Watch a Gripping 10-Minute Animation About the Hunt for Nazi War Criminal Adolf Eichmann

In February 2018, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany conducted interviews with 1,350 American adults, aged 18 and up.

Their findings, published as the Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Study, reveal a sharp decline in Americans’ awareness of the state-sponsored extermination of six million Jewish men, women, and children by Nazi Germany and its collaborators.

This knowledge gap was particularly pronounced among the millennial respondents. Sixty-six percent had not heard of Auschwitz — the largest of the German Nazi concentration camps and extermination centers, where over a million perished. Twenty-two percent of them had not heard of (or were unsure if they had heard of) the Holocaust.




This is shocking to those of us who grew up reading The Diary of Anne Frank and attending assemblies where Holocaust survivors — often the older relative of a classmate — spoke of their experiences, rolling up their sleeves to show us the serial numbers that had been tattooed on their arms upon arrival at Auschwitz.

The study did make the heartening discovery that nearly all of the respondents — 93% — believed that the Holocaust should be a topic of study in the schools, many citing their belief that such an education will prevent a calamity of that magnitude from happening again.

(In defense of millennials, it’s worth noting that in the decades since 1977, when more than half of the country tuned in to watch the miniseries Roots, the Civil War and the horrors of slavery had all but disappeared from American curriculums, a direction the Black Lives Matter movement is fighting to redress.)

The Holocaust is such a huge subject that there is a question of how to introduce it, ideally, in such a way that young people’s interest is sparked toward continuing their education.

The Driver is Red, Randall Christopher‘s animated short, above, could make an excellent, if somewhat unusual, starting place.

The film’s text is drawn from Israeli Mossad Special Agent Zvi Aharoni’s first person account of the successful manhunt that tracked Adolf Eichmann, a member of Heinrich Himmler’s inner circle and architect of the Nazi’s “final solution,” to Argentina.

This event transpired in 1960, fifteen years after Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz.

Aharoni, voiced by actor Mark Pinter, recalls receiving the tip that Eichmann was living in Argentina under an assumed name, and locating him in a modest dwelling on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

Filmmaker Christopher builds the tension during the ensuing stakeout with effective, noir-ish, pencil sketches that take shape before our eyes, mapping surveillance points, a couple of happy accidents, and one harrowing moment where Aharoni feared his foreign accent might give him away.

There’s more to the story than can be packed in a fourteen minute film, but those fourteen minutes are as gripping as any tightly plotted spy movie.

Christopher is less interested in directing the next James Bond flick than putting Holocaust education back on the table for all Americans.

2016 New York Times article about the handwritten letter Eichmann sent Israeli President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, begging for clemency, paved the way for the film by motivating Christopher to fill in some gaps in his education with regard to the Holocaust.

As the then-46-year-old told Leorah Gavidor of The San Diego Reader in 2018:

I (felt) so dumb, so ignorant, being an adult in America and not knowing the history of it.

My friends, people I told this story to, they were fascinated. They would start listening very carefully when I started to talk about this Nazi from Germany that was found 15 years after the war, halfway around the world. They didn’t know anything about it. That’s how I knew I was on to something.

Before the film was completed, Christopher staged a live reading of the script at San Diego’s Verbatim Books, then passed the mic to Holocaust survivor Rose Schindler, who told the audience about surviving Auschwitz.

As Christopher recalled:

People were tripping. There’s three lines about Treblinka in the film, and this Nazi war criminal, and then they see someone there, with the tattoo on her arm, in front of them, who experienced this firsthand.

Mrs. Schindler became a Holocaust educator in 1972, when her son’s teacher invited her to share her story with his middle school classmates.

She is now 91.

via The Atlantic

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday

A Rare, Early Version of the King Arthur Legend Found & Translated


The stories of King Arthur and his court took shape over a period of a few hundred years; like most ancient legends, they evolved through many iterations — not a little like the stories in modern-day comic books. “The medieval Arthurian legends were a bit like the Marvel Universe,” explains Laura Campbell, a medieval language scholar at Durham University. “They constituted a coherent fictional world that had certain rules and a set of well-known characters who appeared and interacted with each other in multiple different stories.”

