According to Jamie Metzl, there’s a lot at risk if we keep stifling debate around the origins of COVID-19. He’s not alone in his thinking, so why does big tech continue the censorship of dissenting voices? In other news: countries are deciding how to deal with Bitcoin, physicists are feuding, and Dr Jane Goodall is winning more awards. Oh, and there’s a fish that will probably outlive you 🐟 If you come across news that everyone should know about, send me a link to it via firstname.lastname@example.org and we might include it in the next edition! Warm regards,
NO DEBATE = MORE PANDEMICS
Jamie Metzl has been pushing for further investigation into the lab-leak hypothesis for the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the theory is starting to gain more momentum, as evidenced his front page appearance in The Sunday Times UK, but Metzl, along with other curious minds, have had many obstacles to overcome to express their concerns. In his recent Sunday Times opinion piece, Metzl warns of further pandemics if the debate on the origins continues to be stifled. Debate hasn’t only been stifled by the Chinese government, but from big tech companies as well – they’ve been removing posts that support the lab-leak hypothesis. Maajid Nawaz and Bret Weinstein discussed this problem of censorship on UK radio last week. Both Maajid and Bret have had posts taken down, and know people who were suspended from Twitter for speaking in favour of the lab-leak hypothesis. Now that there’s even more evidence supporting the theory, big tech isn’t admitting they were wrong to cast out the commentary as complete misinformation. Instead, according to Weinstein, they’re doubling down on their perceived role as arbiters of truth. → Click here to learn more.
BITCOIN: EMBRACE OR EXCLUDE?
Recently El Salvador became the first nation to accept Bitcoin as legal tender. The new law means every business must accept Bitcoin in exchange for goods or services unless it is unable to provide the technology needed to do the transaction. According to their President, this move will open up financial services for Salvadoreans, 70% of whom don’t have bank accounts. It will also make it easier for Salvadoreans who live overseas to send money back home, as remittance money makes up 20% of the country’s GDP. The opposite approach is being taken by the second biggest economy in the world, China, which recently ordered all cryptocurrency mines in the Sichuan province to shut down. They claim they made the decision due to environmental reasons (remember that crypto mining requires a lot of energy) despite the fact the province mainly relies on hydropower, not coal. This has lead some to believe that this is less about protecting the environment and more about protecting central government control of all trading and finance. Some politicians on the Left, such as Elizabeth Warren, have also called for a crackdown on crypto for its perceived environmental impacts. But Bitcoin was born out of libertarian, or even anarcho-capitalist, ideology, made to give power back to the people and remove government control. So, any limitations on it could have far-reaching implications on our freedom. → Click here to learn more.
NYE, CARROLL AND DE GRASSE TYSON PLAY JUDGES
Friend of Think Inc., Derek Muller, is risking $10,000 and his life, all in the name of settling a physics dispute. It all started when Derek uploaded a video last month to his popular YouTube channel, Veritasium. The video tested a heated debate in physics – can a wind-powered vehicle outrun the wind itself while going downstream? In the video, Derek rides in a custom-built craft called the Blackbird and claims he travelled 2.8 times faster than the wind speed! When UCLA physics professor, Alexander Kusenko, heard this claim, he immediately thought it impossible. After some debate between him and Derek, the two decided to settle it old-school… with a bet (no, not a duel, although I’d pay to see that!). Kusenko has bet $10,000 that Derek is wrong, and got the wager witnessed by none other than Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye and Sean Carroll! If Derek wins, he plans to donate the money to a charity (I hope he’s read about effective altruism). → Click here to learn more.
OUR PODCAST RECOMMENDATIONS
If you’ve binged all of Veritasium’s videos and want more brainy entertainment, we’ve got you covered 😉 Last week our mate David Sinclair was on two major podcasts – first on the Whitney Cummings podcast and then on the Joe Rogan Experience. David talked about his new book Lifespan, which I’d highly recommend if you’re interested in all things health and aging-related. If you want your psychology fix, Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman went on the Jordan Peterson podcast to talk about cognitive science and humanism, as well as some juicy topics like IQ tests, personality traits, and dating intelligence. Sounds controversial 🤭 Then you’ve also got Dr. Kaufman’s own podcast, The Psychology Podcast, where he recently interviewed Annaka Harris about consciousness and free will. I wonder if she and Sam regularly discuss these questions over the dinner table? I’d love to be a fly on the wall in their house, that’s for sure!
5 YEAR PREGNANCY
Coelacanth – have you heard of it? It’s a giant fish that’s been around since the dinosaur age, and they’re very peculiar creatures. Once thought to live only twenty years, a recent study shows that they actually live for almost a century! Take that David Sinclair! Coelacanths live in the deep sea, and like many deep-sea dwellers, they age incredibly slowly, reaching maturity at around 50 years old (that’s more than you can say for many people). But the weirdest thing that these French scientists found was that female coelacanths are pregnant for up to 5 years! … That can’t be fun. They then go onto give birth to live babies, which is also pretty rare for a fish. If the five-year pregnancy isn’t bad enough, poor coelacanths are so endangered that the scientists can only study dead specimens. Their age is usually predicted on a coelacanth-specific scale, but these recent discoveries were made using polarised light, a technique commonly used to determine the age of commercial fish. → Click here to learn more.
HOPE AWARD FOR DR. GOODALL
Lastly, we want to congratulate the incredible Jane Goodall who was awarded the Hope Award at the Mercy For Animals 2021 Gala. The star-studded event was held online this year, and Dr Goodall was presented the award by Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix, perhaps two of the most famous vegans in the world right now. The gala raised over $1.2 million dollars for Mercy For Animals, whose mission is to “prevent cruelty to farmed animals and promote compassionate food choices and policies.” This is just another of the long list of awards that Dr Goodall has received for her groundbreaking work in conservation, which is exactly the reason we wanted to tour her in 2017. → Click here to learn more.
Picture of the week
Storm photographers were busy last week on the east coast of Australia where we’ve been battered with heavy wind, rain, and yes, lightning. This amazing shot was taken by a local photographer in Newcastle, NSW and published on Reddit (but you can check out the official photo on the artist’s website). Not only is it an incredible sight, but recent studies show that lightning might purify our atmosphere with the oxidizing chemicals hydroxyl and hydroperoxyl. Knowing that makes this photo even better, wouldn’t you agree? → Click here for more info.