Newsletter

Summaries

Effectiveness of Surgical and Cotton Masks in Blocking SARS–CoV-2: A Controlled Comparison in 4 Patients

annals.org
  • New study, done by South Korean scientists, shows that “neither surgical nor cotton masks effectively filtered SARS–CoV-2 during coughs by infected patients.”.
  • Even though previous research shows these masks were effective for influenza, they are not an effective way to stop the spread of COVID.
  • Scientists don’t know yet how much of the virus is transmitted during coughing.
  • It’s worth noting, that the COVID contamination was actually bigger on the outside of the masks, than on the inside.

AI can’t predict how a child’s life will turn out even with a ton of data

technologyreview.com
  • Social scientists can influence policymakers, but their studies may be skewed—as evidenced by new study that shows how ineffective AI is at predicting our lives.
  • Three sociologists from Princeton asked hundreds of researchers to predict six life outcomes from 13,000 data points on 4,000 families—using AI or plain statistics.
  • “None of the researchers got even close to a reasonable level of accuracy, regardless of whether they used simple statistics or cutting-edge machine learning.”
  • The data came from a 15-year long sociology study, which was designed to find out the life outcomes of children born to unmarried parents.
  • Experts say this is not surprising, and research has repeatedly shown that simple algorithms are better for assessing risk than complex black-box deep-learning algos.

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Three human-like species lived side-by-side in ancient Africa

bbc.com
  • Scientists studying the Drimolen Cave Complex, a place full of informative fossils, provide new evidence that human evolution was not a linear process.
  • This, and other studies that have been posted in recent weeks, shows that there were several types of ancient hominins living together in Africa.
  • One of the findings shows that homo erectus, previously assumed to come from Eastern Africa, actually lived in South Africa, too.
  • Homo erectus may have been the first species to migrate out of Africa into the rest of the world, and studies like this help us understand how it happened.

Biggest companies pay the least tax, leaving society more vulnerable to pandemic – new research

theconversation.com
  • After analyzing data from several decades, researchers warn of American corporate giants paying less tax than smaller companies, yet being less effective businesses.
  • In the past, the biggest corporations paid slightly more tax—but for 2015-18, their effective tax rate was a whopping 13% lower compared to smaller corporations.
  • The same goes for foreign taxes, with the largest corporations paying less than the small ones.
  • Huge corporations give a lot of their profits to shareholders, but the top 10% of US households own 84% of all corporate shares.
  • Despite their advantage, even Big Pharma companies failed to address the COVID crisis effectively, which begs the question: should we keep easing their taxes?

The Desire for Information: Blissful Ignorance or Painful Truth?

cmu.edu
  • Researchers examined whether people prefer to ignore information at times, even if it makes it harder for us to make a good decision.
  • The team created 11 scenarios around three domains (health, finances, and other people’s perceptions) and asked 2,000 people to share their reactions.
  • For example, in a scenario involving a routine medical exam, ~33% of respondents preferred not to learn what exactly was wrong with their body.
  • Overall, the conclusion is that people don’t really want to know everything, and that we choose which information we don’t want, whether it’s health, finances, or sth else.
  • Some information is too painful for us to learn, but in the long-term, more information generally leads to better decisions.

Categories

  • Science Science (63) Effectiveness of Surgical and Cotton Masks in Blocking SARS–CoV-2: A Controlled Comparison in 4 Patients
  • Psychology Psychology (67) The Desire for Information: Blissful Ignorance or Painful Truth?
  • Cosmos Cosmos (30) Huge explosion, second only to the Big Bang, discovered 390 million light years from Earth
  • History History (16) Three human-like species lived side-by-side in ancient Africa
  • Society Society (69) AI can’t predict how a child’s life will turn out even with a ton of data
  • Medicine Medicine (67) Air pollution linked to dementia and cardiovascular disease
  • Technology Technology (73) First-principles calculations shed light on semiconductor defects
  • Nature Nature (49) If the planet keeps on heating, more people will suffer from heat stress

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