The false link between Amy Coney Barrett and The Handmaid’s Tale, explained

One of the weirder ways this debate has played out since Barrett was first discussed as a potential Supreme Court nomineeis the fight over whether or not People of Praise, the group of which she is a member, is also one of the inspirations for The Handmaid’s Tale. In Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel (and its recent TV adaptation), fertile women are forced to live as childbearing slaves called handmaids. The book isn’t an established inspiration — but the story has developed legs anyway.

The inaccurate link between the People of Praise and Atwood’s story, perpetuated by a series of confusing coincidences and uneven fact-checking, first emerged in a Newsweek article and was later picked up by Reuters. Both articles have since been corrected, but the right was furious at both. The Washington Examiner called it a “smear that just won’t die.” Fox News noted several other outlets have mentioned Barrett and The Handmaid’s Tale in the same story.

To be absolutely clear: People of Praise is not an inspiration for The Handmaid’s Tale, and the group does not practice sexual slavery or any of the other dystopian practices Atwood wrote about in her novel. But the argument over whether or not the two are connected reflects the deeply contentious atmosphere in which Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court will occur — and the immense symbolic weight The Handmaid’s Tale carries in American popular culture.

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Dream-shaping tech from MIT channels suggestions into your dreams

MIT scientists have figured out how to manipulate your dreams by combining an app with a sleep-tracking device called Dormio. In their new study, the researchers were able to insert certain topics into a person’s dreams, with some pretty bizarre outcomes.

To do so, the researchers at MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces — a group that develops wearable systems and interfaces to enhance cognitive skills — used a technique called targeted dream incubation (TDI). 

Prior studies have shown that during a rare dream state known lucid dreaming, in which a sleeper is aware that a dream is taking place, dreamers can use that awareness to consciously shape aspects of their dreams. TDI takes advantage of an early sleep stage, known as hypnagogia, to achieve a similar result (though not quite “controlling” dreams outright), researchers told Live Science.

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A classic fallacious argument: “If masks don’t work, then why do surgeons wear them?”

A response to people who use the classic fallacious argument, “Well, if masks don’t work, then why do surgeons wear them?”

I’m a surgeon that has performed over 10,000 surgical procedures wearing a surgical mask. However, that fact alone doesn’t really qualify me as an expert on the matter. More importantly, I am a former editor of a medical journal. I know how to read the medical literature, distinguish good science from bad, and fact from fiction. Believe me, the medical literature is filled with bad fiction masquerading as medical science. It is very easy to be deceived by bad science.

Since the beginning of the pandemic I’ve read hundreds of studies on the science of medical masks. Based on extensive review and analysis, there is no question in my mind that healthy people should not be wearing surgical or cloth masks. Nor should we be recommending universal masking of all members of the population. That recommendation is not supported by the highest level of scientific evidence.

First, let’s be clear. The premise that surgeons wearing masks serves as evidence that “masks must work to prevent viral transmission” is a logical fallacy that I would classify as an argument of false equivalence, or comparing “apples to oranges.”

Although surgeons do wear masks to prevent their respiratory droplets from contaminating the surgical field and the exposed internal tissues of our surgical patients, that is about as far as the analogy extends. Obviously, surgeons cannot “socially distance” from their surgical patients (unless we use robotic surgical devices, in which case, I would definitely not wear a mask).

The CoVID-19 pandemic is about viral transmission. Surgical and cloth masks do nothing to prevent viral transmission. We should all realize by now that face masks have never been shown to prevent or protect against viral transmission. Which is exactly why they have never been recommended for use during the seasonal flu outbreak, epidemics, or previous pandemics.

The failure of the scientific literature to support medical masks for influenza and all other viruses, is also why Fauci, the US Surgeon General, the CDC, WHO, and pretty much every infectious disease expert stated that wearing masks won’t prevent transmission of SARS CoV-2. Although the public health “authorities” flipped, flopped, and later changed their recommendations, the science did not change, nor did new science appear that supported the wearing of masks in public. In fact, the most recent systemic analysis once again confirms that masks are ineffective in preventing the transmission of viruses like CoVID-19: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article

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Coronavirus deaths 75% lower in nations using hydroxychloroquine!

With media solemnly spotlighting the passing of the 200,000 mark in deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the United States, a physicians assocation has a question.

“Why is the death rate about 75 percent lower in many countries?” asked Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

The reference is to a country-based analysis updated Sept. 20 that shows a gap between countries that treat COVID-19 early or prophylactically with hydroxychloroquine and those that, like the U.S., discourage or prohibit its use.

The answer to Orient’s question can be found in a white paper published by the Economic Standard this month titled “Hydroxychloroquine and the Burden of Proof: An Urgent Call to Depoliticize Medicine in the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic struck America nine months before a presidential election, turning basic medical activities like testing and treatment into partisan battlegrounds,” writes Economic Standard Editor-in-Chief Erik Sass in the overview. “No subject has been more distorted than hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), a safe, versatile medicine that has treated hundreds of millions of people for numerous diseases for seven decades.”

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