavior. 10 years later, the results are in.

“What if someone told you that you could dramatically reduce the crime rate without resorting to coercive policing or incarceration? In fact, what if they said you could avert a serious crime — a robbery, say, or maybe even a murder — just by shelling out $1.50?

That’s such an incredibly good deal that it sounds too good to be true. But it’s been borne out by the research of Chris Blattman, Margaret Sheridan, Julian Jamison, and Sebastian Chaskel. Their new study provides experimental evidence that offering at-risk men a few weeks of behavioral therapy plus a bit of cash reduces the future risk of crime and violence, even 10 years after the intervention.”

“999 Liberian men were split into four groups. Some received CBT, while others got $200 in cash. Another group got the CBT plus the cash, and finally, there was a control group that got neither.

A month after the intervention, both the therapy group and the therapy-plus-cash group were showing positive results. A year after the intervention, the positive effects on those who got therapy alone had faded a bit, but those who got therapy plus cash were still showing huge impacts: crime and violence were down about 50 percent.”

“10 years later, he tracked down the original men from the study and reevaluated them. Amazingly, crime and violence were still down by about 50 percent in the therapy-plus-cash group.”

“The most plausible hypothesis, according to Blattman, is that the $200 in cash enabled the men to pursue a few months of legitimate business activity — say, shoe shining — after the therapy ended. That meant a few extra months of getting to cement their new non-criminal identity and behavioral changes. “Basically, it gave them time to practice,” Blattman told me.”

GMOs Are Good for Us

“Activists have convinced Americans that “organic” food is better—healthier, better-tasting, life-extending.

As a result, poor parents feel guilty if they can’t afford to pay $7 for organic eggs.

This misinformation is spread by people like Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of the Organic Consumers Association. She says organic food is clearly better: “The nutrition is a huge difference.”

But it isn’t. Studies find little difference.

If you still want to pay more for what’s called “organic,” that’s your right. But what’s outrageous is that this group of scientifically illiterate people convinced the government to force all of us to pay more.

Congress has ruled that GMOs (genetically modified food) must be labeled. Busybodies from both parties supported the idea.”

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says the GMO labelling will cost from $598 million to $3.5 billion.

“But the public wants GMOs labelled,” say advocates. “Surveys show that.”

Of course they do.

Ask people if DNA in food should be labelled, and most say yes. Yet DNA is in everything.

Polling is a stupid way to make policy.

The idea of modifying a plant’s DNA may sound creepy, but people have cross-bred plants and animals for years.

“The corn we have today, there’s nothing natural about that,” I say to Baden-Mayer in my new video. “What native people ate, we’d find inedible.””

“In poor parts of the world, half a million people per year go blind due to lack of vitamin A in their diets. Many die.

Scientists have created a new genetically modified rice that contains vitamin A. This “golden rice” could save those people.”

“Sadly, in some countries, people listen to advocates like her and believe that Americans want to poison them. One group of GMO fearful protesters invaded a golden rice field in the Philippines, ripping up all the plants.”

The dire health consequences of denying abortions, explained

“important research published in 2020 that compared the fates of women who were forced to carry pregnancies to term versus those who were provided abortions. The influential Turnaway Study, as it’s commonly referred to, found that, among other things, women who were denied an abortion endured more serious pregnancy complications, more chronic pain, and more short-term anxiety.”

“more unwanted pregnancies would be carried to term if the court were to negate a federal right to abortion.”

“The Turnaway Study began in 2007 and followed more than 1,000 women for five years to assess how their lives had been altered, if at all, by the provision or the denial of an abortion. Some of the women had an abortion shortly before reaching the gestational limit set by their state or provider, while others had just passed that limit and were denied an abortion as a result. The differences in the women’s experiences from that critical moment onward were the purview of the study.
“We find no evidence abortion hurts women,” Foster writes in the 2020 book The Turnaway Study that covered the research’s findings. “For every outcome we analyzed, women who received an abortion were either the same or, more frequently, better off than women who were denied an abortion.”

The mental health of women who received an abortion was better immediately after the procedure than that of women who were denied one. Their physical health fared better over the longer term. Their subsequent children developed better.

Foster presents a nuanced picture, noting, for example, that after the five-year period of the study, almost none of the women who ended up carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term said that they still wished they’d had an abortion. But Foster is nevertheless unequivocal in her conclusions about what being denied an abortion meant for the women involved: “We find many ways in which women were hurt by carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term.””