The first account of Arthur comes from a text in Latin called the Historia Brittonum, a compilation of sources assembled sometime in 829 or 830. Here, Arthur is mentioned as a historical figure, “variously described,” notes the British Library, “as a war lord (dux bellorum), as a Christian soldier who carries either an image of the virgin or Christ’s cross, and as a legendary figure associated with miraculous events.”




Merlin the magician — the figure we most associate with miraculous events in the Arthurian legends — doesn’t show up for another two hundred years or so, in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain. “After Geoffrey,” writes Kathryn Walton at Medievalists.net, “Merlin becomes a fixture of the Arthurian legend and appears in all kinds of different versions of the story across the Middle Ages.” One Merlin story that appears in many versions involves a figure called Nimue, Viviane, and other names in French, English, and Welsh. (She is sometimes identified with the Lady of the Lake).

The Merlin and Vivien stories have “survived throughout the ages in a way that not many other stories have,” the University of Rochester’s Robyn Pollack writes, “because writers have found remarkable ways to transform the characters and the narrative over the centuries.” Now, scholars at the University of Bristol have announced, two years after its discovery, the authentication of a fragment containing yet another version of the story.

Found glued into the binding of a late 15th century book at the Bristol public library (one of the world’s oldest libraries), the seven fragments in Old French, dated between 1250 and 1275, contain the “most chaste version” of the Merlin and Viviane legend, says Leah Tether, co-author of the new English translation and commentary, The Bristol Merlin: Revealing the Secrets of a Medieval Fragment. “The most significant difference to be found in this particular set of fragments is where Viviane, the enchantress, casts a spell.”

In other versions, her magic inscribes three names on her groin, a spell that keeps Merlin away from the same area. In the re-discovered fragment, which shows evidence of two scribal hands, Viviane engraves the three names on a ring, thereby preventing Merlin from speaking to her. “With medieval texts there was no such thing as copyright,” says Campbell, one of the project’s translators and authors. “So, if you were a scribe copying a manuscript, there was nothing to stop you from just changing things a bit.”

Part of a collection of Arthurian stories known as the Vulgate Cycle, the fragment provides further evidence of the Merlin character’s evolution, and considerable softening, over time. At his first introduction, Merlin was the literal son of Satan, a kind of antichrist sent to earth to wreak havoc. Over the centuries, he became much less sinister, transforming into the wise advisor of the ideal English king, Arthur, a character who did a fair bit of transforming himself as his legend grew and changed.

via Atlas Obscura

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Behold the Newly-Discovered Sketch by Vincent van Gogh Sketch, “Study for Worn Out” (1882)

Having been dead for more than 130 years now, Vincent van Gogh seldom comes up with a new piece of work. But when he does, you can be sure it will draw the art world’s attention as few works by living artists could. Such has been the case with the newly discovered Study for Worn Out, an 1882 sketch that recently came into possession of the Van Gogh Museum, according to Margherita Cole at My Modern Met, “when a Dutch family requested that specialists take a look at their unsigned drawing.” The figure in the drawing strongly resembles the one in van Gogh’s 1890 painting At Eternity’s Gate. But it took the experts at the museum to determine that the artist was none other than van Gogh himself.

“Today and yesterday I drew two figures of an old man with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands,” wrote the 29-year-old van Gogh to his brother in a letter from 1882. “What a fine sight an old working man makes, in his patched bombazine suit with his bald head.” The immediate fruit of these labors was the pencil drawing Worn Out, for which “the artist employed one of his favorite models, an elderly man named Adrianus Jacobus Zuyderland who boasted distinctive sideburns (and who appears in at least 40 of van Gogh’s sketches from this period).” So writes Smithsonian.com’s Nora McGreevy, who adds that van Gogh revisited the work to adapt it as a painting “just two months before his death” in an asylum near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

