The internet is not impressed with boyfriend who’s too ’embarrassed’ to buy tampons


Breaking news: In a recent Reddit post, a local man discovered that his girlfriend is, in fact, a woman. The lady in question took to the Internet to (rightfully) complain after he refused to buy her tampons when her period started unexpectedly at his place. You know, in case you needed a reminder that menstrual stigma is alive and well in the modern day.

The post was published on Two X Chromosomes, a subreddit aimed at women’s perspectives; its content is a mix of personal stories and links to interesting content from around the web. On Tuesday, a user who goes by faultierin took to the subreddit to relate a story that may be all too familiar to anyone who gets a period. That day, she was at her boyfriend’s home when her period made a surprise appearance six days early. She wasn’t prepared for Aunt Flo to visit that far in advance, and her boyfriend didn’t have the necessary supplies lying around. Between the cramps and the general ill feeling that comes with a period, she didn’t feel like going to the store herself, so she asked her significant other — someone with whom she is in a relationship of supposedly mutual respect — to pick up some tampons for her. Although he had to leave the house in around half an hour, she wrote that he would have been back from the store in ten minutes.

Easy peasy, right? Not so fast. Her boyfriend refused to make the trip, saying he would be too self-conscious buying feminine products. “He looked at me and asked if I can’t go by myself, because it would be embarassing for him to buy tampons,” she wrote. In a totally unsurprising turn of events, she was less than pleased with his reasoning.

A few minutes after she left, he sent her a text apologizing not for being embarrassed, but for having to leave. Apparently, he experienced a bit of selective amnesia and claimed he would have bought the tampons if he hadn’t had to head out. “Emmm… what? He specifically told me it was the embarassment that didn’t let him buy me the things,” the user wrote.

As you can imagine, the comments section had words for the man who refused to help out his girlfriend. “What you asked is reasonable, how he reacted was rude,” wrote one user. “From his response, it sounds like he might have realized his mistake (failing to care for you) after you left.”

Unfortunately, this situation is common enough to be a trope in romantic comedies and sitcoms: The poor, emasculated man is forced to buy menstrual products while cashiers and customers alike point and laugh. It might make for a cheap laugh from the audience, but the joke only works if you think periods (and by extension, anyone currently menstruating) are gross and shameful.

Read more:

Sea Level Rise Will Imperil Humanity’s Future and Its Past

The modern human obsession with beachfront property is nothing new. For tens of thousands of years, our kind has been bonded to the coast and its bounty of food. Inland is alright, too, but nothing matches the productivity of the sea.

The problem with coastal living is that while the food supply is relatively stable, sea levels are not. They've always risen and fallen as the climate changes over the millennia—and thanks to the hyper-productivity of the Industrial Age, they're in the middle of a pretty significant uptick. In the coming decades, rising sea levels could jeopardize untold billions of dollars in real estate and infrastructure along the world’s coasts and displace millions of people.

While climate change imperils humanity’s future, it also imperils its past. A new study out in PLOS One quantifies that in alarming detail: Just in the southeastern United States, a sea level rise of one meter would inundate thousands of archaeological sites, from Native American settlements to early European colonies.

The researchers began their archaeological accounting with what is, quite frankly, a mess of data. States are federally mandated to keep records of archaeological sites, but they don’t all go about it in the same way. They might collect different kinds of information, ranging from the sorts of artifacts found to the era of settlement.

So the researchers worked with an ongoing project called the Digital Index of North American Archaeology, an umbrella database that compiles this mess of data into something more manageable. Then it was a matter of marrying location data for sites in nine southeastern states, including Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, with elevation data—plotting which sites will be in trouble. (None of this location data, by the way, is particularly exact. Security purposes.)

The results aren’t encouraging. With a sea level rise of one meter—which could happen before the end of this century—the states would lose over 13,000 total sites, 4,000 in Florida alone. With a rise of 5 meters, the sites lost in the region would top 32,000.

It’s all a bit demoralizing, I know. But this research is an attempt to bring some order to what is quickly becoming chaos. “What we are hoping to get started is a conversation in American archaeology, and world archaeology," says co-author Josh Wells of Indiana University South Bend. "What are the effects of climate change on the record as we understand it, and to what extent do we need to triage and focus our efforts on recovering what we can before it's gone?”

They'll need to work quickly, because the scourge has already begun. “This is ongoing now with sea levels slowly coming up, increased storm surges,” says study co-author David Anderson of the University of Tennessee. “We're seeing erosion of coastal archaeological sites.”

It’s the sheer scale here that’s so daunting. How do you save 13,000 individual sites? Well, you don’t. Archaeologists have to face the reality that if sea levels rise, they’re going to have to pick a select few sites to concentrate on, cataloging them as best they can—perhaps with slick new digital techniques—and doing whatever possible to ensure their survival.

You might build a sea wall around a particularly important site, for instance, but that could endanger other sites. “When you build these barriers you're typically taking soil,” says Anderson. “You're taking materials from locations that themselves contain archaeological and historical resources.”

Theoretically, you could move structures as well. The Egyptians did this with the Abu Simbel temples when a new dam threatened to submerge them in the 1960s. But what do you choose to save? Who chooses what to save? (Irony among ironies: Washington, DC and its many cultural sites may eventually be at risk, the study notes. The Lincoln Memorial sits at 10 meters above sea level, which seems like a lot until you factor in the threat of floods. So the government may need to move monuments one day, long after the man who shunned the Paris Agreement has left office.)

There’s also the human cost. Archaeological sites will be submerged, but so too will modern communities. This is also already happening. In 2016, the federal government announced it would move a band of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Native American tribe from coastal Louisiana, where rising waters were threatening to sweep the community away. Climate change forced them not just from their homes, but historically and culturally significant locations.

Relocations, though, can further complicate matters. As sea levels rise, more and more people will have to move inland. And development there could imperil the archaeological sites that would otherwise survive sea level rise.

Yeah, it's scary stuff. But this research is a big step toward making sea level rise not only more comprehensible, but manageable. After all, we've got a future to safeguard and a past to preserve.

Read more:

This Is What Therapy REALLY Is, Because Its Not Just Sitting On A Couch And Talking About Your Feelings

God & Man

When we typically think about therapy, we think of a middle-aged man in a tweed jacket, sitting with a clipboard and half-moon glasses perched on the bridge of his nose while we lay on a couch and talk about our feelings and dreams and what this all means for our mental health and our lives. Afterward, we would leave his office feeling happier and more fulfilled, equipped with tons of answers on how to deal with the difficult situation or mental illness that has brought us into therapy in the first place.

Because the truth about therapy is that it’s hard fucking work.

You just don’t walk into a therapist’s office, immediately bond with them, unload your past, and magically feel as though it no longer affects your present after a 45-minute session.

I wish that were the case, but no. That’s just not realistic.

Because therapy is more than just talking about painful pasts, toxic relationships, self-destructive behaviors, and harmful thinking patterns. It’s more than just venting and crying and getting it all out there. It’s diving deep into those painful pasts, toxic relationships, self-destructive behaviors, and harmful thinking patterns and figuring out what the hell to do about it. 

Talking about your problems doesn’t make them go away. Having someone listen doesn’t make them go away either. Talking a trained medical professional about strategies and solutions and plans to deal with the difficult situations that have hijacked your life can, however.

And, of course, venting is helpful. This is not to say to bottle it all up, not at all. That wouldn’t be healthy to keep it all inside.

And that’s where therapy comes in, with actionable goals and strategies that will get you happier, healthier, and more at peace. And after that, it’s the really rough part: implementing those strategies and solutions into your life, without your therapist present.

Because the thing we fail to realize about therapy is that a lot of the healing and progress happens of the therapist’s office.

