Illustrations by Istvan Banyai
—“The Relationship Between Trauma and Beliefs About Hearing Voices: A Study of Psychiatric and Non-Psychiatric Voice Hearers,” Psychological Medicine
By law, the U.S. Postal Service has had a monopoly on delivering mail to mailboxes since 1934. Should private couriers like FedEx be able to compete? That could be a big mistake: the government’s highly trained mailmen work with the FBI and other agencies to weed out suspicious packages, prevent identity theft, and alert the public to consumer fraud—a layer of security that could be compromised by opening our mailboxes to hordes of private carriers.
—“The Role of the United States Postal Service in Public Safety and Security: Implications of Relaxing the Mailbox Monopoly,” Rand Corporation
Without major security reforms, Haiti faces growing chaos and political collapse. Lax border control, violent drug runners, and a woeful prison system overburden the corrupt and undertrained police, and riots in April over food prices toppled the prime minister. More ominously, Hurricanes Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike have left 800,000 in dire need.
—“Reforming Haiti’s Security Sector,” International Crisis Group
Religion: revealed truth, or evolutionary vaccine? The diversity of religions in a given country correlates closely with the number of parasites. In regions at greater risk for disease, people limit travel and interaction with outsiders to avoid pathogens. This reduces the flow of ideas and values, creates cultural boundaries, and breeds new religions—presumably further minimizing contact with outsiders. Example: Brazil, which has a poor public-health system and rampant parasites, has 159 religions, while Canada, which has advanced health care and few parasites, has 15.
—“Assortative Sociality, Limited Dispersal, Infectious Disease and the Genesis of the Global Pattern of Religion Diversity,” Proceedings of the Royal Society
—“Historical Political Futures Markets: An International Perspective,” National Bureau of Economic Research
Military personnel make easy marks for predatory lenders: they get paid regularly and are concentrated on bases. But soldiers who have access to payday loans pay a steep price, and not just because of interest rates: their performance declines, they severely misbehave more often, and they’re less likely to be eligible to reenlist than those who don’t have access to loan sharks.
—“In Harm’s Way? Payday Loan Access and Military Personnel Performance,” Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
From the confirmed-suspicions file: sitting next to co-workers who bad-mouth the company makes you more cynical, less trustful of your bosses, and more likely to engage in bad-mouthing of your own.
—“A Test of Coworkers’ Influence on Organizational Cynicism, Badmouthing, and Organizational Citizenship Behavior,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology