This week, we discuss gun policy in America; what might happen if China “quarantined” Taiwan; the future of U.S. policy toward Afghanistan; engaging youth with public policy; Russia's “firehose of falsehood” propaganda model; and the Internet of Bodies.
On Tuesday, a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The massacre, the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, occurred just days after a mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, left 10 people dead.
What could be done to reduce America's unacceptably high rates of gun violence? RAND's long-running Gun Policy in America initiative offers insights into this question. The initiative seeks to establish a shared set of facts that will improve public discussions and support the development of fair and effective gun policies.
Attention has been on Taiwan this week as President Joe Biden wrapped up his first trip to Asia since taking office. A new RAND report examines what might happen if China took further coercive actions against Taiwan. Specifically, the authors consider how China might enact a “coercive quarantine” of Taiwan—isolating the island to cut off imports and exports—and how the United States could respond. Notably, they say that a quarantine of Taiwan would likely escalate rapidly and lead to use of force.
With Afghanistan now in the grip of both Taliban control and a growing humanitarian crisis, what policy should the United States pursue in the country? The authors of a new RAND paper break down three approaches: engaging with the Taliban, isolating the regime, or opposing the Taliban by seeking to remove them from power. They conclude that engagement with the Taliban offers the only prospect of advancing U.S. interests in Afghanistan, namely counterterrorism and humanitarian relief.
Supporting civic education is one way to counter the spread of Truth Decay and help restore the role of facts in the United States. With this in mind, RAND researchers developed a series of lesson plans to help teach middle school students about public policy. The lessons cover how public policy relates to kids' lives, why it's important to learn about policy issues from credible sources, and how young people can be more critical consumers and creators of information.
Russian propaganda has been on full display during the war in Ukraine. RAND researchers have called Moscow's approach “the firehose of falsehood” because of two key features: high numbers of channels and messages, and a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions. In the final piece for the RAND Art + Data program, artist duo Juan Delcan and Valentina Izaguirre created an eye-popping animation that shows how Russian propaganda is disseminated, how its spreads, and how it can influence an audience by confusing and overwhelming them.
Wearable devices that measure your heart rate and body temperature. Electronic pills that take stock of your nutrient needs. Sensors in public spaces that detect the spread of disease. Internet of Bodies devices have the potential to revolutionize medical care and transform daily life as we know it. In a recent TEDx talk, RAND mathematician Mary Lee discusses what the future could look like—and what risks need to be addressed before that future arrives.
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