It’s remembering how to listen to and regulate your breathing when you feel yourself growing anxious to help curb the effects of anxiety. It’s recognizing a toxic person and having a plan in place that will help you walk away safely. It’s strategizing ways to overcome the incredibly overwhelming feelings that come with depression. It’s rewiring your thinking to keep you from returning to the negative thinking that is also negatively impacting your life.

So, yes, therapy does involve talking. It does involve your feelings, and sometimes of them. But mostly it’s about changing. Changing your thinking, behaviors, mindsets, and relationships, .

Read more:

Google Is Giving Away AI That Can Build Your Genome Sequence

Today, a teaspoon of spit and a hundred bucks is all you need to get a snapshot of your DNA. But getting the full picture—all 3 billion base pairs of your genome—requires a much more laborious process. One that, even with the aid of sophisticated statistics, scientists still struggle over. It’s exactly the kind of problem that makes sense to outsource to artificial intelligence.

On Monday, Google released a tool called DeepVariant that uses deep learning—the machine learning technique that now dominates AI—to assemble full human genomes. Modeled loosely on the networks of neurons in the human brain, these massive mathematical models have learned how to do things like identify faces posted to your Facebook news feed, transcribe your inane requests to Siri, and even fight internet trolls. And now, engineers at Google Brain and Verily (Alphabet’s life sciences spin-off) have taught one to take raw sequencing data and line up the billions of As, Ts, Cs, and Gs that make you you.

And oh yeah, it’s more accurate than all the existing methods out there. Last year, DeepVariant took first prize in an FDA contest promoting improvements in genetic sequencing. The open source version the Google Brain/Verily team introduced to the world Monday reduced the error rates even further—by more than 50 percent. Looks like grandmaster Ke Jie isn’t be the only one getting bested by Google’s AI neural networks this year.

DeepVariant arrives at a time when healthcare providers, pharma firms, and medical diagnostic manufacturers are all racing to capture as much genomic information as they can. To meet the need, Google rivals like IBM and Microsoft are all moving into the healthcare AI space, with speculation about whether Apple and Amazon will follow suit. While DeepVariant’s code comes at no cost, that isn’t true of the computing power required to run it. Scientists say that expense is going to prevent it from becoming the standard anytime soon, especially for large-scale projects.

But DeepVariant is just the front end of a much wider deployment; genomics is about to go deep learning. And once you go deep learning, you don’t go back.

It’s been nearly two decades since high-throughput sequencing escaped the labs and went commercial. Today, you can get your whole genome for just $1,000 (quite a steal compared to the $1.5 million it cost to sequence James Watson’s in 2008).

But the data produced by today’s machines still only produce incomplete, patchy, and glitch-riddled genomes. Errors can get introduced at each step of the process, and that makes it difficult for scientists to distinguish the natural mutations that make you you from random artifacts, especially in repetitive sections of a genome.

See, most modern sequencing technologies work by taking a sample of your DNA, chopping it up into millions of short snippets, and then using fluorescently-tagged nucleotides to produce reads—the list of As, Ts, Cs, and Gs that correspond to each snippet. Then those millions of reads have to be grouped into abutting sequences and aligned with a reference genome.

That’s the part that gives scientists so much trouble. Assembling those fragments into a usable approximation of the actual genome is still one of the biggest rate-limiting steps for genetics. A number of software programs exist to help put the jigsaw pieces together. FreeBayes, VarDict, Samtools, and the most well-used, GATK, depend on sophisticated statistical approaches to spot mutations and filter out errors. Each tool has strengths and weaknesses, and scientists often wind up having to use them in conjunction.

No one knows the limitations of the existing technology better than Mark DePristo and Ryan Poplin. They spent five years creating GATK from whole cloth. This was 2008: no tools, no bioinformatics formats, no standards. “We didn’t even know what we were trying to compute!” says DePristo. But they had a north star: an exciting paper that had just come out, written by a Silicon Valley celebrity named Jeff Dean. As one of Google’s earliest engineers, Dean had helped design and build the fundamental computing systems that underpin the tech titan’s vast online empire. DePristo and Poplin used some of those ideas to build GATK, which became the field’s gold standard.

But by 2013, the work had plateaued. “We tried almost every standard statistical approach under the sun, but we never found an effective way to move the needle,” says DePristo. “It was unclear after five years whether it was even possible to do better.” DePristo left to pursue a Google Ventures-backed start-up called SynapDx that was developing a blood test for autism. When that folded two years later, one of its board members, Andrew Conrad (of Google X, then Google Life Sciences, then Verily) convinced DePristo to join the Google/Alphabet fold. He was reunited with Poplin, who had joined up the month before.

And this time, Dean wasn’t just a citation; he was their boss.

As the head of Google Brain, Dean is the man behind the explosion of neural nets that now prop up all the ways you search and tweet and snap and shop. With his help, DePristo and Poplin wanted to see if they could teach one of these neural nets to piece together a genome more accurately than their baby, GATK.

The network wasted no time in making them feel obsolete. After training it on benchmark datasets of just seven human genomes, DeepVariant was able to accurately identify those single nucleotide swaps 99.9587 percent of the time. “It was shocking to see how fast the deep learning models outperformed our old tools,” says DePristo. Their team submitted the results to the PrecisionFDA Truth Challenge last summer, where it won a top performance award. In December, they shared them in a paper published on bioRxiv.

DeepVariant works by transforming the task of variant calling—figuring out which base pairs actually belong to you and not to an error or other processing artifact—into an image classification problem. It takes layers of data and turns them into channels, like the colors on your television set. In the first working model they used three channels: The first was the actual bases, the second was a quality score defined by the sequencer the reads came off of, the third contained other metadata. By compressing all that data into an image file of sorts, and training the model on tens of millions of these multi-channel “images,” DeepVariant began to be able to figure out the likelihood that any given A or T or C or G either matched the reference genome completely, varied by one copy, or varied by both.

But they didn’t stop there. After the FDA contest they transitioned the model to TensorFlow, Google's artificial intelligence engine, and continued tweaking its parameters by changing the three compressed data channels into seven raw data channels. That allowed them to reduce the error rate by a further 50 percent. In an independent analysis conducted this week by genomics computing platform, DNAnexus, DeepVariant vastly outperformed GATK, Freebayes, and Samtools, sometimes reducing errors by as much as 10-fold.

“That shows that this technology really has an important future in the processing of bioinformatic data,” says DNAnexus CEO, Richard Daly. “But it’s only the opening chapter in a book that has 100 chapters.” Daly says he expects this kind of AI to one day actually find the mutations that cause disease. His company received a beta version of DeepVariant, and is now testing the current model with a limited number of its clients—including pharma firms, big health care providers, and medical diagnostic companies.

To run DeepVariant effectively for these customers, DNAnexus has had to invest in newer generation GPUs to support its platform. The same is true for Canadian competitor, DNAStack, which plans to offer two different versions of DeepVariant—one tuned for low cost and one tuned for speed. Google’s Cloud Platform already supports the tool, and the company is exploring using the TPUs (tensor processing units) that connect things like Google Search, Street View, and Translate to accelerate the genomics calculations as well.

DeepVariant’s code is open-source so anyone can run it, but to do so at scale will likely require paying for a cloud computing platform. And it’s this cost—computationally and in terms of actual dollars—that have researchers hedging on DeepVariant’s utility.

“It’s a promising first step, but it isn’t currently scalable to a very large number of samples because it’s just too computationally expensive,” says Daniel MacArthur, a Broad/Harvard human geneticist who has built one of the largest libraries of human DNA to date. For projects like his, which deal in tens of thousands of genomes, DeepVariant is just too costly. And, just like current statistical models, it can only work with the limited reads produced by today’s sequencers.

