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Which COVID-19 personality are you?
New research identifies 16 different COVID-19 personality types and the lessons we can learn from this global pandemic.
- New research by Mimi E. Lam at the University of Bergen explores the different "personality types" that have emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- According to Lam, recognizing various COVID-19 identities can refine forecasts of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and impact.
- Global Solutions Initiative, Population Matters, and AME explore how the world (and society) has changed due to COVID-19.
Are you a complier or non-complier personality type?
New research by Mimi E. Lam at the University of Bergen (Human and Social Sciences Communications) explores the different "personality types" that have emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lam explains to Eurekalert: "...the COVID-19 pandemic reminds us that we are not immune to each other. To unite in our fight against the pandemic, it is important to recognize the basic dignity of all and value the human diversity currently dividing us."
According to Lam, "Only then, can we foster societal resilience and an ethical COVID-19 agenda. This would pave the way for other global commons challenges whose impacts are less immediate, but no less dire for humanity."
There are 16 different COVID-19 personality types, and they include the following:
- Deniers — Individuals who downplay the viral threat and promote a kind of "business as usual" lifestyle.
- Spreaders — Individuals who believe spreading the virus could actually be positive. These are individuals who believe in "herd immunity" and that passing the virus around will eventually allow things to return to normal.
- Harmers — Individuals who intentionally attempt to harm others by spreading the virus (via coughing or spitting, not wearing masks, licking various public surfaces, etc.).
- Realists — Individuals who recognize the reality (and potential harm) of spreading the virus and attempt to adjust their behaviors to not spread the virus.
- Worriers — Individuals who stay informed and safe to manage their uncertainty and fear. These are also individuals who will have a lot of anxiety over the current state of the virus at all times.
- Contemplators — Individuals who have taken "quarantine times" to isolate and reflect on their own lives. These are individuals who may attempt to better themselves (focusing on new hobbies or skills) during times of isolation.
- Hoarders — Individuals who panic-buy and hoard products (such as toilet paper) in an attempt to quell their panic and worry over the spreading of the virus.
- Invincibles — Individuals who believe themselves to be immune to the virus. These are also individuals who claim a kind of "if I get sick, I get sick" kind of attitude, not taking time to reflect on the idea that they could be carriers of the virus, spreading it to others.
- Rebels — Individuals who defiantly ignore social distancing measures and various other rules put into place to protect the general public.
- Blamers — Those who fault others for their fears and frustrations.
- Exploiters — Those who attempt to exploit the current situation (taking advantage of vulnerable people/situations) for power, profit, or brutality.
- Innovators — Individuals who attempt to design or repurposes resources in an attempt to fight the pandemic and contribute to society.
- Supporters — Individuals who show support and solidarity to others around them in regards to fending off the virus or supporting loved ones.
- Altruists — Individuals who help the vulnerable, elderly, and isolated.
- Warriors — Individuals (such as front-line support workers and health care workers) who combat COVID-19 on the front lines, facing the harsh and grim realities of a global pandemic on a larger scale.
- Veterans — Individuals who have experienced a previous pandemic (such as SARS or MERS) and willingly comply with restrictions.
According to Lam and her research, recognizing various COVID-19 identities can refine forecasts of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and impact. These viral identities can reflect values, social identities, situational contexts, and risk tolerances. Lam suggests that to forecast viral transmission within populations (accounting for different responses), these identified viral behaviors can be clustered by their "compliance" efforts.
- Non-compilers are individuals who fall into the following categories: Deniers, Harmers, Invincibles, and Rebels.
- Partial compliers would be individuals who fall into the categories of: Spreaders, Blamers, and Exploiters.
- Compliers would be individuals who are in the categories of Realists, Worriers, Contemplators, Hoarders, Innovators, Supporters, Altruists, Warriors, and Veterans.
Lam suggests that liberal democracies need an ethical policy agenda with three priorities:
- Recognize the diversity of individuals
- Deliberate and negotiate value trade-offs
- Promote public buy-in, trust, and compliance
By projecting different impacts in COVID-19 transmission and deaths and then correlating those with variable behavioral responses such as the ones listed above, we can reveal the benefits of not only flattening the viral curve but shifting our behavioral curve in a joint human effort to induce more adaptive responses to the pandemic. More research needs to be conducted in this area.
What has COVID-19 taught us as a society?
Image by Corona Borealis on Adobe Stock
The Global Solutions Initiative outlines a few questions and concerns that humankind has been faced with since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020:
- We have been confronted with the true uncertainty and vulnerability of human life and our very existence.
