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Horror Fans Are Coping With Pandemic Better Than Average Person, New Study Suggests

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed society as we know it in recent months, with nearly every industry and corner of everyday life being affected by the virus' spread. People's responses to the pandemic have (understandably) been pretty varied -- but a new study suggests that fans of a certain genre have had a unique outlook on the ordeal. A new study published in Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture has found that fans of horror movies - particularly those surrounding massive catastrophes - have largely coped better with the coronavirus pandemic. The study, which was conducted by psychologist Coltan Scrivner at the University of Chicago, found that those who have a proclivity towards that kind of media may have "an adaptive predisposition" towards "learning about the dangerous and disgusting aspects of a threat."

“If it’s a good movie, it pulls you in and you take the perspective of the characters, so you are unintentionally rehearsing the scenarios,” Scrivner told The Guardian. “We think people are learning vicariously. It’s like, with the exception of the toilet paper shortage, they pretty much knew what to buy.”

“You’ve seen it a hundred times in the movies, so it doesn’t catch you off-guard so much,” Scrivner continued.

The study analyzed people's viewing histories and movie genre preferences, and how that related to an individual's feeling of preparedness during the current pandemic. It found that those who gravitated towards horror-related media, especially those involving some sort society-collapsing event, sought out that media as a form of escapism, while also making them feel like they've vicariously experienced that kind of situation.

"Increased interest in these genres may imply that morbidly curious individuals felt more interested in information about threats more broadly in response to the increased salience of the Coronavirus threat," Scrivner writes in the study. "However, another possibility is that the broader interest in scary/supernatural and mystery/thriller genres among morbidly curious individuals during the pandemic is due to escapism. Because morbidly curious individuals are generally more tolerable of and even drawn toward morbid phenomena, they may find morbid entertainment more amenable as a form of escapism while they are quarantined at home, whereas those who are less morbidly curious may partake in escapism via other genres."

What do you think of this report? Do you think horror fans are better prepared for situations like the COVID-19 pandemic? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

By JENNA ANDERSON

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Scientists Detect "Ringing" in the Earth's Atmosphere

According to a new study by an international team of researchers, the Earth’s entire atmosphere vibrates much like a ringing bell — a low-pitched fundamental tone alongside higher-pitched “overtones.”

The discovery could help scientists better predict weather patterns and understand the makeup of our atmosphere.

“This finally resolves a longstanding and classic issue in atmospheric science, but it also opens a new avenue of research to understand both the processes that excite the waves and the processes that act to damp the waves,” co-author Kevin Hamilton, a professor at the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawaii, said in a statement.

Atmo Reso

The atmospheric resonances were first proposed at the beginning of the 19th century by French physicist Pierre-Simon Laplace, whose dynamic theory of ocean tides has since allowed scientists to predict deformations in a planet’s atmosphere.

The tones, according to Hamilton and his collaborators, are created by massive pressure waves that travel around the globe. Each wave corresponds to each of these different resonant frequencies.

“Our identification of so many modes in real data shows that the atmosphere is indeed ringing like a bell,” Hamilton said.

Wave Modes

The new study includes a detailed analysis of pressure observations spanning 38 years. The researchers found dozens of separate waves circling the Earth in a checkerboard pattern.

“For these rapidly moving wave modes, our observed frequencies and global patterns match those theoretically predicted very well,” lead author Takatoshi Sakazaki, assistant professor at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Science, said in the statement. “It is exciting to see the vision of Laplace and other pioneering physicists so completely validated after two centuries.”

By VICTOR TANGERMANN


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Goya CEO's Trump comments led Latinos to call for a boycott. That Goya was surprised says a lot.

A company connected by more than profit margins to the Latino community in America wouldn't be surprised by customers offended at the CEO's comments.

Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue might be regretting his Rose Garden endorsement of a president he called a "blessed" leader.

His remarks at a Thursday White House event where President Donald Trump hosted a group of Hispanic supporters came at a time when U.S. Latinos are facing disproportionate effects from COVID-19 and experiencing a 14.5 percent unemployment rate. He certainly struck a chord with Latinos — but not the one he or Trump hoped for. Instead, his comments were met with massive calls to boycott Goya, the iconic, mostly East Coast Latino food brand that has been both a staple and a nutritional pariah for the country’s largest nonwhite population.

