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    The “Lab Leak”: It’s Not Enough to Say Accidents Happen

    So far no one has come up with any clear account of how a coronavirus escaped biosafety level 4 barriers. Photograph by MihasLi / Shutterstock Disasters evoke a search for who to blame. Mishandled disasters make that search vital for anyone whose actions or inactions may have amplified the catastrophe’s damage. As the official United […]

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    COVID Experts: We’re Putting Out Campfires but the Forest Fire Rages

      After I got my second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, a wave of euphoria infused me along with the modified messenger RNA. Many friends describe the same feeling. This is the end of the pandemic for me. Life returns to normal.  But then my usual, pessimistic view of life returned along with an examination […]

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    Vaccines Are the Safest Medical Procedure We Have. Make Your Wager Wisely

    All drugs and treatments have side effects, but vaccines in general have the fewest.Illustration by eamesBot / Shutterstock In the late 1650’s, the French polymath and renowned scientist Blaise Pascal, having undergone a religious experience that transformed him into something of a zealot, suggested the following logical strategy regarding belief in God: If there is […]

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    It Pays to Be a Space Case

    Kieran Fox, a neuroscientist, says some of his colleagues see him as an “alien” because of all the time he takes off to let his mind wander.Photo Illustration by Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock It’s a feeling we all know well—you’re at a work meeting or in the middle of a book, when you realize that […]

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    Thank You for the 7 PM Clapping, But Camaraderie Is Needed More Than Ever

    Handwashing, mask-wearing and physical distancing are the easy part. The true challenge is to face the pain and suffering that exists all around us and know that doing so will not break us.Illustration by Blinx / Shutterstock COVID has reached peak unsexiness. The thought occurs to me as I scroll through previously lively physician COVID forums where […]

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    How Pseudoscientists Get Away With It

      The relentless and often unpredictable coronavirus has, among its many quirky terrors, dredged up once again the issue that will not die, science versus pseudoscience. The scientists, experts who would be the first to admit they are not infallible, are now in danger of being drowned out by the growing chorus of pseudoscientists, conspiracy […]

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    The Case for Rapid At-Home COVID Testing for Everyone

    The time it takes to ship COVID test samples to central labs and back is a burden—people risk infection as they wait days, sometimes weeks, for results.Photograph by MIA Studio / Shutterstock Imagine that every morning your child and her classmates take a COVID-19 test that offers results within a half hour, showing the transmission […]

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    How the Pandemic Has Tested Behavioral Science

    In the interplay between behavioral science and policy, puffs of smoke abound.Photo illustration by metamorworks / Shutterstock In March the United Kingdom curiously declined to impose significant social distancing measures in response to the global pandemic. The government was taking advice from several parties, among them the so-called “Nudge Unit,” a private company called Behavioral […]

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    Steven Pinker on the Tribal Roots of Defying Social Distancing

      The images are everywhere: People crowded face-to-face in swimming pools, shoulder-to-shoulder in indoor bars, cheering without masks at a rally held by President Trump, who often downplays the global pandemic. Now, as many public health experts predicted, waves of new COVID-19 infections and deaths are rolling across the South and West. Many, still practicing […]

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    Let Game Theory Tell You When It’s Time to Go Shopping

    By using this methodology, combined with available information from Google maps to measure store size and popularity, one can model the best time to go shopping in a pandemic.Photograph by Diego Cervo / Shutterstock Now is not the time to go to the grocery store, to restock the pantry, to get fresh milk and eggs. […]