Kate Freeman's Profile > Messages Posted

Subject: How many paid vacation days a year do you want?

Forum: How many paid vacation days a year do you want?
It’s widely known that Americans rank low when it comes to how many vacations days per year we get AND take, compared to other developed countries. On average, Americans get 2 weeks of vacation – and it’s not required by law that employers pay employees during vacation days. In Australia, it’s common to get a total of 4 weeks of paid vacation plus 10 holidays, Brazilians get 22 days of paid vacation on average, and the French get 5-9 weeks of paid vacation per year. Japan has an average of 10 vacation days but those are guaranteed paid days off, unlike the US where it is up to employers to decide if vacations are paid or not. Numerous studies have shown that taking vacations increase focus, relieve stress and lower risk for heart disease. But it is reasonable to expect all employers to pay for employee time off? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Subject: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

Forum: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?
Pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars each year advertising prescription drugs on television, according to Nielsen data. Billions more are spent on digital ads. Anyone who watches TV or reads magazines can probably name at least a few prescription drugs. The U.S. and New Zealand are the only countries where direct-to-consumer ads of prescription drugs is legal. The ads are regulated by the FDA to ensure that they are not false or misleading (hence all the warnings about side effects). While it’s important for consumers to have a good understanding of their health and treatment options available, opponents say that drug ads “promote drugs before long-term safety profiles can be known, medicalize and stigmatize normal conditions and bodily functions like wrinkles and low testosterone, waste valuable medical appointment time, and have led to our society’s overuse of prescription drugs.” Drug ads also present ethical concerns, since doctors can receive more compensation for prescribing certain drugs and treatments over others. The American Medical Association is just one group calling for a ban on drug ads. Proponents of consumer ads marketing prescription drugs contend that arming consumers with information about drugs and treatments is a good thing, and ads encourage people to go to their doctors and seek advice. Plus, they say, revenue from selling the drugs helps to fund research and development of other medications. What do you think about direct-to-consumer prescription drug ads? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Subject: Is Animal Testing Necessary?

Forum: Is Animal Testing Necessary?
Each year, millions of animals are used for testing in the U.S. Testing purposes range from medical, like testing medications, and commercial, such as testing cosmetics. These procedures and tests are often performed on living animals. According to Humane Society International, “All procedures, even those classified as ‘mild,’ have the potential to cause the animals physical as well as psychological distress and suffering. Often the procedures can cause a great deal of suffering. Most animals are killed at the end of an experiment, but some may be re-used in subsequent experiments.” Organizations against animals testing argue that it is not only unethical to conduct such tests on sentient creatures, but the tests don’t provide relevant research. Many of these groups propose testing on human cells and tissue in a petri dish, or by using computer models. Proponents of animals testing argue that these new methods are not as accurate as testing on living animals. Animal testing has resulted in many life-saving medicines and treatments for humans. Both the hepatitis B and polio vaccines would not have been discovered without animal testing. An experiment using dogs for testing led to the discovery of insulin, used for saving the lives of diabetics. Do you think medical testing on animals should continue? Why or why not?

Subject: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

Forum: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?
One of the many big news stories to come out of 2016 occurred in May when officials at the Cincinnati Zoo shot and killed a Gorilla (Harambe) after a 4-year-old boy climbed into the enclosure. This event raised a number of questions, including “are human lives more valuable than those of other species?” There are a lot of differing opinions regarding the value of a human life versus other species, as well as numerous reasoning. Is it our superior intelligence, spirituality and ingenuity that makes our lives more valuable than other animals? Studies have shown that we place more value on certain species, as well as our pets. In 2013, researchers conducted a study in which they asked participants what they would do in various moral dilemmas. One question asked the participants who they would save from a getting hit by a bus – their pet or a “foreign tourist”. Of the nearly 600 people surveyed, 40% chose their pet. Pet owners aren’t the only people who think animal lives are more important than humans’. For less emotional reasons, some environmental activists think it would be wise to consider the lives of all species equal because we are all dependent on each other in some way. But for many people, it’s assumed that human lives are more valuable than the lives of animals. Humans have been the only species to create beautiful art and architecture, go to space and, in addition, there is a debate among religious people on whether or not animals have souls. What are your thoughts on this? Share your opinions in the comments!

