News Updates

Mystery mass-fainting epidemic

June 2, 2023
Hello, Insiders. Jack Sommers, senior editor in the UK, here. Hundreds of kids fainted and no one knew why. They were in different schools, hundreds of miles apart. At first, authorities suspected drugs, but experts now believe the truth is far, far stranger.


I learned a lot from today’s extraordinary Big Story.


In today’s edition: 

— Jack Sommers


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Debt ceiling, AI, & mortgage fraud

  • The US Senate passed the debt-ceiling bill to avoid a default. The bill now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law. Read more.
  • An AI-powered drone tried to attack its human operator in a simulation. An Air Force official said the drone thought the operator was “keeping it from accomplishing its objective.” More here.
  • A man rented a home and then impersonated the owner, applied for a mortgage, and stole the money, police said. The full story.

Mass fainting

Tara Anand for Insider
Last fall, 227 children mysteriously fainted in at least six middle schools across Mexico.

Police swept the halls for drugs. Mexico’s president began providing regular updates on the fainting episodes in daily press conferences. But still, no answers were found.

Diverse theories appeared in the press: fertilizer poisoning, a rare bacterial illness, “probable smoke inhalation.” But what really caused it? Well, researchers think they now know. In the Middle Ages, it was known as “dancing mania.” Today, it goes by “mass hysteria.”

But how could hysteria spread across hundreds of miles, through multiple different states, between people who never physically interacted?

The working theory is that the internet, coupled with the psychological and developmental disturbance of the pandemic, was the agent of transmission.


Putin, AI’s dangers, & more

Contributor/Getty Images


  • Putin is terrified of being assassinated. The Russian president has long been concerned about his safety — and uses elaborate layers of security. He was even refusing to travel abroad after a drone attack near his luxury home, reports said. More here.
  • AI is getting out of control and is creating a generational divide. Insider’s Spriha Srivastava writes that the rapid development of AI is fueling division between different generations. But it’s not just boomers and millennials that are worried — tech leaders are, too. Read more.
  • Disney CEO Bob Iger’s book hints at how he’ll handle the Florida feud. He and Gov. Ron DeSantis have been battling since Disney criticized a Florida bill, which critics dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The corporate world is watching every move closely. But Iger’s book might have already laid it out for us. Check it out here.
  • Astronomers just noticed a “fake moon” following the Earth around the sun. The asteroid is thought to have been tailing our planet since 100 BC. And it travels at around the same path and pace as Earth. See the astronomical details here.
  • “I worked side by side with Elizabeth Holmes.” Patrick O’Neill worked closely with the disgraced Theranos CEO. He shared what it was like to experience the company’s rise and fall from the inside. Get the full story.
  • Slang terms you only hear in prison. Correctional officers told Insider that they kept their ears piqued for terms like “fish” and “Ninja Turtles.” They’re code words that could lead to trouble, they said. Get the full list here.
  • “Mediocrity will be automated.” AI is going to make many workers more productive, but the people stuck in the middle — mainly mid-career, mid-ability white-collar workers — are set to be negatively affected the most. Get the whole story.

Air taxi

Archer Aviation


United’s Midnight air taxi. United Airlines ordered $1 billion worth of Archer Aviation’s electric air taxi, “Midnight.” The eVTOL is optimized to fly short-haul missions between city centers and airports, and is on track to debut by 2025 — check it out.

Boot Camp

Insider spent 12 days inside the US Army’s Jungle Operations Training Course. Eighty students began the course on day one, but only 51 made it to graduation. Watch the first feature-length documentary from our “Boot Camp” series here.

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This edition was curated by Jack Sommers, and edited by Hallam Bullock, Nathan Rennolds, Diamond Naga Siu, and J.R. Stacey. Get in touch:

Categories: News Updates

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