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'Pacific Standard,' January/February 2016

How to scam Medicare in four easy steps; the political power of a negative campaign; eight beers deep with America's finest; treating the mentally ill before it's too late; the little pink pill that sparked a feminist war; and desperate patients seeking relief in retired uranium mines. Plus: Is the stock market sexist?
Pacific Standard, January/February 2016. (Photo: Brent Humphreys)

Pacific Standard, January/February 2016. (Photo: Brent Humphreys)


Glitch in the Machine
The government unleashed Big Data to shut down Medicare fraud. Why isn’t it working?
By Joe Eaton

How Can We Treat the Seriously Mentally Ill Before Tragedy Occurs, Instead of After?
Laura’s Law could pro-vide a middle ground between the old norm of total institutionalization and the new one of total abandonment. But the statute is struggling to reconcile forestalling tragedies with patients’ rights.
By Jeneen Interlandi

The Former Dentist Uncovering Sugar's Rotten Secrets
University of California–San Francisco researcher Cristin Kearns dropped a promising career at the Kaiser Foundation to dig through sugar industry archives for a smoking gun. With help from the man who brought down Big Tobacco, she’s now proving that Big Sugar steered scientists away from looking at the ingredient’s harmful effects.
By Francie Diep

Sidebar: Big Tobacco vs. Big Sugar
Comparing certain businesses to the tobacco industry is a bit like comparing people to Adolf Hitler: There’s always the danger of exaggeration. The evidence linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer is undeniable, and decades of lawsuits and whistleblowing prove that tobacco company executives hid what they knew. Few other industries have been publicly exposed in such a compelling way. There are a number of key parallels between Big Sugar and Big Tobacco, but there are also important differences. Understanding the extent of the overlap between the two will be crucial for advocates and policymakers who are hoping to place stronger restrictions on America’s sugar industry.
By Francie Diep

Sidebar: Five Studies on the Links Between Sugar and Heart Disease
Here are the five studies you need to read to understand the scientific evidence for whether eating too much sugar causes obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. The evidence isn’t bulletproof, but some public-health researchers argue it’s enough to tell people to cut back on soda and other sweet drinks.
By Francie Diep


The Gowanus' Beacon of Hope
New York University roboticists are betting that a tiny aquatic machine will inspire the community to care about Brooklyn’s neglected Superfund site.
By Libby Copeland

The Radioactive Remedy
Each year, hundreds of desperate patients seek relief from extreme pain in Montana’s retired uranium mines.
By Madeleine Thomas

You Are Now Under the Influence
At a police academy, future officers learn to test drivers’ intoxication levels by testing the legal limit themselves.
By John Stillman

Eyes on the River
Virtually navigating our waterways sounds like a good time to outdoor enthusiasts, but it could also help policymakers monitor a critical natural resource.
By Kate Greene


Is the Stock Market Sexist?
Inherent market bias is one of the factors keeping women off corporate boards—until someone has to take the fall. Welcome to the Glass Cliff.
By Katie Gilbert

The Little Pink Pill That Sparked a Feminist War
The Food and Drug Administration’s approval of pharmaceutical treatment for low sexual desire in women has launched a heated debate over the dangers and benefits of medicalizing sex.
By Maya Dusenbery


The Serious Side of Comedy
By tracking the evolution of American humor, Kliph Nesteroff proves that comedians can do more than make us laugh. They can show us who we really are.
By Ross Ufberg

The Influential Druid
David Brower has slipped into semi-obscurity over the years, but he deserves a place in the pantheon of environmental heroes.
By Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow

Domestic Overlords
The 250-year precedent for deploying the United States military to police the nation’s citizenry.
By Ted Scheinman



Research Spotlight: Stephen Parente
Health economist and professor
By J. Wesley Judd

There's a Name for That: Veblen Goods
By Peter C. Baker

Research Gone Wild: Party Hard
By Pacific Standard Staff

Quick Study: Creativity's Underappreciated Component: Persistence
By Tom Jacobs

Subculture: Medical Clowns
By J. Wesley Judd

In the Picture: Sister Act
By Pacific Standard Staff

Quick Study: The Danger of Impartial Reporting
By Tom Jacobs

Five Studies: The Political Power of Going Negative
By Julia Azari

Life in the Data: My Very Human Errors With My Very Human Disease
By Daniel Solomon



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