As Unanue’s comments, so disconnected from the reality of so many Latinos in America, sparked an outcry, the question really is why the head of one of the richest Spanish-American families would be willing to risk his company’s future by siding with this president, of all presidents. After all, Trump began his campaign in 2015 with racist comments about Latino immigrants: "When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best," he said. "They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists." And, less well reported, he added: "It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America."

That's basically the heritage of Goya's entire customer base.

And Trump continues to disparage Latinos — at least Latinos who don’t agree with him politically. So why would Unanue want to become part of that story, let alone allow Goya to become part of the story?

By Julio Ricardo Varela

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Trump’s kid and wife are seeing things clearly

Trump’s kid and wife are seeing things clearly

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New Trump campaign tee says America First, but Nazi symbol is front and center

New Trump campaign tee says America First, but Nazi symbol is front and center

A new T-shirt in the Trump campaign’s online store is stirring up controversy—and not because of what it says, but because of what it depicts.

The “America First” T-shirt shows an eagle with wings spread out, head facing to its left, feet closely tucked under it, clutching a circle filled in with the American flag. There’s a banner underneath that reads “TRUMP 2020,” and “AMERICA FIRST” is plastered above it. The symbol bears a striking resemblance to a Nazi-era eagle, which has since become a neo-Nazi symbol, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

The shirt met an immediate outcry on Twitter, including from progressive Jewish nonprofit Bend the Arc, which tweeted “bigotry is their brand” in response. Why does this particular eagle symbol matter? Like anything, the devil’s in the details.

WHAT IS THE SYMBOL’S ORIGIN?

The eagle that the Trump campaign screen-printed on the America First tees is most similar to an official Nazi party emblem called a Parteiadler, a Third Reich variant of the imperial eagle, which first emerged under the Roman Empire. The Parteiadler depicts an eagle atop a circle with a swastika inside it. In modern iterations, the swastika is sometimes replaced with other hate symbols, such as SS bolts or the Celtic Cross, or is left blank in countries where the swastika is banned, according to the ADL.

HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM THE AMERICAN EAGLE?

While the eagle is the national emblem of the United States, a comparison of the Nazi eagle to the American eagle falls apart under scrutiny. Beyond the fact that it’s the same animal, when you place the eagles side by side, it’s clear there are more differences than similarities.

[Images: Wiki Commons]

For starters, the American eagle looks to its right, while the Nazi eagle looks to its left. President Truman actually mandated that the American eagle look to the right, toward the “direction of honor,” in an executive order following World War II. Another example: The Nazi icon has talons that are close together under its chest, holding up a circle with a swastika, as opposed to the U.S. eagle, which has a rectangular shield and talons that are spread out, holding 13 arrows in one and an olive branch in the other.

Put all this together and the Trump graphic is nearly identical to the Nazi symbol listed by the ADL. The differences may be subtle at first. But the meaning is loud and clear.

[Image: Trump Campaign, Wiki Commons]

WHAT HAS TRUMP’S RESPONSE BEEN?

The Trump campaign is playing up the connection to the American icon and feigning ignorance to any similarity with Nazi symbolism. It’s a familiar dance: Release a graphic with clear ties to white supremacy, stir controversy and attention, then deflect. But it’s worth noting that while the Trump campaign points to examples of eagles being used as a national symbol (Madeleine Albright wears an eagle pin!), it has yet to actually denounce the Nazi iconography itself or the connection between the two.

The fact that this symbolism appears on campaign merchandise is a clear part of Trump’s strategy to capitalize on outrage, as noted by NPR. By attaching a merchandise component that will outlast the news cycle, it’s able to turn the idea of “owning the libs” into campaign contributions.

Using these types of icons are part of Trump’s visual strategy to court white supremacists. Just two weeks ago, a series of Trump campaign ads were removed from Facebook for using a hate symbol—the red inverted triangle used in Nazi concentration camps. Last weekend, Trump retweeted a video of a supporter yelling “white power,” with his staff later claiming he hadn’t heard it. Just this week Trump called Black Lives Matter a symbol of hate. And he has sent multiple tweets (such as this and this) using fourteen words—a recall to a white power slogan. For anyone who wondered if the dog whistles were mere coincidence, the reality is that they’ve become a blaring cacophony that shouldn’t be ignored.

BY LILLY SMITH

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Democratic ad makers think they’ve discovered Trump’s soft spot

After more than a year of polling, focus groups and message testing against the president, there’s a growing consensus about what damages Trump — and what doesn’t.

