Animals!

Evolution has created wild and weird animals. Get to know a few of them.

Pablo Escobar’s hippos: Why drug lords shouldn’t play God

Females run spotted hyena society for a fascinating reason

Sloths: Evolutionary losers or the true jungle king?

On the origin of beauty: Darwin's controversial idea about sex

Giving animals rights enriches our own lives

Is animal cruelty the new slavery? 

The extinct animal Bill Nye would bring back to life

Bill Nye: Zoos enrich our lives but cost animals their dignity 

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  • Companies often jump right into workshopping solutions to a problem before they truly understand the underlying source and "pain points" of the issue.
  • Deliberate Innovation CEO, Dan Seewald, advises companies to visualize and map out those unmet needs in order to discover a new path to a fresh solution. Only then should you move onto brainstorming and ideation techniques.
  • These important steps allow for more meaningful experimentation, as well as greater opportunity for learning and breakthroughs.


  • Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel revisits his essay on wanting to die at 75 years old.
  • The doctor believes that an old life filled with disability and lessened activity isn't worth living.
  • Activists believe his argument stinks of ageism, while advances in biohacking could render his point moot.

A few years ago oncologist and bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel wrote a provocative essay in The Atlantic titled "Why I Hope to Die at 75." This picked up a lot of traction as Emanuel was the chair of the University of Pennsylvania's department of medical ethics and health policy, and one of the leading figures in creating Obamacare. Ezekiel is also brother to the former mayor of Chicago, Rahm and Hollywood agent Ari.

Emanuel has declared he will refuse medical interventions, antibiotics, and vaccinations once he turns 75. The crux of his argument is that older Americans are living too long in a disabled and "diminished" state of life. He wants to make his friends and others think about how they want to live as they grow older, as he put it, "I want them to think of an alternative to succumbing to that slow constriction of activities and aspirations imperceptibly imposed by aging."

There are some experts today that are still opposed to this kind of thinking. Ageism activist and writer, Ashton Applewhite, finds a great deal of unsubstantiated claims in Emanuel's argument. Likewise, Emanuel's ideas may also soon become obsolete — biohackers such as Dave Asprey believe we're on course to living up to 180 years old.

Emanuel recently caught up with MIT's Technology Review in an interview where he talked about the social implications of longevity research and why he doesn't support extending life spans.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel on Aging

While nobody wants to die, Emanuel believes that the alternative, degeneration, is worse: "living too long is also a loss," he states in his original essay. For a great deal of Americans these kinds of disabilities and loss of health severely limits what they can do and accomplish.

There are few different sets of arguments strewn throughout this essay. One of those being that there are not that many people who'll continue to be "active and engaged" in their lives. While Emanuel points out that there are outliers who stay physically fit and healthy into their nineties, they're just that — outliers, for which he believes the majority of people are not. That is one measure Emanuel determines on whether a life is worth living or not.

Right around the time this essay was originally written, Ashton Applewhite countered this type of thinking by calling out the problematic nature of the argument:

"It is regrettably American to value doing over being, an ethos that Ezekiel Emanuel epitomizes and that serves us poorly in late life. No wonder he views the prospect with such dread and contempt."

This opens up the question as to whether being mentally stimulated is also enough to warrant wanting to live longer. It's not hard to imagine a person calm and aged serenely content to be, rather than living in some kind of action-packed lifestyle.

Emanuel continues on by regarding aging as something that, ". . . transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic."

He also counters the cultural idea of what he calls "the American immortal." That is, the amount of time and energy people spend obsessing about exercise, diets, and longevity plans to live as long as possible. Emanuel says,

"I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop."

The doctor doesn't intend on ending his life actively at 75, but he won't be trying to prolong it either.

When asked what's wrong with simply enjoying an extended life, Emanuel replied in a somewhat flippant manner:

"These people who live a vigorous life to 70, 80, 90 years of age — when I look at what those people 'do,' almost all of it is what I classify as play. It's not meaningful work. They're riding motorcycles; they're hiking. Which can all have value — don't get me wrong. But if it's the main thing in your life? Ummm, that's not probably a meaningful life."

