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Friday, June 21, 2019

America Is Getting Older and More Diverse

From the Census Bureau:
The nation as a whole continues to grow older with the median age increasing to 38.2 years in 2018, up from 37.2 years in 2010. The pace of this aging is different across race and ethnicity groups, according to new 2018 Population Estimates by demographic characteristics for the nation, states and counties, released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
From 2010 to 2018, the U.S. population’s median age increased by 1.0 years. Amongst the different race groups:
  • The white alone-or-in-combination population increased by 1.0 years.
  • The black or African American alone-or-in-combination population grew by 1.4 years.
  • The American Indian and Alaska Native alone-or-in-combination population increased by 2.2 years.
  • The Asian alone-or-in-combination population increased by 1.7 years.
  • The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone-or-in-combination population increased by 2.6 years.
  • The Hispanic (any race) population experienced an increase in median age of 2.2 years.
A More Diverse Nation[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Global Trust in Science and Vaccines

A release from Wellcome Global Health Monitor:
The world’s biggest survey into public attitudes to health and science publishes today, revealing high overall global trust in doctors, nurses and scientists, and high confidence in vaccines.

Wellcome Global Monitor also shows, however, that half of the world’s population say they know little – if anything – about science. And almost one in five feel excluded from the benefits of science.
The survey asks more than 140,000 people, aged 15 and older, in over 140 countries, how they think and feel about health and science.
It is the first global survey of its kind and highlights questions that need to be answered to ensure science and health research benefits everyone equally, wherever they are in the world. It also reveals attitudes about science that are important to improving global health, including a complex picture of confidence in vaccines in high-income countries.
Key findings from Wellcome Global Monitor
  • Three-quarters of the world’s population trust doctors and nurses more than anyone else for health advice.
  • Globally, around eight in 10 people agree vaccines are safe, and nine in 10 people worldwide say their children have been vaccinated.
  • People living in high-income countries have the lowest confidence in vaccines.
  • In most parts of the world, higher confidence in health systems, governments, and scientists is a sign of high trust in vaccines – but the picture is more complicated in Europe.
  • In almost every region of the world, men are significantly more likely to say they had a good level of understanding of science, compared to women.
Conducted by Gallup World Poll, the survey explores levels of trust and knowledge across science and health, revealing how this differs across ages, nationalities and genders.
For many countries – including Colombia, Nigeria, Egypt and Vietnam – the survey offers the first insights into what people think about these issues.
Wellcome Global Monitor highlights
Doctors and nurses are most trusted for health advice
  • 73% of people worldwide would trust a doctor or nurse more than any other source of health advice, including family, friends, religious leaders or famous people.
  • But across the world, people with the lowest household income have less confidence in hospitals and healthcare systems.
What we know about science – and how we think it benefits society
  • Overall, 72% of people globally trust scientists.
  • But over half (57%) of the world’s population don’t think they know much – if anything – about science.
  • Almost one in five (19%) believe that science does not benefit them personally.
  • Alongside learning science at school or college, confidence in key national institutions such as the government, the military and the judiciary are among the strongest factors that relate to a person’s trust in science.
More than three-quarters of the world’s population agree that vaccines are safe and effective
  • Worldwide, 79% of people agree that vaccines are safe and 84% agree that they are effective.
  • Trust in vaccines tends to be strongly linked to trust in scientists and medical professionals; people who have strong trust in scientists overall are more trusting of vaccines, and vice versa.
  • Bangladesh and Rwanda have the strongest confidence in vaccines – with almost all people in both countries agreeing vaccines are safe, effective and important for children to have. Rwanda also has the highest trust in their healthcare system, at 97% – compared to a global average of 76%.
  • However, around a fifth of people in Europe either disagree or are unsure of whether vaccines are safe. This is despite 86% trusting doctors and nurses and 21% showing high trust in scientists.
  • The lowest confidence levels in relation to vaccines are in Western Europe where more than one in five (22%) of people disagree that vaccines are safe, and in Eastern Europe where 17% disagree that vaccines are effective.
  • France has the lowest levels of trust in vaccines globally: a third (33%) of its inhabitants disagree that vaccines are safe and a tenth (10%) disagree they are important for children to have.
Most parents say their children are vaccinated – and most adults agree they are important
  • 92% of parents worldwide say their children have received a vaccine to prevent them from getting childhood diseases.
  • 92% of adults globally, including those who do not have children, agree vaccines are important for children to have.
  • But worldwide 6% of parents say their children are unvaccinated, representing more than 188 million parents globally.
  • The countries with the highest numbers of parents claiming to not vaccinate their children are China (9%), Austria (8%) and Japan (7%).
Significant gap in what men and women say they know about science
  • Men are more likely to claim greater science knowledge than women. This gender gap exists even when men and women report equal levels of science attainment.
  • Globally, 49% of men worldwide say they know 'some' or 'a lot' about science, compared to 38% of women.
  • The gap is biggest in Northern Europe, where 75% of men claim to know "a lot" or "some" science, compared to just 58% of women.
  • It is lowest in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, which had a percentage gap of three points.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Declining Discourse