- We have been made to face existential questions - what are we here for, what do we want to accomplish? Who are the people that matter most to us?
Population Matters outlines a few more daunting questions about humankind's relationship with nature:
- What is the link between population growth, environmental destruction, and pandemics?
- How has our society's exponential rise in consumption, trade, and population pressure driven a rapid increase in the risk of pandemics?
AME outlines some essential things this pandemic has taught us about humanity and life:
- The meat industry has played a large hand in transmitting this virus. According to a recent study, SARS-CoV-2 originated in bats and has likely been transmitted to human through a scaled mammal called a pangolin (which are highly traded in China despite being deemed illegal).
- Nature can recover from our destructive efforts. Since the pandemic, the world has seen coyotes on the streets, wild boar roaming around in Barcelona, more bees, and rare wildflowers in the UK.
- Many in-office employees can work from home. This pandemic has altered the way many businesses run and will continue to run in the future. This could cause less pollution and have positive impacts on the environment.
The research conducted by Lam and subsequent research on how COVID-19 is impacting society can help us grow and adapt and perhaps become better equipped to deal with global pandemics in the future.
- How to outsmart your COVID-19 fears and boost your mood in 2021 ›
- What is COVID-19's R number – and why does it matter? | World ... ›
- Signs of Covid-19 may be hidden in speech signals | MIT News ... ›
Why mega-eruptions like the ones that covered North America in ash are the least of your worries.
- The supervolcano under Yellowstone produced three massive eruptions over the past few million years.
- Each eruption covered much of what is now the western United States in an ash layer several feet deep.
- The last eruption was 640,000 years ago, but that doesn't mean the next eruption is overdue.
The end of the world as we know it
Panoramic view of Yellowstone National Park
Image: Heinrich Berann for the National Park Service – public domain
Of the many freak ways to shuffle off this mortal coil – lightning strikes, shark bites, falling pianos – here's one you can safely scratch off your worry list: an outbreak of the Yellowstone supervolcano.
As the map below shows, previous eruptions at Yellowstone were so massive that the ash fall covered most of what is now the western United States. A similar event today would not only claim countless lives directly, but also create enough subsidiary disruption to kill off global civilisation as we know it. A relatively recent eruption of the Toba supervolcano in Indonesia may have come close to killing off the human species (see further below).
However, just because a scenario is grim does not mean that it is likely (insert topical political joke here). In this case, the doom mongers claiming an eruption is 'overdue' are wrong. Yellowstone is not a library book or an oil change. Just because the previous mega-eruption happened long ago doesn't mean the next one is imminent.
Ash beds of North America
Ash beds deposited by major volcanic eruptions in North America.
Image: USGS – public domain
This map shows the location of the Yellowstone plateau and the ash beds deposited by its three most recent major outbreaks, plus two other eruptions – one similarly massive, the other the most recent one in North America.
The Huckleberry Ridge eruption occurred 2.1 million years ago. It ejected 2,450 km3 (588 cubic miles) of material, making it the largest known eruption in Yellowstone's history and in fact the largest eruption in North America in the past few million years.
This is the oldest of the three most recent caldera-forming eruptions of the Yellowstone hotspot. It created the Island Park Caldera, which lies partially in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming and westward into Idaho. Ash from this eruption covered an area from southern California to North Dakota, and southern Idaho to northern Texas.
About 1.3 million years ago, the Mesa Falls eruption ejected 280 km3 (67 cubic miles) of material and created the Henry's Fork Caldera, located in Idaho, west of Yellowstone.
It was the smallest of the three major Yellowstone eruptions, both in terms of material ejected and area covered: 'only' most of present-day Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska, and about half of South Dakota.
The Lava Creek eruption was the most recent major eruption of Yellowstone: about 640,000 years ago. It was the second-largest eruption in North America in the past few million years, creating the Yellowstone Caldera.
It ejected only about 1,000 km3 (240 cubic miles) of material, i.e. less than half of the Huckleberry Ridge eruption. However, its debris is spread out over a significantly wider area: basically, Huckleberry Ridge plus larger slices of both Canada and Mexico, plus most of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri.
This eruption occurred about 760,000 years ago. It was centered on southern California, where it created the Long Valley Caldera, and spewed out 580 km3 (139 cubic miles) of material. This makes it North America's third-largest eruption of the past few million years.
The material ejected by this eruption is known as the Bishop ash bed, and covers the central and western parts of the Lava Creek ash bed.
Mount St Helens
The eruption of Mount St Helens in 1980 was the deadliest and most destructive volcanic event in U.S. history: it created a mile-wide crater, killed 57 people and created economic damage in the neighborhood of $1 billion.
Yet by Yellowstone standards, it was tiny: Mount St Helens only ejected 0.25 km3 (0.06 cubic miles) of material, most of the ash settling in a relatively narrow band across Washington State and Idaho. By comparison, the Lava Creek eruption left a large swathe of North America in up to two metres of debris.
The difference between quakes and faults
The volume of dense rock equivalent (DRE) ejected by the Huckleberry Ridge event dwarfs all other North American eruptions. It is itself overshadowed by the DRE ejected at the most recent eruption at Toba (present-day Indonesia). This was one of the largest known eruptions ever and a relatively recent one: only 75,000 years ago. It is thought to have caused a global volcanic winter which lasted up to a decade and may be responsible for the bottleneck in human evolution: around that time, the total human population suddenly and drastically plummeted to between 1,000 and 10,000 breeding pairs.
Image: USGS – public domain
So, what are the chances of something that massive happening anytime soon? The aforementioned mongers of doom often claim that major eruptions occur at intervals of 600,000 years and point out that the last one was 640,000 years ago. Except that (a) the first interval was about 200,000 years longer, (b) two intervals is not a lot to base a prediction on, and (c) those intervals don't really mean anything anyway. Not in the case of volcanic eruptions, at least.
Earthquakes can be 'overdue' because the stress on fault lines is built up consistently over long periods, which means quakes can be predicted with a relative degree of accuracy. But this is not how volcanoes behave. They do not accumulate magma at constant rates. And the subterranean pressure that causes the magma to erupt does not follow a schedule.
What's more, previous super-eruptions do not necessarily imply future ones. Scientists are not convinced that there ever will be another big eruption at Yellowstone. Smaller eruptions, however, are much likelier. Since the Lava Creek eruption, there have been about 30 smaller outbreaks at Yellowstone, the last lava flow being about 70,000 years ago.
As for the immediate future (give or take a century): the magma chamber beneath Yellowstone is only 5 percent to 15 percent molten. Most scientists agree that is as un-alarming as it sounds. And that its statistically more relevant to worry about death by lightning, shark, or piano.
Strange Maps #1041
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Measuring a person's movements and poses, smart clothes could be used for athletic training, rehabilitation, or health-monitoring.
In recent years there have been exciting breakthroughs in wearable technologies, like smartwatches that can monitor your breathing and blood oxygen levels.
But what about a wearable that can detect how you move as you do a physical activity or play a sport, and could potentially even offer feedback on how to improve your technique?
And, as a major bonus, what if the wearable were something you'd actually already be wearing, like a shirt of a pair of socks?
That's the idea behind a new set of MIT-designed clothing that use special fibers to sense a person's movement via touch. Among other things, the researchers showed that their clothes can actually determine things like if someone is sitting, walking, or doing particular poses.
The group from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) says that their clothes could be used for athletic training and rehabilitation. With patients' permission, they could even help passively monitor the health of residents in assisted-care facilities and determine if, for example, someone has fallen or is unconscious.
The researchers have developed a range of prototypes, from socks and gloves to a full vest. The team's "tactile electronics" use a mix of more typical textile fibers alongside a small amount of custom-made functional fibers that sense pressure from the person wearing the garment.
According to CSAIL graduate student Yiyue Luo, a key advantage of the team's design is that, unlike many existing wearable electronics, theirs can be incorporated into traditional large-scale clothing production. The machine-knitted tactile textiles are soft, stretchable, breathable, and can take a wide range of forms.
"Traditionally it's been hard to develop a mass-production wearable that provides high-accuracy data across a large number of sensors," says Luo, lead author on a new paper about the project that is appearing in this month's edition of Nature Electronics. "When you manufacture lots of sensor arrays, some of them will not work and some of them will work worse than others, so we developed a self-correcting mechanism that uses a self-supervised machine learning algorithm to recognize and adjust when certain sensors in the design are off-base."
The team's clothes have a range of capabilities. Their socks predict motion by looking at how different sequences of tactile footprints correlate to different poses as the user transitions from one pose to another. The full-sized vest can also detect the wearers' pose, activity, and the texture of the contacted surfaces.
The authors imagine a coach using the sensor to analyze people's postures and give suggestions on improvement. It could also be used by an experienced athlete to record their posture so that beginners can learn from them. In the long term, they even imagine that robots could be trained to learn how to do different activities using data from the wearables.