“In drawings like these,”  says the Van Gogh Museum, “the artist not only displayed his sympathy for the socially disadvantaged — no way inferior in his eyes to the well-to-do bourgeoisie — he actively called attention to them too.” Another aim with Worn Out, adds McGreevy, was “to seek employment at a British publication, but he either failed to follow through on this idea or had his work rejected.” This would have counted as just another seeming instance of failure, the likes of which characterized the painter’s short life. Little could he, his correspondents, or his models have imagined that his works would one day become some of the most famous in the world — and certainly not that one of his sketches would go on to be enshrined well over a century later, as it has been since last Friday at the museum that bears his name.

via My Modern Met

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Explore Thousands of Free Vintage Cocktail Recipes Online (1705-1951)

Where do the hipster mixologists of TokyoMexico City and Brooklyn take their inspiration?

If not from the Exposition Universelle des Vins et Spiritueux’ free collection of digitized vintage cocktail recipe books, perhaps they should start.

An initiative of the Museum of Wine and Spirits on the Ile de Bendor in Southeastern France, the collection is a boon to anyone with an interest in cocktail culture …ditto design, illustration, evolving social mores…

1928’s Cheerio, a Book of Punches and Cocktails was written by Charles, formerly of Delmonico’s, touted in the introductory note as “one who has served drinks to Princes, Magnates and Senators of many nations”. No doubt discretion prevented him from publishing his surname.




Charles apparently abided by the theory that it’s five o’clock somewhere, with drinks geared to various times of day, from the moment you “stagger out of bed, groggy, grouchy and cross-tempered” (try a Charleston Bracer or a Brandy Port Nog) to the midnight hour when “insomnia, bad dreams, disillusionment and despair” call for such remedies as a Cholera Cocktail or an Egg Whiskey Fizz.

As noted on the cover, there’s a section devoted to favorite recipes of celebrities. These bigwigs’ names will likely mean nothing to you nearly one hundred years later, but their first person reminiscences bring them roaring back to theatrical, boozy life.

Here’s celebrated vaudevillian Trixie Friganza:

In that nautical city of Venice, I first made the acquaintance of a remarkably delicious drink known as ‘Port and Starboard’. Pour one half part Grenadine or raspberry syrup in a cordial glass. Then on top of this pour one half portion of Creme de Menthe slowly so that the ingredients will not mix. Dear old Venice. 

Indeed.

Presumably any cocktail recipe in the EUVS’s vast collection could be adapted as a mocktail, but Charles gives a deliberate nod to Prohibition with a section on alcohol-free (and extremely easy to prepare) Temperance Drinks.

Don’t expect a Shirley Temple – the triple threat child star was but an infant when Cheerio was published. Expand your options with a Saratoga Cooler or an Oggle Noggle instead.

Before attempting to recite the poem that opens 1949’s Bottoms Up: A Guide to Pleasant Drinking, you may want to slam a couple of Depth Bombs Cocktails or a Merry Widow Cocktail No. 1.

In an abstemious condition, there’s no way this ditty can be made to scan…or rhyme:

The Advent of the Cocktail

A lonely, abandoned jigger of gin
Sat on a table top. “Alas”, cried he,
“Who will join me?” And he tried a friendly grin.
Came a pretty youth, Mam’selle Vermouth,
Who was bored with just being winey.
Said she to Sir Gin: “You’d be ever so nice
With Olive and Ice. And so they were Martini.

The cocktail recipes are solid, throughout, however, as one might expect from a book that doubled as an ad for sponsor First Avenue Wine and Liquor Corporation – “for Liquor…Quicker.”

We’ve yet to try anything from the “wines in cookery” section – but suspect that sturdy fare like Potato Soup and Baked Beans could help sop up some of the alcohol, even if contains some hair of the dog…

Shaking in the 60’s author Eddie Clark’s previous titles include Shaking with Eddie, Shake Again with Eddie and 1954’s Practical Bar Management. 

Clark, who served as head bartender at London’s Savoy Hotel, Berkeley Hotel and Albany Club, gets in the swinging 60s spirit, by dedicating this work to “all imbibing lovers.”