“The most unexpected and tragic outcome noted in the Turnaway Study was that two of the women died because of childbirth complications. It came as a shock to Foster, who wrote that she “did not expect to find even one maternal death in a study of 1,000 women.” The US maternal mortality rate is 1.7 per 10,000, meaning the odds of two women in 1,000 dying were exceedingly low.

Foster was careful not to be definitive about this finding, writing that a much larger sample size would be necessary to draw any firm conclusions about the relationship between being denied an abortion and maternal mortality. The implications remain grim, however: “This level of maternal mortality is shocking,” she wrote.

Short of death, women who are denied an abortion are more likely to have serious complications than women who received an abortion. The Turnaway Study found that 6.3 percent of the women who had given birth suffered life-threatening complications versus about 1 percent of women who had complications from an abortion.

Women who were denied an abortion also saw a higher risk of gestational hypertension, which increases their risk for cardiovascular disease later in life. The study found that 9.4 percent of women who gave birth experienced hypertension during the pregnancy versus 4.2 percent of women who had second-trimester abortions and 1.9 percent of those who had first-trimester abortions.

The women who gave birth also experienced slightly higher rates of chronic head pain and joint pain afterward. On self-reported health, a metric shown to be a strong indicator of future health and mortality, 27 percent of women who carried their pregnancies to term after being denied an abortion said they were in fair or poor health versus 21 percent of women who had second-trimester abortions and 20 percent of women who had an abortion in the first trimester.

“To the extent that there were differences in health outcomes,” Foster wrote, “they were all to the detriment of women who gave birth.””

““We found no mental health harm from having an abortion.””

Can we stop the next pandemic by seeking out deadly viruses in the wild?

“Critics — including researchers who study biosecurity and biosafety — argue it doesn’t really pass a cost-benefit analysis. In some ways, virus hunting is looking for a needle in a haystack — the handful of viruses that might cross over to humans amid tens of thousands that won’t — when we don’t even know how to tell needles from hay, or what to do with a needle once we identify one.
And some experts are raising another, even sharper question: What if viral discovery is not just an ineffective tactic but a terrible idea, one that might not only fail to prevent the next pandemic but potentially even make it more likely?”

“Monitoring the interface between humans and animals for pandemic prevention has value, particularly when the programs are narrowly targeted at certain objectives: say, a focus on reducing spillover, or surveillance of potential animal infections, or studying viruses that have already spilled over into humans. Research published last month in Nature projects that global warming could drive 4,000 viruses to spread for the first time between mammals, including potentially humans and animals, by 2070, underscoring the changing threat from zoonotic spillovers.

But if the risks of virus hunting are higher than the odds of a virus crossing over into humans and sparking a pandemic naturally, then viral discovery doesn’t just look inefficient. It looks like a bad idea.”

The abortion provider that Republicans are struggling to stop

“Over the past four years, Aid Access says it has delivered abortion medication — mifepristone and misoprostol — to more than 30,000 Americans across all 50 states, including the 19 conservative states that currently ban telemedicine abortion.

The organization plays a unique role in the US reproductive rights ecosystem by successfully exploiting legal loopholes that make it easier for an overseas doctor to care for American patients in restrictive states — a role that could become even more key if Roe v. Wade is struck down.”

“because it operates outside the formal US health care system, Aid Access says it has been penalized by search engines and social media giants that have tried to tackle the spread of Covid-19 misinformation.

Aid Access still pops up on Google if you search the organization’s name, but most users had come to the site while searching for terms like “abortion by mail” and “abortion pills.” Following a series of algorithm updates beginning in May 2020, Aid Access says it no longer shows up in top results for general medication abortion searches — and that ads from its sister organization, Women on Web, which serves countries all over the world, are frequently removed or rejected from Facebook and Instagram for dubious reasons, like “language … that is likely to offend users.”

Republicans might not be able to stop Aid Access right now, but it appears that Silicon Valley can.”

“Activists note that medication abortion is far safer than many painkillers easily purchased over the counter, and the World Health Organization maintains that individuals can self-administer the drugs without direct supervision of a health care provider during their first trimester. New Lancet research published in February affirmed the safety of the Aid Access model, which also provides the medication at significantly lower cost than in-person surgical abortions or even the new crop of US startups like Hey Jane, Abortion on Demand, and Carafem.”