Still, he thinks deep learning is here to stay. “It’s just a matter of figuring out how to combine better quality data with better algorithms and eventually we’ll converge on something pretty close to perfect,” says MacArthur. But even then, it’ll still just be a list of letters. At least for the foreseeable future, we’ll still need talented humans to tell us what it all means.

Read more:

The ‘masculine mystique’ why men can’t ditch the baggage of being a bloke

Far from embracing the school run, most men are still trapped by rigid cultural notions of being strong, dominant and successful. Is it leading to an epidemic of unhappiness similar to the one felt by Betty Friedans 50s housewives?

Back in the 90s, it was all going to be so different. Not for our generation the lopsided approach of our parents, with their quaint postwar notions of father-breadwinners and mother-homemakers. We would be equal; interchangeable. Our young women would run companies, embassies, hospitals and schools, while our young men, no slouches themselves, would punctuate their careers with long, halcyon spells dandling babies and teaching toddlers how to make tiny volcanoes out of vinegar and baking soda.

That equality would have formidable knock-on effects. The gender pay gap would narrow. Sexual harassment wouldnt disappear, but decoupling professional power from gender would do a lot to erase it from the workplace.

A generation or so later, it is clear: this is the revolution that never happened, at least not in the UK. The home-dad pioneers among us who once blazed a trail, now look on aghast as successive waves of men scurry past and say: Right. Back to work.

What happened? Latest statistics for England show more than 80% of fathers still work full time, rising to almost 85% for dads of very young children. This rate has barely changed for 20 years. The ratio of part-timers has flatlined just above 6% throughout this decade (having soared through the 90s and early 00s). Just 1.6% of men have given up work altogether to take care of the family home. New rights for fathers to share parental leave with mothers have poor take-up rates.


You can glimpse this paternity gap at 3.30pm on weekday afternoons at school gates up and down the country. Far from being overrun with gaggles of enlightened men in clothes covered with baby sick and badges saying Worlds greatest dad, the father quota is, in my own limited experience, disappointing. There are often more grandparents doing the pickup than dads.

At the same time, there is no shortage of surveys finding legions of men saying they want to find more time for family life. So what is stopping them?

In 1963, The Feminine Mystique, a seminal book by Betty Friedan, helped launch the second wave of feminism by positing that American women faced a problem that has no name: they had essentially become typecast as uber-feminine mothers, home-makers, cake bakers and sexual slaves to their husbands. Forcing women to live up to this idea of femininity left an entire generation depressed, frustrated or hooked on Valium.

The question is this: 50 years later, are men facing their own problem with no name, a masculine mystique which imposes rigid cultural notions of what it is to be male superior, dominant, hierarchical, sexually assertive to the point of abuse even though society is screaming out for manhood to be something very different?

Men who do change their working lives to accommodate their children generally say it can feel tough, lonely, incongruous, even emasculating. When, 15 years ago, I gave up work altogether for a year to do childcare, it took a while to get used to being the only dad in the park; the strange man arguing with a difficult child outside the library on a damp Tuesday morning. People stared.

David Early and his son Jonah There is a stigma when people see you doing a role that isnt traditional.

Little has changed. Father-of-two David Early, 31, from Glasgow, says he still feels in a minority when he is out and about with his toddlers. When Im with the children, and I have her in the sling and him in the buggy, I have people looking and thinking: Whats that guy doing with two kids strapped to him? says Early. There is a stigma when people see you doing a role that isnt traditional. It can impact on your professional life.

For Early, it certainly did. When he asked for additional parental leave after his first child was born, his managers for his data management job were not impressed. He eventually quit and found work elsewhere to be able to balance his work and family in the way he wanted.

Paul Cudby, 36, was luckier. A business analyst for the National Grid in Leicestershire, he found his manager more receptive, and worked out a highly flexible work pattern that leaves him free to do the afternoon school run before turning the laptop back on again in the evening. There comes a moment in every dads life when theres a choice. Youll find yourself missing something at home and the question is: what do you do about the emotional pain? Do you say: Im just going to have to suck it up, or do you say: Somethings got to change?

I get plenty of little jibes about being a part-timer. They are well meaning, but I can understand how some people get offended. I think there possibly is a knock-on effect on my career.

And thats just it men are finding out what women have known for years: that parenting properly will certainly upend your career. For many men, so thoroughly programmed to identify who they are with the work they do, this can seem like an existential threat.

Tormod Sund The traditional man breadwinner those kind of ideas are rooted in the past. Photograph: Mark Rice-Oxley for the Guardian

Tormod Sund, 42, is a father, an anthropologist, a charity worker, a Norwegian and a Londoner and has been the primary carer for his son for more than 10 years. He says he still feels like a bit of an oddity in a society that still expects men to be alpha.

The traditional man breadwinner those kind of ideas are rooted in the past, but you dont get rid of them in one or two generations, Sund says. Those ideas are still quite strong socially.

When you meet new people, the first thing they ask is: What do you do? I would say: I work from home. The idea of what is successful and normal if youre a man is that you should have a career. Its less acceptable for a man to say: Im staying at home with the children. We work. Our identity is connected to that.

The barriers are not just psychological. They are professional and financial as well. Jasmine Kelland, a human resource studies lecturer at Plymouth University, interviewed scores of fathers and managers, trying to find out more about the male reluctance to reduce hours. She found that of all the working permutations part-time, full-time, men, women the part-time man was held in lowest regard on a range of metrics including competence, commitment and even ability.

In the workplace, fathers do not get as much support as mums, Kelland says. When they say, for example, that they need time off because a child is unwell, organisations are less supportive. There are quite a lot of negative perceptions about fathers who want to work part-time.

Dr Alpesh Maisuria has experienced this first-hand. The 37-year-old London-based academic says that even in more enlightened parts of the economy, bosses are not always understanding. My value as a bloke in this country is to do with my productivity and output, much more than being a father, he says. I would suggest in many instances, even as an academic, the fact that Im a father might be a hindrance to my bosses.

The part-time paternal penalty is not just a British peculiarity. A 2013 US study found that men who engaged in childcare risked a workplace backlash. Men who lack complete focus on, and dedication to, their work and who do the low-status feminine work of childcare and housework are likely to be seen both as failed men and as bad workers, the report found. At the other end of the scale, however, Sweden incentivises all fathers to take at least three months paid paternity leave. The result has been a far more even-handed approach to latte pappas.

Dr Alpesh Maisuria The fact that Im a father might be a hindrance to my bosses. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

When I take him out to playgroups or cafes in the UK, Im usually the only bloke in there, says Maisuria. In Sweden, youll find a whole load of these blokes alongside you.

There are, of course, financial considerations: a great many households wont be able to afford to sacrifice even part of a fathers salary. With the gender pay gap persisting, the default position tends to be men working full-time while women do the childcare and perhaps work part-time.

Involved fatherhood is quite a middle-class concept, says Dr Helen Norman at Manchester Universitys school of social sciences. Its only really accessible to middle-class men who can afford to change their work; the fathers on lower incomes dont have that [option].

A support worker with a housing association in the West Midlands, Richard Watkins, 32, worked all the hours he could, until separation from his partner and problems with their children forced a rethink. Now, his six-year-old son lives with him and Watkins felt he had to cut back his hours to nurture his child. We came very close to relying on food banks, he says. The only way I can survive doing this on my budget is to have it [all] mapped out for the next two years.

Ultimately, he says, he will have to go back to work full-time. Which is a shame. The benefits of full-on fathering the dad dividend if you like are both obvious and subtle. There are no end of advocates agitating for progress, from Fathers Network Scotland and its Dad Up campaign to Working Families and the Fatherhood Institute.