William S. McCall’s decidedly boozy illustrations of elephants, anthropomorphized cocktail glasses and scantily clad ladies contribute to the festive atmosphere, though you probably won’t be surprise to learn that some of them have not aged well.

Shaking in the 60’s boasts dozens of straight forward cocktail recipes (the Beatnik the Bunny Hug and the Monkey Hugall feature Pernod), a surprisingly serious-minded section on wine, and a couple of pages devoted to non-alcoholic drinks.

If your child turns up their nose at Clark’s Remain Sober, serve ‘em an Albermarle Pussycat.

Clark also draws on his professional expertise to help home bartenders get a grip on measurement conversionssupply lists, and toasts.

So confident is he in his ability to help readers throw a truly memorable party, he includes a dishy party log, that probably should be kept under lock and key after it’s been filled out. We imagine it would pair well with the Morning Mashie, another Pernod-based concoction dedicated to “all those entering the hangover class.”

Delve into the Exposition Universelle des Vins et Spiritueux’ free collection of digitized vintage cocktail recipe books from the 1820s through the 1960s here.

via Messy Nessy

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

How England First Became England: An Animated History

Once you pay the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane. So discovered the rulers of the kings of the Anglo-Saxon era, during which England became subject to the threat of Viking invasions. It wasn’t, of course, the England we know today, but it wasn’t exactly not the England we know today either. The fact of the matter, according to the animated Knowledgia video above, is that England didn’t take its full form until 927 A.D.. In ten minutes, it goes on to encapsulate what happened in the foregoing century and a half to make England as we know it a viable geographical and political entity — a process that wasn’t without its complications.

“As the Roman Empire began to fade from the British isles,” explains the video’s narrator, “the area of modern-day England started to see a wave of migration from Anglo-Saxon Germanic tribes.” Then came attacks from the other direction, mounted by the Picts and Scots, whom the Germanic peoples eventually expelled — before taking power from the native Britons themselves. After a few centuries of division into various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, along came the Vikings. By the year 875, only the kingdom of Wessex hadn’t been overtaken by the Danes. Its king, Alfred, started the custom of paying them off before engaging and finally defeating them in the Battle of Edington.




The following generations of rulers of Wessex and the retaken kingdom of Mercia pushed north, taking back territory from the Danes a piece at at time. It was Æthelstan, who ruled from 925 to 939, who finally made it all the way up through Northumbria. “This is generally the time that most historians view the Kingdom of England as having been created,” but Æthelstan’s domain “was still not quite what we know as England today.” The king’s 937 invasion of Scotland, culminating in his victory in the Battle of Brunanburh, “may have truly solidified the unity of England, and stirred up a new sense of nationalism and pride amongst the English people.”

Not that the troubles ended there. After Æthelstan’s death, the Vikings returned to do a bit of reconquering, subsequently un-reconquered by the English under Edmund. Later came Eric Bloodaxe of Norway, who made inroads into England as fearsomely as his name would suggest, only to lose his conquered territories to the locals. The bloody conflicts involved in all this didn’t come to a pause until the reign of the aptly named Edgar the Peaceful, which began in late 959. Under Edgar “the true foundations of the English kingdoms could finally be established,” and he passed many reforms — but made sure to uphold the Danish law where it had been established. If recent history had offered any lesson, it was that one should never upset the Danes.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

What It’s Like to Actually Fight in Medieval Armor

Ever wonder what it was like to really fight while wearing a full suit of armor? We’ve featured a few historical reconstructions here on Open Culture, including a demonstration of the various ways combatants would vanquish their foe—including a sword right between the eyes. We’ve also shown you how long it took to create a suit of armor and the clever flexibility built into them. But really, don’t we want to see what it would be like in a full melee? In the above Vice documentary, you can finally sate your bloodlust.

Not that anyone dies in the MMA-like sword-and-chainmail brawls. In these public competitions, the weapons are blunted and contestants fight “not to the death, just until they fall over,” as the narrator somewhat sadly explains. It is just a legit sport as any other fighting challenge, and the injuries are real. There’s no fooling around with these people. They are serious, and a nation’s honor is still at stake.




