What We’re Following: The Sexual-Assault Case in California
The case of a 20-year-old former Stanford student who received a six-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman has ignited public outcry in the U.S. The victim’s statement to her attacker was circulated online over the weekend, and has pushed the case to the forefront of a national conversation about rape. Sexual-assault advocates say the outcome shows why many victims don’t report their assaults or go through trials that could end in sentences that, in this woman’s case, are widely considered to be a slap on the wrist.
The Debate Over Harambe: The death of a gorilla at an Ohio zoo this month has raised a host of questions: How could a parent let her 3-year-old son climb into the animal’s enclosure? Couldn’t zoo officials have just tranquilized Harambe? Why do we still have zoos, anyway? Much of the blame for the incident has been placed on the mother, but Ohio officials have announced they won’t charge her with any crimes, saying witnesses described her as being attentive that day.
The Oprah of Late-Night Comedy: On his show last night, Last Week Tonight hostJohn Oliver investigatedhow easy it is for predatory companies to purchase peoples’ debt from a bank and hold it over their heads. To demonstrate how easy that is, Oliver started a company online for $50, bought $15 million worth of unpaid medical debt for just $60,000, and then announced he would forgive it all. He called it the “largest one-time giveaway in television history,” trumping Oprah Winfrey’s $8 million car giveaway in 2004.
“As a Republican, short of setting yourself on fire, there is no better way to draw attention to yourself than to criticize fellow Republicans.” —U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in his new book
“I strive to show people as much of the behavior as possible, and when you have an animal who’s generating hundreds of volts of electricity, you have some fun options.”—Ken Catania, who studies eels
“When you have these conversations with people about whether there’s sexism in the industry, and you have a lot of people doubting you, you start collecting evidence.”—comedian Sara Schaefer on the male-dominated stand-up industry
Theories of consciousness come from religion, from philosophy, from cognitive science, but not so much from evolutionary biology. Maybe that’s why so few theories have been able to tackle basic questions such as: What is the adaptive value of consciousness? When did it evolve and what animals have it?
The Attention Schema Theory (AST), developed over the past five years, may be able to answer those questions. The theory suggests that consciousness arises as a solution to one of the most fundamental problems facing any nervous system: Too much information constantly flows in to be fully processed. The brain evolved increasingly sophisticated mechanisms for deeply processing a few select signals at the expense of others, and in the AST, consciousness is the ultimate result of that evolutionary sequence. If the theory is right—and that has yet to be determined—then consciousness evolved gradually over the past half billion years and is present in a range of vertebrate species.
A retired school teacher recalls his experience at the Trump rally in San Jose, California, that turned violent late last week:
Five or six protestors were ejected. A few who put up a little bit of resistance were pushed by security. I stood by the side exit and was able to videotape them with my iPhone as they were pushed out the door. A couple times, it seemed somewhat excessive.
They didn’t like my taping and thought I was with the press, so I got escorted to the press section, which was nice for a little bit because I got a clearer shot of Trump. But more protestors where getting ejected, so I returned to the side exit to catch on video any manhandling.
They didn’t like that, and so they ordered me to leave the building. I refused and showed them I had a ticket and my only recording device was the iPhone, which was allowed. They called over more security to show they meant business and then they started to put their hands on me.
I don’t think anybody has gotten physical with me since I was junior high—which was quite a long time ago.