Extra extra, read all about it!
Plus, how to stop tax scofflaws.
“Ambivalence, in fact, exists in part to help us solve contradictory and complex problems.” – Naomi Rothman.
So taxing. The United States loses about $1 trillion in revenue from unpaid taxes every year. That’s 1 trillion with a T. In October, the Internal Revenue Service commissioner said most of that comes from tax evasion from big corporations. A new paper shows how we might fix that: threats. The authors, in collaboration with tax authorities, sent messages to companies in the Dominican Republic. The messages used two different deterrence tactics. In the first, the government threatened to publicly disclose the company’s tax evasion. In the other, it highlighted the potential for prison sentences if the company did not pay its proper taxes. Each threat worked. The public disclosure message increased the tax amount by 18%, while the prison message did the same by a whopping 44%. The study shows that deterrence could be an effective strategy for encouraging companies to pay their fair share. In the U.S., the tax deadline is in about a month. It’s almost time to pay the taxman – but at least it’s always free to file.
News to me. Since the turn of the century, U.S. newspapers are increasingly being sold to private equity firms. About a quarter of all newspapers are now owned by such funds. The goals of private equity aren’t the typical ones of newspapers: to inform the public, hold public officials accountable, and increase civic engagement. Instead, they seek to maximize profits for their shareholders. This has led to a lot of criticism from journalists and advocates of a strong press. But what does the actual data say about the outcomes of private equity ownership of news? A study by Michael Ewens and colleagues shows mixed results. On the one hand, private equity ownership of newspapers has led to increased digital readership and lower chances of a newspaper closing. On the other hand, the content often shifts from a local to a national focus, and the number of reporters and editors falls. And perhaps most importantly, participation in local elections declines. It’s a somewhat sobering reminder to subscribe to your local news sources.
As we go through life, we’re constantly trying to figure out what other people are thinking and feeling. Psychologist Liane Young says this ability to assess other people’s thoughts is an extraordinary feat of cognition. But this mental superpower can sometimes lead us astray. In this episode, we explore how we understand — or fail to understand — the minds of other people. Listen to learn more.
ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST
March 14th: What happens to our minds when we feel like we're being pulled in emotionally opposite directions? Psychologist Naomi Rothman has found that ambivalence changes the way we think about ourselves — and how others think about us.
March 17th: The things we post online don't go away. And sometimes, they can come back to haunt us. This week, we explore how one teenager's social media posts destroyed a golden opportunity he had worked for all his life.
ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST
March 15th: Chewey Clinton is a teenager from rural Idaho. He's struggling to come to terms with his sexuality, and a friend is there when Chewey needs him most.
March 17th: LaQuista Erinna’s son Jackson has autism. It’s hard for him to sit still for haircuts. LaQuista almost gives up on her search for a barber for Jackson, when a new one gains his trust.
Don’t forget to send us the story of your unsung hero! Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to email@example.com.
The majority of people reading this will not find the the mistake in this: A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,X,Y,Z.
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
What has cities, but no houses; forests, but no trees; and water, but no fish?
The answer: A map.
A researcher from Ireland is studying the experiences of people who listen to psychology and mental health podcasts. If you, dear Hidden Brain listener, would like to participate in the study, you can fill out a quick questionnaire here.
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A MOMENT OF JOY
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