"Imagine robots that are no longer tactilely blind, and that have 'skins' that can provide tactile sensing just like we have as humans," says corresponding author Wan Shou, a postdoc at CSAIL. "Clothing with high-resolution tactile sensing opens up a lot of exciting new application areas for researchers to explore in the years to come."
The paper was co-written by MIT professors Antonio Torralba, Wojciech Matusik, and Tomás Palacios, alongside PhD students Yunzhu Li, Pratyusha Sharma, and Beichen Li; postdoc Kui Wu; and research engineer Michael Foshey.
The work was partially funded by Toyota Research Institute.
How imagining the worst case scenario can help calm anxiety.
- Stoicism is the philosophy that nothing about the world is good or bad in itself, and that we have control over both our judgments and our reactions to things.
- It is hardest to control our reactions to the things that come unexpectedly.
- By meditating every day on the "worst case scenario," we can take the sting out of the worst that life can throw our way.
Are you a worrier? Do you imagine nightmare scenarios and then get worked up and anxious about them? Does your mind get caught in a horrible spiral of catastrophizing over even the smallest of things? Worrying, particularly imagining the worst case scenario, seems to be a natural part of being human and comes easily to a lot of us. It's awful, perhaps even dangerous, when we do it.
But, there might just be an ancient wisdom that can help. It involves reframing this attitude for the better, and it comes from Stoicism. It's called "premeditation," and it could be the most useful trick we can learn.
Broadly speaking, Stoicism is the philosophy of choosing your judgments. Stoics believe that there is nothing about the universe that can be called good or bad, valuable or valueless, in itself. It's we who add these values to things. As Shakespeare's Hamlet says, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Our minds color the things we encounter as being "good" or "bad," and given that we control our minds, we therefore have control over all of our negative feelings.
Put another way, Stoicism maintains that there's a gap between our experience of an event and our judgment of it. For instance, if someone calls you a smelly goat, you have an opportunity, however small and hard it might be, to pause and ask yourself, "How will I judge this?" What's more, you can even ask, "How will I respond?" We have power over which thoughts we entertain and the final say on our actions. Today, Stoicism has influenced and finds modern expression in the hugely effective "cognitive behavioral therapy."
Helping you practice StoicismCredit: Robyn Beck via Getty Images
One of the principal fathers of ancient Stoicism was the Roman statesmen, Seneca, who argued that the unexpected and unforeseen blows of life are the hardest to take control over. The shock of a misfortune can strip away the power we have to choose our reaction. For instance, being burglarized feels so horrible because we had felt so safe at home. A stomach ache, out of the blue, is harder than a stitch thirty minutes into a run. A sudden bang makes us jump, but a firework makes us smile. Fell swoops hurt more than known hardships.
What could possibly go wrong?
So, how can we resolve this? Seneca suggests a Stoic technique called "premeditatio malorum" or "premeditation." At the start of every day, we ought to take time to indulge our anxious and catastrophizing mind. We should "rehearse in the mind: exile, torture, war, shipwreck." We should meditate on the worst things that could happen: your partner will leave you, your boss will fire you, your house will burn down. Maybe, even, you'll die.
This might sound depressing, but the important thing is that we do not stop there.
Stoicism has influenced and finds modern expression in the hugely effective "cognitive behavioral therapy."
The Stoic also rehearses how they will react to these things as they come up. For instance, another Stoic (and Roman Emperor) Marcus Aurelius asks us to imagine all the mean, rude, selfish, and boorish people we'll come across today. Then, in our heads, we script how we'll respond when we meet them. We can shrug off their meanness, smile at their rudeness, and refuse to be "implicated in what is degrading." Thus prepared, we take control again of our reactions and behavior.
The Stoics cast themselves into the darkest and most desperate of conditions but then realize that they can and will endure. With premeditation, the Stoic is prepared and has the mental vigor necessary to take the blow on the chin and say, "Yep, l can deal with this."
Catastrophizing as a method of mental inoculation
Seneca wrote: "In times of peace, the soldier carries out maneuvers." This is also true of premeditation, which acts as the war room or training ground. The agonizing cut of the unexpected is blunted by preparedness. We can prepare the mind for whatever trials may come, in just the same way we can prepare the body for some endurance activity. The world can throw nothing as bad as that which our minds have already imagined.
Stoicism teaches us to embrace our worrying mind but to embrace it as a kind of inoculation. With a frown over breakfast, try to spend five minutes of your day deliberately catastrophizing. Get your anti-anxiety battle plan ready and then face the world.
A study on charity finds that reminding people how nice it feels to give yields better results than appealing to altruism.