The perfect bracket

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FILE - This Wednesday, March 20, 2019, file photo shows a basketball with March Madness 2019 in a rack before Michigan practice at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. An Ohio man has made history with a March Madness bracket that's perfect through 48 games on the's "Bracket Challenge," according to the NCAA. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

FILE - This Wednesday, March 20, 2019, file photo shows a basketball with March Madness 2019 in a rack before Michigan practice at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. An Ohio man has made history with a March Madness bracket that's perfect through 48 games on the's "Bracket Challenge," according to the NCAA. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

Man picks perfect NCAA tourney bracket heading into Sweet 16

Tuesday, March 26

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man has made history with a March Madness bracket that’s perfect through 48 games on the’s “Bracket Challenge,” according to the NCAA.

Gregg Nigl of Columbus told The Columbus Dispatch he almost didn’t fill out his bracket last week, saying he was home sick just hours before the deadline. But he felt bad about not entering a bracket in his friend’s tournament group.

Instead, he correctly predicted every game through the first two rounds of the 2019 NCAA tournament.

The NCAA bracket tracker says the bracket is the only perfect one remaining across all major online bracket games, including Yahoo, ESPN, CBS, Fox, Sports Illustrated and the NCAA’s own contest. It’s the longest streak of correct bracket picks, breaking the reported record of 39 games, which happened in 2017.

The NCAA says the odds of a perfect bracket are 1 in 9.2 quintillion — so bettors, take the under.

Nigl, 40, said he researched his picks, doing his homework after the tournament field was unveiled, including watching some of the bracket shows on TV.

In addition to his historic bracket, two of Nigl’s other three brackets are in first place in their groups, the Dispatch said.

Nigl has been watching the games closely, stopping on a recent trip with his wife at a brewery in Erie, Pennsylvania, to watch Michigan beat Florida in the Round of 32. Nigl, who grew up in Michigan, is a lifelong Wolverines fan.

In his perfect bracket, Nigl has No. 1 Gonzaga beating No. 2 Kentucky for the national title. Duke and Virginia round out his Final Four.

While Nigl likes how he picked the remaining games, he isn’t counting on his bracket to stay perfect.

“Seeing the odds of a perfect bracket up until this point, I’m not very confident that it will stay that way,” Nigl said. “But anything can happen.”

ODNR Director Announces New Natural Areas and Preserves Chief

COLUMBUS, OH – Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz named Jeff Johnson as Chief of the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves on March 20, 2019. Johnson brings nearly 25 years of experience working for the department.

Johnson began his career with ODNR as a seasonal maintenance worker for the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves after college. Since that time, he has served in a variety of roles, from naturalist to park manager at Hocking Hills State Park. No matter his assignment, he has maintained his commitment to protect Ohio’s rich ecological history.

“The Division of Natural Areas and Preserves works every day to protect Ohio’s most precious, unique, and rare natural resources,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “Jeff’s passion and expertise will be key to our ability to protect Ohio’s natural beauty and biological integrity for generations to come.”

Johnson takes on the task of guiding the division through a rebuilding process and return it and its programs to national prominence. He will also oversee the return of the Scenic Rivers Program as an integral part of the division. Daily operations include protecting Ohio’s rare and endangered species, unique geological features and threatened ecosystems, and Ohio’s 15 scenic rivers. The efforts of the staff will focus on increasing public outreach through educational programs for visitors as well as working with our school systems to teach future generations about the importance of conservation. Johnson will also increase the state’s efforts on managing invasive species.

Johnson holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Ohio University. He resides with his wife on a small farm in Fairfield County.

The Division of Natural Areas and Preserves is responsible for identifying, acquiring, and managing lands in Ohio that represent examples of Ohio’s natural landscape types, natural vegetation, and geological history. These sites, dedicated as State Nature Preserves, protect more than 30,000 acres of land that have ecological significance. In addition, the 15 designated Scenic Rivers found across the state protect a total of 831 miles of designated stream corridor and an additional 6,000 acres of streamside forests and fields. These preserves and scenic rivers together serve as sanctuaries for many of Ohio’s rare plants and animals.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE Returns with King for a Day! at the Palace April 28

The hugely popular Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE!, based on the #1 PBS Kids TV series, has delighted live audiences on stages across the country. Now in its fourth year of touring, your favorite characters are hopping back on Trolley, and coming to town with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE: King for a Day! Daniel and all his friends invite audiences to a brand-new adventure in the “Neighborhood of Make-Believe” where Daniel learns just what it takes to be King. The beloved characters come alive on stage to captivate with new songs to sing along to, magical moments, and surprise guests along the way. It’s an event filled with tiger-tastic fun, teaching the valuable lessons of kindness, helping others, and being a friend.

