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This Week

Exploding Conventional Wisdom

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Every Friday we take a look back at the week’s headlines, centering on a theme we’ve singled out as particularly important. This week, conventional wisdom was being shot on sight. From an evidence-based takedown of America’s “moral decline” to a bank of elevators becoming a two-room apartment, messing with your head seems good for the soul—and for the world.

America’s moral “decline” includes decreased crime, divorce, teenage pregnancy rates:

I think the debate over America’s moral position comes down to this: Republicans want the best outcomes based on solutions that fit into preconceived notions of what society should look like. So even if there are few tangible harms that point to our moral decay, any move away from their vision of society is evidence of declining virtue.

Elevator prank by Rémi Gaillard:


Hidden report validates Village Voice’s exposé of NYPD officers juicing statistics:

at the same time that police officials were attacking Schoolcraft’s credibility, refusing to pay him, and serving him with administrative charges, the NYPD was sitting on a document that thoroughly vindicated his claims.

German linguist debunks claim his country is obsessed with all things bathroom:

I fail to see how the fact that the word Scheiß(e) is used differently in German than in English is any evidence that the Germans are obsessed by it.

Saudi Arabia decides which moral rules are OK to bend in favor of a stronger economy:

The kingdom will never develop a dynamic economy if husbands spend hours every day ferrying wives to and from work. A royal order in February stipulated that women who drive should not be prosecuted by the courts.

Estimates that global poverty is shrinking aren’t too good to be true—and may be too conservative:

First off, many experts argue that the World Bank’s poverty numbers are too high -- not due to any conspiracy, mind you, but just because poverty is very hard to measure.

Everything you need to know about Invisible Children, Kony, and attention-based advocacy:

If we want people to pay attention to the issues we care about, do we need to oversimplify them? And if we do, do our simplistic framings do more unintentional harm than intentional good?

The GOP is deeply divided, and it may be to the Party’s advantage to have the actual primaries fail:

Political parties aren’t supposed to act suicidal. For decades, the reigning theory held that politicians, not activists, defined the parties.

Testing demands of No Child Left Behind send experienced teachers fleeing public schools:

In response to the ongoing drumbeat of public opprobrium inspired by corporate-style school reform, we are losing the experienced teachers that students and new teachers need.

New sport, Ultimate Tak Ball, involves a ball, goals, two teams, and stun guns:


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