This mini-doc follows the American team to the International Medieval Combat Federation World Championships in Montemor-o-Velho in Portugal. What looks like a regular Renaissance faire is only the decorations around the main, incredibly violent event. We see battles with longswords, short axes, shields used offensively and defensively, and a lot of pushing and shoving. Contestants go head-to-head, or five against five, or twelve against twelve.

Twenty-six countries take part, and I have to say for all the jingoistic hoo-hah I try to ignore, the American team’s very nicely designed stars and stripes battle gear looked pretty damn cool. The Vice team also discover an interesting cast of characters, like the Texan who wears his cowboy hat when he’s not wearing his combat helmet; the man who describes his fighting style as “nerd rage”; and the couple on their honeymoon who met while brutally beating each other in an earlier competition. (No, the knights here are not all men.).

There are injuries, sprains, broken bones. There’s also the madness of inhaling too much of your own CO2 inside the helmet; and smelling the ozone when a spark of metal-upon-metal flies into the helmet.

Thankfully nobody is fighting to the death or for King/Queen and Country. Just for the fun of adrenalin-based competition and bragging rights.

via BoingBoing

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

How Italian Physicist Laura Bassi Became the First Woman to Have an Academic Career in the 18th Century

The practice and privilege of academic science has been slow in trickling down from its origins as a pursuit of leisured gentleman. While many a leisured lady may have taken an interest in science, math, or philosophy, most women were denied participation in academic institutions and scholarly societies during the scientific revolution of the 1700s. Only a handful of women — seven known in total — were granted doctoral degrees before the year 1800. It wasn’t until 1678 that a female scholar was given the distinction, some four centuries or so after the doctorate came into being. While several intellectuals and even clerics of the time held progressive attitudes about gender and education, they were a decided minority.

Curiously, four of the first seven women to earn doctoral degrees were from Italy, beginning with Elena Cornaro Piscopia at the University of Padua. Next came Laura Bassi, who earned her degree from the University of Bologna in 1732. There she distinguished herself in physics, mathematics, and natural philosophy and became the first salaried woman to teach at a university (she was at one time the university’s highest paid employee). Bassi was the chief popularizer of Newtonian physics in Italy in the 18th century and enjoyed significant support from the Archbishop of Bologna, Prospero Lambertini, who — when he became Pope Benedict XIV — elected her as the 24th member of an elite scientific society called the Benedettini.




“Bassi was widely admired as an excellent experimenter and one of the best teachers of Newtonian physics of her generation,” says Paula Findlen, Stanford professor of history. “She inspired some of the most important male scientists of the next generation while also serving as a public example of a woman shaping the nature of knowledge in an era in which few women could imagine playing such a role.” She also played the role available to most women of the time as a mother of eight and wife of Giuseppe Veratti, also a scientist.

Bassi was not allowed to teach classes of men at the university — only special lectures open to the public. But in 1740, she was granted permission to lecture at her home, and her fame spread, as Findlen writes at Physics World:

 Bassi was widely known throughout Europe, and as far away as America, as the woman who understood Newton. The institutional recognition that she received, however, made her the emblematic female scientist of her generation. A university graduate, salaried professor and academician (a member of a prestigious academy), Bassi may well have been the first woman to have embarked upon a full-fledged scientific career.

Poems were written about Bassi’s successes in demonstrating Newtonian optics; “news of her accomplishments traveled far and wide,” reaching the ear of Benjamin Franklin, whose work with electricity Bassi followed keenly. In Bologna, surprise at Bassi’s achievements was tempered by a culture known for “celebrating female success.” Indeed, the city was “jokingly known as a ‘paradise for women,’” writes Findlen. Bassi’s father was determined that she have an education equal to any of her class, and her family inherited money that had been equally divided between daughters and sons for generations; her sons “found themselves heirs to the property that came to the family through Laura’s maternal line,” notes the Stanford University collection of Bassi’s personal papers.

