Trends

Stanford Researchers Say Young Americans Have No Idea What’s News

Quartz: “Adolescents may be authorities on social media, but they’re not so good at identifying advertising: According to a Stanford University study, 82% of middle-schoolers failed to differentiate between news stories and ‘sponsored content.'”

“According to the study, more than two-thirds of middle-school students failed to flag as biased a post written by a bank executive and arguing for young adults to pursue more financial-planning help. Likewise, some 40% of high-school students believed a photo and headline that suggested deformed daisies were evidence of toxic conditions near Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The photo included no source or location tag.”

“Researchers found that what tripped students up most were posts with big, flashy elements, which tend to command more attention than the story’s actual source. Teens also ‘judged the credibility of newsy tweets based on how much detail they contained or whether a large photo was attached, rather than on the source,’ the Wall Street Journal reported.”

Why the Third Wave of Globalization May Be the Hardest

The Economist: “Bill Clinton once called globalisation ‘the economic equivalent of a force of nature, like wind or water’. It pushes countries to specialise and swap, making them richer, and the world smaller. In ‘The Great Convergence’, Richard Baldwin, a Geneva-based economist, adds an important detail: like wind and water, globalisation is powerful, but can be inconstant or even destructive. Unless beloved notions catch up with reality, politicians will be pushed to make grave mistakes.”

“Continuing the sports analogy, Mr Baldwin says that today’s trade is like the coach of a top team being allowed to offer his services to underdogs. The coach gets rich from the doubled market for his services, while the better team gets a sudden surprise from the newly skilled competition. Mr Baldwin says that discontent with globalisation stems in part from an ‘ill-defined sense that it is no longer a sport for national teams.'”

How the Fear of Death Makes People More Right-Wing

Bobby Azarian: “…a highly influential and experimentally verified theory from social psychology predicts that, as long as an existential threat looms, the world will grow ever more divided and increasingly hostile. Terror management theory (TMT) explains how and why events that conjure up thoughts about death cause people to cling more strongly to their cultural worldviews – siding with those who share their national, ethnic or political identity, while aggressively opposing those who do not.”

“Another mortality salience study on aggression conducted on both Iranian and US college students shows disturbing results. One group of students was asked to ‘jot down, as specifically as you can, what you think will happen to you as you physically die,’ and to describe the emotions aroused. Participants in the control condition were given similar questions related to dental pain. The results showed that Iranian students who were made to think about death were more supportive of martyrdom attacks against the US, while those in the control condition opposed them. Similarly, death reminders made US students who identified as politically conservative more supportive of extreme military attacks on foreign nations that could kill thousands of civilians.”

What Americans Can Learn from Britain’s Vote for Brexit

Heather Conley: “For those who are unsure of what will happen in the United States over the coming weeks and months, it’s instructive to watch how the UK has fared over the five months following its shocking referendum, and draw some lessons about what to expect in America after Donald Trump’s stunning victory.”

“Real anger: As soon as they regain the ability to form words, establishment anger will kick in and it will be visceral… In the United States, there will be soul searching on polling and data-driven models; the wrong candidate; the role of the media; Russia’s suspected interference in the election and the FBI’s mismanagement of Hillary Clinton’s private email server investigation. For Clinton supporters, grief will eventually give way to anger.”

“Agents of change meet institutional reality: Members of the Leave campaign who made the case that exiting the EU would be quick and allow 350 million pounds per week ($436 million) to be diverted to the National Health Service now confront bureaucratic and institutional reality. As Trump will soon discover, he and his future administration are bound by checks and balances, laws and institutions. Brexit is entering this balancing act now as parliament seeks to have greater say on the government’s EU negotiations.”

Why CEOs Are Getting Fired More 

James Surowiecki: “The predicament of modern C.E.O.s may seem surprising, given their prominence and lavish compensation. Top executives everywhere are paid more than they used to be, and the U.S. has led the way; American C.E.O.s earn, on average, two to four times as much as European ones and five times as much as Japanese ones. Yet it’s precisely these factors that make C.E.O.s vulnerable, because the expectations for their performance are higher.”

“In that sense, the increasing willingness of boards to fire the C.E.O. is actually the flip side of a fetishization of the position that began in the eighties. In Ralph Cordiner’s day (and in Japan maybe still), belief in a C.E.O.’s power to transform a company was limited. But today’s cult of the C.E.O. is founded on the belief that having the right person at the top is the key to success—from which it follows that a failing company should show its boss the door.”

The Politics of Resentment

On PBS’ The Open Mind, Alexander Heffner interviewed Katherine Cramer, author of The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker. Click here for the full interview.