Why Should a Drug be Illegal or Legal? Part Two: Harm to Others: Video Sources

Substance Use and Intimate Partner Violence: A Meta-Analytic Review 2016. Bryan M. Cafferky, Marcos Mendez, Jared R. Anderson, and Sandra M. Stith. Psychology of Violence. https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/59511278/Cafferky_201820190604-60960-qtu1qv-with-cover-page-v2.pdf?Expires=1643220750&Signature=JmFWS~QkCg86Icul9oqw-3Sz9j5uO~LzKP~HsVRSKQtNbZcNthwDy3nCgpG9yKXqPN2J2hs4tBs5pXVaD7cqLr9OXk9MDuEs37O1A0-c1-ZxX7EWjD16pZdSF3uKci5vDn4Geu2DhSduZ-Jqd~qkfmjK~NJybrESL7vvuiyszzVMhd~XjwQUQKw-PDdYiOY8qMD4oA~ecbZKCSVF~Rmxm5aFaYmnHAtWJb6Xc221n2SG5db3vXeECkCW3Ym09t7YAkY2b-Sg~sjKhHe3vGbUVcPkSj3aMKjsjBuA~mGK6xynPEQkGlmRJ0Htg22yJsh02QBtbqf51KqlGMKsk0L4uA__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAJLOHF5GGSLRBV4ZA ALCOHOL USE IN FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Ashlee Curtis et al. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/am-pdf/10.1111/dar.12925 The Role of Illicit

Why Being Anti-Science Is Now Part Of Many Rural Americans’ Identity

“By September 2021, the scientists and staffers at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission had gathered enough data to know that the trees in its green-tree reservoirs — a type of hardwood wetland ecosystem — were dying. At Hurricane Lake, a wildlife management area of 17,000 acres, the level of severe illness and death in the timber population was up to 42 percent, especially for certain species of oak, according to a 2014 forest-health assessment. The future of another green-tree reservoir, Bayou Meto, more than 33,000 acres, would look the same if they didn’t act quickly.

There were a lot of reasons the trees were dying, but it was also partly the commission’s fault. Long ago, the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers and their tributaries would have flooded the bayous naturally, filling bottomland forests during the winter months when the trees were dormant and allowing new saplings to grow after the waters receded in the spring. Widespread European settlement and agriculture largely halted the natural flooding, but in the 1950s, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began buying bottomland forests for preservation, which it then flooded with a system of levees and other tools.

This made the forests an ideal winter stop for ducks to eat and rest on their annual migration south. Arkansas is a magnet for duck hunters, and the state has issued more than 100,000 permits for duck hunters from Arkansas and out of state for every year since 2014. But it turned out the commission was flooding the reservoirs too early and at levels too high, which was damaging the trees. The ducks that arrive in Arkansas especially love eating the acorns from a certain species of oak — and those oaks are now dying.

Austin Booth, director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, knew that convincing the state’s duck hunters and businesses that there was a serious problem would be tricky. Part of the solution the commission planned to propose to save the trees involved delaying the annual fall flooding, which could mean less habitat for the ducks, fewer ducks stopping in the area and more duck hunters crowded into smaller spaces fighting over targets.

And all the duck hunters would have their own ideas about who to blame for the problem and what the solution should be.

Last September, Booth gave a brief speech that was streamed live on YouTube, outlining the problem. He announced a series of public meetings to begin in the following months. Booth told me that when he began to plan those meetings, he thought of all the government meetings and town halls he’d attended after years working in politics. “I wanted to ratchet down some of the intensity that happens when a government official stands up on a stage and talks down to people,” he said.

Instead, he decided the meetings would be dinners where the Game and Fish staff would eat alongside the people they sought to convince. “I just believe there’s a human component to sitting down and having a meal with someone,” he said. At those dinners, he’d give a brief introduction, then invite people to ask questions of the staff as they ate and mingled.

At the end of the dinners, Booth said he’d stand up again and ask, “Is there anyone that’s going to walk through that door tonight without their questions answered or comments taken for the record, or with their concerns ignored?” No one, he said, came forward. The four dinners were attended by between 50 and 100 people, according to Booth, but those attendees then spread the word, dampening criticism of the new management system.

What’s interesting about this dinner program is that it began during the COVID-19 pandemic, which also required effective science communication to convince the public to accept changes, major and minor, to their lives. Even before this pandemic, there’s been a long history of resistance to public health measures and new vaccines, and many researchers suspected that could likely be the case with COVID-19 as well. The social scientists who study these issues might have counseled an approach like that employed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, using local messengers who had relationships with the communities in question and who could communicate in less intimidating ways.

But the U.S. did not do that with COVID-19. Instead, rapidly changing information came from only a few sources, usually at the national level and seemingly without much strategy. And as such, many places have seen widespread resistance to public health interventions, like wearing masks and getting the vaccine.”

