The “test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function,” F. Scott Fitzgerald observed in a 1936 essay. That’s always good to keep in mind, but particularly so in light of two recent head-turners in the news:
• Despite recent spurts of violence in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Twin Cities area remains one of the safest metro areas in America, FBI data show.
• Eating red meat is bad for you, numerous studies have found, but a recent study of studies says it doesn’t make much difference.
First, the crime: The Star Tribune Editorial Board has agreed, at least to some degree, with calls for more officers on the police forces in Minneapolis and St. Paul. This follows a summer of violence that has warranted attention. But the new FBI data also revealed that a decadelong downtrend in rates of violent crime continued locally in 2018.
We wouldn’t be surprised if President Donald Trump brings up the recent crime flurry at his rally in Minneapolis Thursday — and omits the broader context. But citizens can and should know the full story.
About 1% of Americans are victims of a violent crime each year, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Though the likelihood of facing it firsthand is low, the experience is very significant for those who do.
Switching topics: Everyone eats. And in the U.S., more than 90% eat meat.
Americans have for years heard that eating meat increases the risk of cancer and heart disease. But studying health habits is complicated. It’s hard to control for all variables. Findings frequently are overturned.
The scientists behind a new set of analyses published last week in the Annals of Internal Medicine focused on meat-related studies that used the most reliable methodologies. Their determination, essentially: Keep eating meat if you want to. That was controversial, with credible groups objecting.
The new information, of course, did not address other reasons not to eat meat, including environmental impacts and compassion for animals.
It would be nice to have simple signposts guiding our complex lives. All we can do is to proceed with the best set of information we’ve got, always balancing a healthy skepticism with an open mind.