Donald Trump wasn’t halfway through his speech in Tulsa, Okla., and Democratic ad makers in Washington and New York were already cutting footage for an air raid on the slumping president.

They didn’t focus on the president’s curious monologue about his difficulties descending a ramp or drinking water at West Point, the small crowd size of the Tulsa event or even his use of the racist term “kung flu.” Instead, the ads zeroed in on Trump’s admission that he urged officials to “slow the [coronavirus] testing down.”

It’s a reflection of a growing consensus among Democrats about what kind of hits on Trump are most likely to persuade swing voters — and which ones won’t. As in 2016, ad makers are focusing on Trump’s character. But unlike four years ago, they are no longer focusing on his character in isolation — rather they are pouring tens of millions of dollars into ads yoking his behavior to substantive policy issues surrounding the coronavirus, the economy and the civil unrest since the death of George Floyd.

“You can’t chase the Trump clown car,” said Bradley Beychok, president of the progressive group American Bridge. “Him drinking water and throwing a glass is goofy and may make for a good meme, but it doesn’t matter in the scheme of things … What people care about is this outbreak.”

Until recently, it wasn’t entirely clear what, if anything, worked against Trump. From the moment he announced his presidential campaign five years ago, not even the most incendiary material seemed to cause significant damage. Not calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” not “blood coming out of her wherever,” not “grab them by the p---y” — all of which were featured by Democrats in character-based ads attacking Trump.

By Election Day, most voters didn’t find Trump honest or trustworthy, according to exit polls. But they voted for him anyway. And throughout much of his first term, including his impeachment, Democrats struggled to find an anti-Trump message that gained traction.

In their preparations for 2020, outside Democratic groups spent more than a year surveying voters in swing states by phone and online. They convened in-person focus groups and enlisted voters in swing states to keep diaries of their media consumption.

Multiple outside groups said they began to test their ads more rigorously than in 2016, using online panels to determine how likely an ad was to either change a viewer’s impression of Trump or to change how he or she planned to vote. Priorities USA, a major Democratic super PAC, alone expects to test more than 500 ads this cycle. Priorities, American Bridge and other outside groups, including organized labor, have been meeting regularly to share internal research and media plans.

“One thing we saw in polling a lot before the coronavirus outbreak is that people didn’t think he was a strong leader or a good leader, they complained about his Twitter,” said Nick Ahamed, analytics director at Priorities USA. “But they had a hard time connecting those character flaws they saw in him with their day-to-day experience.”

Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and recent protests, he said, “really made concrete for people the ways in which his leadership has direct consequences on them and their loved ones … It’s easier to make ads that talk about his leadership than before the outbreak.”

The advertising elements that appear to work, according to interviews with more than a dozen Democrats involved in message research, vary from ad to ad. Using Trump’s own words against him often tests well, as do charts and other graphics, which serve to highlight Trump’s distaste for science. Voters who swung from President Barack Obama to Trump in 2016 — and who regret it — are good messengers. And so is Joe Biden, whose voice is widely considered preferable to that of a professional narrator. Not only does he convey empathy, according to Democrats inside and outside Biden's campaign, but using Biden's voice "helps people think about him as president," said Patrick Bonsignore, Biden’s director of paid media.

But the ad makers’ overarching takeaway from their research was this: While Trump may not be vulnerable on issues of character alone, as he demonstrated in 2016, he is vulnerable when character is tied to his policy record on the economy and health care.

“What we’ve learned form a lot of previous experience … is that quite honestly, people who work in politics can be bad prognosticators in terms of which ad will work,” said Patrick McHugh, Priorities’ executive director. “You see a lot of times the videos that go viral on Twitter … you test those ads, and more often than not they backlash … they can move voters toward Trump.”

For the negative ad industry, the coronavirus has been a bonanza because it inextricably linked both the economy and health care. On the evening of his Tulsa rally, American Bridge, which had already been working on an ad pummeling Trump for his response to the coronavirus, bookended its material with Trump’s acknowledgment that he urged officials to “slow the testing down.”

Biden’s campaign rushed a video onto social media skewering Trump for the admission. And Priorities USA, the Biden campaign’s preferred big-money vehicle, was on TV within days with Trump’s testing remarks in the swing states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan.

Trump complained on Twitter that “the Democrats are doing totally false advertising.” But after the Democratic National Committee posted its first TV ads since 2016 — one asserting that Trump had “brought America down with him” and the other a more focused critique of his handling of China and trade — even the president acknowledged the effectiveness of the assault.