“not every issue manifests locally, with local experts able to gather people for friendly dinners. Regarding climate change, Fisher says in her work now she is finding that people are often spurred to action only when the environmental damage becomes an extreme personal risk to them and their family, and when it is seen as preventable. Part of the problem with mitigating COVID-19, she said, was that many people didn’t see the virus as a personal risk — they thought they themselves would be OK, even if so many other people were dying.”

“the danger of anti-intellectualism becoming more entwined with partisanship is that these attitudes then become more entrenched and harder to overcome. And that will become true on both sides, as each group believes they have the best sources of information — a phenomenon he called epistemic hubris. It’s damaging public debate.

The problems we’ve seen with COVID-19 are also spreading to new groups of people and to other issues. Dana Fisher, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, researches the social science of climate change, and she’s found that people are more likely to seek out sources that confirm what they already believe. “We see that scientific information is very, very clearly cherry-picked,” she said. Increasingly, she sees people looking for information that already supports their worldview, and that’s happening on the right and left. For her, this includes policymakers who have a role to play in solving issues like climate change.

The challenge is how to penetrate these bubbles.”

Against Scientific Gatekeeping

“The medical science priesthood has a long history of treating outside-the-box thinkers harshly. Toward the end of the 18th century, Britain’s Royal Society refused to publish Edward Jenner’s discovery that inoculating people with material from cowpox pustules—a technique he called “vaccination,” from the Latin word for cow, vacca—prevented them from getting the corresponding human disease, smallpox. Jenner’s medical colleagues considered this idea dangerous; one member of the Royal College of Physicians even suggested that the technique could make people resemble cows.

At the time, many physicians were making a good living by performing variolation, which aimed to prevent smallpox by infecting patients with pus from people with mild cases. Some saw vaccination as a threat to their income. Thankfully, members of Parliament liked Jenner’s idea and appropriated money for him to open a vaccination clinic in London. By the early 1800s, American doctors had adopted the technique. In 1805, Napoleon ordered smallpox vaccination for all of his troops.

Half a century later, the prestigious Vienna General Hospital fired Ignaz Semmelweis from its faculty because he required his medical students and junior physicians to wash their hands before examining obstetrical patients. Semmelweis connected puerperal sepsis—a.k.a. “childbed fever,” then a common cause of postnatal death—to unclean hands. Ten years after Semmelweis returned to his native Budapest, he published The Etiology, Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever. The medical establishment rained so much vitriol on him that it drove him insane. (Or so the story goes: Some think, in retrospect, that Semmelweis suffered from bipolar disorder.) He died in an asylum in 1865 at the age of 47.

The “germ theory” anticipated by Semmelweis did not take hold until the late 1880s. That helps explain why, in 1854, the public health establishment rebuffed the physician John Snow after he traced a London cholera epidemic to a water pump on Broad Street. Snow correctly suspected that water from the pump carried a pathogen that caused cholera.

Public health officials clung instead to the theory that the disease was carried by a miasma, or “bad air.” The British medical journal The Lancet published a brutal critique of Snow’s theory, and the General Board of Health determined that his idea was “scientifically unsound.” But after another outbreak of cholera in 1866, the public health establishment acknowledged the truth of Snow’s explanation. The incident validated the 19th century classical liberal philosopher Herbert Spencer’s warning that the public health establishment had come to represent entrenched political interests, distorting science and prolonging the cholera problem. “There is an evident inclination on the part of the medical profession to get itself organized after the fashion of the clericy,” he wrote in 1851’s Social Statics. “Surgeons and physicians are vigorously striving to erect a medical establishment akin to our religious one. Little do the public at large know how actively professional publications are agitating for state-appointed overseers of the public health.””

“It may be true that, as American science fiction and fantasy writer Theodore Sturgeon said, “90 percent of everything is crap.” But the remaining 10 percent can be important. Health care professionals who see only the costs of their patients’ self-guided journeys through the medical literature tend to view this phenomenon as a threat to the scientific order, fueling a backlash. Their reaction risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

“Openness to unconventional ideas has its limits. We don’t take flat-earthers seriously. Nor should we lend credence to outlandish claims that COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility, implant people with microchips, or change their DNA. There are not enough hours in the day to fully address every question or hypothesis. But a little tolerance and respect for outsiders can go a long way. If those habits become the new norm, people will be more likely to see rejection of challenges to the conventional wisdom as the objective assessment of specialists rather than the defensive reaction of self-interested elites. Science should be a profession, not a priesthood.”