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Mike Pence and conservative activists want Joy Behar to apologize on behalf of "offended" Christians everywhere, but it turns out that outrage is manufactured purely to score political points.

It all began back in February when "The View" co-host took part in a segment on whether the vice president's religious views are good for the country.

After two of her co-hosts mocked the VP for reportedly claiming to speak directly with Jesus Christ, Behar quipped, "It's one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That's called mental illness, if I'm not correct — hearing voices."


Pence said that Behar and ABC should apologize to all Christians for using "The View" as "a forum for invective against religion like that." Behar apologized to Pence in a private phone call after poking fun at him.

Behar's manager claims Pence told her he wasn't personally offended. "The vice president was very gracious and very understanding. He understood that Joy wasn’t attacking anybody and that there was some miscommunication."

Photos by Nick Step/Flickr and Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

The apology demand appears to have been a manufactured campaign from a right-wing interest group.

Why did Pence allegedly strike such a different tone in private versus his harsher public comments?

It might have something to do with the Media Research Center, a conservative advocacy group whose function seems to be to attack people and institutions in the media it feels reflect a bias against conservative views. Since Behar's comments last month, the group has been organizing a petition campaign among its members and has reportedly made 30,000 complaint calls to ABC.

All of which seems a little odd, given that Pence accepted Behar's apology weeks ago.

Nonetheless, it's possible Behar still owes an apology — but it's not to the conservative media activists now trying to create a controversy around a perceived persecution.

If Behar owes anyone an apology, it's to those affected by mental illness.

Behar's joke did lack good taste, but not because she supposedly offended Christians. After all, no faith leaders or organizations have publicly complained about her comments. Behar's joke did lack good taste, but not because she supposedly offended Christians. After all, no faith leaders or organizations have publicly complained about her comments. Instead, Behar was insensitive to those with mental illness. These sorts of jokes and offhand comments create stigma and prop up an culture that inflicts suffering and even death upon people with mental illnesses.

Whether she was right or wrong, it was a decent move on Behar's behalf to offer Pence a public apology. And if the reports are accurate, it sounds like Pence also was gracious during their call.

But let's not lose sight of the fact that her joke was absolutely not an attack of Christians or any of faith for that matter. Generating false outrage to score political points doesn't seem like the good samaritan thing to do.

Instead, the next positive step could be for Behar and Pence to agree that jokes referencing mental illness should remain off-limits, and they can take their political disagreements elsewhere.

All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

It's incredible what a double-sided magnet can do.

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Fifteen-year-old George Tindale and his dad, Kevin, 52, of Grantham, Lincolnshire in the U.K., made an incredible find earlier this month when they used two magnets to pull up a safe that had been submerged in the River Witham.

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