Delta Variant in Kids, Myers-Briggs Personality Test, Suicide in Communities of Color. Aug 20, 2021, Part 1

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Why The Delta Variant Will Make More Kids Sick

As cases of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 continue to spike around the U.S., children are one of the hardest-hit groups. As children under 12 remain ineligible for vaccination, they and other unvaccinated groups are facing the highest rates of infection and hospitalization of the entire pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control announced Wednesday that adults in the general population would be eligible for a third booster shot of their mRNA vaccine beginning eight months after their first dose. While the CDC cited concern about rising breakthrough cases in vaccinated adults, some epidemiologists have objected that the data does not support more vaccines for most already-vaccinated adults.

MIT Technology Review’s Amy Nordrum walks through these stories, plus a new human trial for mRNA vaccines against HIV, how historic drought in the West will mean the first-ever limits on farmers’ use of water next year, a promising experiment in fusion energy generation, and why the core of Saturn may be more liquid than solid.

Pandemic Unveils Growing Suicide Crisis For Communities Of Color

Rafiah Maxie has been a licensed clinical social worker in the Chicago area for a decade. Throughout that time, she’d viewed suicide as a problem most prevalent among middle-aged white men.

Until May 27, 2020.

That day, Maxie’s 19-year-old son, Jamal Clay—who loved playing the trumpet and participating in theater, who would help her unload groceries from the car and raise funds for the March of the Dimes—killed himself in their garage.

“Now I cannot blink without seeing my son hanging,” said Maxie, who is Black.

Clay’s death, along with the suicides of more than 100 other Black residents in Illinois last year, has led locals to call for new prevention efforts focused on Black communities. In 2020, during the pandemic’s first year, suicides among white residents decreased compared with previous years, while they increased among Black residents, according to state data.

But this is not a local problem. Nor is it limited to the pandemic.

Interviews with a dozen suicide researchers, data collected from states across the country and a review of decades of research revealed that suicide is a growing crisis for communities of color—one that plagued them well before the pandemic and has only been exacerbated since.

Overall suicide rates in the U.S. decreased in 2019 and 2020. National and local studies attribute the trend to a drop among white Americans, who make up the majority of suicide deaths. Meanwhile, rates for Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans—though lower than their white peers—continued to climb in many states. (Suicide rates have been consistently high for Native Americans.)

“COVID created more transparency regarding what we already knew was happening,” said Sonyia Richardson, a licensed clinical social worker who focuses on serving people of color and an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, where she researches suicide. When you put the suicide rates of all communities in one bucket, “that bucket says it’s getting better and what we’re doing is working,” she said. “But that’s not the case for communities of color.”

Read the full story, produced in collaboration with Kaiser Health News.

The Minds Behind The Myers-Briggs Personality Test

If you’re one of the 2 million people who take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator every year, perhaps you thought Myers and Briggs are the two psychologists who designed the test. In reality, they were a mother-daughter team who were outsiders to the research world: Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers.

They may have been outsiders, but Katharine and Isabel did their homework, and approached the test the way a trained psychologist likely would have. And the product they created—the Myers Briggs Type Indicator—would eventually become the world’s most popular personality test. But how did it all begin?

Science Diction is releasing a special three-part series on the rise of the Myers-Briggs. In the first episode: A look at the unlikely origins of the test, going all the way back to the late 1800s when Katharine Briggs turned her living room into a “cosmic laboratory of baby training” and set out to raise the perfect child.

Science Diction host Johanna Mayer and reporter Chris Egusa join John Dankosky to tell that story.

335 episodes