Courageous Collaborations: Difficult dialogue moves us forward

Sponsored by the Charles Koch Foundation.


Are you courageous enough to collaborate with your enemies? 

  • Bishop Omar Jahwar has worked beside all kinds of unlikely allies, from Aryan Brotherhood gang leaders to former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
  • What is an enemy? A true enemy is rare, says Bishop Omar. "Enemies come when there is true violation, not true rhetoric... sometimes you have to go beyond the rhetoric so you can see the real."
  • You cannot solve deep problems from the comfort of an echo chamber—it takes courage. The key to courageous collaborations is meeting your so-called enemy to ask: "What do we fiercely agree upon? And let's work like hell to make it happen."

The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.

Why free speech is sacred—even when it's dangerous

  • Suppression of free speech dooms democracy, says law professor Nadine Strossen. We should all be open to hearing dangerous and odious ideas rather than drive them underground.
  • "[P]eople will often say to me, as somebody who is Jewish and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor who barely survived the Buchenwald Concentration Camp: How can I of all people defend the Nazis?" says Strossen. She also says, "And mark my words I would be equally distraught at having voices on the right silenced for a whole lot of reasons, one of which is the indivisibility of all rights."

The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.

Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together. 

  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.

The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations

I worked in the prison system for 5 years. Here's what it does to a person.

  • Most people who go to prison are not incorrigible criminals - just normal people who made mistakes.
  • The prison system can become breeding ground for antisocial behaviors.
  • Bishop Jahwar worked with prisoners to help them retain the core of who they were and "take masks off".

The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.

How the marketplace of ideas went rogue

  • The marketplace of ideas is a better metaphor than it's intended to be, notes Eli Pariser. As any good economist will tell you, the best product doesn't always rise to the top.
  • The institutional gatekeepers and experts who once kept checks and balances on the marketplace of ideas have been replaced by social media algorithms that reward emotion and outrage over expertise and truth.
  • How can media institutions like Facebook make this right? By reevaluating the business model that serves advertisers instead of readers, and by clearly stating their values—even if that means losing some of those 2 billion users.

The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.

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The "dark triad" of personality traits — narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism — do not make for the nicest individuals.


People who score highly on the dark triad are vain, callous and manipulative. They adopt a so-called "fast-life" strategy, characterised by impulsivity, opportunism and selfishness. Such individuals can succeed in the workplace, while failing to get on with others. They're also more likely to cheat on their partners, and are deemed more alluring in speed-dating sessions.

Though these traits can bring advantages to the individual, they are clearly detrimental to those around them. So it's important to understand what fosters them. Could particular attitudes in society, for example, help to encourage these dark traits?

A new study, published in Personality and Individual Differences, concludes that this may in fact be the case. Melissa Gluck at the University of Florida and her colleagues gathered evidence suggesting that sexism — "and the socially-supported, unearned male power and privilege that sexism reflects" — is linked to higher scores on measures of the dark triad. "If scholars can demonstrate that these malevolent traits are partly learned by growing up in sexist cultures, agents of personal and social change can help people recognise, understand, alter and replace these malevolent aspects of humanity," the researchers write.

Gluck and her colleagues recruited 295 adults living in the US (131 women, 164 men) to complete online two measures of dark traits, plus a sexism inventory. This inventory gauged endorsement of statements that reflect two separate facets of sexism: so-called "hostile sexism" (e.g. "Women seek to gain power by getting control over men") and "benevolent", patronising sexism (e.g. "A good woman should be set on a pedestal by her man"). Brief demographic data was also collected from each participant.

As predicted, based on earlier findings, the men scored higher for dark traits than the women. Also as expected, the men displayed more sexism, of both types. For both men and women, there was a correlation between their overall sexism scores and their dark triad ratings, and among the men, but not the women, it was hostile sexism that really accounted for this link. Overall, the difference between the men's and the women's dark trait scores was "substantially, but not completely" attributable to sexism, the researchers write.

Perhaps then, tackling sexist ideology, and hostile sexist ideology in particular, would also affect levels of these dark traits in society?

