First Mars samples are headed to Earth. What are the risks?

A Mars Space Flight team member warns that people need to be prepared for what's coming.

Image source: Marat Gilyadzinov/unsplash
  • A mission to and from Mars aims to bring back signs or examples of life.
  • Expect material direct from the Red Planet around 2031.
  • A special lab to quarantine the samples is being designed.
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The one book you need to understand alt-right trolls

Antisocial is a deep dive into the extremist views.

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  • The New Yorker's Adam Marantz spent three years embedded with leading alt-right voices.
  • His book, Antisocial, carries you deep inside the mindset and motivation behind online trolling.
  • To get back on track, Marantz believes we need a "new moral vocabulary."
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Hive mind: The good, the bad, and the viral

What is the hive mind? Turns out there are antisocial and prosocial dimensions to it.

  • The hive mind is a shared intelligence or consciousness between groups of people. It determines what we think is culturally acceptable, what we think is fashionable, and even what we think is true. We source most of our information and beliefs from other people and not from ourselves, says psychology professor Sarah Rose Cavanagh.
  • The hive mind often comes under fire in the U.S. because it is a highly individualistic culture that frowns upon things like mindless conformity, echo chambers, and group think. Those are the antisocial aspects of collective thinking.
  • There are also prosocial features, explains Cavanagh. The hive mind allows us to draw on collective knowledge in positive ways, without needing to reinvent the wheel each time.
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Who decides whether art is ‘good’ or ‘bad’?

Hierarchies of taste exist in our society, but their roots often reflect more than just the quality of work.

  • "Taste" in art and entertainment can often represent societal hierarchies, prejudices, and inequalities.
  • Part of the job of a critic is to refuse categorization of art as "high" or "low."
  • By challenging and redefining these assumptions, critics can level the playing field to include work from all walks of life.
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Why conspiratorial thinking is peaking in America

The internet has given us the opportunity to stay informed better than ever. It's also given us the ability to misinform ourselves — delude ourselves — beyond belief.

  • The internet has allowed fringe groups founded on paranoid thinking to merge in ways we've never seen before.
  • Part of modern political polarization in American is that we're becoming a people who believes in different realities, some of which are based on fears rather than facts. Many of these conspiracy theories are targeted on groups that we believe are plotting against us.
  • There is a romanticization that we're going to somehow solve all of life's unknowns, Da Vinci Code-style. However, this ironically may put us at a disadvantage in terms of breaking puzzles — we look for the familiar in vague stimuli, a pheonmenon known as pareidolia, which only further confounds us.
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