You may be seeing a refrain in a lot of comment threads on social media, especially conversations populated by more “conservative” commenters, that goes something like this:

“COVID isn’t going anywhere, so we might as well learn to live with it.”

A recent Wall Street Journal article is an example of this line of thinking, and it is become a more common perspective. Back in July 2020, Shaman and Galanti explored the possibility of COVID becoming endemic in an article published in Science.


The issue of whether or not to keep schools open that are already in-person, or open up schools that are currently remote, is of fundamental importance to many communities, families, and educators. A study published in December 2020 used county and district-wide data from Washington and Michigan to investigate whether in-person or hybrid options were correlated with increased spread of COVID-19. Of course, efforts along these lines are highly valuable, and data-based research definitely ought to be what is driving public policy.

However, this particular study has serious flaws, which were not widely reported in the popular press, as usual…


It is possible for many dastardly conspiracies to be true, in whole or in part. The history of the United States federal government is one of several programs and initiatives that were in fact conspiracies, and were dastardly. There is solid evidence for these. However, a couple of things that are of the utmost importance. One is that the actual conspiracies were often along the lines of racist, fascist, oppressive exertion of state power from a secret position. For example, go study up on the assassination of Fred Hampton. Much is now known that was hidden at the time.

The…


Persistent complex bereavement disorder is not an official diagnosis in the DSM-5, but is in the section of “conditions deserving further study.” The symptoms, which also need to be chronic or recurring for more than about a year, are:

-Indefinitely yearning/longing for the deceased or ex

-Preoccupation with the circumstances of the deceased’s death or the circumstances surrounding the end of a relationship

-Intense sorrow and/or distress that does not improve over time.

-Difficulty trusting others

-Depression

-Detachment and/or isolation

-Difficulty pursuing interests or activities

-A desire to join the deceased or the presence of suicidal or self-harming fantasies

-Persistent…


I had the sudden realization this morning that much of what we see from the anti-mask, pandemic-is-a-hoax, anti-vaccine people is deeply rooted in how they were schooled. We encounter people who seem to know nothing about science or how to find reliable information, and sometimes think, wow, our education system is a failure, but I think we might miss the exact reason why this is more true than we would like to admit.

Here’s how many “research paper” and essay writing, composition exercises are delivered in secondary school, especially. …


It’s always been a big problem for anyone who takes a minute to reflect on it: where do I find reliable information? How do I know the sources I’m using are credible? It’s an even more urgent set of questions now, with endless spin and manipulation of information in the news, and the aggressive promotion of deliberate misinformation to support various agendas. During the global pandemic, especially, it feels urgent to find the best, most accurate and reliable, up-to-date information, since it could have life or death consequences.

For example, all of the weird, absolutely unsupported, yet endlessly propagated and…


Reflect for a few seconds on your top three most passionately held beliefs or values. Pick one. Really lean into how strong that belief is for you. Feel that sense of conviction, of rightness, of a territory that you fiercely defend.

Now take a few moments and investigate how it feels to consider that you could be wrong.

What is that like? For me, a lot of emotions come up when I imagine one of my most cherished values being challenged. I get fairly defensive right away. I want to find all the evidence that led me to the belief…


The summer people are out.

These are unhoused, probably mentally ill and/or rock bottom alcoholic/addict, sweaty, dirty, wild-eyed and fevered looking human beings who may or may not be around town the rest of the year but become glaringly visible in summer. Wandering, sometimes shirtless in the pitiless sun, sometimes in far too many layers of clothing, often yelling at invisibles or muttering to themselves. Living outside in the concrete, tar, piss, exhaust fumes, unrelenting sun and triple digit temps of the Tempe, Arizona summer. There are also apparently the less serious cases, usually with the air of methamphetamine addicts…


A recent article in Mother Jones with the click-bait headline “Science has an Ugly, Complicated Dark Side. And Coronavirus is Bringing It Out” (DUN DUN DUN) plays right into the burgeoning mistrust of science surrounding our current situation.

A couple of months ago, it started to dawn on me how unprecedented watching a global pandemic unfold over social media would be. Between then and now, we’ve seen just about every form of half-baked, unsupported misinformation, sometimes alarmingly posted by friends of ours who seem otherwise relatively level-headed. My personal experience has been an almost daily encounter with the weirdest and…


An innovative, graph and network theory study, published in Nature, May 13, 2020, analyzed network patterns on Facebook involving “anti-vaccine,” “pro-vaccine,” and “undecided” pages, their membership, and their outside-page linkage (Johnson et al. 2020). Johnson was also lead author on a different study, using what seems to be more rigorous and detailed data categories, of the spread of pro-ISIS online hate groups.

The main conclusions of the anti vs. pro vaccine study:

“Although smaller in overall size, anti-vaccination clusters manage to become highly entangled with undecided clusters in the main online network, whereas pro-vaccination clusters are more peripheral. Our theoretical…

Peter Breslin

Conservation biologist, botanist, Ph.D. in Environmental Life Sciences from Arizona State, ancient Gen X SJW accomplice and culture critic.

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