CAPA presents Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE: King for a Day! at the Palace Theatre (34 W. Broad St.) on Sunday, April 28, at 4 pm. Tickets are $30-$78.50 (VIP) and can be purchased in-person at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), online at, or by phone at (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000.

PBS Kids web site:

The Fred Rogers Company web site:

Produced by Mills Entertainment:

Rep. Crawley’s bipartisan bill to benefit Ohio veterans clears Ohio House unanimously

Bill offers security and stability by putting money back in the pockets of Ohio veterans

COLUMBUS— State Rep. Erica C. Crawley (D-Columbus) today announced the unanimous passage of House Bill (HB) 18, the Ohio Veterans’ Exemption Payment Act, her bipartisan bill alongside Rep. A. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana) to exempt veterans’ disability severance payments from the state income tax.

“As a Navy veteran, daughter, and sister of a veteran, I recognize how this bill will have an enormous impact on our veterans and their families. With the passing of this legislation, we are keeping Ohio’s promise of security and stability to those who honorably served their country,” said Rep. Crawley. “I am proud that my first bill to pass the House is bipartisan and an example of what the Ohio General Assembly can achieve when we all work together.”

HB 18 would authorize a temporary refundable income tax credit equal to the Ohio income tax paid by such a veteran on disability severance pay for taxable years ending after January 17, 1991.

In 2017, there were some 774,935 veterans in Ohio with 134,742 receiving disability compensation, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

House Bill 18 now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

The Conversation

Extreme weather news may not change climate change skeptics’ minds

March 27, 2019

Author: Ryan Weber, Associate Professor of English, University of Alabama in Huntsville

Disclosure statement: Ryan Weber does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

The year 2018 brought particularly devastating natural disasters, including hurricanes, droughts, floods and fires – just the kinds of extreme weather events scientists predict will be exacerbated by climate change.

Amid this destruction, some people see an opportunity to finally quash climate change skepticism. After all, it seems hard to deny the realities of climate change – and object to policies fighting it – while its effects visibly wreck communities, maybe even your own.

News outlets have hesitated to connect natural disasters and climate change, though these connections are increasing, thanks to calls from experts combined with more precise data about the effects of climate change. Media voices like The Guardian advocate for more coverage of the weather events “when people can see and feel climate change.” Harvard’s Nieman Foundation dubbed 2019 “The Year of the Climate Reporter.” Even conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh worried that media predictions about Hurricane Florence were attempts to “heighten belief in climate change.”

But a recent study from Ohio State University communications scholars found that news stories connecting climate change to natural disasters actually backfire among skeptics. As someone who also studies scientific communication, I find these results fascinating. It’s easy to assume that presenting factual information will automatically change people’s minds, but messages can have complex, frustrating persuasive effects.

Investigating how skeptics hear the news

Social scientists have an unclear understanding of how climate change news affects public opinion, as not enough research has specifically explored that question. To explore the question, researchers from Ohio State recruited 1,504 volunteers. They divided them into groups who read news stories about natural disasters – fires, hurricanes or blizzards – that either emphasized or omitted the role of climate change.

Cleverly, the researchers recruited participants from geographic areas most likely to experience the disasters they read about; for instance, participants in hurricane-prone areas read the news articles about hurricanes. Further, the researchers ran the study in fall 2017, during hurricane and wildfire season, when these sorts of disasters are presumably top of mind.

After reading, participants answered 11 questions meant to measure their resistance to the article, including “Sometimes I wanted to ‘argue back’ against what I read” and “I found myself looking for flaws in the way information was presented.”

It turned out that climate change skeptics – whether politically conservative or liberal – showed more resistance to the stories that mentioned climate change. Climate change themes also made skeptics more likely to downplay the severity of the disasters. At the same time, the same articles made people who accept climate change perceive the hazards as more severe.

