🌊 New Year, New Oregon

Why dogs wag their tails, Denmark's first year with no bank robberies, and one of psychology's most unethical studies?

It's time to address the elephant in the room, Topsy. On this day in 1903, Topsy the elephant was electrocuted to death on Coney Island for a Thomas Edison film titled Electrocuting an Elephant. As cruel as this may sound, you may feel less sympathy after hearing that Topsy had killed a drunk circus spectator a year earlier. Oh, Topsy...

In today's edition:

  • Why dogs wag their tails

  • Denmark's first year with no bank robberies

  • One of psychology's most unethical studies?

🔑 Key Stories

Study: Dogs' Tails Just for Wagging

A new study claims that dogs’ tails are not crucial for agility or motion

Dig Deeper

  • Previous studies, such as one conducted in 2018, have suggested that dogs’ tail movements, in addition to different odors emitted, serve as a form of communication

Oregon Legalizes Psilocybin

On January 1, Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin, magic mushrooms’ active ingredient

  • The federal government lists psilocybin as a Schedule I, or totally outlawed, drug. In recent years, though, studies have suggested it may be effective at treating depression, alcoholism, PTSD, and more

  • In November 2020, Oregonians voted to legalize adult use of psilocybin at government-supervised centers. That took effect on January 1, 2023

  • Now, any 21+ adult can go to a center and use psilocybin under the supervision of a state-trained guide. It will not be available for retail sales

Dig Deeper

  • Last November, Colorado became the second state to decriminalize psilocybin and vote to create legal channels through which it can be purchased. Like in Oregon, though, psilocybin will only be available in state-sanctioned “healing centers”

NYC Nurses Going on Strike?

12k+ nurses at 7 New York City hospitals plan to strike beginning on January 9

  • The nurses are represented by a union. Their current deal expired in 2022, and in the past month, they’ve been unable to negotiate a new deal with hospitals

  • The union claims that the Covid-19 pandemic led to an exodus from the field, causing hospitals to become understaffed and nurses overworked. They also claim their pay doesn’t reflect their higher workload

  • In late December, 99% of unionized NYC nurses voted to strike. On January 1, ~4k of them reached a deal to avoid a strike, but 12k+ haven’t and still plan to strike

Dig Deeper

  • Pandemic-related burnout is a problem throughout the nursing profession: Per one 2022 survey, ⅔ of nurses expressed a desire to leave the industry within the next 2 years

Damar Hamlin in Critical Condition

Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin is in critical condition after suffering cardiac arrest Monday night

  • ~9 minutes into a Monday Night Football game between the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, Hamlin, a second-year safety, collapsed after tackling an opponent. Doctors say he suffered a cardiac arrest and that his heart completely stopped

  • On-field medics performed CPR and his heart rate was restored before he was rushed to a hospital. As of Tuesday, he remains sedated and in critical condition

  • The matchup, which has major playoff implications, has been postponed to at least next week

Dig Deeper

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  • This past year has been tough for investors: The S&P 500 is down over 15% in 2022. But fine wine is up almost 19%...

  • The ultra-wealthy have been investing in wine for centuries, but wine investing has traditionally been limited to exclusive auctions

  • 2 primary factors drive returns in the fine wine market: Maturity and scarcity. Most investment-grade wine takes 10 to 15 years to mature, and there’s a finite supply of it. Once a vintage is bottled, that’s it. No more can be made. As other people drink the wine, the remaining bottles become rarer and more expensive

Dig Deeper

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🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Once in a red moon: For the first time in a century, the US House of Representatives failed to elect a speaker after 3 votes. Republicans, who have the majority, could not rally behind Kevin McCarthy

  • Better call Sam: Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to charges that he defrauded customers and investors as CEO of collapsed crypto exchange FTX

  • Wherefore art thou, justice? The stars of the 1968 film Romeo and Juliet have sued Paramount for child abuse over a nude scene. Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, now in their 70s, were 15 and 16 at the time

Wildcard

  • Tusk tusk, England: A walrus that spent New Year's Eve on a dock in England has returned to sea. The local town canceled their fireworks celebration for the walrus

  • A Damar is born: Damar Hamlin now has the 2nd top-selling jersey on Fanatics. The injured Bills defensive back remains in critical condition at the hospital

  • Yay! No bank robberies! Denmark recorded its first year without any bank robberies in its history. It credits the declining use of cash for the milestone

👇 What do you think?

