A digest of today’s news by Projects Editor Mike Mullen.
Hello. Happy Thursday.
— Michele Bachmann is officially the best-funded U.S. House candidate in history, the Star Tribune reports. Bachmann has pulled in $10 million, more than half of it since July, in her quest to hold off Tarryl Clark, the DFL challenger for the 6th district. RNC chairman Michael Steele, in town for an RNC event, said Bachmann had “the style of leadership in these changing times that the American people are looking for.” Meanwhile, Clark’s campaign, which has yet to release its holdings, has claimed that it, too, will set a fundraising record. On a side note, Bachmann is pictured wearing a Randy Moss Vikings jersey. It doesn’t say whether Moss has donated any part of that $10 million, but if he did, I can guess how he would do it.
— Stunning findings from the University of Washington’s esteemed “Things you already knew” department: college kids studying abroad like to drink! According to their research, students will on average double their drinking consumption from around quatro drinks a night to ocho. It’s unclear what effect this boozing had on their study habits, but among the adverse outcomes cited by the researchers are the possibility of “promoting negative stereotypes of American college students,” to which I say, oh, please – that’s what Facebook is for.
— The Atlantic Monthly has named its Brave Thinkers for the year. Several of the selections are fascinating people, and well-told stories, but for me, one stands out: Greek medical antagonist John Ioannidis. Ioanndis has published enormous, multi-year studies which reviewed dozens of “breakthrough” medical research findings. These studies, which often make cable news headlines (“Eggs are killing you!” “No, wait, eggs give you eternal life!”) and virtually always change doctors’ behavior, are often either 1) biased toward finding a desired result, 2) later over-turned by a subsequent study, 3) outright fraudulent. The story is one about the pressure to get research grants, and to reinforce previously held biases. In a surreal moment, Ioannidis wonders whether he, himself, would publish findings that overturned his own research.
— Finally, pretty pictures of an ugly thing. National Geographic’s website has the “Top 20 Micro-Photos of 2010.” Number one is a stunning shot of a mosquito’s heart, which looks like a series of dreidels made of neon-green thread. How could something so wicked – literally, a blood-sucker, a spreader of disease – contain something so intricate and beautiful inside? The picture almost makes me rethink… no, nevermind. I still hate them.