Martin Doyle, 37, a Bristol-based communications manager for Lloyds bank, noticed that, after he went part-time, there was a big a difference in the son that he and his husband had adopted. Its been massively beneficial our son is a lot more settled and a lot more relaxed than he was, he says. His confidence has grown, his self-belief has grown. Ive been able to be there to support him.

Engaged fathers can also liberate women to resume careers indeed women will never get close to true equality until men bend over backwards to meet them halfway. And according to Norman, there can be a positive effect on relationships, too: in households where men do sole childcare a few times a week in the early years, this will have a positive effect on the relationship over time, she says.

But could it be that the biggest beneficiary of all would be men themselves?

From his office overlooking the Royal Festival Hall terrace in London, Ted Hodgkinson is putting the finishing touches to a festival that is all about the male predicament.

The Being a Man festival, running from 24-26 November, aims to get under the skin of the masculine identity, prod it around a little, see if it falls apart. The furore over sexual harassment will tinge some segments, particularly a session called Standing Up for Her Rights.

But the event aims to be far broader than a single news story. Writers, actors and performers, including Robert Webb, Alan Hollinghurst and Simon Amstell, will explore the relentless levels of expectation heaped on men and assess whether this is responsible for statistics that suggest it is truly dismal these days to have a Y chromosome.

Suicide is a predominantly male tragedy (a man takes his life every minute somewhere in the world). Ditto gambling, drug overdoses, rough sleeping or just disappearing. Rape, murder, terrorism, war, people trafficking and domestic violence: all are predominantly masculine disgraces. Wherever you go in the world, men always make up more than 90% of jail populations. Flick through todays newspaper and the chances are it will be full of all the bad things that men are doing. Of course, recent weeks have been dominated by sexual harassment, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Mass shootings and sickening murders, not to mention terror attacks and the brutality of war.

Then there are our role models: misogynist presidents, groping politicians, narcissistic sports stars, self-satisfied billionaires, airbrushed actors, heroic superheroes, alpha men, all of them. Even the average shape of a man has changed in 20 years: guns, pecs and necks wider than heads in some cases. There is no room for the winsome, the vulnerable, the uncertain.

I ask Hodgkinson if he thinks a masculine mystique a cultural insistence on strong, dominant, successful types as the only valid manifestation of manhood is making us unhappy in the same way that the feminine mystique depressed women in the 50s and 60s.

In one sense it seems as though men are holding all the cards, he says, but the statistics show otherwise: three out of four suicides are men, 73% of adults who go missing are men. They feel they have to walk out of their own lives for one reason or another. We have to look at what masculinity means to understand this. Often it equates showing emotion with weakness. There is a bottling up of shame; not wanting to let people down.

The good news is there is no shortage of books, documentaries, artists working to challenge old patriarchal notions, from Professor Greens acclaimed documentary about men and suicide to Grayson Perrys 2016 book The Descent of Man. (The downside: two-thirds of men say they dont read much.)

There is an awakening around these things. There is a shift there, says Hodgkinson.

Jonny Benjamin agrees. He became a mental health campaigner after contemplating his own suicide on Waterloo Bridge and being talked down by a stranger. He says he sees changes coming through in the new young generation.

Jonny Benjamin We need more sports stars, more footballers to talk about their vulnerabilities. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

The good thing is that now its being questioned, he observes from his own work talking to young people about mental health. There is work in schools challenging this whole kind of big-boys-dont-cry attitude.

Benjamin says it is notions of pride, shame and honour that still do men such harm. Men need to know that its OK to show vulnerability, subjugate every now and then, lose, cry, express their emotional turmoil. Its not just women who suffer from comparing themselves to the perfection they see in the public space.

We need more sports stars, more footballers to talk about their vulnerabilities, he says. Just to say: I do struggle sometimes, I do get anxious. Life isnt all money and cars.

There are nascent campaigns calling for a more honest dialogue about the links between maleness, depression and suicide, most notably the work done by the Campaign Against Living Miserably and the Movember foundation.

But will that ever build into a full-blown movement that reforms maleness from the inside and changes its relationship with the world? Its hard to say. Thus far masculinism has manifested itself principally in niche areas such as custody law or male victims of violence, or simply as strident misogynist voices pushing back at feminism.

And its hard to see how to make a movement when you are essentially still in control of much of society. As Sund says, we are not a minority who are oppressed in any shape or form, so its hard to find that moral space.

The crisis of manhood, if it exists, is very different from that faced by women in the 50s and 60s. In some senses, its a mirror image. Women some at least were saying: Some of us might want to work. Men some at least are saying: Some of us might want to work less. Women were saying: We want to be taken seriously in public life. Men some at least are saying: We want to be taken seriously in our private life.

Both sexes are trying to live up to cultural projections rather than satisfy their own complex human needs. Men today may have greater choice than women did half a century ago, but that doesnt make it easy.

Women had an oppression to rail against; the outcome was a broad awakening that would not be subdued. The oppression of men is far more subtle, even self-inflicted.

The awakening has barely begun.

Being a Man festival runs from 24-26 November at Southbank Centre. More info and tickets available here:

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at

Read more:

5 Terrifying Diseases From History (People Just Made Up)

We’ve all read alarmist news stories about dangerous fads taking over the country which later turned out to be total crap. There were never any Satanic daycare centers, no teenager on the planet has ever played the so-called knockout game, and no one actually likes pumpkin spice. But if you think those are byproducts of a gullible modern age, keep in mind that history gave us mass panics that were even stupider. For example …


The “Crack Baby” Epidemic Was Nothing But Bunk Science

Back in the ’80s and ’90s, America was terrified at the prospect of raising a generation of mentally handicapped, drug-addicted children. “Crack babies” were created when women used crack cocaine while pregnant, either ignorant of or indifferent to the effects the drug would have on their unborn children. The New York Times predicted that as many as four million crack babies would eventually be born, crippling the otherwise-flawless American education system.

The fact that you probably haven’t been mugged by a single crack-crazed lunatic manchild this year should tell you that this didn’t come to pass. But how did the media get it so wrong? Well, it was true that crack surged in popularity at the time, but it is equally true that America has never met a trend that it couldn’t blow out of proportion. Sketchy reporters didn’t merely portray crack-smoking mothers as people who had made some bad choices — they painted these women as broken and loveless, barely able to function in society and creating a “bio-underclass” of doomed babies who were “oblivious to affection.” If even half the reports on crack were accurate, society was a generation away from turning into a Phillip K. Dick novel.

“But was the panic based on science?” you may be asking. The answer is … uh, sort of. Specifically, the scare was based on a study of 23 infants who had been exposed to crack. We didn’t forget several zeroes there — the study had fewer participants than a pick-up basketball league. Oh, and it only studied them as babies, which meant there was no information on what kind of adults they would grow up to be. Sure enough, subsequent studies on adults who had been exposed to crack in the womb showed only minor neurological problems, if there were any at all.

The New York Times “If your crack baby is so smart, then why do I beat it in chess most of the time?”

But the damage was done. Women who do drugs during pregnancy were, and still are, punished far more harshly than women who smoke or drink, and get hit with criminal charges or have their children taken, instead of, you know, being helped. Meanwhile, politicians and government officials peddled the myth that crack babies were an expensive drain on society, costing as much as a million dollars each to raise to adulthood.

And yes, the fact that crack was supposedly the scary new drug of choice for poor African Americans absolutely fueled the “crisis.” The Atlantic dug up an old newspaper article called “Disaster In Making: Crack Babies Start To Grow Up,” which argued that a wave of Mad-Maxian criminal youth was on the horizon. The panic was a big part of how we got the equally overblown fear of “super predators,” roving gangs of primarily black teenagers who would commit crimes, but like, really well. Luckily, the media seems to have learned its lesson and is treating the current opioid crisis, which happens to be hitting white Americans the hardest, with much more sensitivity.