He also suggested that our obsession with longevity is driving away attention from the health and well-being of children. "One of the statistics I like to point out is if you look at the federal budget, $7 goes to people over 65 for every dollar for people under 18," he says.

Applewhite takes issue with this statement here (video located below).

Problematic argument with an ageist strain

The author and activist opposed Emanuel's original article when it came out and believes that the idea remains problematic. Regarding his point that more federal dollars go to older people than to children she stated in an email that:

"… [The idea] is classic, misguided zero-sum thinking of the sort that needlessly pits the generations against each other. There is plenty to go around if resources are more equitably. The old do not profit at the expense of the young."

Most importantly, it is not legal — or ethical—to allocate resources by race or by sex. Doing so by age is equally unacceptable. Period.

She also takes issue with the idea that our older years are not of high quality to some categorical degree due to disability brought on by age — be it mental or physical. Applewhite points to the large amount of people living fine and fulfilled lives who have disabilities.

Yet, she does concede that quality of life is subjective. As does Emmanuel, while he disagrees with the sentiment he still supports the choice of people wanting to live as long as possible.

Biohacking our way to a healthy immortality?

There are a whole host of radical ideas that seek to improve the human condition. Whether it's Aubrey De Grey's ideas to live to over 1,000 years old or the work that biohacker Dave Asprey has funded and started.

While the science still isn't settled, we can't discount the idea that we'll one day live even healthier and more robust lives in our twilight years.

Dr. Emmanuel's ideas may become irrelevant if we succeed in this quixotic and eternal dream.

  • The report found more than 4,000 listings for products deemed to be unsafe, banned or mislabelled.
  • These products included mislabelled pain relievers, dangerous children's toys, and helmets that had failed federal safety tests.
  • There are some steps you can take to avoid buying unsafe or counterfeit products from Amazon.


You order a product on Amazon. It's eligible for Amazon Prime. It ships from an Amazon warehouse, and it's delivered in an Amazon-branded box. But there's a good chance that product actually comes from one of Amazon's third-party sellers, some of whom sell products that are mislabelled, banned or unsafe, according to a new investigative report from The Wall Street Journal.

The report found 4,152 products on Amazon that have been "declared unsafe by federal agencies, are deceptively labeled or are banned by federal regulators — items that big-box retailers' policies would bar from their shelves." Some of these included:

  • Items falsely marked as "FDA-approved," including an eyelash-growth serum.
  • Listings for the pain reliever oral benzocaine that lacked labels warning not to administer to children under age 2.
  • More than 1,400 electronics listings that falsely claimed to be UL certified, meaning the product met voluntary safety standards.
  • Listings for toys that include magnetic balls, which Amazon explicitly prohibits, and which the Consumer Product Safety Commission has called a "substantial product hazard."
  • Listings for helmets that had failed federal safety tests.

The Journal said it reported these listings to Amazon, which then removed or altered the wording for 57 percent of the listings.

"There are bad actors that attempt to evade our systems," an Amazon spokesperson said, "should one ever slip through, we work quickly to take action on the seller and protect customers."

But Amazon, the world's largest retailer, seems unable to effectively police its massive marketplace. The report describes how Amazon has evolved "like a flea market," exercising "limited oversight over items listed by millions of third-party sellers, many of them anonymous, many in China, some offering scant information." What's more, dozens of the dangerous or mislabelled products in the new report carried the "Amazon's Choice" label, which arguably implies that Amazon endorses the item.

How do these products slip through the cracks? One likely reason is rapid growth. In 2018, about 60 percent of physical merchandise sold came from Amazon's 2.5 million third-party sellers, up from 30 percent a decade ago. The report also describes how Amazon's "overriding corporate philosophy of offering ever more options is clashing with internal efforts to make sure product listings won't harm buyers, the Journal found in interviews with former employees and others close to Amazon's safety practices, and from internal records."

