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Rogers Smith on the heart and soul of America

As a scholar, the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science is perhaps best known for challenging the view that the U.S. is fundamentally, “in its heart and soul,” a liberal democracy.

From Omnia

Inside Penn

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The New York Times

Businesses aim to pull greenhouse gases from the air. It’s a gamble

Jennifer Wilcox of the School of Engineering and Applied Science spoke about companies pledging to eliminate their carbon emissions within decades. “Carbon removal shouldn’t be seen as a get-out-of-jail-free card,” she said. “It has a role to play, particularly for sectors that are very difficult to decarbonize, but it shouldn’t be an excuse for everyone to keep emitting greenhouse gases indefinitely.”

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The New York Times

Underselling the vaccine

Aaron Richterman of the Perelman School of Medicine said overemphasizing the COVID-19 vaccine’s imperfections and unknowns may do more harm than good. “Not being completely open because you want to achieve some sort of behavioral public health goal—people will see through that eventually,” he said.

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The Washington Post

The Trump presidency was marked by battles over truth itself. Those aren’t over

Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg Public Policy Center said people can be primed to believe false information through repetition. “What Trump did was take tactics of deception and played to confirmation biases that were already circulating in our culture and embodied them in somebody who is president of the United States. He didn’t change what was available, but he changed its accessibility,” she said. “That crazed content has always been there. But it becomes dangerous when it is legitimized and when it has the power of the state behind it.”

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The New York Times

Go ahead. Fantasize

Martin Seligman of the School of Arts & Sciences said dreaming about the future can help people live well in the present. “Imagining the future—we call this skill prospection—and prospection is subserved by a set of brain circuits that juxtapose time and space and get you imagining things well and beyond the here and now,” he said. “The essence of resilience about the future is: How good a prospector are you?”

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WHYY (Philadelphia)

‘I don’t know where to move’: Philly immigrants who’ve lived through coups warn of the rise of fringe groups

Bulent Gultekin of the Wharton School said that compared to the coup he witnessed in Turkey 60 years ago, the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol was more like a “mob scene” than a coup. “It doesn’t mean that things will be the same or we’ll forget about this very quickly, it’s a very important lesson,” he said. “In a country where it’s divided and so many are polarized, this is always a problem in the long run.”

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The New York Times

Need a new knee or hip? A robot may help install it

Matthew Sloan of the Perelman School of Medicine spoke about the increase in hip and knee replacement surgeries in the past 20 years. “Among the older patients, the big driver is the desire to stay active,” he said.

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Huffington Post

Trump supporters’ main problem was never the economy

Research by Diana Mutz of the Annenberg School for Communication and School of Arts & Sciences found that people who voted for Trump in 2016 did so because of racial anxieties, not economic distress. “It’s the same old same old. White males have been the group with the most power in our country for a long, long time,” she said. “Change is hard.”

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Daily Beast

Trump mob merchandise doesn’t end with ‘Camp Auschwitz’

Jonah Berger of the Wharton School spoke about the political shirts worn by rioters at the U.S. Capitol. “People want to express themselves and communicate who they are to others. The same is true for political T-shirts; they express how people feel and show solidarity with others in their tribe,” he said.

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NBC News

As law enforcement braces for more violence, state Capitols come into focus

Anne Berg of the School of Arts & Sciences said images of violence at the U.S. Capitol may result in fewer rallies and public events organized by extremists. However, she said, “I'm personally less worried about the next two weeks than I am about the next several years.”

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CBS Philadelphia

Drug being tested at University of Pennsylvania to treat COVID-19 shows promise

Carl June of the Perelman School of Medicine spoke about cyclosporin, an inexpensive drug that may help prevent severe inflammation in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. “Hopefully, [FDA approval of the drug] would decrease the burden of patients in our hospitals,” June said.

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