Weekend Reads: A Stem Cell Scandal, Myopia, And Single Ladies
Our special guest this week is BuzzFeed News science reporter Azeen Ghorayshi, talking about some of her favorite stories she’s read recently.
This story by Dana Goodyear at the New Yorker is a thrilling look into one of the biggest scandals to rock the science world in the last several decades. In January 2014, a prominent Japanese lab published two papers arguing that stem cells — which, because of their ability to turn into any type of cell in a human body, are currently biology's holy grail — could be produced just by subjecting normal cells to crazy stressors. Half a year later, after the papers were exposed as a sham and retracted, the head of the lab hanged himself. This is the story of the young female scientist at the center of the scandal speaking out for the first time since one of the biggest scientific discoveries of our time disintegrated into total infamy.
Apparently, we're losing sight of things. Between the 1970s and early 2000s, cases of myopia — also known as nearsightedness — in the US nearly doubled. And it's not just us. Cases of myopia seem to be cropping up most rapidly in Asian countries — one survey in Korea pegged myopia at nearly 96% of the teen population. But why? Sarah Zhang at Wired gets into the knotty details of why scientists can't seem to agree on the origins of this rapid myopia rise, and why, at least for now, it'll stay a mystery.
OK, so there's no dearth of "single ladies" stories out there, but this one is actually very good. Rebecca Traister writes this week's cover story for New York Magazine, which is about how single women are now the single most potent political force in the US. She traces the numbers — how single women now outnumber married ones — and how this shift has likely done an immeasurable amount in changing the conversation in mainstream politics. What will that mean for Hillary Clinton, who has been shaky on some of the issues — pay equity, paid family leave, a higher minimum wage, more affordable health care — that single women care about most? That remains to be seen.