The study findings suggest that reporting the relationship between climate change and hazardous weather may actually increase the skepticism of skeptics, even in the face of blatant contrary evidence. Psychologists call this the boomerang effect, because the message ultimately sends people in the opposite direction.

Who’s hearing the message matters

The boomerang effects seen in this latest study are less surprising than you might think. Researchers have tried a variety of strategies, including emphasizing scientific consensus around climate change and describing the negative health impacts of climate change on people near and far, only to find that skeptics often end up more entrenched after reading attempts to persuade them.

Messages can work when they use place to increase people’s concern and willingness to act on climate change, but individual studies show inconsistent results. One new study gave Bay Area participants maps showing the increased flood risk in their zip code due to projected sea level rise. The maps made no difference in people’s concern about the effects of climate change on future generations, developing countries or the Bay Area. But the maps did make people who accept climate change less concerned that it would personally harm them. These participants may have replaced their abstract, apocalyptic assumptions about climate change threats with the more tangible predictions, causing them to feel less vulnerable.

Another study, also involving Californians, generated slightly more success for place-based climate change news, but only among participants who were already concerned about climate change. Study participants read news articles explaining that climate change would increase droughts either globally or in California. The global message made people more likely to want policy changes, while the local messages made people more likely to say they would change their personal behavior.

Place-based appeals often have some positive effect on people’s willingness to act on climate change and environmental issues.

But most studies about local messaging suggest that you cannot persuade everyone with the same message. A complex relationship of factors – including previous beliefs on climate change, political affiliation, and attachment to place and gender – can all play a role.

And psychologists offer compelling reasons why persuasive attempts sometimes backfire. Messages about the local impact of climate change might actually replace people’s abstract, altruistic values with utilitarian concerns. In the case of skeptics resisting news about climate-driven disasters, the researchers from Ohio State suggest that these people are engaged in motivated reasoning, a cognitive bias where people force new and threatening information to conform to their pre-existing knowledge.

More news may not convince

Resistance to news about climate change disasters might be frustrating, but even the media often ignore the role of climate change in disasters, according to an analysis by the nonprofit consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen. They found only 7 percent of American news stories about hurricanes mentioned climate change in 2018. Percentages increase for stories about wildfires (27.8 percent of stories), extreme heat (34 percent of stories) and drought (35 percent of stories). But an overwhelming amount of extreme weather news coverage never mentions climate change.

Some omissions are particularly striking. Liberal research organization Media Matters found only one mention of climate change in 127 broadcast news stories during two weeks of extreme heat in 2018. Only about 4 percent of stories about Hurricane Irma and Harvey mentioned climate change, according to an academic analysis that included The Houston Chronicle and the Tampa Bay Times.

Despite these low numbers, U.S. climate change coverage related to extreme weather and disasters actually rose in 2018, according to the report from Public Citizen. This increase aligns with a trend of news slowly improving its climate reporting. For instance, U.S. print media has dropped some of the skepticism from its climate change reporting, both in terms of outright skepticism of the basic science and a subtler version that involved creating a false balance by including voices which both affirm and deny the reality of climate change.

Even if the media continues to increase and improve its climate change coverage, it might not change skeptics’ minds. Of course, the media has a responsibility to report the news accurately, regardless of how some people process it. But those hoping that climate change news will convert skeptics might end up disappointed.

Given this resistance to news, other approaches, such as avoiding fear-inducing and guilt-based messaging, creating targeted messages about free-market solutions, or deploying a kind of “jiu jitsu” persuasion that aligns with pre-existing attitudes, may prove more effective at influencing skeptics. In the meantime, social scientists will continue to investigate ways to combat the stubborn boomerang effect, even as the consequences of climate change intensify all around us.

Social media has remarkably small impact on Americans’ beliefs

Facebook users actually more accurate in 2016 election

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Social media had only a small influence on how much people believed falsehoods about candidates and issues in the last two presidential elections, a pair of new national studies found.

And Facebook – which came under fire for spreading misinformation in the 2016 campaign – actually reduced mis-perceptions by users in that election compared to those who consumed only other social media.

The results suggest that we need to put the dangers of social media spreading misinformation in perspective, said R. Kelly Garrett, author of the study and professor of communication at The Ohio State University.

“Given the amount of attention given to the issue, it may seem surprising that social media doesn’t have a larger impact on Americans’ belief in falsehoods,” Garrett said.

