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Drugging Kids for Performance, “No Religion”‘s Gains: Five Reads Tuesday

| October 9, 2012

Stripes. (Mathias Liebing)

American Protestants lose their majority as “No Religion” gains: “The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling. In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%). This large and growing group of Americans is less religious than the public at large on many conventional measures, including frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives. […] many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Twothirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and onein-five (21%) say they pray every day. In addition, most religiously unaffiliated Americans think that churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor. […] While the ranks of the unaffiliated have grown significantly over the past five years, the Protestant share of the population has shrunk. In 2007, 53% of adults in Pew Research Center surveys described themselves as Protestants. In surveys conducted in the first half of 2012, fewer than half of American adults say they are Protestant (48%). This marks the first time in Pew Research Center surveys that the Protestant share of the population has dipped significantly below 50%. The decline is concentrated among white Protestants, both evangelical and mainline. Currently, 19% of U.S. adults identify themselves as white, born-again or evangelical Protestants, down slightly from 21% in 2007. And 15% of adults describe themselves as white Protestants but say they are not born-again or evangelical Christians, down from 18% in 2007.” From the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. See the full report.

Drugging elementary school students to help them perform better ion school: “When Dr. Michael Anderson hears about his low-income patients struggling in elementary school, he usually gives them a taste of some powerful medicine: Adderall. The pills boost focus and impulse control in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although A.D.H.D is the diagnosis Dr. Anderson makes, he calls the disorder “made up” and “an excuse” to prescribe the pills to treat what he considers the children’s true ill — poor academic performance in inadequate schools. “I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.” Dr. Anderson is one of the more outspoken proponents of an idea that is gaining interest among some physicians. They are prescribing stimulants to struggling students in schools starved of extra money — not to treat A.D.H.D., necessarily, but to boost their academic performance. It is not yet clear whether Dr. Anderson is representative of a widening trend. But some experts note that as wealthy students abuse stimulants to raise already-good grades in colleges and high schools, the medications are being used on low-income elementary school children with faltering grades and parents eager to see them succeed.” From the Times.

Romney now up by four: “The storm clouds gathering over President Obama’s bid for re-election have thickened with the release of a new poll from the respected Pew Research Center that gives Mitt Romney a four-point lead among likely voters. The Pew survey of 1,511 adults was carried out over four days starting on the day after the first presidential TV debate last week. Its findings – including evidence that the Republican nominee is making dramatic headway with female voters, young people and those in the heartlands of the mid-west – appear to confirm that Obama’s listless performance at the debate, and by contrast Romney’s strong showing, has translated into a powerful political force. […] The poll records Obama and Romney on a direct tie of 46% each among registered voters, with Romney taking the lead by 49% to 45% among likely voters. The latter figure marks a striking turn-around in Romney’s fortunes: last month the Pew poll marked him behind by eight points among likely voters. Romney’s widely lauded performance at the debate in front of almost 70 million viewers appears to have had a particularly favourable impact on several groups that had been assumed to be unassailable strongholds for Obama. Among likely female voters, the two contenders for the White House now stand neck-and-neck on 47%, in contrast to a month ago when Romney trailed by a whopping 18 points.” From the Guardian.

Physics Nobel goes to Serge Haroche of France and David J. Wineland of the United States: “Through their ingenious laboratory methods Haroche and Wineland together with their research groups have managed to measure and control very fragile quantum states, which were previously thought inaccessible for direct observation. The new methods allow them to examine, control and count the particles. […] Both Laureates work in the field of quantum optics studying the fundamental interaction between light and matter, a field which has seen considerable progress since the mid-1980s. Their ground-breaking methods have enabled this field of research to take the very first steps towards building a new type of super fast computer based on quantum physics. Perhaps the quantum computer will change our everyday lives in this century in the same radical way as the classical computer did in the last century. The research has also led to the construction of extremely precise clocks that could become the future basis for a new standard of time, with more than hundred-fold greater precision than present-day caesium clocks.” From

Florida man dies after winning roach-eating contest: “A 32-year-old man downed dozens of roaches and worms to win a python at a Florida reptile store, then collapsed and died outside minutes later. Edward Archbold was among 20 to 30 contestants participating in Friday night’s “Midnight Madness” event at Ben Siegel Reptiles in Deerfield Beach, authorities said. The participants’ goal: consume as many insects and worms as they could to take home a $850 python. Archbold swallowed roach after roach, worm after worm. While the store didn’t say exactly how many Archbold consumed, the owner told CNN affiliate WPLG that he was “the life of the party.” “He really made our night more fun,” Ben Siegel told the station. Soon after the contest was over, Archbold fell ill and began to vomit, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said Monday. A friend called for medical help. Then, Archbold himself dialed 911, the store said in a Facebook post. Eventually, he fell to the ground outside the store, the sheriff’s office said. An ambulance took him to North Broward Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.” From CNN.

How Steve Martin endorsed Bob Kerrey:

Flagler County Jail bookings, Oct. 8-9, 2012

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