Well-researched stories from around the web that bridge the gap between news and scholarship. Brought to you each Tuesday from the editors of JSTOR Daily.
The new earths nearby (NPR)
by Nell Greenfieldboyce
The discovery of seven earth-size planets orbiting a star not too far away raises questions about the potential existence of alien life, as well as humans’ chances of creating a new home for ourselves.
Bad medicine (The Atlantic)
by David Epstein and Pro Publica
If you’re suffering from an ailment and a doctor prescribes a particular course of action, you’d probably assume it’s scientifically proven. In many cases, you’d be wrong. An astonishing number of common drugs and treatments don’t have good research backing their use.
The life story of that Mardi Gras necklace (The Conversation)
by David Redmon
Visitors and residents in New Orleans buy, give away, and catch 25 million pounds of Mardi Gras bead necklaces a year. A researcher traces these beads from Middle Eastern oil fields where their plastic originates to Chinese factories where teenagers construct them to the parade routes where the ground ends up full of lead from the shiny paint.
The trouble with reason (The New Yorker)
by Elizabeth Kolbert
Once we’ve decided to believe something, it’s very difficult to change our minds, even if it’s clear the facts say something different. Why would our brains have so much trouble with the truth? Researchers say it has to do with our history as a species that needs agreement and cooperation more than independent thinking.
The recipe for rule of law (The Washington Post)
by Tom S. Clark and Jeffrey K. Staton
What stops law enforcement agencies from ignoring court decisions and simply enforcing laws as the executive branch deems fit? Two political scientists suggest that rule of law requires an engaged public, a shared faith in institutions, and a free press.
Have you seen a story online that does a good job of bridging the gap between the news and scholarship? Or something that seems particularly well-researched? Let us know and we may include it in next week’s roundup. Email us at jstordaily_submissions (at) jstor (dot) org.