Richard Drew / AP

The efficacy of therapy animals — a mental health trend seen everywhere from airplanes to college campuses — isn't totally backed up by scientific research, per The Washington Post.

The problem: The research around the topic is relatively scarce and prone to cherry-picking, thanks to small sample sizes or poor, if any, control groups. It's particularly difficult to isolate if a person's lower anxiety levels are due to proximity to an animal or any number of other reasons associated with caring for it.

An explanation: The biophilia hypothesis states that humans evolved a need to enjoy the company of other creatures. That might be difficult to quantify with scientific research but that may not matter:

"Throughout history, animals gave us some comfort. So if it works for you and me in a relatively normal environment, maybe it has a special role for someone who has a depression and stress disorder — that just makes sense," Purdue's Alan Beck said. "The literature does show it's not bad. And that's just as important."

Why the science matters: Medical applications. WaPo cites the VA refusing to fund service dogs for veterans with PTSD in 2012, which led the department to embark on a multiyear study to determine the efficacy of therapy dogs.

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Updated 17 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m. ET: 18,387,725 — Total deaths: 696,586 — Total recoveries — 10,976,180Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m. ET: 4,758,028 — Total deaths: 156,426 — Total recoveries: 1,513,446 — Total tests: 57,543,852Map.
  3. States: New York City health commissioner resigns in protest of De Blasio's coronavirus response — Local governments go to war over schools.
  4. Public health: 59% of Americans support nationwide 2-week stay-at-home order in NPR poll.
  5. Politics: Trump's national security adviser returns to work after coronavirus recovery Republicans push to expand small business loan program.
  6. Sports: Indy 500 to be held without fansRafael Nadal opts out of U.S. Open.
Updated 39 mins ago - World

At least 50 killed, 3,000 injured after massive explosion rocks Beirut

Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

A major explosion has slammed central Beirut, Lebanon, damaging buildings as far as several miles away and injuring scores of people.

Driving the news: Lebanon's health minister said in televised remarks that more than 50 people have been killed and over 3,000 injured. Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the explosions occurred at a warehouse that had been storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate for the past six years, per NBC.

"Mulan" will head to Disney+, home to more than 60 million subscribers

An outdoor ad for Disney's "Mulan" in Hollywood, California. Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

Disney announced Tuesday that its most highly-anticipated blockbuster of the year, the live-action remake of "Mulan," is heading to Disney+ on Sept. 4 for consumers to purchase for a premium access fee of $29.99. The movie's theatrical debut had previously been delayed four times.

Why it matters: It's a huge blow to movie exhibitors across the country that were relying on the Disney hit to come exclusively to theaters for at least a few months before being made available to consumers at home via streaming.