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  • Benjamin Franklin wrote essays on a whole range of subjects, but one of his finest was on how to be a nice, likable person.
  • Franklin lists a whole series of common errors people make while in the company of others, like over-talking or storytelling.
  • His simple recipe for being good company is to be genuinely interested in others and to accept them for who they are.
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Moral and economic lessons from Mario Kart

The design of a classic video game yields insights on how to address global poverty.

Mario kart on giant screens

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  • A new essay compares the power-up system in Mario Kart to feedback loops in real-life systems.
  • Both try to provide targeted benefits to those who most need them.
  • While games are simpler than reality, Mario's example makes the real-life cases easier to understand.
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The cost of world peace? It's much less than the price of war

The world's 10 most affected countries are spending up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.

Mario Tama/Getty Images
  • Conflict and violence cost the world more than $14 trillion a year.
  • That's the equivalent of $5 a day for every person on the planet.
  • Research shows that peace brings prosperity, lower inflation and more jobs.
  • Just a 2% reduction in conflict would free up as much money as the global aid budget.
  • Report urges governments to improve peacefulness, especially amid COVID-19.
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New study determines how many mothers have lost a child by country

Global inequality takes many forms, including who has lost the most children

Cumulative offspring mortality for mothers age 45–49

USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A first-of-its-kind study examines the number of mothers who have lost a child around the world.
  • The number is related to infant mortality rates in a country but is not identical to it.
  • The lack of information on the topic leaves a lot of room for future research.
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Why people become radical extremists and how to help them

New research sheds light on the indoctrination process of radical extremist groups.

Neo-Nazi protestors organized by the National Socialist Movement demonstrate near where the grand opening ceremonies were held for the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center on April 19, 2009 in Skokie, Illinois.

Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new study features interviews with 24 former extremists on the radicalization process.
  • Financial instability, online propaganda, and reorienting events that caused them to "snap" are leading causes of indoctrination.
  • The research team offers potential solutions, including exposure to diverse ideas during childhood and a tamping down of polarization and media sensationalism.
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COVID vaccine: Where does freedom end and civic duty begin?

Instead of insisting that we remain "free from" government control, we should view taking vaccines and wearing masks as a "freedom to" be a moral citizen who protects the lives of others.

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  • Now that the vaccine is becoming widely available, why do so many insist on not taking it?
  • As different episodes in history have illustrated — including the building of an atomic bomb in the U.S. – true freedom is to choose to place the well-being of your family, community, and country above your own personal values.
  • We shouldn't confuse the privilege of choice with a threat to personal freedom. In threatening times, our best defense is to act together to the benefit of all.
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