Well, maybe. But it's impossible to know from this study whether sexist ideology is encouraging narcissism, callousness and manipulativeness, or whether people with these traits are more likely to adopt sexist attitudes. Alternatively, as the researchers note, something else might conceivably drive the development of both dark traits and sexism. This might be childhood trauma, perhaps, or living in a culture that focuses on individual rather than group success.

For now, Gluck and her colleagues argue that sexism should at least be considered as a cause. They write: "The origins of the dark traits are still debatable, but these data support the utility of exploring the impact of sexism and dysfunctional aspects of traditional gender beliefs on the development and maintenance of dark traits."

How much of the dark triad is accounted for by sexism?

Emma Young (@EmmaELYoung) is a staff writer at BPS Research Digest

Reprinted with permission of The British Psychological Society. Read the original article.

  • The animal is a tiny parasite called Henneguya salminicola.
  • The parasite infects salmon and lives within the fish muscle, though scientists aren't quite sure how it breaks down nutrients for survival.
  • The findings are published in the journal PNAS.


In the time it takes you to read this article, you're likely to breathe a few dozen times. Some animals don't breathe as often, and they don't require nearly as much oxygen. The Loggerhead sea turtle, for example, can take one breath and stay underwater for about 10 hours. Still, it's long been thought that all animals need to breathe oxygen to stay alive.

But then scientists discovered Henneguya salminicola, an 8-millimeter parasite that doesn't need oxygen to live, and cannot process it as other animals do. The findings are published in a paper in the journal PNAS.

All other animals have mitochondria, which are organelles that act as the "powerhouse" of the cell by breaking down nutrients and converting them into energy. One way mitochondria do this is by converting oxygen into a fuel called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which drives processes like muscle contraction, nerve impulse propagation, and chemical synthesis. This conversion process is called aerobic respiration.

H. salminicola inside of a salmon

Michal Maňas

But H. salminicola — a cnidarian animal related to jellyfish and coral — don't have mitochondria, and therefore can't perform aerobic respiration. Lead study author Dorothée Huchon discovered this as she was sequencing mitochondria across Myxozoa (a class of parasites).

"My goal was to assemble mitochondrial genome to study its evolution in Myxozoa and... Oops, I found one without a genome," she told Vice. "I first thought that the lack of mitochondrial genome among the DNA sequence was the result of a bug in genome analyses. But then I realized that it has lost not just the mitochondrial genome but the whole set of protein genes that interact with the mitochondrial genome and all the majority of genes involved in respiration."

An evolutionary advantage

Losing that mitochondrial genome appears to have been a less-is-more type of advantage for the parasite.

"Myxozoans have gone through outstanding morphological and genomic simplifications during their adaptation to parasitism from a free-living cnidarian ancestor," the authors wrote. "As a highly diverse group with >2,400 species, which inhabit marine, freshwater, and even terrestrial environments, evolutionary loss and simplification has clearly been a successful strategy for Myxozoa, which shows that less is more."

The researchers aren't quite sure how H. salminicola breaks down nutrients without oxygen. One possibility is that it absorbs molecules from its host. It's hard to tell, however, because the researchers analyzed dead parasites — they'd need to look at parasites living within the fish to get a better understanding of how the creatures operate.

The discovery highlights how much scientists still have to learn about the diversity of life on Earth. Atkinson told CNN that he expects H. salminicola isn't the only animal that can survive without oxygen, or in even "weirder modes of existence."

The search for alien life

One interesting implication of the discovery is what it means for the search for alien life. It's long been thought that, if aliens exist, they'd likely breathe oxygen. After all, it's the best element that we know of for producing large amounts of energy for metabolism, allowing us to "grow large, run and jump and think," as David Catling, a planetary scientist at the University of Washington, told Forbes.

"Because of oxygen's chemical advantages and the history of complex life on earth is so intertwined with oxygen levels," he said. "I think E.T. would also breathe oxygen."

This is one reason why many think Earth-like exoplanets with atmospheres that likely contain oxygen would be good candidates for harboring alien life. But, in a small way, the newly discovered parasite gives reason to think that the search for alien life — and their life-supporting planets — might be far more complicated.

