from the world's big
Why Flying A Drone Is Just As Stressful As Flying A Bomber
A study of U.S. Air Force drone operators has found they experience post-traumatic stress and other mental-health troubles at the same rate as pilots who are actually flying aircraft in war zones. That may sound odd if you accept the stereotype of high-tech warfighting as a bloodless videogame. Speaking of which, aren't Americans now supposed to be totally desensitized to electronic mayhem, after spending their lifetimes playing Doom and Grand Theft Auto?
James Dao's reporting suggests such stereotypes need adjusting, and not just reports about the badness of videogames have been exaggerated. In fact the epidemiologist Jean Lin Otto, an author of the study, expected the operators (pilots and camera operators of what they prefer to call, more correctly, remotely piloted aircraft) to be more troubled than fliers whose bodies are actually within the borders of Iraq or Afghanistan. It's not obvious why, at least to the vast majority of Americans who are insulated from knowledge of our wars. Compared to the stresses of being far from home, the risks of mechanical failure or enemy fire causing a crash, the constant presence on the front of the adversary, where is the angst in kissing your spouse goodbye, driving to a secure facility in Syracuse to maneuver a robot plane, and then coming home to the kids' soccer game?
As it turns out, there's a great deal of angst in that supposedly comfortable scenario.
One reason: the technology of surveillance changes the psychology of the fight, making it harder for soldiers to find a way to separate the image of "the enemy" from the image of "people like me." Even for pilots who fly off without seeing the damage they've inflicted, this is hard. For instance, General Curtis LeMay, architect of America's devastating World War II bombing campaign against Japan, described how bomber crews must sometimes think about the innocents below, such as "a child lying in bed with a whole ton of masonry toppling on top of him." But, he explains, "then you have to turn away from the picture if you intend to retain your sanity. And also if you intend to keep on doing the work your Nation expects of you." This is tough to do, as Otto said to Dao, if the picture of the damage you've done isn't a vision in your mind's eye, but instead a digital feed on a screen right in front of you.
It's made even harder by the fact that drone operators really know their targets as individuals. As one (non-drone) veteran recently pointed out to me, operators sometimes track their kills for days or weeks. They watch them buy food for dinner. They watch them play with their kids. Despite their physical distance from the action, they're psychologically much closer than pilots in non-robot craft, or even soldiers firing at adversaries they don't know.
A second contrast is that in-theater pilots, though far from family and civilian friends, have the company of their warfighting brothers and sisters. Anyone they eat or shower or play cards with has seen the same war they've seen. They don't have to explain themselves. They don't endure the emotional wrench of meeting people who are completely oblivious to the fight and its demands. They don't have to experience emotional vertigo by shifting from the demands of lethal strikes to the demands of coaching kids' softball.
For ages, warriors have kept war apart from the rest of their lives. In many cultures, as Shannon French discusses here, they returned to their non-warring lives only after ceremonies of transition, in which they formally changed from wartime selves into civilians. (Christian knights did penance for killing people, Maasai warriors were purified, North American plains tribes put warriors in the sweat lodge before they rejoined daily life, and Roman legionnaires were ritually bathed.) And the Odyssey, as Jonathan Shay has pointed out, is archetypal story of a man's transition from fighter to civilian. This compartmentalization, separating war-life and home-life, could be seen as a way to protect society from the violent skills it has cultivated in its fighters. But there is evidence that it also protected fighters from the anguish of judging their military acts with the eyes of civilians.
Digital technology is changing war, then, as many expected. But it's not changing it in the way a lot of us thought. And it's not making the ageless tension between civilian life and warrior life any easier to manage.
Follow me on Twitter: @davidberreby
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Men take longer to clear COVID-19 from their systems; a male-only coronavirus repository may be why.
- A new study found that women clear coronavirus from their systems much faster than men.
- The researchers hypothesize that high concentrations of ACE2-expressing cells in the testes may store more coronavirus.
- There are many confounding factors to this mystery—some genetic, others social and behavioral.
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A laboratory technician at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, holds a container of test-tube samples from people tested for novel coronavirus.
Further research required<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="z9vH49bb" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="7ef1ab8ca2f90b28543d580c408ed25f"> <div id="botr_z9vH49bb_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/z9vH49bb-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/z9vH49bb-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/z9vH49bb-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>The Montefiore-Einstein study is currently preliminary, and further research will be required before researchers can determine what, if anything, its results illuminate.</p><p>The study is currently published on <em>Medrxiv</em>, a <a href="https://www.aje.com/arc/benefits-of-preprints-for-researchers/" target="_blank">preprint</a> distributor. This means the study has been shared publicly before undergoing the <a href="https://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/howscienceworks_16" target="_blank">peer-review process</a>.</p><p>Preprints allow researchers to communicate their findings before official publication, which can take months if not a year or longer. This pre-publication can lead to early feedback, increased visibility, and new collaborations. It's especially helpful for <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6400415/" target="_blank">early-career researchers</a> trying to establish themselves.</p><p>However, given the speed at which coronavirus is spreading, researchers have leaned on preprints as a means of disseminating data to other experts faster than the peer review allows. As a result, <em>Medrixiv</em> has seen a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/science/coronavirus-disinformation.html" target="_blank">surge of preprint studies</a>, but they must be read within the context of their preliminary status.</p><p>The Montefiore-Einstein also has its limitations. The study had an initial sample size of only 68 subjects (48 males, 20 females) and a further examination of three families. And the connection of coronavirus to ACE2 enzymes in the testes came from database research, not direct observation.</p><p>The researchers acknowledge the need for further investigation. In particular, Shastri stresses the need to confirm the coronavirus's ability to infect and multiply in testicular tissue. If other researchers find their data promising, they could move forward with new research to build upon the study and see if this clue fits into the mystery.</p>
One clue among many<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzE1NTc5NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTQ3NjEzMX0.G-p4KniVRhsHXoIOyFfzEARdN5nGXWWkkQa85x6_ooM/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C281%2C0%2C298&height=700" id="d50c6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="938d51b21df264aae5e883e5f1f9c894" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Coronavirus protesters in Los Angeles. Men are more likely than women to disregard health warnings from officials.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.