Cuba’s first smartphone and the harms of being a rude patient  

in June 21st, 2021

Here's what we emailed out the week of June 21, 2021. Sign up for updates directly in your inbox.

A sad story turned adorable last week when a missing dog was found hard at work on a farm. The dog, Tilly, was lost after being ejected from a car during an accident. While unharmed, the stunned 2-year-old pup ran for it, causing owners to take to social media to help track him down. He was soon recognized as the same border collie and red heeler mix found herding sheep on an Idaho farm. Quite the temp job Tilly has since returned home safely to his owners.


Cuba’s building its own smartphone to catch up with the tech revolution

Mon Jun 14

Cuba is working on its first homegrown smartphone in a country that has struggled for years to get online. With the help of China’s Huawei, the project has been in the works since 2015 — before the country as a whole even had access to the internet. In fact, Cuba was among the last in the world to get 3G. 

  • In 2015, the government approved 35 wireless hotspots in public areas. Before this, only 150 internet cafes provided internet access on the entire island.
  • Between 2016 and 2017, the first 2,000 private households went online in the capital of Havana.
  • In 2018, smartphones became eligible for data plans for the first time, but costly WiFi at $1-an-hour kept many offline.

On top of affording the internet, Cubans have to afford the phone itself. Even now, only half of the 11 million population has a phone. Getting a smartphone off the black market (smuggled in by mules) costs more than four months of an average government worker's salary at $50. The introduction of a homegrown device could reduce prices by more than half and get more Cubans online, which is increasingly important to work and education there. So far 6,000 prototypes of the Android-lookalike are being assembled but concerns persist of limitations (foreign apps won’t be compatible with the new operating system) and firewalls (Cuba has already blocked access to many foreign sites and citizens expect government surveillance).

Those firewalls were built with the help of China as well, turning 50 foreign sites into conspicuous blank pages. In fact, China has quite the history with the Cuban economy, writing off over $6B in debt between 2000 and 2018. While reports say this debt was used on infrastructure and other programs, China’s growing involvement with the country and its contributions to tools of censorship and surveillance, like these firewalls and smartphones, is making other nations like the U.S. nervous. 

Some additional resources...


Being rude to your doctor could impact your health 

Thu Jun 10

While doctors on the silver screen show heroic fortitude in the face of demanding, rude patients (and their families), a new study shows the true consequences of these bad interactions. In short, rudeness can negatively impact a patient's treatment and increase mortality rates in surgery. 

To fully explore the study, first we need to understand…

  • Anchoring bias, which is the tendency to fixate on one piece of information when making a decision — regardless of the information’s relevance. For example, if you tell your doctor you think you’re having a heart attack, the doctor may get fixated on that anchor even if you’re actually having indigestion.
  • And rudeness, which past studies show can stress a person’s psychological resources and narrow their mindset (less empathy). One study even found that rudeness is contagious, leading more and more people to experience it.

The latest study combines these two concepts and shows how rudeness makes anchoring more likely. Researchers ran a medical simulation where anesthesiology residents were given the wrong diagnosis (anchor) and the doctor experienced rudeness (by another doctor who came in during the appointment). As a result…

  • Doctors were more likely to keep treating the anchor even when consistent information suggested there was something else wrong.
  • Mortality rates increased, with one researcher claiming someone is more likely to die if the surgeon is insulted before they begin operating.
  • Overall, mindsets narrowed and that made it hard to see the full reality of the situation and perform well.

The study’s cure for rudeness-induced anchoring? Expand your point of view to see the situation more objectively (or show compassion) and seek additional information on the task at hand to interrupt negative emotions. 

Some additional resources... 

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