Subject: Do You Believe in Fate?

Forum: Do You Believe in Fate?
How much of your life is within your control—do you shape your own future, or do you believe in fate? Or perhaps a combination of both? Fate is letting life take you without any interference, while free will and choice let you take charge of your life and future. Believing in fate or destiny might be a comforting idea to some since it forces a person to accept their circumstances more easily and peacefully. While the idea of free will can be exciting and invigorating because that means you are in charge of your life and future in every way. But free will without fate or destiny requires risk and action, which can be scary. But perhaps free will is not a choice? The Chronicle of Higher Education reported the research of six academics, four of whom said free will is an illusion, saying that human behavior is like a complex computer and decisions are determined by each person’s genetic blueprint and life experiences. The two dissenting academics said that free will exists – although humans make decisions governed by chemical activity in the brain, people are still capable of weighing various outcomes and making decisions. So, do you trust in fate or destiny, or do you believe in free will? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Subject: Should vaccines be mandatory?

Forum: Should vaccines be mandatory?
The anti-vaccine movement continues to be a controversial topic. In 2016, California enacted a mandate requiring all parents to vaccinate their children before entering school, regardless of personal or religious beliefs. Medical professionals accused the anti-vaccination movement of causing a public health crisis, while parents opposed to vaccination began considering leaving the state or homeschooling their children. No US federal laws mandate vaccination, but all 50 states require certain vaccinations for children entering public schools. The anti-vaccine movement has accused drug companies of being more concerned with profits than vaccine safety and efficacy. Actress Jenny McCarthy became a well-known spokesperson for the anti-vax movement after she said her son’s autism was caused by vaccinations.(She later said she is not anti-vaccine, but pro safe vaccines.)Beginning in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published data that showed vaccine-preventable diseases were increasing in countries with a high standard of living. The diseases include measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis and polio. Outbreaks occur when unvaccinated people come into contact with diseases brought into the country by travelers from high-risk or endemic regions, according to the CDC. In 2014, it was determined that a large measles outbreak started at Disneyland and spread to 6 U.S. states, Mexico and Canada, infecting 147 people. Most of the people infected belonged to a religious community with a low vaccination rate. That same year, the CDC recorded a record 667 cases of measles from 27 states – the largest number of cases since measles was eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. This past summer, Arizona experienced a major measles outbreak–22 confirmed cases, which is a lot considering nationwide the number of cases was 19 up until that point. The outbreak was likely caused by some federal immigration workers who refused to get vaccinated. Still, you can find plenty of blog posts listing the harmful side effects of vaccines. Anti-vaccine advocates often write about the toxic additives in vaccines and say children are healthier without them. Many anti-vaccine parents have written that their non-vaccinated children rarely get even a sniffle. The most common message of anti-vax parents is that it should be their choice. Are vaccines safe? Should all people be required to get vaccinated?

Subject: Do You Believe in Astrology?

Forum: Do You Believe in Astrology?
Whether you believe astrology or not, it’s likely you’ve read your horoscope at least once. Everyone wonders what their future holds – perhaps that’s why astrology is so popular. According to one scientific study, nearly half of all Americans say astrology, the study of celestial bodies' purported influence on human behavior and worldly events, is either "very scientific" or "sort of scientific." Astrology came about in Indo-European culture the 3rd millennia BCE to interpret celestial cycles and make sense of many things going on in the world. At that time astrology was considered scholarly (later, astrology would even influence astronomy). However, by the late 1600s astrology had lost its merit. But due in large part to the media, astrology made a comeback in the 20th century. A 2014 study by the National Science Foundation found that the percentage of Americans who think astrology is "not at all scientific" declined from 62 percent in 2010 to just 55 percent in 2012 (the last year for which data is available). The report also states that Americans are apparently less skeptical of astrology than they have been at any time since 1983. Astrology can’t be proven but dedicated followers have said it gives them something to believe in and helps them find guidance, in addition to numerous other benefits. A writer on astrologer.com defends astrology by explaining, “Though we don't know how it works physically, astrology is not a faith. You can experience, observe and know how it applies first hand. There are sound reasons why it has proved so difficult to test the real practice of astrology under scientific conditions and why so many tests have been flawed. However, some simple experiments have yielded results that are consistent with a scientific basis to the fundamental premise of astrology even though the practice is an art rather than a science.”
What do you think about astrology? Do you believe in it? Do you read your horoscope? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Subject: Do You Ever Take a Break From Your Smartphone?

