Fires, floods, polar vortexes and hurricanes — every season brings another disaster seemingly linked to climate change. But natural disasters happened before climate change, too. So how are we supposed to know which disasters are fated because of the stars, and which are fated because of 100 years of global CO2 emissions?
One man’s vandalism is another’s political dissent. Back in 2012, researchers from Kent State University presented survey respondents a hypothetical news story: A partisan political group has been caught swiping yard signs and defacing campaign ads. Then they asked the respondents to rate both the seriousness of crime (which, technically, it is) and how justifiable it was to break the rules. The overwhelming response: It’s not that big of a deal and it is reasonably justifiable — at least, as long as the party affiliation of the group doing the vandalism matched the affiliation of the person answering the question. If the other guys are doing it, well, by jove, Geoffrey, that is just not how things are done. Drawing squiggly moustaches upon an opponent’s face is fine for me … but not for thee.
Football’s concussion crisis has been part of the NFL for almost two decades. But the pros aren’t the only ones reevaluating their relationship with the game. Now, studies are finding that parents of younger children are increasingly concerned about the long-term impacts of playing football.
How many Americans are shot but not killed each year? I can’t really tell you exactly. You’d think gunshot injuries would be easy to count, but as we’ve reported in the past, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls its own estimates “unstable and potentially unreliable.” The range of uncertainty has gotten so large that the agency removed the most recent two years’ worth of firearm injury data from its website.
Earlier this year, I noticed something curious: four Craigslist ads, selling the same brand of mattress, using nearly the same text, at the same location, but illustrated with different photographs. Let’s just say it doesn’t take a crack journalistic mind to suspect something odd was happening.
For a newsroom like FiveThirtyEight’s, 2019 may as well been part of 2020. Such is the peril of covering electoral politics. But before 2020 actually arrives, we wanted to take a moment and remember some of our favorite features from the past year that the news cycle hasn’t rendered obsolete. There was a lot of good stuff! This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it’s a good place to start.
This summer, we asked readers to send us their climate change questions. And they did. We received many, many, many climate change questions. So many, in fact, that we’re doing several different projects around them. You’ve seen our columns on Who’s Winning Climate Change? Today, we’re diving into the mailbag for another edition of Climate Question from an Adult – a series that will explore the business, culture and chemistry behind your most pressing questions about global warming. Have a question? Send it to us!
In a beige reception hall in a Des Moines suburb, over paper plates piled with the remains of a Monday morning continental breakfast, Sen. Bernie Sanders urged a packed house of Iowans to manifest their dreams. Imagine an America where cancer only kills you, rather than also rifling through your wallet. Visualize a future where no American child has to pay off her grandmother’s student loans. Cynicism is high and more than a quarter of us believe the American Dream is unattainable, but Sanders’s stump speech offered hope. “Everything is impossible until it’s not,” he said. The crowd went wild.
When the Iowa caucuses went to hell in a handbasket last week, they probably took some of Americans’ last morsels of trust in the political system down too. But when I asked political scientists and psychologists about the impact of the bungled caucuses on overall political cynicism, they, by and large, weren’t particularly concerned. The vast majority of voters probably won’t care all that much, they said; instead, these experts are more worried about the indirect effects. Long after the shoddy apps have been forgotten, mistrust and bitterness could still be trickling down from political elites to everyone else.
Maybe you call it a bubble. Maybe you call it a silo. Maybe you just call it an echo chamber. But whatever metaphorical, narrow and enclosed space you prefer, there’s a good chance you’ve been told that one of the great social problems of our time is Americans getting their political news from biased sources. Conservatives watch Fox News. Liberals watch MSNBC. The news tells us what we already believe and distorts reality around partisan talking points.