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The truth is out there
March 20, 2014
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If you believe that "doctors and the government still want to vaccinate children even though they know these vaccines cause autism and other psychological disorders," you're wrong — but you're not alone. A new study by a pair of University of Chicago political scientists indicates that a discouraging 20 percent of American adults believe that conspiracy theory about vaccinations, and another 36 percent are unwilling to take sides. In all, the researchers found that about half of respondents believed in at least one of the six conspiracy theories the study asked about.

The most popular bit of "medical conspiricism" — with 37 percent agreeing and another 31 percent on the fence — is that the FDA "is deliberately preventing the public from getting natural cures for cancer and other diseases because of pressure from drug companies." The only other conspiracy to hit the 20 percent agreement mark is that "health officials know that cell phones cause cancer but are doing nothing to stop it because large corporations won't let them."

The researchers warn against dismissing the people who believe these notions as "a delusional fringe of paranoid cranks," noting that most of them (us?) are normal people trying to cope with a crazy world that includes lots of real stacked decks and official monkey business. These conspiracy theories can actually harm our health, says Chris Hendel at Consumer Reports, but "over the years industry, our government, and some medical researchers have given us more than a few reasons to doubt that they always have our best interest in mind." Peter Weber

Whatever You Say
4:00 p.m. ET
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Mark Cuban — billionaire, investor, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks — has weighed in on the 2016 election, and he's giving two thumbs up to Donald Trump.

According to Cuban, Trump is "probably the best thing to happen to politics in a long, long time," although apparently that has nothing at all to do with Trump's actual politics and everything to do with his bombastic personality.

"I don't care what [Trump's] actual positions are," Cuban clarified. "I don't care if he says the wrong thing. He says what's on his mind. He gives honest answers rather than prepared answers. This is more important than anything any candidate has done in years."

More important than anything? Okay, if you say so!  Jeva Lange

Deflategate
3:09 p.m. ET
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The NFL issued a 20-page statement Tuesday announcing that it would uphold the four-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady after he was found "at least generally aware" of team employees tampering with game balls during the 2015 playoffs. The NFL originally suspended the star signal-caller back in May after a league-commissioned report found "credible evidence" that he was involved in the scheme.

The NFL said its decision was based in part on the fact that Brady destroyed a cell phone he used the week of the Patriots' January 18 playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts, The New York Times reports, during which it is alleged members of New England's staff deliberately deflated Patriots footballs to make them easier to grip. The cell phone apparently contained potentially incriminating evidence in the form of texts between Patriots staff members that seem to suggest Brady was aware of team employees adjusting the air pressure in footballs. Brady has consistently denied knowledge of tampering, and appealed his original suspension in June, which set the stage for the league's ruling Tuesday. Kimberly Alters

This just in
2:59 p.m. ET
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Donald Trump's personal aide Michael Cohen claimed he was speaking during a moment of "shock and anger" when he told a Daily Beast reporter that "You cannot rape your spouse." Cohen made the comment while defending Trump against a Daily Beast exposé, which claimed that Trump's ex-wife Ivana had used the word "rape" to describe an incident that occurred between the couple while they were still married.

"Rarely am I surprised by the press, but the gall of this particular reporter to make such a reprehensible and false allegation against Mr. Trump truly stunned me," Cohen said in a statement. "In my moment of shock and anger, I made an inarticulate comment — which I do not believe — and which I apologize for entirely."

Ivana Trump has since added that The Daily Beast's story is "totally without merit," and that her comments were made during a time of "very high tension." Jeva Lange

This just in
2:53 p.m. ET
Joe Klamar/Getty Images

Jonathan Pollard, the U.S. intelligence analyst who was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 for passing classified documents to the Israeli government, will be released on parole on November 21, the United States Parole Commission announced Tuesday.

Pollard was scheduled to become eligible for parole in 30 years, granted the government did not show he was still a threat to national security. Pollard will be required to remain in the U.S. for the next five years following his November release from a North Carolina prison. Becca Stanek

zombie apocalypse
2:25 p.m. ET

Watching zombies gruesomely try to rip apart and devour the stars of AMC's The Walking Dead may not be appetizing, but if watching the show makes you thirsty, Terrapin Beer Co. is here to help.

The Athens, Georgia brewery is partnering with AMC to concoct the themed beverage, and they already spilled the flavor — a red IPA made with blood orange peel and, naturally, a "horrific amount" of hops.

There's no sale date for the specialty brew yet, but if the zombie apocalypse ever becomes a reality, here's hoping the undead like this beer more than human flesh. Stephanie Talmadge

(Courtesy photo)

The law of karma
1:54 p.m. ET
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Walter Palmer is a dentist at River Bluff Dental in Bloomington, Minnesota. But he's also allegedly the tourist who shot and killed Zimbabwe's most famous lion. After the news broke Tuesday morning that Palmer is allegedly responsible for the beloved lion's death, angry critics flooded Palmer's Yelp page with one-star reviews that had nothing to do with his dental work. Below, a sampling of the most witty and most brutal "reviews":

"He lured my teeth out of my mouth, shot them, and then told me I needed fillings!"

"You know what happens to your money at this place? The a--hole dentist spends it on a big, fancy vacation to Africa where he kills wild animals for fun."

"Scar's really appreciative of the fine work that Dr. Palmer did."

"He'll have to lure patients in using a dead smiling model tied to the bumper, shoot them with an arrow, wait 40 hours, kill them with a rifle, skin them and THEN start his procedure."

"I am not lion about this: I will not go to a dentist who shoots and kills amazing animals for pleasure on my funds. That is nothing to smile about."

"'You know the difference between a dentist and a sadist, don't you? Newer magazines.' -Seinfeld"

"I really love the way that he tore off his shirt, puffed out his chest, let out a brave cry and stopped a vicious man-eating lion from killing his entire family as they were quietly playing Yahtzee in the comforts of their own home."

"Customer service was ok, but shortly after my first appointment I caught Dr. Palmer hiding in the bushes in my front yard with a crossbow, stalking my Lhasa Apso. Would not recommend." [Yelp]

Becca Stanek
PC Police
1:37 p.m. ET

It has been frowned upon to use the term "illegal immigrant" for awhile now, with The Associated Press dropping the phrase from their stylebook back in 2013. However, the usage still persists — and that's where Twitterbots come in:

"That term, 'illegal immigrant,' hangs in the air, permeates the conversation in social networks like Twitter and Facebook, and ends up in daily conversations at work, at school, and at home," immigration activist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas told Fusion. Fusion has since created a Twitterbot, @DroptheIBot, which automatically tweets back at users who write "illegal immigrant" in their posts. Fusion explains:

[In] a modest effort to help America shed some of its historical baggage, we built a Twitter bot that replies to some of the people who tweet the words "illegal immigrant," letting them know that in 2015, the preferred terms are "undocumented immigrant" or "unauthorized immigrant." To avoid spamming people, the bot only runs once every ten minutes, and it never replies to the same user twice. [Fusion]

Unfortunately, many of recipients of @DroptheIBot's messages aren't pleased:

Good thing bots don't have feelings. Jeva Lange

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