The Atlantic Daily: ISIS’s Newest Recruiting Tool

The organization claimed the Sri Lanka bombings in English and Arabic—and also Tamil and Malayalam. Plus: When (and how) animal diversity exploded on earth, and more

Dinuka Liyanawatte / Reuters

(Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP)

What We’re Following

Christians and Muslims in Sri Lanka had actually developed a sense of solidarity as minorities in a majority Buddhist country, in the years before this week’s Easter Sunday bombings that killed more than 300 people. One possible motive for Sunday’s attack may be that Christianity is associated with the West—and with Sri Lanka’s colonial history, writes Emma Green. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bombings, alleging that they were a response to last month’s deadly mosque attacks in New Zealand. While those claims haven’t been independently verified, the announcements were made in more than just the expected English and Arabic: ISIS also issued statements in Tamil and Malayalam. The organization seems to be using regional languages—tapping into Muslim disenfranchisement on the subcontinent—as its latest recruiting tool.

Is the Cambrian explosion overhyped? The dramatic burst of diversity in the animal kingdom, which occurred about 500 million years ago, has been billed as “arguably the most important biological event after the origin of life,” but a new paper suggests that it wasn’t the singular, defining moment that scientists have long thought. New fossils show that the more complex animal traits associated with the Cambrian era—such as hard shells and skeletons—actually appeared before then, in the Ediacaran era. “The Cambrian explosion, in other words, was just one burst in the middle of a protracted fireworks display,” writes Ed Yong.


The look made famous by the platform just doesn’t resonate anymore.

(Katie Martin / The Atlantic)

If you’re just getting into the perfectly framed, casually posed Instagram aesthetic, know that it’s probably already passé. “Avocado toast and posts on the beach. It’s so generic and played out at this point. You can photoshop any girl into that background and it will be the same post,” one 15-year-old told Taylor Lorenz. “It’s not cool anymore to be manufactured.”

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Evening Reads

Why Grown-Ups Keep Talking Like Little Kids

New slang has become remarkably childlike, the linguist John McWhorter notes.

Or have you noticed that, to convey emphasis or surprise, many young women have begun appending an uh to their sentences? “No-uh!” “Move-uh!” “It’s for you-uh!” Most adults would recognize this as a habit small children typically outgrow by middle school, but women have begun retaining it in adulthood—one can catch it everywhere from the speaking style of the comedian Aubrey Plaza to the local Chipotle. That women have started the trend is unsurprising, as women usually introduce new constructions into a language. Before long, research shows, men tend to catch on.

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How to win at Jeopardy

(K. C. Alfred / The Atlantic)

James Holzhauer has only been on Jeopardy for two weeks and has already made $1 million. And he’s gotten there in the shortest amount of time in the game show’s history. His record success is in part the result of having very few trivia weak spots, but that’s just one of an “unholy trinity” of skills that make him formidable.

The third element of the trinity is Holzhauer’s mind for strategy. When in control of the board, he rarely hesitates to pick his next clue—often doing so with an eye for Daily Doubles, tiles that essentially let players wager as much of their money as they’d like—and calibrates his bets without much apparent anguish.

“I know a lot of very good trivia players who would never be able to work out the complex wagers that he does on the Daily Double, because they just wouldn’t be able to think as fast as that,” Labbett said. The ability to make such on-the-fly calculations, Labbett noted, doesn’t necessarily overlap with trivia expertise—trivia usually doesn’t require people to do math on the spot.

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