Every day Document has an agenda: news from the under read corners of the world, and the web, that might not end up crossing your path. Discoveries, curiosities, essential cultural dispatches—with this information, go forth.



The World

Half of all wildlife in the world could be gone before the century’s end

The World Wildlife Fund, the University of East Anglia and the James Cook University have reported that if temperatures rise by more than 1.5C, half the world’s plants, animals, reptiles, and birds could be wiped out from the rich ecosystems of Africa, Asia, North America and Australia. William Laurance, director of the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, told The Guardian that the Fund’s report is “scary as hell.” Adding:

The loss of half or more of the region’s stunning plant diversity would be a biological blow of almost unimaginable severity. However, such computer models with all their assumptions and complexities are really ‘scientific cartoons’ giving us only a rough sketch of the future. But even if they’re only half right, these are very frightening cartoons indeed.


The Mind

The devil is trending again.

In a television interview 2017, Pope Francis also declared that the devil is a real person, who is “armed with dark powers.” Now, an emergency meeting of the clergy is to take place in Italy to try and combat the news that exorcism requests have tripled in the past few years. One professor on the history religious thought writes for The Conversation about the recent surge in the devil’s “presence” and suggests it could have to do with society’s fantasy fiction—from werewolves to vampires wizards and zombies.

So an enchanted world now exists alongside the disenchanted one. It is a place of multiple meanings where the supernatural occupies a space somewhere between reality and unreality. It is a domain where belief is a matter of choice and disbelief willingly and happily suspended. Horror and fascination happily mingle with each other.


The Future

Living the real-life Sims.

There have been countless future-gazing stories around about how soon we’ll all be living in pods, hooked up to a virtual world, a la the Matrix.  And now, there’s one company actually making steps towards creating this real virtual world. Austin-based creative company Interactive has created Simulife, an interactive play-lab that designs multi-day adventures that combine virtual reality with real life. In The Verge’s new series, “The Simulife Diaries,” one writer spends four days in a world where he’s known as “the Bishop”—a genius who founded a fictional company called OpenMind, which has the ability to access and store thoughts in the human brain, leading to advances in big data that yielded tremendous benefits to society, while experimenting with his own brain. Sounds…heady.

The dark side of not being able to tell reality from fiction, however, is that you start seeing connections everywhere, like a conspiracy theorist with too much time and red string on your hands. Was the fountain ticking a sound effect? A trick of the plumbing? Or was I just starting to lose it? Thankfully, the elevator doors opened, and soon enough, I was outside.



Bolivia’s newest weapon in their tiff with Chile is the “world’s biggest flag.”

Later this month, the International Court of Justice will hear Bolivia’s on their attempts to access the Pacific Ocean after it lost in a 19th Century battle with Chile. The two countries haven’t had full diplomatic relations for decades with access to the ocean at the heart of the tension. Now, Bolivia has unveiled their latest weapon to fight for justice: a 200 km-long flag adorned with Bolivian national symbols between the cities La Paz and Oruro near the border of Chile.

Speaking at the flag’s unfurling he called it a ‘flag of maritime vindication’. The Guinness World Records organization said they had no plans to certify whether the flag was indeed the world’s biggest.



Why is childbirth so problematic for Instagram?

An Instagram account called Empowered Birth Project is challenging the social media giant to end it’s ban on pictures of women in childbirth. Katie Vigos, a Los Angeles-based nurse behind the account, told The Guardian that she had started a petition, calling for the platform to change their strict policy on never showing genitals, despite allowing overtly sexual imagery and other medical images.

The female body in the midst of giving birth—blood, pubic hair, buttocks, the image of a baby exiting a woman’s vagina—seems to trigger people to report images. But there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to show photos of physiological birth. It’s straight-up censorship.



Listening to your favorite song isn’t helping you study any better. 

Researchers from the applied psychology department of Cardiff Metropolitan University discovered that lyrics are distracting, and there was no difference if students revised listening to songs they liked or disliked. Both led to a reduction in their test performance.

“The misconception that music does help us learn stems from a series of studies linked to the “Mozart effect”, which found that people performed better on a series of cognitive tasks after listening to 10 minutes of Mozart. Participants in these studies appeared to be getting smarter and performing better in tests. However, further research has since revealed this is not the case. While listening to music before a task can make someone feel better, listening to it while trying to learn something new tends not to help. This is because music—especially tunes with lyrics—can take up processing space. This conflicts with the material you are trying to learn, effectively creating a bottleneck in your memory, as there is less space to process what you are revising.”