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Lance’s Lies, the Sandy Hook Truthers, and the Debt Ceiling

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Oprah Winfrey interviewed Lance Armstrong about his doping; the interview aired this week on Oprah’s television network.

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

One Big Lie: Lance Armstrong wants you to forgive his doping—and forget his intimidation tactics,” by William Saletan. Having openly admitted to doping, Lance Armstrong now denies all charges of intimidation. But Saletan presents four separate instances in which Armstrong threatened fellow cyclists to preserve his reputation.

Don’t Blame the Sandy Hook Truthers: Gun massacre conspiracy theories follow every massacre—fed in part by the NRA,” by David Weigel. Weigel explores the latest conspiracy theory birthed from the dark recesses of the Internet and gaining traction among the logically unsound: The Sandy Hook “truther” movement claims that the Newtown massacre may have been propagated, then covered up, by government operatives with an agenda.

 “The Mysteriously Memorable 20s: Why do we remember more from young adulthood than from any other time of our lives?” by Katy Waldman. Waldman explores the science behind the particular intensity and clarity with which our brains retain memories from our 20s. This phenomenon, the “reminiscence bump,” keeps this formative decade alive well into our golden years.

What if Congress Doesn’t Raise the Debt Ceiling? If the government doesn’t pay its bills on time, a 7 percent drop in GDP will be just the start of our problems,” by Matthew Yglesias. Yglesias discusses the terrifying unknown that the country will face should Congress and the Obama administration fail to reach an agreement to raise the debt ceiling by late February. The Treasury Department will have run out of money to pay federal bills and we could face a total disaster.

The Early Education Racket: If you are reading this article, your kid probably doesn’t need preschool,” by Melinda Wenner Moyer. Moyer shares research by social psychologist Richard Nisbett and others that suggests that only children from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit from  preschool, so all the handwringing by well-off parents as to whether to send their kids to a Waldorf preschool or Montessori preschool, “doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.”

What’s A Z Really Worth? Why efforts to assign Scrabble tiles their “real value” miss the point of the game,” by Stephen Fatsis. Linguists want to recalibrate Scrabble’s point values to match the current lexicon. Fatsis explains that this would have a disastrous effect on decades of Scrabble strategy.

Is the Neurodiversity Movement Misrepresenting Autism? The curious case histories of some of autism’s biggest celebrities,” by Amy S.F. Lutz. In the autism community, some treat autism as a disability and others—including members of the neurodiversity movement—claim that autism is merely a different way of thinking and interacting with the world. Yet is the neurodiversity movement arguing from ignorance? Lutz suggests it is delaying the development of treatments that could help children afflicted with the most severe forms of autism.

Is Facebook Finally Useful? How the social network’s new search engine could change the way you use the Web,” by Farhad Manjoo. Manjoo discusses Facebook’s newest feature, a search engine they’re calling Graph Search. The search has shifted Facebook from a purely fun, social outlet to a still fun and social outlet with a little more purpose and utility. 

Good Riddance, ‘Pro-Choice’: Planned Parenthood abandons the bourgeois term. How about calling it ‘pro-freedom’?” by Katie Roiphe. Planned Parenthood has announced that they will no longer be using the term “pro-choice.” The movement is now grasping for a term both powerful and respectful enough to express the crucial and complicated idea of a woman’s right to control her body.

Lutzes, Axels, and Toe Loops, Oh My! How elite figure skater Brianna Laxson spins, jumps, and somehow lands on her feet,” by Torie Bosch and Andrew Bouve. Laxson is a 13-year-old about to compete in the 2013 National Championships For the Slate Doers series, Bosch and Bouve team up to see if they can uncover the secret to her success.