Cramer: “Unfortunately, the thing about resentment is that it perpetuates itself, right?… And I think that a lot of the kind of anti-liberal elite resentment that we see is actually a part of that cycle in that people know that there’s a stereotype of people in small-town America, that they’re less-educated, that they’re racist, that they are making choices against their interests. Well that’s not gonna sit very well with people, of course they’re not gonna feel warmly towards the people who are saying those types of things, right? And whoever gets into office, there’s enough of this resentment going around that suddenly we’re all not gonna be kind to one another and think now we understand one another. I think the only way to make it end is for some people to take the high road…”

Mobile Website Views Surpassed Desktop Views for the First Time Ever in October 2016

Quartz: “October was the first month ever when more web pages were viewed on mobile and tablet devices than on desktop and laptop computers, according to the web analytics firm StatCounter.”

“While this doesn’t necessarily mean more people are using mobile devices than computers, or that people are using their mobile devices more than their computers, it does for certain mean people are viewing more individual webpages on mobile browsers than they are on desktop versions.

Are We Entering a New Chapter of Globalization?

Washington Post: “The sprawling plant is a local landmark, just off the highway unofficially known as Auto Alley. General Motors built it in the 1920s, and for generations it created the kind of blue-collar jobs that defined America’s middle class. But by the time the last SUV rolled off the assembly line here, Moraine had succumbed to the flood of inexpensive imports and cheap foreign labor that battered industrial towns in Ohio and across the country.”

“Now Cho Tak Wong is in charge of the factory. The billionaire chairman of Fuyao Group, the biggest maker of automotive glass in China, Cho rose from rural poverty by riding the same wave of globalization that devastated Moraine — a living example of the reversal of fortune that has turned China into America’s chief economic rival in public debates and political rhetoric.”

“But the next chapter of globalization is already unfolding inside Fuyao’s factory, as the balance of power in the world economy tilts once more. Now it is China that experts fear is losing steam, forcing the country’s wealthy investors and corporations to seek out profits overseas. They are snapping up U.S. businesses at a record rate and employing tens of thousands of America’s workers.”

Are Americans Better Off Than They Were a Decade or Two Ago?

Ben Bernanke and Peter Olson: “Economically speaking, are we better off than we were ten years ago? Twenty years ago? When asked such questions, Americans seem undecided, almost schizophrenic, with large majorities saying the country is heading ‘in the wrong direction,’ even as they tell pollsters that they are optimistic about their personal financial situations and the medium-term economic outlook.”

“While thinking about the question, we came across a recently published article by Charles Jones and Peter Klenow, which proposes an interesting new measure of economic welfare… The bottom line: According to this metric, Americans enjoy a high level of economic welfare relative to most other countries, and the level of Americans’ well-being has continued to improve over the past few decades despite the severe disruptions of the last one. However, the rate of improvement has slowed noticeably in recent years, consistent with the growing sense of dissatisfaction evident in polls and politics.”

Immigrants Helped Bump Germany’s Fertility Rate to Its Highest in 33 Years

Quartz: “In May 2015, Germany’s five-year birthrate had plunged to the lowest in the world, edging Japan out of the bottom slot. But things may be looking up slightly on the baby front, according to the latest figures from the German federal statistics office.”

“The rising rate is some cause for celebration, but even the influx of migrants—which has already slowed considerably since the Balkan route closed and Turkey agreed to stop refugees from coming to Germany—may not be enough to stop Germany’s dangerous population decline. Demographers say the rate needs to be at 2 births per woman for a population to maintain itself.”

A Child Born Today Comes Into the World With More Debt Than You

Bloomberg: “Under current law, U.S. inflation-adjusted debt per person is expected to reach the $66,000 milestone by April 2026, based on Bloomberg calculations of Congressional Budget Office and Census Bureau data.”

“So what would the debt path look like under either a Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump presidency? It would be pretty bleak in either case, according to a report released by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.”

“The committee projects debt held by the public to grow by $9 trillion over the next decade under current law. Economic proposals put forth by both presidential candidates would add to the national debt, and Trump’s would add even more than Clinton’s. The report estimates that Clinton’s policies would increase the national debt by $200 billion over the next decade, while Trump’s proposals would add $5.3 trillion.”

Another Casualty of Climate Change: Endangered Languages

Grist: “Though it’s not a perfect measure, language is one of the best ways we know to gauge cultural diversity. And that diversity is in danger. Linguists predict in the next 100 years, half of the 7,000 languages currently spoken in the world will vanish.”

“If you’re well versed in the effects of climate change, that list will sound familiar. As the world heats up, we’re on track to see more intense storms, rising seas, prolonged droughts, and the spread of infectious diseases — all of which can, in turn, lead to chaos, armed conflicts, and migration. And when people settle in a new place, they begin a new life, complete with new surroundings, new traditions, and, yes, a new language.”

The Coming Human-Machine Partnership in Creativity

Sam Arbesman: “Awash in the many tools of our technological society, we are seeing a new type of tool on the horizon, one which is similar in some ways to what has come before and in other ways quite different. These are tools that augment human creativity. We are increasingly, as a society, building tools to help assist human creativity, whether in art, design, or even scientific discovery.”

“Here is a small sampling of what is increasingly possible:”

Poetry from pictures

“Creativity has always been a collaborative act. We can now increasingly count machines as members of our team as well.”