Quickies: Rumor Tracker, Gabby Giffords Refuses to be Pitied, and the Health Effects of Leaving Religion

  • Finally, the Useful New Website That Debunks Silly Internet Rumors in Real Time – “The ‘real-time rumor tracker,’ which is part of a journalism research project at Columbia University, launched last week after two months in testing and data-gathering, and it’s already making a splash. Publications from the Atlantic to the New York Times have discussed what this site reveals about the viral nature of news and the organizations that report it.” From Sarah.
  • Gabby Giffords and the Problem with ‘Inspiration Porn’ – Gabrielle Giffords is a woman, a victim of violence, and a person with disabilities, and the world doesn’t give much freedom to people like her. Women are either prudes, or they’re sluts. Victims are either asking for it, or they’re too naive. And people with disabilities are either pathetic figures who simply don’t try hard enough, or they have a bad attitude when they dare reject strangers’ pity.
  • Flight delayed by ultra-orthodox Jewish men refusing to sit next to women – “As people boarded the flight, ultra-orthodox men began asking women to change seats so they did not have to sit next to them, some even offering them money to do so, witnesses told Ynet. When some women refused, including one woman, Galit, who was sitting with her husband, the men stood in the aisles, delaying the flight’s departure.” From Daniela.
  • The Health Effects of Leaving Religion – “Americans are less religious than ever. A third of American adults under 30, and a fifth of all Americans don’t identify with any religion, according to a 2012 study by Pew Research (an increase from 15 percent in 2007). But though scientists have studied people who leave cults, research on the health effects of leaving religion is slim.”
  • The Self-Made Man – “The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.”

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Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. The self-made man narrative has always bugged me, it allows us to see those who are “still” in poverty as defective even if we are counted among them. The truth is, for every self-made person that truly worked their way up from poverty there are hundreds that are seen as self-made even though they were comfortable enough to fail repeatedly before striking it rich (George W. Bush anyone?).

    Sure, Bill Gates dropped out of college to start Microsoft in his parents’ garage, but it was his parents’ wealth that afforded his access to the rare computers that he learned on in the first place, his ability to decide that college (Harvard at that) wasn’t going to benefit him even after his parents paid for it, and the “courage” to start his own company with no help (knowing that, if he failed, he would still be able to afford to eat). Yet, Bill Gates is seen at the paragon of the self-made man. He would tell you it’s not true, but those who want the rabble to “just keep working” find the myth all too convenient to allow it to die.

    It goes hand-in-hand with the “virtue” of our founding fathers, paragons all. Rich white slave-owning land holders that didn’t want the common folk to vote, saw woman as lacking the ability to think, and viewed the natives and slaves as other than human. They had good ideas and surely put their necks out but why must they also be superhuman for us to see them as worthy? American exceptionalism indeed, what a big steaming pile of shit.

    As a tl;dr I offer the words of John Steinbeck.

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

    That pretty much says it all.

  2. Early last year, I volunteered at a charity dinner that Gabrielle Giffords was the guest of honor at. She and her husband both spoke, and were very gracious. I feel lucky to have had that opportunity. I haven’t read the article yet so no comment on that as of yet. :)

    1. Inspiration porn, poverty porn, the hypocrisy of “See how awesome and enlightened we are that we make a huge spectacle out of people who are different?”

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