Reporter's Notebook

Andrea Comas / Reuters
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An ongoing collection of the best things we hear from our sources. (Earlier archive here.)

Show 4 Newer Notes

Quoted: The Appearances Edition

Jim Hollander / Reuters

“It could be orange elephants who became literate, for all we know,” Bruce Schneier, a computer security researcher, on the hackers behind a major internet outage.

“Everyone’s always on some sort of diet. Everyone’s beautiful. The physical piece of it can get surprisingly exhausting,” Annie Truex, an actress in L.A., on the audition process.

“Singles are smarter than people think,” Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist, on why online dating won’t change love.

“We will have a gender gap the size of the Grand Canyon,” Whit Ayers, a Republican pollster, on the 2016 election results.

“Jeez Louise! This is kind of scary,” —an Atlantic reader, on how consumers are surveilled online and in stores.

“I mean, if you had no flesh on your face, you probably wouldn’t be adorable either.” Melissa Wilson Sayres, who studies Gila-monster genetics, on the skull of one of the reptiles, which she also describes as “lovable” and “chill.”

Bazuki Muhammad / Reuters

“We’d like to be the chicken’s choice. If I’m a chicken and I’m going to be raised by somebody, I want it to be Perdue,” Bruce Stewart-Brown, a senior vice president at Perdue Foods.

“When the Republican Party sends its candidates, they're not sending their best; they're sending criminals; they're sending rapists ... and some, I assume, are good people,” —an Atlantic reader, on Donald Trump’s alleged sexual assaults.

“We want to talk about repentance, how we should change our lives, how we should get our act together. Instead, we’re all involved in this meshugas about chickens,” David Eliezrie, a rabbi, on animal-rights activists’ lawsuit against a Yom Kippur ritual that sometimes involves swinging a chicken overhead.

“I went to all these wine tastings, and I was still completely bored out of my mind, but then I went to a Johnnie Walker tasting and I was like, ‘Liquor is way more fun,’”Juyoung Kang, a mixologist, on why she became a bartender.

“The U.S. is destined to lead whether you like it or not. As the world’s only superpower, that’s your burden,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former NATO secretary-general.

“Boys aren’t the only ones who can accomplish things. Girls can make history as well as boys,”America Delgado, an 11-year-old student at an all-girls school in California.

Pichi Chuang / Reuters

“This is not a man who seems willing or able to spend $1 billion of his own money on anything—the losses had to come from some sort of financial manipulation, and we don’t know what it is,” Edward McCaffery, a law professor, on the $916 million loss in Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns.

“As a general rule, Americans have a hard time with the idea that bad things happen to good people,” Sherry Hamby, a psychology professor.

“If you care what people think, you’ll do what I used to do: hide.” Nell Zink, a novelist. Read a review of her latest book here.

“Children are like emotional geiger counters,”E. Mark Cummings, who studies how marital discord affects kids.

“What took ’em so long?” —an Atlantic reader, on the magazine’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump.

“When you come across a python, you want to get it out in the open. You want to make sure you know what you’re dealing with,” —what Jenny Novak, a wildlife biologist in Florida, tells people when she’s teaching them to capture invasive pythons.

“Nobody ever said, ‘Hey, where do I find a cult in the yellow pages? How can I join?’” Daniel Shaw, a psychotherapist and former cult member.

“It makes cancelling Comcast look like the simplest thing in the world,” Victor Echevarria, who co-founded an app to help people dispute medical billing errors.

“What we do at CIA is to look at a country’s capabilities, look at their intent, look at things that they have done in the past, and determine whether something that certainly looks like a duck, smells like a duck, and flies like a duck [is] a duck or not,” John Brennan, director of the CIA, on investigating Russian cyberattacks.

“So I watched the whole debate and I have to say, Republicans were right. Hillary just murdered someone on live television and she’s not going to lose any voters,” —an Atlantic reader, on the first presidential debate.

“Listen, he’s dead-even with Clinton, and she’s gone out and spent hundreds of millions of dollars, and he’s spent diddly-shit so far. So you tell me what spending means,” Carl Paladino, the co-chair of Donald Trump’s New York campaign.

“Everything fucking gives me joy!” Marnie, a self-identified hoarder, on why she can’t throw things away. For a reader discussion about keeping stuff, go here.

Jim Young / Reuters

“You know, I consider myself to be a nice person. And I am not sure they ever like to talk about that,” Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president.

“Male atheists are bad. Women atheists are genuinely considered monsters,” Leigh Eric Schmidt, who studies the history of atheism in America.

“Look, if somebody tried to be your friend really annoyingly and really wanted you to do this weird thing like buy Budweiser, understandably, you’d want to stay away,”—an Atlantic reader, on Instagram ads for beer.

“We evolved in hunter-gatherer times. If someone steals your meat, you don’t think ‘Should I go after him?’ No! You strike back quickly,”Jennifer Lerner, who studies how emotions can influence decision-making.

“If you have a kid who’s a great student, who loves school, who’s doing well, who’s happy, who’s thriving, that’s fantastic. That’s great. But what if you don’t?” —Margot Machol Bisnow, who studies how kids become successful adults.

To be Brangelina is to be extravagant, beautiful, sexy, romantic, exotic, adventurous ... I think that will continue.” Vanessa Díaz, who studies celebrity media, on the Jolie-Pitt divorce.

