#79: Welcoming the Stranger
Welcome to Extras #79! The theme this week is, “We know so much; we know so little.” The first article, a series of six profiles about refugees living in Houston, is an example of how we prefer ignorance and fear over understanding and empathy. The second piece, which explains how Donald Trump used the data we fill out on Facebook to win the presidency, reveals how nonchalantly we abdicate our privacy because of our self-absorption.
Then, after an inspirational quotation about reading, there’s an article that may explain why so many Americans distrust science (though I still believe in it!). Maybe it’s easier to believe in raw, emotional videos, which Facebook Live provides, over cold hard facts. (Live is not just for Chewbacca Mom.) Please enjoy!
Welcoming the Stranger: Faces of the Refugee Crisis
There are 65 million refugees in the world, and 1 in 200 children on Earth is a refugee, according to UNICEF. These six profiles of refugees now living in Houston reminded me how ignorant Americans (including me) are about the basics of the Middle East, Islam, and what’s happening in Syria. My favorite story is the last one, about Coach Lorenzo Barajas and his soccer team; it’s as American as you’re going to get.
The Data That Turned the World Upside Down
This article about how Big Data may have influenced the presidential election is a page-scroller. It may not be the most elegantly written piece out there, and it does rely a bit on conspiratorial thinking, but it did get me thinking that I should probably like fewer things on Facebook. In short, Cambridge Analytica, a company that uses psychometrics and focuses on personality types, used the data we volunteer on Facebook in order to win Donald Trump the presidency. Does this bother us?
Alan Jacobs is the author of The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, which I read last week.
Cancer Studies Are Fatally Flawed. Meet the Young Billionaire Who's Exposing the Truth About Bad Science
As we venture into a post-fact world, filled with grandiose false claims and unsubstantiated blather, many of us still want to believe in science. But what if scientists are like the rest of us — sharing evidence that matches our claims, while ignoring contrary data? This article follows John Arnold, a billionaire philanthropist and retired hedge fund manager, who is trying to keep scientists in check by focusing on the integrity of their data. But to what end is he doing this? Please enjoy this article about science!
Facebook Live Is the Right Wing’s New Fox News
I like reading articles about journalism and technology, and this one is smart. It tells the story about how conservatives used to have few choices for their news besides Fox, so they went to talk radio. Remember Rush Limbaugh? Now we have Facebook Live, and there is something appealing to regular everyday conservatives about not being scripted or fancy, like the established mainstream liberal media is.
That’s the end of #79! Before you venture off into the rest of your Thursday, please welcome 5 new subscribers: Jamie, Byron, Jennifer, JMed, and Monica. Then, please thank loyal subscribers Beth and Angelina for their insightful comments on last week’s featured article. Finally, choose your favorite article from this week and share it with a friend via email, along with a smart and witty note about how you read it in Iserotope Extras, and yes, maybe your friend should subscribe. Have a great week, and I’ll see you next Thursday at 9:10 am for Extras #80!
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