Bassi’s academic work is held at the Academy of Sciences in Bologna. Of the papers that survive, “thirteen are on physics, eleven are on hydraulics, two are on mathematics, one is on mechanics, one is on technology, and one is on chemistry,” writes a University of St. Andrew’s biography. In 1776, a year usually remembered for the formation of a government of leisured men across the Atlantic, Bassi was appointed to the Chair of Experimental Physics at Bologna, an appointment that not only meant her husband became her assistant, but also that she became the “first woman appointed to a chair of physics at any university in the world.”

Bologna was proud of its distinguished daughter, but perhaps still thought of her as an oddity and a token. As Dr. Eleonora Adami notes in a charming biography at sci-fi illustrated stories, the city once struck a medal in her honor, “commemorating her first lecture series with the phrase ‘Soli cui fas vidisse Minervam,’” which translates roughly to “the only one allowed to see Minerva.” But her example inspired other women, like Cristina Roccati, who earned a doctorate from Bologna in 1750, and Dorothea Erxleben, who became the first woman to earn a Doctorate in Medicine four years later at the University of Halle. Such singular successes did not change the patriarchal culture of academia, but they started the trickle that would in time become several branching streams of women succeeding in the sciences.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Elvis Presley Gets the Polio Vaccine on The Ed Sullivan Show, Persuading Millions to Get Vaccinated (1956)

No one living has experienced a viral event the size and scope of COVID-19. Maybe the unprecedented nature of the pandemic explains some of the vaccine resistance. Diseases of such virulence became rare in places with ready access to vaccines, and thus, ironically, over time, have come to seem less dangerous. But there are still many people in wealthy nations who remember polio, an epidemic that dragged on through the first half of the 20th century before Jonas Salk perfected his vaccine in the mid-fifties.

Polio’s devastation has been summed up visually in textbooks and documentaries by the terrifying iron lung, an early ventilator. “At the height of the outbreaks in the late 1940s,” Meilan Solly writes at Smithsonian, “polio paralyzed an average of more than 35,000 people each year,” particularly affecting children, with 3,000 deaths in 1952 alone. “Spread virally, it proved fatal for two out of ten victims afflicted with paralysis. Though millions of parents rushed to inoculate their children following the introduction of Jonas Salk’s vaccine in 1955, teenagers and young adults had proven more reluctant to get the shot.”




At the time, there were no violent, organized protests against the vaccine, nor was resistance framed as a patriotic act of political loyalty. But “cost, apathy and ignorance became serious setbacks to the eradication effort,” says historian Stephen Mawdsley. And, then as now, irresponsible media personalities with large platforms and little knowledge could do a lot of harm to the public’s confidence in life-saving public health measures, as when influential gossip columnist Walter Winchell wrote that the vaccine “may be a killer,” discouraging countless readers from getting a shot.

When Elvis Presley made his first appearance on Ed Sullivan’s show in 1956, “immunization levels among American teens were at an abysmal 0.6 percent,” note Hal Hershfield and Ilana Brody at Scientific American. To counter impressions that the polio vaccine was dangerous, public health officials did not solely rely on getting more and better information to the public; they also took seriously what Hershfield and Brody call the “crucial ingredients inherent to many of the most effective behavioral change campaigns: social influence, social norms and vivid examples.” Satisfying all three, Elvis stepped up and agreed to get vaccinated “in front of millions” backstage before his second appearance on the Sullivan show.

Elvis could not have been more famous, and the campaign was a success for its target audience, establishing a new social norm through influence and example: “Vaccination rates among American youth skyrocketed to 80 percent after just six months.” Despite the threat he supposedly posed to the establishment, Elvis himself was ready to serve the public. “I certainly never wanna do anything,” he said, “that would be a wrong influence.” See in the short video at the top how American public health officials stopped millions of preventable deaths and disabilities by admitting a fact propagandists and advertisers never shy from — humans, on the whole, are easily persuaded by celebrities. Sometimes they can even be persuaded for the good.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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