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March 19, 2021

What a course on happiness did (and didn't) teach 3.3M people

Daily Briefing

    A look back at the NBA's shutdown in 2020, how the pandemic reshaped the way we move, and more.

    Ben Palmer's reads

    A look back at the NBA's shutdown in 2020. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and—on that same day—the National Basketball Association (NBA) shut down its season indefinitely, becoming the first professional sports league to do so amid the early days of the pandemic. Writing for Yahoo! News, Dylan Stableford and Hunter Walker sat down with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to talk about how the day unfolded and what led to Silver's decision to suspend the NBA's season.

    How are movements are changing in 2021. The coronavirus epidemic has changed the way Americans are moving around, even in 2021, according to a compilation of cellphone location tracking data from Google that looked at the movements of people in California. Writing for Kaiser Health News, Phillip Reese examines what Google's data suggests about how our movements have changed so far in 2021, including the finding that Californians are staying home about as much as they did a year ago.

    José Vasquez's reads

    Do viruses deserve their bad rap? The novel coronavirus (and other pathogens) may have convinced you to believe all viruses are "the enemy," but in reality, many viruses aren't harmful—and a few can even save lives, Daphne Miller, a clinical professor at the University of California-San Francisco writes for the Washington Post. A bacteriophage, for instance, "is definitely an example of a good virus," Saima Aslam, an infectious disease expert in organ transplantation at the University of California-San Diego, told Miller, who spoke with experts about the therapeutic uses of viruses and the ways people can maintain helpful pathogens.

    What more than 3.3 million people did (or didn't) learn in a course on happiness. In spring 2018, Yale University offered a course on happiness, called "Psyc 157: Psychology and the Good Life," and nearly a quarter of the university's undergraduates signed up for the class. Although the university never offered the course again, more than 3.3 million people have signed up for a public, 10-week version of the class available on Coursera—and some of them have called the course "life-changing," Molly Oswaks writes for the New York Times. But other students have been disappointed with the course's roundup of conventional wisdom on happiness, including seemingly "obvious" tips such as expressing gratitude, helping others, getting adequate sleep, and trying your best, Oswaks reports.

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