“K Syndrome” Was Deadly To Nazis … And No One Else

Unlike the other diseases here, K Syndrome’s invention was a good thing, even if it sounds like something you’d get from eating a disturbing amount of Special K. The only known outbreak occurred in 1943, when Nazi soldiers started rounding up Italian Jews. Italian doctor Vittorio Sacerdoti, knowing what that meant and wanting absolutely nothing to do with it, began admitting anyone who could reach his hospital as patients. Once inside, they were immediately diagnosed with K Syndrome, a rare condition remarkable for its ability to repel Nazis.

When soldiers entered the hospital, Sacerdoti warned them that his patients had an incredibly deadly and contagious disease. To sell this claim, the “infected” kept coughing while the Nazis were around, and the sound discouraged the soldiers from entering the patients’ rooms and discovering the charade. And so the soldiers hightailed it out of there immediately, because even Nazis had limits on how far they’d go to do their jobs.

BBC “They would do anything for Lebensraum, but they won’t do that.”

It’s unclear how many lives K Syndome (named after Nazi field marshal Albert Kesselring, and also used to hide political dissidents and an underground radio station) saved, but estimates range from dozens to hundreds. Sacerdoti and his colleagues were honored after the war, and surviving Nazis who learned about the trick probably felt rather silly for claiming that they were part of an intellectually superior race.


Scientific Racism Invented A Mental Disorder To Explain Why Slaves Kept Trying To Escape

Back when slavery was legal, slaves naturally kept trying to get to freedom, because (and this is apparently still a shock to some Americans) being a slave sucked pretty hard. Slaveowners needed an explanation for why escape attempts kept happening that wasn’t “Declaring other people to be property and forcing them to live and work in inhumane conditions makes us some of history’s greatest monsters,” so they turned to science for an answer. Science wasn’t available, but its lunatic hillbilly cousin was more than happy to step in.

Enter physician Samuel A. Cartwright. In 1851, he published “Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race,” and you know with a title like that you’re in a for a rough ride. He outlined two mental illnesses he had “discovered,” because only some bizarre affliction could possibly explain why anyone would want to escape slavery.

via Wiki Commons “No mentally stable non-slaves are uppity about being slaves.”

Cartwright argued that because there’s a quote in the Bible that said slaves should obey their masters, and since God created black people to be inferior servants, any African American trying to escape their natural position was obviously sick (slaves would have presumably interpreted the scripture differently, but Cartwright apparently didn’t get around to asking them). This illness, dubbed Drapetomania, was caused either when white men treated blacks as equals, or when slaves were treated poorly. Cartwright’s prescribed cure was to treat slaves as children — keep them well-fed, don’t overwork them, and be kind, but deny them the freedoms of adults and whip them if they disobeyed. This would supposedly cure the scourge of Drapetomania (unless the slaves lived on the border of an abolitionist state, in which case it was incurable).

Cartwright also invented Dysaesthesia Aethiopica, essentially a fancy name for “not wanting to work 19 hours a day for no money.” Slaves, it seems, sometimes didn’t want to do the work they were being imprisoned and forced with violence to do (if you can imagine). Sometimes they even purposely caused damage or disturbances to avoid work! To Cartwright, this was proof not that slaves were unhappy, but of a mental illness which was the “natural offspring of negro liberty.” African Americans who found themselves with a lot of spare time on their hands from not being enslaved enough, or even at all, were prone to living a destructive lifestyle. Luckily, such a terrible affliction could be cured by ensuring that they were putting in good long days of honest unpaid work.

It’s easy to look back and laugh off Cartwright as a crackpot desperately trying to justify awful behavior. That is, in fact, exactly what free states did when his ideas made it north. But at the same time, his theories were popular among Southerners who wanted a “scientific” explanation for slaves not wanting to be slaves. If you live in a culture in which slavery is normal, then fleeing it is abnormal, and people will bend over backwards to explain that abnormality before pausing to look at their own behavior. That’s a phenomenon that helps explain, oh, about 99 percent of the behavior that you dislike in the world.


Werther, The 18th-Century Novel That Made Teens Commit Suicide

13 Reasons Why received some criticism for glamorizing suicide and potentially enabling the Werther Effect, wherein a popular portrayal of suicide inspires real-life copycats. The effects of the media’s treatment of suicide is an incredibly complicated subject with no clear answers, despite what the people arguing on your Facebook page are claiming. But what is clear is that the Werther Effect’s namesake was a bullshit urban legend.

The name is derived not from those butterscotch candies whose presence in every nursing home reminds you of your inevitable decline, but from The Sorrows Of Young Werther, a 1774 novel by the most German-named man ever, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It’s about a sensitive young artist who falls in love with an engaged woman, and is so distraught by the fact that they’ll never be together that he takes his own life. Basically, it makes Romeo And Juliet look like a feel good rom-com.

HP Haack To this day, Germans remain unable to laugh.

Werther became a smash hit across Europe and North America, because mopey protagonists will be popular until the end of time. Men dressed up like him, and merchandise like plates with engravings of scenes from the book were pumped out, because nothing enhances dinner like slowly revealing a suicide with each bite of schnitzel. There was only one problem: Werther was also inspiring troubled youths to take their lives, presumably in the hopes that they too would be immortalized on a plate.

One obituary mentioned that a suicide victim owned a copy of the book, and called on readers to “defeat the evil tendency of that pernicious work.” A young man supposedly jumped off a building with the book, and a mother claimed that her son had underlined various passages before taking his own life, among many other stories of suicides staged by victims who wanted to make it clear that Werther inspired them. Citing this rash of suicides, authorities in Italy, Denmark, and the city of Leipzig banned both the book and costumes based on the book (that’s right, they outlawed cosplay). One religious leader called it “heinous,” while another supposedly bought up all the copies he could find to prevent the public from having access to its terrible message. People either couldn’t wait to read it or couldn’t wait to see it destroyed for the sake of the public good.

It was an epidemic … with no evidence to support it. All of those “suicides” were stories of nameless victims that couldn’t be traced back to a legitimate source. It was, as far as anyone can tell, a scandal invented by moralizing hand-wringers. Again, the link between fictional suicide and real suicide is complicated, but at least no one was really throwing themselves to their doom because an 18th-century LiveJournal made it look cool.


“Fan Death” Terrifies South Koreans, Confuses Everyone Else

If you live in a climate that feels like Satan’s sweaty ball sack during the height of summer, you’ve probably left a fan on overnight and never given it a second thought. But if you do that in South Korea, people are going to ask you why your dumb ass has a death wish.

A significant portion of the Korean population believes that running a fan in a closed room will kill you dead, even though no one can agree why. Some argue that it causes hypothermia, others say that all of the oxygen is sucked away or rendered stale, while a third theory posits that the fan somehow converts oxygen into carbon dioxide, like an evil reverse-tree which proves man shouldn’t mock nature. And this isn’t some silly urban legend that only kids believe. A state-funded consumer agency listed “asphyxiation from electric fans and air-conditioners” as a common summer accident citizens should be careful to avoid.

Na-Rae Han Meanwhile, North Koreans don’t have these superstitions, or electricity.