Pew reports that the public is unhappy with the level of deliberation and discourse:
The public renders a harsh judgment on the state of political discourse in this country. And for many Americans, their own conversations about politics have become stressful experiences that they prefer to avoid.
Large majorities say the tone and nature of political debate in the United States has become more negative in recent years – as well as less respectful, less fact-based and less substantive.
Meanwhile, people’s everyday conversations about politics and other sensitive topics are often tense and difficult. Half say talking about politics with people they disagree with politically is “stressful and frustrating.”
When speaking with people they do not know well, more say they would be very comfortable talking about the weather and sports – and even religion – than politics. And it is people who are most comfortable with interpersonal conflict, including arguing with other people, who also are most likely to talk about politics frequently and to be politically engaged.
Pew Research Center’s wide-ranging survey of attitudes about political speech and discourse in the U.S. was conducted April 29-May 13 among 10,170 adults. Among the other major findings:
Broad agreement on the dangers of “heated or aggressive” rhetoric by political leaders. A substantial majority (78%) says “heated or aggressive” language directed by elected officials against certain people or groups makes violence against them more likely. This view is more widely shared among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents than Republican and Republican leaners.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Gates Policy Initiative

Alex Gangitano at The Hill:
Bill and Melinda Gates have launched the Gates Policy Initiative to lobby for issues the billionaire couple has been working on through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Hill first reported.
The initiative will be focused on global health, global development, U.S. education and outcomes for black, Latino and rural students specifically, and efforts to move people from poverty to employment.

Rob Nabors, ex-White House director of legislative affairs under former President Obama, is the executive director of the 501(c)(4) initiative. He currently serves as a director at the Gates Foundation.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Using Smartphones to Go Online

Monica Anderson at Pew:
As the share of Americans who say they own a smartphone has increased dramatically over the past decade – from 35% in 2011 to 81% in 2019 – a new Pew Research Center survey finds that the way many people choose to go online is markedly different than in previous years.
Today, 37% of U.S. adults say they mostly use a smartphone when accessing the internet. This share has nearly doubled since 2013, when the Center last asked this question. At that point, 19% of Americans named their smartphone as their primary device for going online.1
Younger adults are especially likely to reach for their phones when going online. Fully 58% of 18-to 29-year-olds say they mostly go online through a smartphone, up from 41% in 2013. Still, this growth is evident across all age groups. For example, the share of adults ages 30 to 49 who say they mostly use a smartphone to go online has nearly doubled – from 24% in 2013 to 47% today.
These trends are part of a broader shift toward mobile technology that has changed the way people do everything from getting news to applying for jobs.
Indeed, mobile devices are not simply being used more often to go online – some Americans are forgoing traditional broadband at home altogether in favor of their smartphone. A majority of adults say they subscribe to home broadband, but about one-in-four (27%) do not. And growing shares of these non-adopters cite their mobile phone as a reason for not subscribing to these services.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Nixon and Father's Day

Danna Bell at LOC: "Father’s Day was not officially celebrated nationally until 1966 when Public Law 89-450 was enacted. This law only covered 1966. It was not until 1972 with the enactment of Public Law 92-278 that the third Sunday in June of every year was designated as Father’s Day."

Nixon's 1972 proclamation:
To have a father—to be a father—is to come very near the heart of life itself.
In fatherhood we know the elemental magic and joy of humanity. In fatherhood we even sense the divine, as the Scriptural writers did who told of all good gifts corning "down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning"—symbolism so challenging to each man who would give his own son or daughter a life of light without shadow.
Our identity in name and nature, our roots in home and family, our very standard of manhood—all this and more is the heritage our fathers share with us. It is a rich patrimony, one for which adequate thanks can hardly be offered in a lifetime, let alone a single day. Still it has long been our national custom to observe each year one special Sunday in honor of America's fathers; and from this year forward, by a joint resolution of the Congress approved April 24, 1972, that custom carries the weight of law.
This is fitting and good. Let each American make this Father's Day an occasion for renewal of the love and gratitude we bear to our fathers, increasing and enduring through all the years.
Now, Therefore, I, Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America, do hereby request that June 18, 1972, be observed as Father's Day. I direct Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings, and I urge all citizens to display the flag at their homes and other suitable places on that day.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May in the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred seventy-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred ninety-sixth.
June 18, 1972 is significant for another reason:  it was the day that newspapers carried stories about the Watergate break-in, which had occurred the day before. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Tracing Back the Fake Tocqueville Quotation

Many posts have discussed the fake Tocqueville quotation, "America is great, because America is good. If America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great."

Aryssa Damron at Check Your Fact:
Robert Tracy McKenzie, a history professor at Wheaton College, told The Daily Caller that the quote is spurious. “It has been debunked numerous times over the last 67 years or so – no serious Tocqueville scholar believes that he wrote anything remotely similar, nor does it capture the essence of what he believed about the success of democracy in the United States,” he said in an email.
The quote dates back to at least 1922, according to etymologist Barry Popik, though he found a variant appearing in print as early as the 1880s.
“I sought everywhere in vain for the secret of their success, until I entered the church,” reads this variation. “It was there, as I listened to the soul-equalizing and soul-elevating principles of the Gospel of Christ, as they fell from Sabbath to Sabbath upon the masses of the people, that I learned why America was great and free, and why France was a slave.”
McKenzie believes the last two lines originated even earlier, with a variant written by Andrew Reed and James Matheson, English ministers who wrote about their travels to the U.S. in the 1830s. “America will be great if America is good. If not, her greatness will vanish away like a morning cloud,” reads their account, published in 1835.
“Here, almost certainly, is the long-lost germ of the ‘words to live by’ that Americans have long attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville,” said McKenzie.