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Our Data, Ourselves

There's something comforting about cold, hard facts. That which can be counted and measured. Incontrovertible truths.

There’s something comforting about cold, hard facts. That which can be counted and measured. Incontrovertible truths. As our collective obsession with data has intensified, so, too, has our faith in numbers. In the digital era, we’re all data-hoarders, armchair statisticians who believe that the more we have, the more accurate our view of the world will be. We’ve come to rely on the data, convinced that they reveal things about us that mere human observation cannot.
And in some cases, that’s true. Our expanded ability to track and quantify has yielded new insights into who we are. But the data alone can’t tell the whole story.

When we search the numbers, we find reflections of ourselves, glimmers of the world we live in and the lives we lead. We may learn immense amounts from this data, but make no mistake: Our search is what gives it meaning.


Graphic Statement: Andrew Kuo narrates his life in infographics, including weekly visual music reviews for The New York Times. Most of his work is about stuff that rarely shows up in the realm of data: “My Ideal Slacker Tuesday,” his feelings about the New York Knicks, “On Second Thought, Please Don’t Text Me Back.” We asked him to make some charts about charts. Yeah, we know how nerdy that is.

Infographics
Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

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Science
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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Health
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

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Politics

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

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test
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

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Health