You may be tempted to dismiss this as another “ignorant foreigners being wacky” story that your relatives on Facebook love so much, but what do you think South Koreans would have to say about Westerners who refuse to vaccinate their kids, or believe that fluoridated water is part of a government plot to make the population lethargic and malleable? Something crazy can become true if everyone agrees that it is. Stories of fans killing people often make South Korean news, because sometimes people die in their sleep, and you can’t prove that the fan didn’t contribute. One supposed mysterious death from the 1970s, of a man who was found dead in a sealed room with two fans running, is believed to have popularized the myth … unless you want to go further down the rabbit hole, and subscribe to the belief that the country’s military dictatorship invented the myth to curb electricity consumption during a ’70s energy crisis. Of course, that’s exactly what Big Fan wants us to think.

The latest shocking epidemic is buying Mark’s book and following him on Twitter.

If you loved this article and want more content like this, support our site with a visit to our Contribution Page. Or sign up for our Subscription Service for exclusive content, an ad-free experience, and more.

For more, check out The 6 Most Insane Moral Panics in American History and Bicycles Cause Lesbians: The 26 Weirdest Moral Panics Ever.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out Why Outrage Culture Is Ruining The Internet, and watch other videos you won’t see on the site!

Also follow us on Facebook. Resistance is futile.

Read more:

This Is The One Seasonal Treat We Love That Could Be As Bad As Smoking Cigarettes

Would it really be the holiday season if we didn’t unearth our large collections of scented candles, filling our homes with just about every wintery, festive scent we can think of?

I, for one, love taking advantage of all the holiday candle sales at places like Yankee Candler and Bath and Body Works. I mean honestly, how can you pass up a deal like buy three, get three free? The holidays are the perfect time to stockpile all your winter apple, sugar plum, and evergreen products before they’re discontinued for another year.

But because we live on planet Earth and we simply can’t have nice things, a recent string of studies have revealed that lighting a candle in your home might not be as relaxing as you may think. In fact, it could be harming the health of not only you and your family but your pets as well.

While your favorite candles may smell good to you, their chemical makeup could be making you sick.

According to MCS-America, most fragranced products contain anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 different chemicals. Even more alarming is the idea that despite the U.S. National Academy of Science have declared that fragrances should undergo neurotoxicity testing, most of the products on the market have not undergone testing to make sure that they’re safe for humans.

Many of these chemicals have also been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) as being potentially hazardous.

What makes scented candles so horrible for humans is the exhaust given off by these candles. The exhaust is regularly adding harmful toxins into your home, oftentimes without our knowing. Scented candles are made from paraffin, which is a petroleum-based product.

When burned, aroma-therapy candles can be even more dangerous than your basic scented three-wick.

In a 2009 report from South Carolina State University, lead researcher and chemistry professor Dr. Ruhullah Massoudi addressed the risks surrounding candles containing paraffins. “For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies, and even asthma.”

Paraffin candles can also be as dangerous to your lungs as second-hand smoke and often times contain the same toxic by-products found in diesel exhaust.

The exhaust given off from aroma-therapy candles can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as toluene, acetone, and benzene. According to the USEPA’s Toxicology Data Network benzene is known as a human carcinogen, while the other two compounds have large levels of human toxicity.

Candles with more fragrance, like those found at Bath and Body Works or Yankee Candle, are also said to produce more soot, according to a 2001 study performed by the EPA. The same study also mentioned the cancer risks associated with benzene, toluene, and acetone.

In an attempt to market safe, “green” scented products to consumers, many companies took to releasing green products.

However the emissions given off by these products proved to be no different than those without a special “green” label. A 2009 article published in Environmental Impact Assessment Review revealed that in a study of 25 “green” products, there was a combined list of 133 known VOCs, most of which were outright labeled on the product’s packaging.

In more severe cases of interactions with chemicals found in scented candles, a person may become severely ill from what doctors refer to as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).

A person with MCS may become gravely ill after exposure to the vapors and airborne chemicals given off by the scented candles or fragrance products. Their illness is so severe, that the patient must isolate themselves from society for periods of time to avoid reactions to chemical exposure.

But human lungs aren’t the only ones at risk thanks to your favorite scented candles. Your pet’s health could be in danger, too.

When it comes to your cats and dogs, the same toxins and chemical compounds that are toxic for humans to breathe in are doubly as potent for our pets. In addition to benzene, compounds such as Carbon Tetrachloride and lead are often found in the scented wax of many candles or the composition of the candle wicks. All three of these compounds can prove deadly for your cat. The concentration of these emissions can linger in the air for up to 10 hours after the candle has been lit, increasing the odds of your pet being exposed.

Read more:

17 things about 2017 that weren’t complete and utter garbage.

2017 was rough.

It was the equivalent of getting gum stuck in your hair, then realizing it wasn’t gum at all. It was Nazis.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

But there were positives too. Seriously.

Stop laughing! I mean it. There were good things about 2017. And I have the facts to back it up. Here are 17 things that made this a pretty awesome year.

1. Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim to win an Oscar in an acting category for his work in “Moonlight.”

(OK, OK: Ellen Burstyn fans may try and tell you it was her, since she now practices a combination of religions including Sufi Islam. Perhaps Mahershala Ali is the first solely Muslim actor to win an acting Oscar. But that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.)

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

2. For 7.6 billion collective minutes, the world came together to celebrate the miracle of life.

April the giraffe’s 16-month pregnancy came to a cliffhanging conclusion as the mom-to-be labored over the course of several weeks. The Animal Adventure Park captured more than 232 million live-stream views before the healthy male giraffe baby was born April 15.

3. No white men were nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy. It’s the first time that’s happened since 1999.

Technically, a few white men could still take home statues as producers if certain artists win. But it’s pretty awesome to see people of color and women leading the field for one of music’s most significant honors.

Album of the year nominee, Bruno Mars. Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET.

4. Through the Affordable Care Act, people signed up for health insurance from the government marketplace at a record-setting pace.

In November, during the first week of open enrollment, more than 600,000 people signed up, crushing the pace of previous years, despite Trump’s efforts to weaken the program.

5. Cities and countries around the world are preparing for a gas-free future.

The Netherlands, France, and India are all in the process of phasing out the sale and use of gas- and diesel-powered cars. Cities like Oxford, Copenhagen, and Barcelona want the job done as early as 2020.

People ride bicycles during a ‘car-free’ day in Paris. Photo by Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images.

6. The year’s most popular YA novel was written by a black woman and inspired by Tupac and Black Lives Matter.

If you, or the teens in your life, haven’t read Angie Thomas’ “The Hate U Give,” you should — especially before the movie comes out.

7. Volunteers planted 66 million trees in India. In one day.

The herculean effort was made possible by more than 1.5 million volunteers who made quick work of the project on July 2, 2017. In addition to an army of awesome volunteers, this company hopes to plant 100,000 trees each day using drones.

8. When natural disasters struck, people rallied together to raise funds and collect resources for people in need.

After the earthquake in Mexico and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria actors, athletes, inmates, former presidents, kids, and everyone in between came together to help people in harm’s way. Bad news can bring out the best in us, and it certainly did this year. (You can still donate, btw.)

Members of the Texas National Guard prepare to distribute water and emergency meals. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

9. Congress — you know, the folks making life a little hard right now? Well, they’re part of the most diverse U.S. Congress ever.

19% of the 115th Congress are non-white, and between the House and the Senate, there are 50 black members. It looks like things can only get better, too, as 34% of the new legislators are people of color.

10. That hole in the ozone layer we’ve been worried about for decades? It’s shrinking.

The ozone surrounds the Earth to help filter out some of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Lessening the use of CFCs and implementing other Earth-saving measures has led to a gaping hole that’s 1.3 million square miles smaller than last year. In fact, it’s the smallest it’s been since 1988. It’s still very much there, though, so don’t put away the sunscreen just yet.

Photo by Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images.

11. While the reckoning has only just begun, people who harass, abuse, and sexually assault other people are finally getting theirs.

