The Web Makes You Humble, Not Stupid

In the early years of the internet people worried that it would make people stupid and people would sit around not contributing to society. It turns out that the internet is not as bad as TV. Indeed, the web may make us more humble and help us realize our own ignorance.

One possibility is that the internet actually makes us more humble. “We suggested that people might be engaging in a sort of social comparison between themselves and the internet,” Amanda Ferguson, one of the study’s authors, writes me in an email. “This would reduce their ‘feeling-of-knowing’ the answer (since they’re comparing themselves to the all-knowing internet), and ultimately lead them to answer fewer questions.”

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Meningitis Outbreak in Africa Will Not Happen

Meningitis has killed a lot of people, most of them in Africa in what is referred to as “the meningitis belt”. Every couple of years a meningitis outbreak flares up and ravages many countries, but not this year. This year meningitis was beaten by a cadre of countries and organizations. Many lives will be saved thanks to their efforts.

The last big outbreak was in 1996-1997. 250,000 people were infected and some 25,000 people died. Even in off years, there are low level meningitis outbreaks. Last year, 1,300 people died from the disease in Africa.

But this year, there will be no meningitis season at all.

It did not make front page headlines, but last month it was announced that cases of meningitis dropped to effectively zero in 2014 across the meningitis belt.

The disease has been effectively wiped out through a combination of technological innovation, political will, and an unusual collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry, NGOs and governments.

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Thanks to Mirella!

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Preemptively React to Disasters to Save Lives

It might sound odd, but if we react to disasters before they happen we can save lives. The Food Security Climate Resilience Facility wants developed nations to release support for impending disasters before they happen. How do we know when disasters will happen when they seem so unpredictable? We can’t foresee all disasters but some are predictable like those caused by climate change.

If we make sure that we have resources to help people suffering from climate change before they get too badly impacted then we can have a better, more efficient, response.

WFP’s Food Security Climate Resilience Facility (FoodSECuRE) will shift the humanitarian model from a reactive system to one that looks forward and saves more lives, time and money. Both FoodSECuRE and a Red Cross project in Uganda – one in a range of Red Cross-Red Crescent forecast-based financing pilot projects – have been activated in recent weeks to meet climate-related disasters, the dramatic predictions of El Niño and extreme weather.

An anticipatory response not only protects people’s lives: new WFP research shows it also saves money. A 2015 FoodSECuRE analysis in Sudan and Niger shows that using a forecast-based system would lower the cost of the humanitarian response by 50 percent.

FoodSECuRE unlocks funds before disasters, but also ensures that funds are available between cycles of disasters, because only through reliable, multi-year funding will vulnerable people build their resilience to the effects of climate change.

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Children Should be Taught Philosophy

Studying philosophy has greatly influenced my life and I encourage everybody to also study the field and practice. Engaging in philosophy can improve one’s sense of self while improving their ability to discern which arguments have value.

Teaching critical inquiry through philosophy to children can have a very positive impact on them as human beings. We should have every kid engage in philosophy in their schools because kids are want to know about all aspects of what’s around them. That is what philosophy is about at its core.

Since then, training in various jobs has made me into various kinds of professional, but no training has shaped my humanity as deeply as philosophy has. No other discipline has inspired such wonder about the world, or furnished me with thinking tools so universally applicable to the puzzles that confront us as human beings.

By setting children on a path of philosophical enquiry early in life, we could offer them irreplaceable gifts: an awareness of life’s moral, aesthetic and political dimensions; the capacity to articulate thoughts clearly and evaluate them honestly; and the confidence to exercise independent judgement and self-correction. What’s more, an early introduction to philosophical dialogue would foster a greater respect for diversity and a deeper empathy for the experiences of others, as well as a crucial understanding of how to use reason to resolve disagreements.

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Do What Norwegians do to Enjoy Winter

Winter can be tough for some people. If you are a person who feels down and out during the colder months there is an easy thing you can do to improve the season: change your attitude. Seriously. Recent research into how Norwegians relate to winter can help you in the times of snow.

Don’t deny the troubles of winter, instead, think about all the great things winter brings.

Changing your mindset can do more than distracting yourself from the weather.

Most likely you can’t cross-country ski straight out of your house, and while Norwegian sweaters may be catching on, restaurants and coffee shops in more temperate climates don’t all feature the fireplaces and candles common to the far north. Still, there are little things non-Norwegians can do. “One of the things we do a lot of in the States is we bond by complaining about the winter,” says Leibowitz. “It’s hard to have a positive wintertime mindset when we make small talk by being negative about the winter.”

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