Friday, January 21, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired new health habits for these 4 scholars – here’s what they put into practice and why

  For some people, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about change – some welcome and some not so welcome – to their routines or to what they prioritize. We asked four scholars to reflect on a health habit that they have adopted during the tumultuous months and years since COVID-19 turned people’s lives upside down.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Radicalization pipelines: How targeted advertising on social media drives people to extremes

  Have you had the experience of looking at some product online and then seeing ads for it all over your social media feed? Far from coincidence, these instances of eerily accurate advertising provide glimpses into the behind-the-scenes mechanisms that feed an item you search for on Google, “like” on social media, or come across while browsing into custom advertising on social media.

  Those mechanisms are increasingly being used for more nefarious purposes than aggressive advertising. The threat is in how this targeted advertising interacts with today’s extremely divisive political landscape. As a social media researcher, I see how people seeking to radicalize others use targeted advertising to readily move people to extreme views.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

‘Southern hospitality’ doesn’t always apply to Black people, as revealed in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery

  The idea of community and who belongs and who does not was a common theme in the Jan. 7, 2022 sentencing hearing of three white men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery.

  “They chose to target my son because they didn’t want him in their community,” said Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, during the hearing. “When they couldn’t sufficiently scare him or intimidate him, they killed him.”

  Arbery was the 25-year-old unarmed Black man who was shot to death on Feb. 23, 2020 while jogging through a predominantly white, middle-class neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia. Race went largely unspoken throughout the trial, but the idea of belonging was clearly drawn in black and white.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

What will 2022 bring in the way of misinformation on social media? 3 experts weigh in

  At the end of 2020, it seemed hard to imagine a worse year for misinformation on social media given the intensity of the presidential election and the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic. But 2021 proved up to the task, starting with the Jan. 6 insurrection and continuing with copious amounts of falsehoods and distortions about COVID-19 vaccines.

  To get a sense of what 2022 could hold, we asked three researchers about the evolution of misinformation on social media.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Martin unchained: Radical reformer, nonviolent militant

  It’s that time of year again, the third Monday of January, when we come together as a nation to commemorate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with church services, elementary school skits, and civic club speeches—much of it seemingly rote tribute.

  Every MLK Day we trot out the same old platitudes, mouth the same old sentiments, and repeat the same old stories. We go through the motions of honoring not so much the man but the myth he has become. We’ve recast King, making him fit into a reshaped American narrative—one that airbrushes an ugly and vicious not-so-distant past into a less than “enlightened” time in history.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

End-of-life conversations can be hard, but your loved ones will thank you

  Death – along with taxes – is one of life’s few certainties. Despite this inevitability, most people dread thinking and talking about when, how, or under what conditions they might die.

  They don’t want to broach the topic with family, either, for fear of upsetting them. Ironically, though, talking about death “early and often” can be the greatest gift to bestow on loved ones.

Friday, January 14, 2022

What is 5G? An electrical engineer explains

  5G stands for fifth-generation cellular network technology.

  It’s the technology that enables wireless communication – for example, from your cellular phone to a cell tower, which channels it to the internet. 5G is a network service provided by telecommunications carriers and is not the same thing as the 5 GHz band on your Wi-Fi router.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Watch for these conflicts over education in 2022

  At school board meetings across the country in 2021, parents engaged in physical altercations, shouted at school board members, and threatened them as well.

  These disagreements entered state politics, too, such as the 2021 Virginia governor’s race, which was largely shaped by conflicts over how issues of race and racism are taught in the K-12 curriculum, and transgender student rights.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Regret can be all-consuming – a neurobehavioral scientist explains how people can overcome it

  A friend of mine – we will call him “Jay” – was working for IBM in New York City in the early ‘90s. He was a computer programmer and made a good salary. Occasionally, competitors and startups approached Jay to join their companies. He had an offer from an interesting but small organization in Seattle, but the salary was paltry and most of the offer package was in company shares. After consulting with friends and his parents, Jay declined the offer and stayed with IBM. He has regretted it ever since. That small company was Microsoft.