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The science of stoking fear: "It only works when people believe in the fear arousing part"

Corporations and advocacy groups have used fear to sell products and messages for decades.

The big picture: Academics codified it as the "fear drive" method in the 1950s, referring to the idea that engaging with fear can be the motivation for people to buy into anything that would make the feeling of fear go away. 


Punam Anand Keller, a Dartmouth College professor who's researched marketing and consumer behavior, says the tactic is everywhere — from the dentist warning of the severe health dangers if you don't floss, to commercials that lead with the dire consequences of drunk driving.

  • "It only works when people believe in the fear arousing part of the message," Keller says. "For those people who don’t believe, then the message isn’t effective."

Constant "fears and scares," particularly in politics, make a lasting imprint says Barry Glassner, a sociologist and author of “The Culture of Fear."

  • Glassner says fear-based messaging creates the same visceral, fight-or-flee response as coming upon a wild animal: Rational thinking gets much harder.

How the Oracle-TikTok deal would work

An agreement between TikTok's Chinese owner ByteDance and Oracle includes a variety of concessions in an effort to make the deal palatable to the Trump administration and security hawks in Congress, according to a source close to the companies.

The big picture: The deal, in the form of a 20-page term sheet agreed to in principle by the companies, would give Oracle unprecedented access and control over user data as well as other measures designed to ensure that Americans' data is protected, according to the source.

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The European Union may soon get its own Magnitsky Act to target human rights abusers

Amid a global assaulton human rights stretching from Belarus to Hong Kong to Yemen, the European Union signaled yesterday that it may act to deter corrupt kleptocrats and state abusers by hitting them where it hurts: their assets.

Driving the news: Europe's chief executive Ursula von der Leyen revealed in her first-ever State of the Union speech that she will bring forth a European Magnitsky Act, a sanctions framework modeled after a U.S. law that restricts malign actors' access to travel and the global financial system.

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Cancer death rates are dropping but Black Americans still face highest risk

Adapted from the National Cancer Institute; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios 

There's some good news in 2020: Cancer death rates have been falling overall, and the gap between racial and ethnic groups has been narrowing.

Yes, but: Decades of systemic racism and the structures developed under it continue to limit the ability of Americans to benefit equally from cancer advances, some medical experts tell Axios, as seen by Black Americans who've had the highest death rate from cancer for 40 years. And the pandemic is expected to exacerbate the problem further.

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WHO: Health care workers account for around 14% of coronavirus cases

Though health workers represent less than 3% of the population in many countries, they account for around 14% coronavirus cases reported to the World Health Organization, the organization announced Thursday.

Why it matters: The WHO called on governments and health care leaders to address threats facing the health and safety of these workers, adding that the pandemic has highlighted how protecting them is needed to ensure a functioning health care system.

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Trump says he will sign executive order on "patriotic education" in rebuke of 1619 project

President Trump said he would sign an executive order on Thursday to "promote patriotic education" through an effort called the 1776 Commission, while denouncing a New York Times' project that investigated the impacts of racial injustice for Black Americans.

The big picture: The 1619 project dug into the personal histories of Black Americans in the U.S. who have faced present-day systematic inequality in housing and farming, as well as how the legacy of slavery altered health care access for Black Americans and fueled the country's early economy.

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Podcast: Amazon exec on the company's Climate Pledge Fund

Amazon on Thursday announced the first companies to receive money from a $2 billion venture capital fund it formed to help combat climate change.

Axios Re:Cap digs into how Amazon hopes the fund will help achieve its goal of being carbon neutral by 2040, and whether the plan is more substance than spin, with Matt Peterson, Amazon's director of new initiatives and corporate development.

Air quality in American West among the worst in the world

The air quality in Portland has become the worst in the world — with Seattle, Los Angeles and Denver also ranking up there with notoriously polluted places like Delhi and Shanghai.

Why it matters: Big-city residents often consider themselves smugly immune to the physical wreckage of calamities like wildfires, floods and hurricanes. The pernicious smoke now blanketing the splendid cities of our nation's Western spine is a reminder that no one is exempt from climate change.

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FBI director confirms "very, very active" Russian efforts to interfere in election

FBI Director Chris Wray on Thursday told Congress the bureau has seen "very active efforts by the Russians to influence our elections in 2020," primarily to "denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment."

Why it matters: It confirms previous previous statements from various intelligence officials about Russia's interference activities, which continue with less than 50 days until the election.

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