My Favorite Bit this week was about how National Geographic hired a historian to research the magazine’s racist history. The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Susan Goldberg, wrote about the historian’s findings: “What Mason found in short was that until the 1970s National Geographic all but ignored people of color who lived in the United States, rarely acknowledging them beyond laborers or domestic workers. Meanwhile it pictured “natives” elsewhere as exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages—every type of cliché.”
There is increasing acceptance of the idea that a person’s genitalia does not map directly to their socially constructed Gender identification. If a person’s gender doesn’t provide definitive physical information then it is no longer necessary to conceive of gender as a binary and it can instead be thought of as a spectrum. Relatedly, it is worth questioning the putative purpose of gender identification on birth certificates since such decisions are made without informed input from the individual. State-sponsored dictation of gender norms reinforces power constructs that benefit men over other gender identities; while these norms continue to exist, here are 100 ways to make women’s lives easier.
New research shows how Pornography plays a role in reinforcing damaging gender-based stereotypes about sex and the evidence shows that porn is changing how men and women have sex; it isn’t all bad news as porn, and the internet more broadly, has also helped to “normalize BDSM and kink, and revealed to the world different relationship configurations, which of course impact sex.” Other research has called into question the seminal 1980s study that found pornography to be detrimental to relationships; “the theory that there is a ‘public health crisis’ of pornography will have run afoul of the replication crisis in psychology.”
Science researchers have developed a new insulating material called nanowood that is 30 times stronger than other lightweight building materials with similar insulation properties. Turning to the stars, the death of physicist Stephen Hawking provides an opportunity to revisit his groundbreaking discovery that particles are not actually “real” and that they only exist under particular reference frames.
Finishing off your week in review is a Hodgepodge of articles that take a look at how silent reading changed Westerners’ interior life in part because it “let people learn and reflect without religious guidance or censure”, the decline of the United States while the Baby Boomers were in charge, how some European governments are pushing back against Russian disinformation campaigns (and what Western governments should do about it), the philosophical idea of panpsychism that suggests that “consciousness is a fundamental feature of physical matter”, the venture capital firm focuses on companies, profits, and customers (instead of exits, growth, and investors), and the inherent economic contradiction in Trump’s immigration and trade policies.
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Have a great rest of your week!