Published October 21, 2020
Whether it is voting, dining out, or just the simple act of consuming news, every aspect of society seems fraught with questions. How do we distinguish between truth and illusion? How do we know what’s safe? Can we prevent stress from overtaking our lives? Count on Rutgers experts to appear in the media every day, offering fresh perspective on politics, the coronavirus, and many other areas of public concern.
Seven months into the coronavirus pandemic, many people are experiencing burnout. Are there specific ways to recognize and defend against it? “Signs of burnout are things like feeling exhausted, extreme fatigue, feeling helpless or hopeless,” said Ann Murphy, an associate professor in the School of Health Profession’s Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation. Murphy suggests not only practicing self-care, but also checking in with others and identifying troubling expressions, such as, “It’s never going to get better,” or “I don’t know why I bother.”
As the weather gets cooler, many people are wondering if it’s safe to dine outdoors in an enclosed tent. Henry Raymond, an associate professor at Rutgers’ School of Public Health, tells The Star-Ledger it’s probably not safe. He says the issue is less about indoors versus outdoors and more about air circulation. “If you have the sides of the tent down without any ventilation, then you’re not getting that air moved out,” he says.
Although social media now dominates mass communication, it is “largely unconstrained by commitments to protect the public interest,” says Linda Stamato, professor emerita in the Edgar J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. Her recent Star-Ledger op-ed contrasts that civic failing with public television’s valuable and long-held role in our democracy. “Since it was founded, there has been a continuous effort by members of Congress—and presidents—to cut off funding for public television,” says Stamato. “This, of course, is one of the best arguments to keep it.”
A Los Angeles Times essay looks at the history of U.S. politics during times of strong partisan contention and quotes David Greenberg, a professor in the School of Communication and Information, who compares the present with the chaos and volatility of 1968. “There were ominous feelings about what lay around the corner for America and for the future of democracy,” says Greenberg. “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs and dark moments…I think we can gain perspective by taking the long view of history.”
Los Angeles Times | Have American politics hit rock bottom? Here’s what historians say
President Trump has prioritized appointing federal judges and yet New Jersey, which has one of the busiest federal court districts in the country, still has six empty seats. Ronald Chen NLAW’83, a professor at Rutgers Law School, tells The Star-Ledger that the vacancies could have a damaging effect on the justice system by stalling cases. “There is a cost in just assuming the district court is not important,” Chen says. “Having these cases just languish, I think frankly is a mistake.”
How accurate and important is polling data as the presidential election nears its end? CNBC explores the subject with Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, the oldest statewide university-based survey research center in the U.S. “Polls are blunt instruments—they’re not really meant to be used as crystal balls,” says Koning. “As long as we embrace the uncertainty and understand what polling is and isn’t…polls have been incredibly accurate in recent years.”
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