from the world's big
How pandemics are used to promote racism and xenophobia
The current focus on the Chinese and Jews is nothing new.
- Pandemics have historically brought out racist and xenophobic tendencies.
- COVID-19 has sparked conspiracy theories against Chinese and Jewish populations around the world.
- Racist tropes spread online have real-world consequences that are harming communities.
In the fourth and fifth centuries, Christians were called upon to practice alousia. Known as "the state of being unwashed," the only time these faithful were allowed to bathe was during baptism. Any other instance of putting soap and water together for the sake of cleansing one's skin, according to "The Dirt on Clean" by Katherine Ashenburg, "signified vanity and worldliness."
Humans have always had strange bathing rituals (or lack thereof). As one instance of the bubonic plague claimed 25 million European lives in the 14th century, the University of Paris's medical faculty discovered the cause: the conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars "caused disease-infected vapors to rise out of the earth and waters and poison the air." The most susceptible? Anyone taking hot baths, which opened the pores and allowed the vapors to penetrate.
There was a two-century stretch in which Europeans refused to bathe. Muslims and Jews, both with their own extensive histories of cleansing rituals, long suspected their Christian neighbors of being filthy. Not that early Christians left their peers off easily. They believed these silly rituals with soap and oils and water were the actual source of scourge. Dirtiness was divine. So long as their linen shirts were cleaned and pressed, whatever went on beneath was as nature intended.
Nature doesn't intend so much as adjusts. Bacteria and viruses couldn't care less about rituals. Their goal is to proliferate, not pontificate. While today we've course-corrected too far thanks to an obsession with antibacterial soap, good hygiene has always been wrapped up with mysticism and ritual—as well as racism.
David Patrikarakos points out that the bubonic plague provided an opportunity to scapegoat Jewish communities, which have long been subject to unfair scrutiny. "Hundreds of Jewish communities perished too," he writes, "their inhabitants slaughtered out of hatred and fear." The Black Death was yet another in a series of instances that "rebirthed an ancient idea: that the Jews are to blame."
Strange ideas about cleanliness persist. For instance, in early twentieth-century France, dirt was thought to nourish your hair. The anti-aging protocol du jour involved keeping your skin as oily as possible. Our neuroses about health always seem to get the best of us. A recent Pew study discovered that roughly 30 percent of Americans believe that COVID-19 was created in a laboratory. Again, a profound misunderstanding of nature—in this case, our relationship with other animals.
As Patrikarakos notes, Turkish state-run television recently promoted the idea that Jews and Zionists engineered the novel coronavirus to "neuter the world's population." An Algerian news outlet jumped on the same bandwagon. Never to be outdone, some American pastors and Reddit commentators (always the crème of our nation, them) believe the pandemic is God's way of exterminating Jews. By this point, you'd think the Big Guy would have been able to handle that directive.
Let's not leave out the Chinese, who have taken the brunt of this current aggression. The "Chinese virus" rhetoric coming from the White House has real-world consequences for Chinese-Americans (and relationships with China broadly). That doesn't mean, as Bill Maher suggested last week, we cannot use the geographical location in naming the virus. He lists plenty of examples:
"Zika is from the Zika Forest, Ebola from the Ebola River, hantavirus the Hantan River. There's the West Nile virus and Guinea worm and Rocky Mountain spotted fever and, of course, the Spanish flu."
An Israeli rabbi walks next to the body former Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel Eliahu Bakshi-Doron, who died from complications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection the previous last night, during his funeral at the har HaMenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem on April 13, 2020.
Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images
Maher's larger point is relevant and unfortunately absent in many discussions regarding this pandemic. It's possible to both recognize that this virus appears to have originated in an exotic animal market—a danger that we've been warned about since at least 2007 specific to Chinese markets (by researchers in Hong Kong, no less)—and not be racist and xenophobic. We can work toward banning food stalls that threaten public health without abandoning Chinese restaurants in America. Yet it doesn't appear that we're able to hold two ideas in our heads anymore.
While I don't have extensive experience debating on a stage, I recall an essential part of the training: you have to argue whatever point you're assigned. This sometimes means arguing for a perspective you're personally against. The best debaters learn this skill. The rest spend their time trolling on social media.
Debate prep arms you with critical thinking skills necessary for navigating a confusing and at times contradictory world. It forces you to stop reacting emotionally after reading the lede of an article without bothering to click through. We have reached, as Patrikarakos writes regarding the invented DC pizzeria pedophile ring, "the perfect embrace of the sinister and the absurd."
Thus, next to posts about 5G killing birds (false) and causing coronavirus (false) and Bill Gates being sued by India (false) and vaccines causing autism (false), the ultimate conspiracy must be between the Chinese government and Zionists tanking the global economy in order to…to…
Writing about smallpox in 19th-century Britain, Ashenburg writes that the unintended transmission of disease (in this case through the eyes of Charles Dickens's 1853 novel, "Bleak House"), "is a forceful reminder that the neglect of its weakest members makes society as a whole vulnerable." Along the way, we finally recognized that soap and water is necessary for public health. Now if only we can find the magic formula that ends our toxic love affair for racist and xenophobic conspiracy theories, during times of pandemics and otherwise.
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Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
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.