Category Archives: Slate

Do Straight Guys Care How Many Men Their Girlfriends Have Slept With?

Ultimately, rather than their partner’s capital-N Number, the guys I spoke to said qualitative aspects of their partners’ pasts were more troublesome than anything quantitative. For two of the guys, both of whom described their girlfriends’ previous numbers as high, learning specifics about their girlfriends’ exes bothered them much more than the numbers. The 26-year-old said that when he learned about his girlfriend and one of her ex’s former rendezvous locations, the couple had a big fight. “It’s always worse when you have a specific location or detail or something,” he said. The 36-year-old agreed. “[He was] the best lover you’ve ever had, but he treated you like shit, so you think he’s an asshole, but really, aw, if he was just a nicer guy, then it’d all be great—that’s like, the worst conversation to have,” he said. “By the time I was in my late 20s, I wouldn’t ask. In my mind, it’s not my business.”

Others also spoke about anxieties about being compared to exes. The 32-year-old said his wife only has a couple of men in her past, which makes it easier for him to let go of anxiety about where he falls in her sexual rankings. “My gut reaction would be self-consciousness about if I was the biggest or the best, or if she was happy with me, or if the guy before me was better than I was,” he said. The 26-year-old said that his girlfriend’s number didn’t trouble him at all when he first learned it, near the start of their relationship. But as their relationship progressed, it started to bother him—which in itself bothers him. “I don’t know if I’m too sensitive or it’s something that happens when you get more attached to someone,” he said. “Suddenly you start feeling more jealous about things from the past.”

This was maybe the most intriguing theme running through my conversations. It’s not that these men judge women for having active sexual pasts. It’s that the women’s sexual pasts lead these men to judge themselves.

Read more in Slate.

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The Last Time Seymour Hersh’s Reporting Raised Doubts

On Sunday, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published a story in the London Review of Books calling the Obama administration’s account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden pure fiction, a cover story for an elaborate conspiracy between the American and Pakistani governments. Immediately, many began questioning the reporting in Hersh’s story. For a person familiar with Hersh’s famous revelations about the My Lai massacre and Abu Ghraib, the idea that he is even capable of producing shoddy journalism is shocking.

But the criticism of Hersh’s latest piece echoes the controversy that recently met Hersh after he published two other stories—in December 2013 and April 2014, also in the London Review—about the Syrian civil war. Both stories cited anonymous sources, corroborated by second- and third-hand accounts, saying that Syrian rebels, not the Assad regime, were the first to use chemical weapons in the country’s ongoing civil war, specifically in a sarin gas attack on Ghouta, Syria, on Aug. 21, 2013.

Read more at Slate.

Explosive, Controversial New Report by Seymour Hersh Says Obama Administration Lied About Bin Laden Raid

Among the report’s most explosive claims is that the U.S. did not find Bin Laden by tracking his couriers, as the government and most official accounts have reported. Instead, according to the Hersh report, the U.S. paid a $25 million reward to an unnamed former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who “betrayed the secret” of Bin Laden’s whereabouts. Hersh’s report says that this officer was relocated to Washington, D.C. and now works as a consultant for the CIA.

The story also claims that Bin Laden’s burial at sea never happened, that Bin Laden was an invalid when the SEALs raided the compound and killed him, and that there was no firefight at all during the SEAL raid. Additionally, Hersh’s account says that the ISI captured and set bin Laden up in Abbottabad in the first place, to use him as “leverage” in the country’s dealings with al-Qaida and the Taliban.

In the piece, Hersh provides a thrilling, if questionable, alternative account of how the U.S. learned about Bin Laden’s compound, of the raid itself, and of the internal political arguments that followed President Obama’s announcement of the assassination.

Read more at Slate.

Forget the Dress—What Color Is the Light?!

When we look at the photo, we know instantly that it looks different from the way the dress would look in real life. The background is very bright, and as a result, we have few hints about what the photo’s light looks like in real life. The light could be orange like a living room or a streetlight, or it could be blue like sunlight or a daylight bulb. Some of us subconsciously decided the light was orange; others decided the light was blue. Which color we chose affected our perception of the color of the dress, on which that light was shining. That subconscious choice nearly tore us all apart Thursday night—it might have broken up Kimye.

Our brains make these unconscious choices all the time. Think of a white piece of paper under a streetlight; it might look orange. But in this case, we know the paper is white to begin with, and that it’s being lit by orange light. We know a lot more in that situation than we did with the picture of the dress. That is, if we know the paper is white to begin with, we know the light is orange to begin with, and we’re not confused if the paper looks a little orange. Unfortunately, cameras aren’t always as good at compensating for different-colored light as we are. In the picture of the dress, the background is blurry, and the color of the light in the picture of the dress is ambiguous.

Read more at Slate.