  • A CDC report found a large and consistent urban-rural gap when it comes to preventable deaths.
  • The gap results from many factors, from lifestyle choices to a lack of quality health care.
  • Expert recommendations are varied but focus on education, preventative screening, and other methods of cultivating America's medical deserts.

Western culture has a habit of idealizing rural life. The tradition of poets pining for the simple life goes back to the Ancient Greeks. Pastoral art depicts easygoing folk enjoying a bountiful harvest against a sweeping and verdant landscape, Though, the purest encapsulation of this idyllic view has to be the Green Acres theme song.

But Eddie Albert should have listened to Eva Gabor. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) suggests New York really is where you'd rather stay — if you want a better chance at avoiding an otherwise preventable death.

The Bucolic Plague?

A physiotherapist treats a patient in a rural hospital in South Africa.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

In a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC compared excess deaths between urban and rural communities for the five leading causes of mortality in the United States. Those are, in order, heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases (CLRD), and stroke. The report focused on people younger than 80 years old and covered the period from 2010 to 2017.

It found percentages of excess deaths from all five causes to be "consistently higher" in rural counties than urban ones. During the reported period, the urban-rural gap increased for cancer, heart disease, and CLRD. The gap remained steady for stroke and decreased for unintentional injury. However, excess deaths from unintentional injury deaths increased across the United States by 11.2 percent, and rural communities began 2010 with an undesirable head start in that category.

"This new study shows there is a striking gap in health between rural and urban Americans," former CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a release. "To close this gap, we are working to better understand and address the health threats that put rural Americans at increased risk of early death."

From the personal to the societal, this urban-death gap has been costly. One-fifth of U.S. citizens, 60 million people, live in rural communities spanning vast stretches of the country. In 2014 alone, tens of thousands of them died from potentially preventable diseases, including approximately 25,000 from heart disease, 19,000 from cancer, 12,000 from unintentional injuries, 11,000 from CLRD, and 4,000 from stroke.

Looking for relief in medical deserts

For the record, excess deaths are those caused by a disease or condition that occurs more frequently than the regular rate predicted for a given area or population. Because excess deaths stand above and beyond, they are viewed as largely preventable. (For the CDC report, the benchmark was the three states with the lowest rates.)

Salubrious-minded readers will note that four of the five leading causes of mortality are chronic diseases that require ongoing medical attention. Unfortunately, roughly 77 percent of rural communities are labeled medical deserts. This means health care is limited — if it exists at all — and access to it difficult.

Rural counties have a much higher uninsured rate than their urban counterparts. Distance and limited transportation options can make accessing health care difficult or untimely. Even then, country hospitals and trauma centers often lack specialists and advanced equipment. Only 11 percent of physicians chose to practice in rural areas, and as many as 9 percent of these communities have no physicians whatsoever.

Then there are the diseases themselves. At the end of the 19th century, when the urban-rural gap was reversed, disease was a major attributing factor. Communicable maladies such as tuberculosis and diarrheal diseases plagued the densely packed metropolises, killing many. Little wonder they idealized the agrarian life.

Conversely, today's chronic killers have less to do with environmental contamination and more to do with lifestyle and an aging population. Rural communities report higher rates of obesity and high blood pressure but lower rates of leisure-time activity. They also report cigarette smoking to be more prevalent. Finally, the countryside is demographically much older than urban centers.

Injurious trends

A student performer in a body bag helps teach freshman the dangers of distracted driving. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in the U.S.

(Photo: Thomas Karol/U.S. Air Force)

That leaves unintentional injuries. These excess deaths have traditionally been viewed as urban scourges, but they are far more pernicious for rural communities than common knowledge would suggest.

The leading cause of such deaths is motor vehicle accidents. Country motorists are three to ten times more likely to die in a vehicle than their urban peers. One reason for the disparity is simply that country motorists must drive farther and more often. Another is a higher rate of alcohol-impaired driving. And as rurality increases, seat belt use decreases.

Other major causes of unintentional injurious deaths include drug overdoses and firearms.