Things to keep in mind when shopping on Amazon

"Prime" doesn't mean it's not mislabelled, unsafe, banned or counterfeit.

"Just because a Prime logo is present doesn't mean it's sold by Amazon," Fred Dimyan, the co-founder of Potoo Marketing, told AOL.com. "In actuality, any of Amazon's 3 million marketplace sellers can use the Amazon warehouse to house and ship their items and get the so-called 'coveted' mark on its products."

Neither does "Fulfilled by Amazon."

The Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) program allows third-party sellers to send products to Amazon warehouses, where the company then handles all aspects of sale, warehousing, and shipment. But, due in part to the fast-moving nature of the Amazon shipping process, "counterfeits can be commingled with authentic products, and not even Amazon (apparently) can easily determine where they came from," as Forbes reported.

It's generally safest to buy from reputable brands

Consider limiting your purchases "exclusively to products sold by the brands themselves, either by way of them selling on Amazon's platform directly, via an authorized account, or by way of a partnership with Amazon, as Calvin Klein, for instance, recently began doing," Julie Zerbo wrote on the Fashion Law blog.

  • A new study shows that people who frequently used emojis in text messages with potential dates engaged in more sexual activity and had more contact with those dates.
  • However, the study only shows an association; it didn't establish causality.
  • The authors suggest that emojis might help to convey nuanced emotional information that's lacking in strictly text-based messaging.


Want to boost your chances of getting dates and having more sex? Use emojis in your text messages, suggests new research.

A new study, published in PLOS One on August 15, found that people who frequently used emojis in text messages engaged in more sexual activity and tended to have more dates and longer contact with their dates. The results suggest emojis contain more meaning than might initially be apparent.

"I was particularly interested in emojis because prior research on online dating has shown that shorter messages have the best response rate, which means that you have just a couple sentences to convey your personality, potential compatibility, and 'hook' that potential date," study author Amanda Gesselman, the associate director for research and the Anita Aldrich Endowed Research Scientist at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, told PsyPost. "When we think about it like that, it seems impossible."

Gesselman and her colleagues surveyed 5,327 single American adults about their emoji use, finding that 28.2 percent frequently used emojis in texts with potential dates, while 37.6 percent said they never did. Those who frequently sent emojis tended to engage in more sexual activity over the course of a year.

A second survey of 275 single American adults replicated that finding, and also showed that frequently using emojis was linked to maintaining a connection beyond the first date.

"It's important to note that these were correlational studies and can't speak to causality," Gesselman explained to PsyPost. "We can't say that using emojis more frequently causes more dating and sexual 'success,' but it is likely that people who use emojis more often are more emotionally expressive, and emotionally intelligent, a skill that tends to be important in forming satisfying relationships."

Why might emojis be strategic in dating situations? The researchers wrote that texting lacks the nuanced emotional information that's conveyed when talking to someone in person, such as body language and tone. Emojis replicate some of that emotional information, helping people better understand how to interpret messages, and avoid misunderstandings.

"Senders used emoticons to convey positive feelings or to denote a joke or irony, but also to provide a strength thermometer — either softening a harsh message or emphasizing a positive one," the researchers wrote. "Other inquiries show that emoticons are generally received in these intended ways. For instance, in an experimental study using chat conversations, a reader's mood was altered either positively or negatively by the respective emoticon."

Still, it's probably best not to overdo it — participants said, on average, that using more than three emojis in one message is a bit much.

"We think that this mirrors real-life emotional sharing — think about meeting someone new and having them tell you all about their private life and sharing strong emotions with you before you've reached a point and time where that's normal," Gesselman told PsyPost. "It feels strange and overwhelming. It seems that people feel the same in the digital context when interacting with someone they don't know yet."

The study didn't examine which specific emojis people were sending, so it's unclear which might help your dating prospects. But you can get some idea by checking out this infographic from the dating app Clover that shows which emojis its users were most likely to respond to.

