Mar. 15, 2020

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What are you doing to prepare for the potential consequences of COVID-19? Some people are stocking up on toilet paper from Costco, while others are taking advantage of cheap flights.

Around the world, fear and speculation are spreading faster than the contagion is. COVID-19, as Kevin Patterson writes in “Anatomy of a Pandemic,” is transmitted by close contact between people. Even though the virus has physical consequences, one of the worst things it can do is “prompt us to recoil from one another.” Withdrawing would be “much the greater injury: to our health, to our communities, to whatever it is that stands in the way of this slouching beast.”

Since December, in Wuhan, China, and now across the globe, an astonishing number of people have developed symptoms of viral pneumonia. The number of ill grew quickly, along with the number of medical researchers paying attention to the virus. When Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang alerted his former classmates about the growing spread, the Chinese government warned him that he was disturbing “social order.” Wenliang was eventually killed by the virus himself. As Patterson writes, the doctor’s death angered the public and potentially contributed to its mistrust of how the government was handling the nascent pandemic.

“Frightened people behave badly,” Patterson notes, and this endangers the most vulnerable among us.

Read more here.
Our picks for you this week:
A New Sound for Inuit Music
Riit's new album fuses throat singing and electropop, pushing the borders of both genres
Why Black Holes have Excellent Manners
Haggard is an astronomer and Assistant Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics at McGill University and the McGill Space Institute.
News Today
A poem by Nyla Matuk
The Biased Ways We Praise “Smart Kids”
When we prioritize certain interests as being “better” or “smarter,” we’re failing children whose talents lie in other areas
This week's newsletter was produced by Raizel Harjosubroto, edited by Tajja Isen and copy-edited by Jonah Brunet. We'd love to hear what you thought of it at


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