Metropolitan centers led the nation in poisonings when heroin and cocaine reigned. But as prescription drugs replaced street ones as the leading causes of accidental overdoses, rural communities and the elderly saw their tragic share of the epidemic rise. And as we've seen, when such an overdose occurs in a medical desert, access to care is often delayed and that care substandard.

Firearms deaths are also perceived as an urban blight. While it is true that homicides committed by firearms overwhelmingly happen in cities, firearm suicides occur with much more frequency. In the 90s, suicides accounted for more than half of all intentional firearm deaths in the United States, and a disproportionate number of those were in rural communities.

All told, a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine found that the risk of injury-related death was about 20 percent lower in U.S. cities than in agricultural counties.

"Perceptions have long existed that cities were innately more dangerous than areas outside of cities, but our study shows this is not the case" Sage R. Myers, study lead author and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine, said in a release. "These findings may lead people who are considering leaving cities for non-urban areas due to safety concerns to re-examine their motivations for moving. And we hope the findings could also lead us to re-evaluate our rural health care system and more appropriately equip it to both prevent and treat the health threats that actually exist."

Cultivating America's medical deserts

A nurse in a rural hospital discusses her patient's diagnosis with a doctor in Atlanta, GA, over the hospital's Electronic Medical Records System.

(Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Do the CDC report and corroborating studies mean rural residents should migrate to the city? Have we entered the era of Rural Flight? Of course not. The whole point of the CDC report is that many, if not most, of these deaths are preventable. Not inevitable.

But to save lives, we need to initiate a comprehensive public health strategy aimed at education, intervention, and prevention in medical deserts.

Expert recommendations include:

  • Increasing outreach for screening programs.
  • Improving education to promote healthy eating, exercise, and lifestyle habits.
  • Investing in telemedicine to connect specialists to patients anywhere in the country.
  • Developing government programs to incentivize physicians to practice in medical deserts, create rural-urban partnerships, and earmark funds for better equipment.
  • Adopting laws that help uninsured peoples find and afford insurance.

One final thought: In 1971, the disparity between urban and rural life expectancy was 0.4 years (70.9 versus 70.5). By 2009, that disparity had grown to a full 2 years (78.8 versus 76.8). It's time we ended our centuries-old obsession with an idealized rural life and start facing the rural realities that are ending American lives.

  • The difference between mediocre, good, and great leaders lies in how they answer a few key questions regarding vision, intent, plans of action.
  • According to executive coach Peter Fuda, great leaders are not only able to answer the where, what, and how of a business plan, but they can also articulate why the business should exist beyond capitalistic goals.
  • All other things being equal, it's the motive that ultimately determines success or failure.


  • There is a psychological connection between your emotions and your spending habits. Many people live in a "reactionary" mode where they spend money in reaction to the day's events.
  • Living in "intention mode" can help you reframe daily financial decisions - "how will this get me closer to my future goals?"
  • Financial psychologist Dr. Tracy Thomas shares her tips for harnessing the power of emotion and intent to create a healthy, financially stable life.


How your emotions drive your financial habits

piggy bank drowning in water concept debt

Your feelings and emotions deeply affect your financial habits...learn how to control them for better financial decision-making.

Image by Lightspring on Shutterstock

Dr. Tracy Thomas is a psychologist and self-proclaimed emotional scientist who helps highly driven, emotionally sensitive people harness their emotional strength to live an elevated life.

"At one time," Thomas explains, "emotional-sensitivity was believed to be a weakness. However, new work into emotional sensitivity reveals that emotionally sensitive people aren't just overly-emotional, 'touchy' or 'hyper-sensitive'. Without knowing it, they actually possess an incredible gift of creativity, intelligence and intuition."

Your feelings deeply affect your financial habits.

When emotionally sensitive people combine their gifts with drive and motivation, it becomes an asset that can lead them to wealth, success, and happiness.

There is a psychological connection between your emotions and your spending habits. As human beings, our emotions drive most everything we do — and the choices we make with our money are deeply affected by how we interact and react to things that happen in our lives.

Reactionary spending

Living in reaction is something we do most of the time, according to Dr. Thomas. When we're in a reaction, we tend to create chaos. We aren't able to harness our emotional energy into creating positive investments and outcomes.