High profile men, including Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., George Takei, Sen. Al Franken, Rep. John Conyers, and more have already faced personal and professional consequences for their actions after brave victims stepped forward and called them out. Let’s hope these winds of change only blow stronger in 2018.

12. Germany, Australia, and Austria popped champagne for marriage equality.

German parliament overwhelmingly passed a bill in June and the country’s first weddings took place this fall. 61% of voters in Australia voted in favor of marriage equality, paving the way for legislators to legalize marriage equality in the country. And Austria’s Supreme Court just paved the way for marriage equality to begin in 2019. That’s definitely bubbly-worthy news.

Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images.

13. Children’s scouting programs did some pretty amazing stuff. And I’m not even talking about the cookies.

The Girl Scouts introduced a badge for cybersecurity and a pretty amazing guide to helping parents talk to their kids about weight and body image. The Boy Scouts announced that they’re welcoming transgender children and girls to their ranks. And this Cub Scout made headlines for calling BS on a state politician. Children are the future — and the future looks pretty freakin’ cool.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

14. Transgender lawmakers won big at the state and local level.  

Virginia’s Danica Roem and Minneapolis’ Phillipe Cunningham and Andrea Jenkins all earned seats on state and municipal councils. Roem even beat out the self-described “chief homophobe.” Good riddance to backward, shortsighted people making decisions for all of us.

Andrea Jenkins, center, celebrates her city council win. Image by Carlos Gonzalez/Associated Press.

15. In some of the best news of the year (unless you’re vegan … or a saltine): Cheese may be good for you.

Results from a new study reveal a small portion (about the size of a matchbox) each day may improve heart health. And yet, still no funding for my study  on stuffed crust pizza and its effect on mood.

16. In a true feat of scientific achievement, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft pulled a Bruce Willis and dove into Saturn’s atmosphere.

For 13 years, Cassini orbited Saturn and took truly incredible, detailed images of the ringed planet and its moons. Where would we be without the hard work of researchers, scientists, and this brave robot’s sacrifice?

Photo via NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

17. We were graced with Bodak Yellow.

The world is better, brighter, safer, and happier now that Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” is in our lives. Frankly, I was thinking of making all 17 items on this list Bodak Yellow. Not into hip-hop? Make it a gospel jam. It even brings perfect strangers together.

2017 was scary, frustrating, and downright troubling. But there’s always good stuff too.

When things are at their worst, do your best to seek out and remind yourself of all the ups, bright spots, and big wins going on too. And if you can’t find them, at the very least, play some “Bodak Yellow.”

Read more:

The moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican Party | Dana Nuccitelli

Dana Nuccitelli: The GOP strategy on taxes and climate: reject evidence and expert opinion, lie, and wage culture wars

The parallels between the Republican Party positions on taxes and climate change are striking. Both are morally appalling and reject the available evidence and expert opinion.

The Initiative on Global Markets panel of economic experts was recently asked about the Republican tax plan. Among the experts who took a position either way, there was a 96% consensus that the plan would not substantially grow the economy more than the status quo, and a 100% consensus that it would substantially increase the national debt.

Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman)

Economists aren’t exactly big fans of current GOP tax plans

November 21, 2017

Those numbers are quite similar to the 97% consensus among climate scientists that humans are driving global warming and the 95% consensus among economists that the US should cut its carbon pollution.

The House and Senate Republicans have passed similar versions of their tax bill, and neither chamber is allowing any climate policy to move forward.

So whats making Republican Party leaders reject the expert consensus on these incredibly important issues?

Unwavering faith in the face of contradictory facts

Sometimes tax cuts make sense; for example, when trying to stimulate a depressed economy, or when operating with a budget surplus. Neither is currently the case. This message from the president:

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

Unemployment is down to 4.1%, lowest in 17 years. 1.5 million new jobs created since I took office. Highest stock Market ever, up $5.4 trill

November 4, 2017

Is incompatible with Senator Lindsey Graham saying the economy needs a tax cut. The tax cut plan, which by design will increase the US national debt by $1.5tn, is also incompatible with Republican opposition to increased deficits. Just last year the Republican National Committee was warning of an unsustainable path toward crippling debt.

Economists also agree that we should be paying down the debt when the economy is going strong. When the next recession inevitably strikes, governments need monetary flexibility to respond. Thats when it makes sense to run a deficit (for example, see the 2009 stimulus package, which helped pull the US out of the Great Recession and cost less than the Republican tax plan).

These Republican economic contradictions make no sense, but theyre familiar to those of us who follow climate change news. The only consistency in climate denial is in its contradictions deniers claim global warming isnt happening, but its a natural ocean cycle, and caused by the sun, and galactic cosmic rays, and Jupiters orbital cycles, and its really just a Chinese hoax, and in any case its not bad.

On taxes, the Republican argument is cuts pay for themselves by stimulating economic growth and creating jobs.

Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim)

This is not going to be a deficit-producing effort, McConnell says, believing economic growth will pay for bill.

November 30, 2017

But the economic literature is far from clear about whether tax cuts necessarily spur economic growth at all, let alone enough to pay for themselves. Moreover, corporate CEOs have repeatedly said that the Republican tax plan wont spur investment or job creation instead theyll mostly pass the gains to their wealthy shareholders. There was an embarrassing video clip when Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn was confronted with this inconvenient truth:

Natalie Andrews (@nataliewsj)

VIDEO: CEOs asked if they plan to increase their company’s capital investments if the GOP’s tax bill passes.
A few hands go up.
“Why aren’t the other hands up?” Gary Cohn asks.#WSJCEOCouncil

November 14, 2017

When presented with the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation analysis concluding the bill would increase the national debt by over $1tn even when accounting for associated economic growth, Republicans immediately rejected the results.

Steve Inskeep (@NPRinskeep)

In NPR interview, Paul Ryan said he thinks the tax cuts will pay for themselves despite analysis to the contrary. Im telling you thats what I believe will happen. Im not going to tell you Im sure.

December 1, 2017

As Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said, Either its a religious belief, a belief where no amount of evidence would change that, or they are using the argument cynically and they just want more money for themselves. He was talking about trickle-down economics, but just as easily could have been describing climate denial.

A growing disdain for nerds

Im old enough to remember when the GOP considered itself the party of intellectuals, back in the days when Republicans invented the concept of pollution cap and trade systems, for example. It wasnt long ago that party leaders like Newt Gingrich and 2008 GOP presidential candidate John McCain were calling for the party to support climate policies.

Starting with the brief rise of the Tea Party in 2010, that all changed, and the intellectual rot of the GOP has accelerated under President Trump. In a July 2017 Pew poll, just 36% of Republicans said colleges and universities have a positive impact on America, and a stunning 58% said they have a negative effect.

Republicans view of the impact of colleges and universities.

Similarly, in an August 2017 Gallup poll, just 33% of Republicans expressed confidence in higher education. Worst of all, the Republican tax bill even penalizes American graduate students.

Eating away at the GOP intellectual core: Fox News

A 2012 survey found that Americans who only watch Fox News are less informed than Americans who watch no news at all. At the time, 55% of Americans including 75% of Republicans reported watching Fox News. The network is powerful a recent study found that Fox News might have enough influence to tip American elections and on the whole it prioritizes ideological messaging over factual accuracy.

Trumps attacks on the so-called fake news media have further eroded Republicans trust of news sources that lack a conservative bias. As David Roberts wrote for Vox:

The US is experiencing a deep epistemic breach, a split not just in what we value or want, but in who we trust, how we come to know things, and what we believe we know what we believe exists, is true, has happened and is happening the right has created its own parallel set of institutions, most notably its own media ecosystem conservative media is more partisan and more insular than the left.

