Why Truth May Be Less Important Than We Like to Think 

In Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, James Clear wrote about truth from an evolutionary perspective. He pointed out that for our primate ancestors, understanding the truth of things (i.e., what sort of plants and animals are dangerous) was necessary for survival. But being part of the tribe was important too. And while these two fundamental survival needs “often work well together, they occasionally come into conflict.”

“In many circumstances,” Clear said,” social connection is actually more helpful to your daily life than understanding the truth of a particular fact or idea.”

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The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that in the universe (or any isolated system), there is a natural tendency to degenerate from order to chaos.

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As to the perception that unarmed blacks are killed more often by police than unarmed whites… I assumed that was true. I looked it up. It’s not true.

From 2016 to 2019, there were 208 killings of unarmed people by police. That’s an average of 52 per year. Of that group, 62 (about 30%) were black. 100 (48%) were white. Last year, there were 41 deaths of unarmed people by police. Of that group, 20 were white and 9 were black.

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Pandemic Facts:

* The shelter-in-place strategy was implemented to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. But hospitals didn’t collapse. We paid $660 million to set up mobile field hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients. Apart from the Javits Center, which cost $11 million to set up, all the other mobile field hospitals combined treated 82 patients.  That’s $8 million per patient.

* In 48 out of 50 states, the R0 rate (basic reproduction number) is below 1. That means the epidemic can’t expand in those states.

* 38 million Americans are unemployed. It is expected that 40% will never get their jobs back.

* Of 600,000 cancer patients receiving chemo, half are now experiencing delays in their treatments.

*  Calls to suicide lines have increased as much as 1000% in some states.

* Young kids are 20 times more likely to die from the flu than from COVID-19, yet children are still being kept out of school.

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Snoring is the sound of air trying to make it through the narrowed air passages in your throat. Having a large Adam’s apple and a thick tongue can contribute. Also being overweight, drinking, and smoking. Snoring is not particularly bad, but sleep apnea, which is what happens when no air gets through for 10 seconds at a time, can lead to serious health problems and even death. To defeat sleep apnea naturally, lose weight, limit your drinking, stop smoking, and sleep with your head elevated. Sweet dreams to you!

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Every year, the Washington Post holds a contest in which readers are asked to supply alternative meanings for common words. Here are a few of the most recent winners that I was able to find:

* coffee – the person upon whom one coughs

* flabbergasted – appalled over how much weight you have gained

* esplanade – an attempt at an explanation while drunk

* lymph – to walk with a lisp

* flatulence – emergency vehicle that picks you up after you’re run over by a steamroller

* balderdash – a rapidly receding hairline

* testicle – a humorous question on an exam

* pokemon – a Rastafarian proctologist

* oyster – a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms

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Camp David, the oft-mentioned presidential retreat, is located around 60 miles from Washington, DC, in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountain Park. Officially a US Navy installation, it was built by the WPA in the 1930s to serve as a camp for federal employees and their families, and was formally named Naval Support Facility Thurmont.

In 1942, during WWII, the camp was turned into a refuge for President Franklin D. Roosevelt when it was considered no longer safe for him to spend time on the presidential yacht, the USS Potomac. Roosevelt called it “Shangri-La,” a reference to the Himalayan paradise in James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon. When President Eisenhower took office in 1953, he renamed it Camp David to honor his father and (then five-year-old) grandson, both named David.

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X-rays – a form of high-energy electromagnetic radiation – were accidentally discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Roentgen, a German physics professor. Not knowing what they were, Roentgen called them X-rays – with the X standing for “unknown.”

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According to medical historians, there are basically two ways that pandemics end. One is when death rates plummet. The other is when fear about the disease wanes.

This has happened with most pandemics. It even happened with the Bubonic plague.

Bubonic plague has struck three times in the past 2,000 years, killing millions of people and altering the course of history. Each epidemic amplified the fear that came with the next outbreak.

The worst occurrence was the second, which began in 1331 in China. In the years between 1347 and 1351, it killed at least a third of the European population. Half of the population of Siena, Italy, died.

The plague did not end then. But the fear of it died after a few years. After a year or two of widespread fear and even hysteria in parts, denizens of even the hardest hit cities began to grow tired of the constant fear, much like people do in cities besieged by war.

Florence was one of those cities. And according to none other than Giovanni Boccaccio, people grew tired of being frightened – even though the toll of death was much higher than it is now with COVID-19.

“No more respect was accorded to dead people than would nowadays be accorded to dead goats,” he said.

After hiding in their homes for months, many people simply refused to be afraid of the threat. Their way of coping, Boccaccio wrote, was to “drink heavily, enjoy life to the full, go around singing and merrymaking, and gratify all of one’s cravings when the opportunity emerged, and shrug the whole thing off as one enormous joke.”

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