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WHO: Depression Is Now the Leading Cause of Ill Health Worldwide

‘Depression has become the leading cause of ill health and disability across the world, now affecting more than 300 million people globally, the World Health Organization said Thursday. However, half of people suffering from depression don’t get treatments they need to live healthy, productive lives.The worldwide depression rates increased 18 percent between 2005 and 2015, according to the WHO. Yet, there still exists a stigma associated with the condition, as well as a lack of support in many countries for those suffering from mental disorders…’

Source: NYMag

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Happy 1st of April

Everyone hates April Fools’ Day — so why does it endure? The 500-year history of a troll holiday. (The Verge)

And why and how did it come to be associated with April 1st? (Digg)

This Is the Only Good April Fools’ Joke So Everybody Else Can Shut Up (Motherboard)

Horrific April Fool’s Pranks of the 19th Century, and more (Gizmodo)

(Although there is a significant value to April Fool’s Day. As Jay Kuo tweeted, this is the only day of the year that people critically evaluate what they read on the web before accepting it as true!)

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The Emergence of the Hive Mind

‘The research was conducted by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, and was derived from data collected by the Framingham Heart Study, which has been tracking the vital statistics and psychological states of the residents of one Massachusetts town for over five decades. The researchers were initially interested in the impact of social contacts on health habits, and the richness of the Framingham data allowed them to track the long-term behavior of more than 12,000 individuals.

The results, as reported in Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, were startling, and have further undermined modernity’s presumptions about the individual as a rational and self-reliant decision maker. As clearly tracked on the researchers’ graphs, health habits spread rapidly through the separate social networks of the Framingham population: Whom one knew strongly affected what one chose to do—overeat or not, smoke or not—and highlighted the power of emulation in human behavior. Further study showed that the influence of these social networks was not limited to health decisions..

Our misery or happiness, our good or bad health, and our indifference or commitment to political participation, are not only contagious; according to Christakis and Fowler, they are mysteriously influenced at a distance by the decisions of people we never meet. The persistence of this influence within the social networks could be traced through “three degrees of separation,” so that the habits of a man’s sister’s neighbor’s wife had a statistically significant effect on his own behavior. If she quit smoking, though out of sight and out of mind, his chances of doing the same were increased by nearly a third…’

Source: 3quarksdaily

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The Funnier You Are, the Sooner You Die?

‘Comedians use a lot of death-related terminology both on-stage and off. Terms like “I died up there” (bad performance) or “I murdered the crowd” (good performance) are pretty commonplace. But according to a recently published study by the International Journal of Cardiology and the the Australian Catholic University, the funnier you are, the more likely you are to die.

The study compared the median ages of death of three groups — dramatic actors, comedic actors, and stand up comedians — and found that, on average, stand up comedians are two times more likely to die younger than their thespian counterparts. Stand up comedians die on average 2.5 to 3 years before dramatic actors, and 2 years before comedic actors.

The real kicker is that the higher ranked comedian you were (according to the crowd-based ranking over at Ranker) the more likely you are to die: for each 10 points higher you were (towards the number 1 ranked comedian) there was a 7% increased risk of you dying. For example, compared to the 150th ranked stand-up comedian, the 50th was 70% more likely to die.*

It should be noted that many stand up comedians tend to be solitary performers who travel alone a lot, and that depression in comedic performers is hardly a new phenomenon…’

Source: Big Think

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Coming for you in Klaipeda, Lithuania

‘If you ever visit the quaint seaside town of Klaipeda in Lithuania, beware of the black ghost… [I]f you’re prone to nightmares, it’s surely something out of one your very worst. The immense bronze sculpture, known as the Juodasis Vaiduoklis in Lithuanian, is 7.8 feet tall… Sculpted by Svajunas Jurkus and Sergejus Plotnikovas, the mysterious figure holds a lantern in one hand, as his long, sinister fingers grip the dock. Located near the Memel castle remains, the black ghost is a reminder of not only Lithuanian legend but of Klaipeda’s own folklore and history. Legend has it that one evening in 1595, one of the Memel Castle guards, Hans von Heidi, while walking around the docks, saw a hooded ghostly figure…’

Source: Design You Trust

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A short guide to conversations with extraterrestrials

‘China completed the construction of one of the largest radio telescopes on the planet in July. The craft will scan space for extraterrestrial signals. For centuries, humanity has dreamt of making contact with other worlds. From the most zany to the most serious, these attempts have been based on a common representation: this radical Other would be a pure, cold and logical intelligence. So that in wishing to greet the Martians humans have learned … to speak to the machines.’

Source: Finn Brunton, Le Monde diplomatique, August 2016