Susana Vera / Reuters

“When people choose a wealth manager … they have to pick someone they want to know everything about them: about Mother’s lesbian affairs, Brother’s drug addiction, the spurned lovers bursting into the room,” a wealth manager based in London.

“Now that [our children] are parents themselves, we’re very careful not to talk about it because we can upset them very easily,” Sarah Levine, an anthropologist, on researching parenting around the world with her husband.

“This article is comforting in a way I did not anticipate,” —an Atlantic reader, on reading about what it feels like to die.

“Once you get yourself on that path where you’re willing to find something delightful in laundry and in dishwashers, it means that you train yourself to be able to find it almost anywhere in almost anything,” Ian Bogost, who studies play.

“When I was 9 years old my mother went to a child psychologist and said, ‘I got this 9-year-old boy, and all he wants to do is hang around a funeral home.’ That guy said, ‘Well, he’ll outgrow that,’” Bob Arrington, a funeral director.

“School segregation is so bad [in Washington, D.C.] that you literally can tell what school kids are going to based on what color they are,” Natalie Hopkinson, a D.C. parent and journalist.

“A lot of people who are on the outside picture sororities at every school, including Princeton, as just craft-making, hand-clapping, hair-braiding types of groups,” Devon Naftzger, an investment-banking analyst and former CEO of a Princeton sorority chapter.

“Frankly, in the beginning, we thought we wouldn’t find anything and that it was probably a waste of time,” Naci Mocan, an economics professor, on a study of how college football scores affect judicial decisions—in which he found that judges issue harsher sentences after disappointing losses.

“It’s like a game of bacterial whack-a-mole. We hit them with bigger and bigger hammers, and they wear better and better hats,” Michael Baym, a biologist, on how bacteria evolve to resist antibiotics.

People need to stop talking about this and start saying ‘the next industrial revolution could release humanity’s full creative potential,’”an Atlantic reader, on the prediction that the next industrial revolution could put millions out of work.

“The chemicals in your brain learn what it feels like to have sex, and they want to have sex again. So it’s best to not have it at all,” Misty Stewart, a sex-education instructor in Odessa, Texas.

Carlo Allegri / Reuters

“I want to literally make people smarter by jamming things in their brains,” Vivienne Ming, a theoretical neurophysicist.

“A day doesn’t go by that I don’t see people come in with Q-tip-related injuries,” Jennifer Derebery, an inner-ear specialist.

“If someone was to say something about broccoli, you wouldn’t feel sucked into the argument,” Anita Vangelisti, who studies interpersonal interactions.

“I don’t care if it’s your toaster or your car … if it acts in strange or unpredictable ways, it’s not acceptable,” Chris Rockwell, who created a design consulting firm.

“As our family doctor put it, the main cause of tumor growth is: living,” an Atlantic reader, on the FDA’s recall of chemicals used in antibacterial soap.

Tomas Bravo / Reuters

“Guess what? It’s like Ghostbusters, man. When there’s a problem anywhere else, call Ghostbusters. We’re Ghostbusters,” Joe Biden, vice president of the U.S., on America’s international role.

“Our market is to appeal to a very irrational customer,” Randy Treibel, who buys Trump and Sanders campaign merchandise in bulk to sell on Amazon.

“Oh shit, I might’ve started a church,” —what Jodi Houge, a Lutheran pastor, said when people began attending her weekly services in a coffee shop.

Anthony Devlin / Reuters

We expect women to be primarily responsible for child care. When men ‘help out’ they get brownie points,” Christin Munsch, a sociologist.

“A 100:1 sex ratio was too good to miss,” —Greg Hurst, an evolutionary biologist, on why he chose to study blue moon butterflies, which are overwhelmingly female.

“What I don’t think people appreciate about farming is that it’s very cerebral,”—Chris Holman, who left academia to become a farmer.

“Please do not assume that you are the sole arbiter of morality,” —an Atlantic reader and comment moderator on the morality of the U.S. drone war.

John Vizcaino / Reuters

“The classroom has to be the space where everybody comes and is uncomfortable,” Tressie McMillan Cottom, a sociology professor

“We thought this would be a way to help them … try to avoid interactions with large whales,” Mark Baumgartner, a marine ecologist, on placing a whale-tracking buoy in a Coast Guard training range.

“It’s actually very difficult to draw lines between right and wrong in an area where we’re essentially saying two things at once: Be aggressive, take risks, make money—but don't hurt people while you're doing it,” Sam Buell, a law professor, on white-collar crime.

“Rising cost of university + falling membership in the middle class equals terrified parents who create anxious kids. Guilty,” an Atlantic reader on the stress of student success.

Policemen try to remove a pig from a street in Seoul on February 12, 2007 Lee Jae Won / Reuters

Voted off the island: “It was just surprising how the necessity of removing pigs wasn’t a widely shared viewpoint,” Scott Morrison, a biologist, on recovering endangered species on an island overrun with invasive feral pigs.

All opposed, say nay: “That is 100 percent not a thing,” Josh Connolly, a congressional staffer, on the legislation allegedly nicknamed “the Gawker Bill.”

Doctor, do you concur? “[It requires] training the algorithm so it can say, ‘This is a wound that looks like it will heal,’” Jonathan Kanevsky, a plastic surgeon, on teaching computers to evaluate burns.