Truth papered over by lies

Because so many conservatives rely on right-wing media sources for their news, its easy to misinform them through a constant stream of lies.

For example, Trumps Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin promised that his department would produce an analysis showing that the tax cuts will pay for themselves. One economist in the department leaked to the New York Times that such an analysis doesnt exist and Treasury staffers werent even asked to study the issue. It was a lie. Mnuchin also claimed the plan would only raise taxes on Americans who earn more than $1 million a year the exact opposite of reality and another blatant lie. In fact, the entire Republican case for their tax plan was based on lies.

Similarly, climate denial is based on endless myths and misinformation Skeptical Science has catalogued and debunked about 200 of them. And recent research showed that these myths are quite effective at misinforming their audience.

Republicans including Trump cited a list of 137 economists supporting tax reform, but further investigation showed the list is full of ghosts, office assistants, Koch employees, and many others who failed to mention theyre retired. The climate change equivalent is the Oregon Petition, whose signatories included Spice Girls and fictional characters among its fake experts.

Money and power the root of all evil

The Republican tax plan and the partys obstruction of climate policies are nevertheless both unpopular positions. Just 25% of Americans support the tax plan, though that includes 60% of Republican voters.

Washington Post (@washingtonpost)

Analysis: Deeply unpopular Congress aims to pass deeply unpopular bill for deeply unpopular president to sign

November 29, 2017

Similarly, 80% of Americans – including 62% of Trump voters – agree that the US should regulate and/or tax carbon pollution. But public support often doesnt translate into policy, and Republican policymakers have been surprisingly honest and forthright about why they support the tax plan despite opposition by a majority of voters and economic experts:

Cristina Marcos (@cimarcos)

.@RepChrisCollins (R-NY) on tax reform: “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or dont ever call me again.'”

November 7, 2017

Alan Rappeport (@arappeport)

Lindsey Graham says the financial contributions will stop if tax reform fails.

November 9, 2017

The plan also raises taxes soonest and most on poorer Americans, slashes their health care coverage, and Republicans are already planning to pay for the plan by cutting social programs that low-income Americans rely on. While massive income inequality is one of the biggest problems in America, squashing the American dream, Republicans voted to make the problem much worse. Similarly, poorer countries are the most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. The Republican Party motto may as well be benefits for the rich at the expense of the poor.

Quite simply, Republican politicians need campaign donations from oil companies and other big corporations to win elections. To maintain their power they must keep the cash flowing. That means keeping rich donors happy by cutting corporate taxes and obstructing climate policies. To achieve that, Republican politicians reject scientific evidence and expert opinion, lie to their voters, and rely on right-wing media echo chamber propaganda and tribalism to keep their supporters voting against their own best interests.

Its all morally reprehensible, and so far, its working. At this point, the only way to fix the problem is to defeat the Republicans who have rotted their party to its core and are now spreading that rot throughout America and the rest of the world.

Read more:

Prince Harry is engaged to Meghan Markle, Kensington Palace says

Another royal wedding is set for next spring.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are engaged and expected to wed in spring 2018, Kensington Palace announced through Harry’s father, Prince Charles, on Monday. The couple got engaged in London earlier this month after meeting in the summer of 2016 through mutual friends.

“His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms. Meghan Markle,” the statement read. “His Royal Highness and Ms. Markle became engaged in London earlier this month.”

It added, “Prince Harry has informed Her Majesty the Queen and other close members of his family. Prince Harry has also sought and received the blessing of Ms. Markle’s parents.”

The statement said the couple will live in Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace. Harry and Markle’s upcoming wedding will be the first grand royal wedding since Prince William and Kate Middleton got married in 2011.

William and Kate, who is expecting her third child, said in a statement they are excited for the couple, adding that “it has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together.”

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are set to be married this spring.  (Reuters)

Markle’s parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, also issued a statement saying they were “incredibly happy for Meghan and Harry.” 

“Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person. To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents,” they said in a statement released by Kensington Palace. 

Markle, best known for her role as Rachel Zane, an ambitious paralegal in the hit U.S. legal drama “Suits,” fueled rumors that a move to London and an engagement were imminent when she packed up her belongings and moved out of her Toronto apartment last week after wrapping up filming for the series. Days later, she was spotted in London Christmas shopping. It’s still unclear if she will return to “Suits” for the eighth season, but several reports indicated the seventh season was her last.

The couple has kept their high profile relationship mostly quiet and have made only one official appearance out together at the Invictus Games — a sporting event for wounded service personnel that Harry spearheaded — in Toronto in September. They held hands and smiled as they arrived for a tennis match. Several days later, Harry was photographed kissing Markle on the cheek as he joined the actress and her mother in a luxury box to watch the event’s closing ceremony.

The couple quietly dated for the first few months after meeting until Kensington Palace confirmed they were the couple last November. But the news also came with a stern warning to the press. The prince pleaded for reporters to stop intruding on his girlfriend’s privacy. He condemned “outright sexism and racism” in some online comments, and said some articles with “racial undertones” had crossed the line.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced their engagement Monday.  (Reuters)

Markle surprised many people when she shared her feelings for Harry in a September cover story for Vanity Fair. It was the first time she addressed her relationship publicly and called the prince her “boyfriend,” saying: “We’re a couple. We’re in love.”

“At the end of the day I think it’s really simple … we’re two people who are really happy and in love,” Markle said.

Markle admitted dating Harry “has its challenges,” and that her life changed in a surprisingly fast rate.

“But I still have this support system all around me, and, of course, my boyfriend’s support,” she added. “Personally, I love a great love story.”

Harry — once known for his “bad boy” antics, including being photographed playing strip billiards in Las Vegas — has largely won over the British public with his winning smile, his military career and his devotion to charities aimed at helping disabled veterans and other causes. The 33-year-old prince recently won praise with his work campaigning for more openness about mental health issues. Speaking candidly about his personal struggle to cope with the loss of his mother, Princess Diana, when he was only 12, he encouraged others to talk about their own problems rather than keeping them bottled up inside.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will have the first grand royal wedding since Prince Williams married Kate Middleton in 2011.  (AP)

Markle’s career has included small parts on TV series including “Fringe,” “CSI: Miami,” “Knight Rider” and “Castle,” as well as movies such as “Horrible Bosses.” Outside of acting, Markle founded a lifestyle blog called (which closed down in April without explanation), and has lent her celebrity status to humanitarian causes.

She has campaigned with the United Nations on gender equality, written in Time magazine about girls’ education and the stigma surrounding menstruation, and has traveled to Rwanda as global ambassador for the charity World Vision Canada. She has described how her mother took her to the slums of Jamaica to witness poverty first-hand, saying experiences like that shaped her social consciousness and charity work.

Meghan Markle, right, watches the closing ceremony for the Invictus Games.  (Reuters)

To some degree that mirrors the experience of Harry, who was also inspired by his mother’s humanitarian work and embraced the types of charities Diana favored in the final years of her life before her 1997 death in a Paris car crash.

Some tabloids had alluded to Markle’s mixed-race heritage, pointing out she has an African-American mother and a white father. Markle herself has spoken out about coming to terms with being biracial — both growing up, and in her Hollywood career. In a March interview with Allure magazine, she said studying race at college was “the first time I could put a name to feeling too light in the black community and too mixed in the white community.

“For castings, I was labeled `ethnically ambiguous’,” she said.

Markle married film producer Trevor Engelson in 2011, but the pair divorced two years later. It wouldn’t be first time that a British royal has married an American — or a divorcee. In 1936, Edward VIII famously abdicated after he was forced to choose between the monarchy and his relationship with twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson.

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam

Read more: