Ontario teaches financial literacy and game changing lizard venom 

in July 7th, 2021

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Over the past year, some countries began to trust their media more. But in the U.S., not only did trust in the media remain low, it ranked last among a list of 46 countries with just 29% of Americans expressing trust in the media overall. On top of that, only 44% even trust their own chosen news sources. Meanwhile Finland led the pack at 65% in overall trust. Some blame the extreme political polarization in the U.S. for its low performance. For example, 75% of those who identify as being on the right thought coverage of their views is unfair.


Ontario is teaching kids how to manage finances

Tue Jun 9

Imagine completing 12 years of schooling and never learning how to manage your credit — oh wait, that’s the norm in most education systems. But now, Ontario is modernizing their ninth grade curriculum to cover financial literacy including managing debt, savings, credit cards, mortgages, and more. The overhaul comes after last year’s announcement that such concepts will be introduced in grades 1-8, with those in first grade starting off with the basics of identifying coins.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., only a handful of states require a class in personal finance while others require minimal coursework integrated into other classes. Recently, though, bills were introduced in 25 states and in D.C. to increase financial literacy, calling for a variety of solutions from task forces to high school graduation requirements. And while it’s been difficult to teach in the pandemic, the chaotic stock markets and shocking finance headlines have spurred interest in personal finance education overall.

Globally, there’s almost a desperate need for improved financial literacy. A 2020 study of countries across Asia, Europe, and Latin America found that just 26% of adults correctly answered questions on simple and compound interest. Ultimately, this affects global economies, leading policymakers to call for a boost in financial literacy. And it costs individuals, too. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that financial illiteracy cost Americans an average of $1,634 last year. 

Some additional resources...

  • Initial coverage: MSN
  • Global push for financial literacy: Financial Times
  • Finance education in U.S. 2021: CNBC 


How lizard venom is revolutionizing medicine

Sun Jun 5

Could there be one solution to diabetes and weight loss? It seems so, and it’s all thanks to the Gila monster lizard, a symbol of the U.S. Southwest whose venom contains hormones that can regulate blood sugar. It’s a fascinating tail — ahem, tale:

  • In 1995, a Toronto scientist and endocrinologist (aka “diabetes doctor”) became curious about the lizard venom’s usual effects on blood sugar and had one shipped to his lab from Utah.
  • Ten years later, a number of venom-inspired medications came to market, including a first-of-its-kind medicine to treat type 2 diabetes using a synthetic version of a hormone in the venom.
  • During the diabetes trials, doctors noticed how the mice and humans involved were losing weight and began experimenting with the venom in obesity science. Just last month, the FDA approved a new obesity drug using the lizard venom.

The stigma around weight loss medications, however, may keep the drug from meeting its full potential. At least in the U.S., obesity is widely considered a personal or even cosmetic issue over a medical one, despite research proving otherwise. Most doctors still primarily recommend exercise and weight loss while insurance providers don’t include obesity medication in their coverage plans even as nearly half of all Americans suffer from the disease. In fact, a 2019 study found that only 1% of eligible patients were using FDA-approved medications for obesity.

But as more applications of the venom emerge, the Gila lizards themselves are a near-threatened species, which essentially means there’s a threat they could become extinct. The situation has been worsening since 2016 with climate change. 

Some additional resources... 

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Just replace your nom noms with venom.

Art Credit: Andreas Freise

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