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Author: The Conversation

With the season of cheer also comes the gloomy myth perpetuated by news media about holiday-suicides

By Dan Romer, Research Director, Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania For years, the media have reported that more suicides occur during the holidays than at any other time. Many of these stories, no doubt, are meant to help people cope with the melancholy and nostalgia that some people experience at this time. Some of them include the voices of professionals, such as police or mental health providers, who claim to have experienced a rise in suicide deaths during the holidays. What is notable about these claims is that, if anything, the last two months of the year...

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A Global Bully: America abandoned diplomacy and now depends on the military for quick solutions

By Monica Duffy Toft, Professor of International Politics and Director of the Center for Strategic Studies at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University Historically, the U.S. advanced from a position of isolationism to one of reluctant intervenor, to global policeman. Based on my research since 2001, I believe that the U.S. has transformed itself into what many others view as a global bully. I do not use the word lightly. But if, by definition, a bully is someone who seeks to intimidate or harm those it perceives as vulnerable, then that is an apt descriptor of...

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False memories are the unhealthy byproduct of the self-perpetuating emotional addition to “fake news”

By Rachel Anne Barr, PhD Student, Université Laval “Fake news” is a relatively new term, yet it’s now seen as one of the greatest threats to democracy and free debate. In the Netflix documentary The Great Hack — which chronicled the rise and fall of Cambridge Analytica — we saw how Facebook data was used to target potential voters with insidious right-wing propaganda packaged as if it were news. Neuroscience can provide at least some insight how fake news works. Grabbing attention The first job of fake news is to catch our attention, and for this reason, novelty is...

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Local news outlets need more public support to fill the trust gap created by mainstream media

By Damian Radcliffe, Caroline S. Chambers Professor in Journalism, University of Oregon With the polarization of America’s media and politics reaching a fever pitch, many news consumers are “worn out by a fog of political news” and are responding by tuning out altogether. Media distrust, which has intensified globally in recent years, is also a likely factor. A recent Gallup poll found only 13% of Americans trust the media “a great deal,” while 28% indicated that they trust the media “a fair amount.” However, evidence suggests a more favorable situation for local journalism. Poynter’s 2018 Media Trust Survey and...

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The history of Thanksgiving reflects the great American paradox of our cultural pluralism

By Matthew Dennis, Professor of History and Environmental Studies, University of Oregon Thanksgiving has remained America’s most treasured celebration: it combines tradition and invention, an appeal to the past and to the future, ancestor worship as well as acceptance of diversity. Thanksgiving does not exclude non-Christians or even non-believers. Thanksgiving is the time when Americans in the largest numbers reach out to the least fortunate in their communities through voluntary action and charitable contributions. However, as Americans gather this year there is continued rancor and discord due to political views, and deep divisions have widened within families. The strain...

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The “Manifest Destiny” narrative routinely ignores voices of indigenous peoples in the Thanksgiving story

By Sarah B. Shear, Assistant Professor, Social Studies Education, Pennsylvania State University Thanksgiving is an important time, when schools teach the story of who we are and where we come from as a nation. My own students have told me about the Thanksgiving story they learned in school, which focused solely on the survival of the Pilgrims and the friendly meal shared with “Indians.” In my research and experience as a teacher educator, I have found social studies curricular materials (textbooks and state standards) routinely place indigenous peoples in a troubling narrative that promotes “Manifest Destiny” – the belief...

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