NY Times: Should I lie about my beliefs to get health insurance? 

A freelance journalist searching for affordable health insurance takes a look at health care sharing ministries. Among other things, these require their members to sign a statement saying they agree with a set of fundamental principles put forth by the sponsoring organization. These can include things like “Marriage is a bond between a man and woman only,” which, obviously, not everyone agrees with.

Also important to note that though these plans function similarly to health insurance, they are not the same as health insurance as its currently provided.

They don’t have to pay for preventive care, they may not insure smokers, they may not cover pre-existing conditions, and they may deny you admission based on your weight. If you are a 5-foot-6 woman and weigh more than 230 pounds, for instance, Altrua HealthShare won’t offer you membership.

NY Times: An Alt-Right Makeover Shrouds the Swastikas

This article looks at how neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations are trying to give themselves makeovers so they pass as merely “conservative” or “nationalist” movements.

… the National Socialist Movement, a leading neo-Nazi group, did away with its swastika. In its stead, the group chose a symbol from a pre-Roman alphabet that was also adopted by the Nazis.

According to Jeff Schoep, the movement’s leader, the decision to dispense with the swastika was “an attempt to become more integrated and more mainstream.”

Scary stuff.

The Conversation: Why do we fall for fake news?

A Penn State researcher has long studied how we all judge online news sources. His research indicates, among other things, that we’re more likely to believe something if shared by a friend and that few people rigorously consider the sources for a given piece of news.

I’ve been studying the psychology of online news consumption for over two decades, and one striking finding across several experiments is that online news readers don’t seem to really care about the importance of journalistic sourcing – what we in academia refer to as “professional gatekeeping.” This laissez-faire attitude, together with the difficulty of discerning online news sources, is at the root of why so many believe fake news.

I’ll just add that the economics of online media — cheap to produce and cheap to consume — have contributed to the rise of ever more questionable, misleading and dishonest “news outlets.” I’d love it if more news consumers were more careful about what they believed, but I suspect if this problem is going to be dealt with it’ll be through technological means.