'Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government.'

Words of wisdom from Abraham Lincoln: "Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much."

 

Below you'll find some words of wisdom from Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. president and familiar $5 facade man. The basic gist: The American government is designed so that popular opinion rules the day. We see this in play during campaign season when politicians who wish to keep their jobs attempt to align themselves with the values and beliefs of their constituents. Ostensibly, the country's direction is dictated by the will of the people.


But Lincoln acknowledges a flaw. Public opinion is not firm and resolute; it's malleable. Whoever can control what the public thinks can swoop in and take control of the American government. Good ol' Abe never experienced the 24-hour news cycle or viral videos or any of the other tools at the disposal of deep-pocketed influencers, but he was certainly familiar with the power of propaganda and misinformation.

In a way, this ties into another Words of Wisdom post from last week: FDR's argument that democracy cannot thrive without a well-educated voting populace. The somewhat obvious defense against the saboteurs of public opinion is to steel oneself against their influence. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done.

"Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much."

Quote source: Speech at a Republican Banquet, Chicago, Illinois, December 10, 1856; see Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 2 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), p. 532.

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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