“It is an issue that we should be concerned about, but it is not the main driver of why so many people believe false information about issues and candidates.”

The study was published today (March 27, 2019) in the journal PLOS ONE.

In previous research, Garrett found evidence suggesting that email contributed to the spread of false information in the 2008 election, before social media was as popular as it is today. Garrett specifically designed these studies to gauge the role of social media in what Americans believed in the last two election campaigns.

Reliance on social media for political news has increased rapidly. In 2012, about two in five Americans reported using social media for political purposes, according to the Pew Research Center.

In 2016, more Americans named Facebook as the source they used for pre-election political information than any other site, including those of major news organizations, this new research found.

“This study began long before ‘fake news’ became as popular a topic as it is today. But the questions that drive this study are very much in keeping with our concerns about how disinformation is spread online,” Garrett said.

During both the 2012 and 2016 election seasons, groups of more than 600 Americans filled out surveys online three times, indicating their social media use at each point as well as their beliefs in confirmed falsehoods.

The 2012 study involved misperceptions about the two presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Participants rated on a five-point scale how much they agreed with eight falsehoods, including “Barack Obama is Muslim, not Christian” and “As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney signed a health care law providing taxpayer-funded abortions.”

Overall, Republicans tended to hold less accurate beliefs about President Obama than Democrats did, while Democrats held less accurate beliefs about Romney than did Republicans.

Results showed that increasing social media use reduced participants’ belief accuracy about Obama falsehoods, although the effect was small.

In the most extreme case, someone using social media to get political information could have an accuracy score concerning Obama falsehoods almost half a point lower on the five-point scale than someone who did not use social media at all.

Social media use did not influence belief in the Romney falsehoods, Garrett said. One important reason may be that the rumors about Romney were much less known than those about Obama.

The 2016 study focused on false beliefs about four campaign issues. The mis-perceptions studied were: Repealing the Affordable Care Act would reduce the national debt; Most Muslims support violence against Western countries, including the U.S.; Immigrants are more likely to commit violent crimes than individuals born in the U.S.; and Human activity has no influence on global climate.

After considering more than a dozen potential issues, Garrett selected these four because they were referenced most frequently on the campaign trail and received extensive media coverage, and because of evidence that Americans were at least occasionally mistaken about them.

Results showed that, overall, Republicans beliefs tended to be less accurate than those of Democrats, which made sense because the falsehoods were a prominent part of the Republican campaign strategy, Garrett said.

Participants with higher levels of education held more accurate beliefs.

Unlike in 2012, participants in 2016 were asked which social media platforms they used during each of the three waves of the study.

Facebook was the most popular social media platform for following news among study participants, followed by YouTube and Twitter.

Overall, social media use was not related to participants’ belief accuracy on the four issues.

But the influence of using social media was different for people who used Facebook than for people who only used other platforms. Among the heaviest social media users, those who used Facebook were about a half point more accurate on the five-point scale, on average, than those who didn’t.

“It is not a huge difference, but it does call into question the conventional wisdom that Facebook had an especially harmful influence on campaign issue beliefs,” Garrett said.

He said the small effects found in this study don’t mean we should ignore the problem of fake news shared on social media – but we should reevaluate its role in Americans’ belief in falsehoods.

“We have evidence that foreign powers have tried to sway American elections by sharing falsehoods on social media and that is profoundly troubling. If it has an effect, even a small one, we should be deeply concerned,” he said.

“But we need to have a broader perspective on the problem. We know that Americans hold beliefs that are not accurate, with frightening regularity. And if social media aren’t the primary driver of this, we really should invest more energy into finding out what else is going on.”

The study was based on work supported by the National Science Foundation.


FILE – This Wednesday, March 20, 2019, file photo shows a basketball with March Madness 2019 in a rack before Michigan practice at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. An Ohio man has made history with a March Madness bracket that’s perfect through 48 games on the’s "Bracket Challenge," according to the NCAA. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File) – This Wednesday, March 20, 2019, file photo shows a basketball with March Madness 2019 in a rack before Michigan practice at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. An Ohio man has made history with a March Madness bracket that’s perfect through 48 games on the’s "Bracket Challenge," according to the NCAA. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)
News & Views

Staff & Wire Reports