Living in reaction means that we're often simply reacting to our immediate situation, immediate wants, immediate "needs" with little thought to the needs of our future self.

The more reactive you are, the more you will simply "engage with life" instead of investing in building the life you truly desire.

Intentional spending

Acting with intention when it comes to your financial life doesn't mean removing all emotion from the situation at hand. In fact, you are just redirecting those emotions.

To act financially with intention, Dr. Tracy Thomas suggests that we consider what our future self would want us to invest in today. Making emotional choices doesn't have to be a bad thing - as long as those emotional choices live to serve you in the future instead of in the moment.

Living in a state of reactivity also creates distractions. We are sidetracked from our original, long-term goals and lose sight of what we really care about. Ridding your life of financial distractions can help you focus your energy on giving your future self what they desire most.

Changing the way we think about finances

glass jars filling with coins growing plant concept saving money

Reframe what it means to "save money" into something that is more positive by placing emotional meaning in your investments.

Photo by ShutterOK on Shutterstock

Most people, according to Dr. Thomas, are reactive by nature. We react to our immediate emotions, needs and desires - often putting our long-term goals at risk. The first step in changing the way you interact with money is recognizing that there are emotions and behaviors in your life that need to change.

Monitor your behavior: Am I going to be intentional or reactive today?

A big part of this change, Dr. Thomas says, is monitoring your daily behavior and really taking note of when you are reactive and when you are intentional.

From there, you will be able to identify healthy and detrimental behaviors that are affecting your ability to live a financially healthy lifestyle.

When you go to spend any of your money, Dr. Thomas suggests you ask yourself these kinds of questions:

  • Is this an intention? If so, what is my intent with this purchase?
  • Is this a reaction? If so, is this a valid reactionary expense or something I can avoid?
  • How will this purchase (or lack of purchase) bring me closer to my future goals?
  • Will this decision create my desired outcome?

Think about money as a motivation, not a restriction.

Thinking about money in terms of "savings" can feel restricting and often unmotivating. However, thinking about money in terms of "motivation" for your future goals (whether that be a house, a car, a trip, etc) can help you reframe what it means to "save money".

In your mind, no longer is "saving money" something you "have to do" - it's something you want to do. Saving money becomes a goal in itself, rather than something that feels like a burden or responsibility.

Refocus on what you are really invested in by adding meaning to your investments.

Reframing what it means to save money includes refocusing on what your investments are, both financially and emotionally.

If you are currently invested in a home in which you want to do major renovations, that can be a financial motivator. Saving money (to later spend on renovations) will increase the value of your home.

If you are currently investing in a trip for your family, this can be a great emotional motivation. Creating life-long memories and providing a fun vacation for your loved ones is a wonderful goal to keep in mind that will help pull yourself out of reactionary choices and help you think more rationally when it comes to saving money.

The importance of thinking about your savings on a deeper, emotional level

According to Brian Tracy, a leading sales, management, and business success advocate, one of the most important things we can do to better our financial choices is to become a life-long student of how to save money.

Investing is about more than just what's in your bank account - it's a way of life.

Dr. Tracy Thomas also believes that changing the way we view our savings (and money, in general) is about more than just making smarter decisions with the money we have - it's about changing the way we view money at all.

"Your savings goals are really your outcomes for your life. It's about creating something you really want." says Dr. Thomas. If you spend your life in a reactive process, savings tends to lack the powerful drive that successful, wealthy people give to it.

While impulsive, emotional purchases are key signs of bad spending habits, there is merit to pulling yourself out of that reactionary spending mode and still maintaining and emotional intelligence when it comes to your spending habits. Completely separating your emotions from your finances can only make things more difficult, as there are no motivating, impactful meanings behind your financial decision-making processes anymore.

The key is to take yourself out of emotional reactionary spending and still maintain an emotional motivator to creating a healthy financial life.

Thinking about your finances as a powerful and emotional driving force that will create a better life for yourself and the things that are important to you in your life (your business, your family, etc) can make things more cognitively clear when it comes to making day-to-day financial choices.

"The budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations." - Jacob Lew