“On the campaign they’ll say such horrible things about me. It’s a very unfair business,” he said on Fox News. “But the ad [Democrats] did this morning, it’s a great ad for them.”

In one obvious way, assailing Trump is less complicated for Democrats than it was four years ago. Trump is the incumbent now, and for the first time he has a record of governance. Pointing out historic economic and public health crises in ads is not rocket science.

Trump’s approval ratings, both overall and on his handling of the coronavirus, have tracked downward since March, when outside Democratic groups began running advertisements against him on the issue. A Reuters/Ipsos poll last week put public approval for his response to the coronavirus pandemic at 37 percent, the lowest mark on record.

“There are more voters on the table now than there have been in a long time,” Becca Siegel, Biden’s chief analytics officer, told POLITICO. “Many, many voters who are persuadable and open to hearing these messages.”

And Trump keeps providing fodder. As outside groups began running ads featuring Trump’s “slow the testing down” remark last week, one Democratic strategist said, “Everybody is going to put this into their ads. This is something people are going to see on their TVs … for the rest of the cycle.”

For Biden, it is difficult to argue anything isn’t working at the moment. He is flattening Trump in national polls and running ahead of him in most swing states.

Yet voters still know less about Biden than Trump, according to internal polling from both parties, and there is an undercurrent of tension within the Democratic Party about how much effort to spend attacking Trump versus building Biden up.

In a study based on data from tens thousands of survey participants — and cited frequently by Democrats — researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Yale University found earlier this month that messages about the lesser-known candidate, Biden, were more effective at persuading voters than messages about Trump.

Echoing the study’s findings, David Doak, a retired longtime Democratic strategist and ad maker, said that while “the race is being decided right now by the negativity towards Trump … what I would do if I were the Biden [campaign] is to try and fill in that favorability, to strengthen what he’s getting there and move his favorability rating up.”

Jimmy Siegel, an ad maker who worked on Clinton’s 2008 campaign and for Michael Bloomberg this cycle, said, “You need more positive Biden stuff” — what another strategist called “more Biden cowbell.”

“I think Democrats have had a theory of the case against President Trump for a while, but it really hasn’t been until the last few months when it started finally getting traction,” said Mark Putnam, the famed Democratic ad maker who worked for Obama and also for Biden before parting ways with the campaign last year. “He almost seemed to have some kind of anti-gravity secret that allowed him to consistently screw things up and yet never pay a political price for it. And with just the way he’s handled one crisis after another in really the worst possible way, it’s finally sinking in.”

However, Putnam said, “That’s only half the battle … We also have to offer an alternative.”

Unite the Country, the super PAC that Putnam is working with, has released several TV and digital ads highlighting Biden’s biography and record on the economy, including a spot featuring Biden’s childhood home in in Scranton, Pa. — complete with the bed Biden slept in as a child that Putnam’s team found stored in the attic when they arrived.

And Biden’s campaign itself began working this month to define the former vice president — and Trump — for a general election audience, releasing two ads as part of a $15 million buy, his first major advertising offensive of the general election campaign.

Just as the outside Democratic groups did, Biden's campaign tested those ads with online panels, finding versions that used Biden’s own voice performed “dramatically stronger” than those using a professional narrator, the Biden campaign's Bonsignore said.

In one ad, Biden talks about the economy, offering only an implicit contrast with Trump.

But Biden’s other ad cuts a much sharper contrast — staying with Democrats’ relentless criticism of the incumbent. It includes footage of Trump posing with a Bible outside St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House after officials forced protesters from the area, as well as an image of Trump’s “both sides” reaction to the deadly violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. — an episode that has gained new resonance amid the racial unrest surrounding Floyd’s killing.

The ad recalled Hillary Clinton’s first ad of the 2016 general election, when Clinton used footage of Trump encouraging violence at a campaign rally and mocking a reporter’s disability to make a call for unity.

But there was one significant difference from the 2016 attack on Trump. Four years ago, said Tad Devine, who was a senior strategist to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, issues of character proved irrelevant in general election advertising “because people weren’t voting on it” — there was no connection to draw between Trump’s character and a record of governance that did not yet exist.

This year, he said, “That is absolutely the weakest front for Trump … Things have changed so dramatically, and the connection between the character of the president and that president’s ability to protect people, whether it’s from economic collapse or pandemic, is really important.”

The contrast works, Devine said, because “people are so desperate to turn the page from what’s happening in America today.”

By DAVID SIDERS

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