Forum: Do You Ever Take a Break From Your Smartphone?
Nearly everyone knows it is common courtesy to avoid obsessively checking your smartphone while spending quality time with someone or while having a conversation. But no matter how great the company you’re with, it can be difficult to not glance at your phone for an extended period of time. Many people have ditched landlines and only have smartphones, and our smartphones are so much more than just phones – we use them as alarm clocks, cameras, for entertainment, work purposes and so much more. So the idea of turning off your phone might seem like you’re cutting off contact with the world. However, there are some good reasons to shut off your phone: You might sleep more soundly if you turn off your phone before bed and use an alarm clock to wake-up. (However, this sleep solution isn’t practical for everyone since some people work on-call, not only that but many people sleep next to their phones in case of an emergency.) Shutting off your phone can also help you practice mindfulness and perhaps be more creative – after all, if you’re not looking at your phone while waiting for the bus, eating lunch, etc. you’ll have time to contemplate what’s going on in your life rather than be distracted by multitasking on your phone. Tell us in the comments – do you make a habit of shutting off your smartphone once in awhile? If so, why? And if you don’t shut your phone off, what are your reasons? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Subject: Will You Live to Be 100 Years Old?

Forum: Will You Live to Be 100 Years Old?
When I worked as a newspaper reporter in a small town one of my favorite “beats” was to write about the local centenarians – and the community I was in had a lot of them. When a person turned 100 years old it was tradition to write a profile about them and publish any photos from their life. Of course the question everyone wants to know when they meet someone who is 100 years old is “What’s your secret to living so long?” I heard a variety of answers, although there were a few things nearly every person said, which was that they never smoked, rarely drank, had an optimistic outlook on life and were involved in their faith. I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t always people with easy, stress-free lives who lived to be 100 -- often the opposite. One woman had lost her first husband and only child in a car accident in her 20s and relocated to California to start anew and eventually found love again. Another woman immigrated to America at 10 years old and since her family was poor she went to live and work for a wealthy family who ended up sending her to nursing school. She became a traveling nurse and lived in five countries before settling back in the U.S. Those are just two of the amazing stories I heard. Since then I’ve been curious as to what I can do to increase my odds of living to be 100 years old. The number of centenarians in the U.S. is increasing but it’s still rare. In 2010 the percentage of U.S. centenarians was .0173. But with better healthcare, and awareness of the importance of healthy eating and exercise that number is expected to grow. What do you think are key factors in living to 100? Would you want to live to 100?

Subject: Which Social Network Is No Longer Popular/Useful?

Forum: Which Social Network Is No Longer Popular/Useful?
A recent study by web analytics company SimilarWeb tracked activity on hundreds of thousands of Android phones between January-March 2016 and compared that data to the same period in 2015. The study analyzed time spent on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. The study found that Instagram showed the biggest drop in usage (down 23.7%; Twitter was next (down 23.4%), then Snapchat (15.7%) and Facebook (8%). The author of that study suggested users are more concerned about privacy and therefore choosing niche apps that allow them to chat anonymously or share in small, select groups. However, the decline of Facebook usage may be attributable to more than just privacy concerns. Bloggers began to speculate about Facebook’s popularity decline about three years ago, saying younger social media users preferred Snapchat and Instagram. Perhaps Facebook will go out of popularity just like Myspace and the public’s social media preferences will continue to evolve. Which social network do you think has run its course and should be abandoned? What is the most popular or up-and-coming social network and why?

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