  • During a conference, Gail Bradbrook, the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, an environmentalist social movement, called for people to take psychedelics en masse as an act of civil disobedience.
  • Bradbrook argues that "The causes of the crisis are political, economic, legal and cultural systemic issues but underneath that are issues of human trauma, powerlessness, scarcity and separation," and that "psychedelic medicines are opportunities to help us shift our consciousness."
  • The research on psychedelics does suggest that they could be powerful mediators for personal change and possibly encourage people to become more aware of and concerned for the environment.


Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion political movement, has called for the mass ingestion of psychedelics to protest the criminalization of drugs.

"I would support a mass civil disobedience where we take medicine to tell the state that they have absolutely no right to control our consciousness and to define our spiritual practice," said Bradbrook during Breaking Convention, a psychedelics conference that was recently held in London.

Named after the Anthropocene extinction — the current and on-going mass extinction event caused by human activity — Extinction Rebellion uses civil disobedience to draw attention to climate change and the loss of biodiversity.

Extinction Rebellion has organized protests throughout the U.K. aimed toward achieving three goals: compelling governments to declare a climate and ecological emergency; to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025; and to have governments form and obey a citizens' assembly in regard to climate and ecological issues.

How do psychedelics tie into Extinction Rebellion's goals?

Bradbrook emphasized that Extinction Rebellion isn't in the business of promoting psychedelic drug use, but she has previously expressed that psychedelics were a powerful motivator for her to form the social movement. In an article she wrote for the journal Emerge, Bradbrook said "people on psychedelics report a deeply felt sense of peace, oneness and unity with the planet which has been shown to have a profound and enduring effect on the way they live their lives."

The transformative power of psychedelics could be a way to encourage people to become more active in finding solutions to the climate crisis. "The causes of the crisis are political, economic, legal, and cultural systemic issues but underneath that are issues of human trauma, powerlessness, scarcity, and separation," said Bradbrook at the convention. "The system resides within us and the psychedelic medicines are opportunities to help us shift our consciousness."

Would this really work?

There's no denying that psychedelics have the potential to completely change people's perspectives and behavior. In an interview with Big Think, author Michael Pollan explained psychedelics' primary action in the brain, where they suppress the default mode network. "The brain is a hierarchical system and the default mode network appears to be at the top; it's kind of the orchestra conductor or corporate executive," explains Pollan. However, sometimes the default mode network can be excessively controlling and trap us in mental and behavioral habits. Pollen explains how:

"Many of the disorders that psychedelics appear to treat well are manifestations of a stuck brain, a brain that is locked in loops, a mind that's telling itself destructive stories, like 'I can't get through the day without a cigarette. I'm unworthy of love. My work is shit.' … And that relief from that dictator is exactly what some people need to free themselves from habits — mental habits and behavioral habits."

This kind of reboot could, for example, be used to convince people that something can be done about climate change. Research has shown that psychedelics can reset the brain, snapping people out of depression, so maybe it can snap people out of hopelessness about the future. "If we have a tool for behavior change, that's a huge deal," said Pollan. "I mean, I know, having worked on food for many years, that changing people's food habits as adults is almost impossible. We are creatures of habit in many, many ways."

In addition to freeing us from mental and behavioral habits, psychedelics (specifically, psilocybin) have been shown to increase people's perceived connection with nature and to decrease authoritarian beliefs. There is both empirical and anecdotal evidence that authoritarianism is associated with a disregard for the environment, so the mass ingestion of magic mushrooms could not only make people feel more connected to the environment, but also make them less likely to hold anti-environmental political beliefs.

Admittedly, anybody interested in participating in Bradbrook's call to take psychedelics en masse probably doesn't hold too many authoritarian beliefs to begin with. Instead, those who stand to benefit the most from this mind-bending act of civil disobedience are the many concerned individuals who have yet to really act in any meaningful way beyond a Facebook post or a tweet. A trip could be just the push they need.