Today's Poll

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Today's Question:

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See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

In 1973, Stanford University psychologist Philip Zimbardo wanted to know what caused cruel behavior.

Was it nature or nurture? Was it the result of a specific person or their environment?

To find out, he designed an experiment that would go on to become one of the most controversial in the history of psychology.

At the time, Zimbardo was particularly interested in the prisoner-guard relationship, and the instances in which guards behaved cruelly toward prisoners.

Were cruel people attracted to the job of prison guard, or did the prison environment make them cruel? Was it their personality (nature) or the place (nurture)?

To answer the question, he created a mock prison in the basement of the psychology department building at Stanford University, in northern California.

Zimbardo recruited 24 male volunteers for $15/day to take part in “psychological study of prison life.” They were randomly assigned the role of a guard or a prisoner. Over 2 weeks, Zimbardo’s team would watch how the assigned roles determined behavior.

"Guards" were told to do whatever they thought was necessary to maintain order and command respect of the prisoners. No physical violence was permitted. “Prisoners” received a surprise the first day of the experiment. Police arrived at their homes and (mock) arrested them. They did not know that was going to happen.

Police stripped-searched them, removed all their personal possessions, and locked them in prison cells. Guards were told to only reference the prisoners by assigned numbers, not their names.

Zimbardo acted as a prison warden and observed the behavior of the prisoners and guards. Most interactions were also filmed.

Things started to go bad almost instantly.

By day 2, the prisoners tried to rebel. The guards responded with punishment, and over the following five days, psychological abuse of the prisoners by the "guards" became increasingly brutal. Abuse included denying prisoners beds and placing bags over their heads. The prisoners, in turn, seemed to become more obedient and submissive.

Zimbardo’s colleagues and the prisoner’s family members, who were allowed to visit one day, raised concerns. On day 6, Zimbardo ended the experiment a week early.

According to Zimbardo, the experiment showed that the environment influenced cruel behavior. Each group adapted to their assigned roles; the guards became crueler, the prisoners more submissive.

Other psychologists took issue with the study, though, either for reasons of design or morality.

Many said it couldn’t be considered an experiment since no specific variable was being controlled. Others had issues with the fact that the experiment was filmed: They cited the Hawthorne effect, which says that people will change their behavior when they know they are being watched.

And then there were ethical issues: The “prisoners” were unaware they would be arrested and living in cells for days. While they were told they could leave at any time, that effectively wasn’t the case. Critics said that subjecting them to abuse in that state was unethical.

Extensive debriefing sessions took place in the following years, and Zimbardo determined there were no lasting negative effects.

Even so, the Stanford Prison Experiment went down as one of the most unethical – and famous – experiments in history.

If you have thoughts, let us know at [email protected]!

🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

My New Year's eve was spent...

Celebrating🥂🎉 : 25%

Relaxing 🛋️🍿 : 75%

Yesterday's Question:

If you had a theme song for your life, what would it be and why?

Alex from Wisconsin: “Life is a Highway, Rascal Flatts. Never gets old!”

Missy from Missouri: “This is an easy one. “Unwritten” Natasha Bedingfield. I always say it was written with me in mind.”

Sophie from Ohio: “My theme song has gotta be “99 bottles of beer on the wall” just replaying over and over again”

🧠 Final Thoughts

Given that it's the first Hump Day of the year, today we're delighted to bring you a special camel fact: While camel racing is popular throughout much of the Middle East and Asia, the most valuable camel race takes place in Australia. Each year, the country hosts the "Boulia Desert Sands" race, which pays out ~$337,000 in prize money. And if that isn't enough for you, Australia also holds an annual "Camel Cup."

Happy Tuesday!

Max and Max