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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Jeremy Corbyn suspended by U.K. Labour Party over anti-Semitism report

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The U.K. Labour Party has suspended its former leader, Jeremy Corbyn, after a watchdog report found that the party failed to properly take action against allegations of anti-Semitism during his time in charge.

Why it matters: It represents a strong break by Keir Starmer, Labour's current leader, from the Corbyn era and one of the party's most persistent scandals.

U.S. economy sees record growth in third quarter

The U.S. economy grew at a 33.1% annualized pace in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said on Thursday.

The state of play: The record growth follows easing of the coronavirus-driven lockdowns that pushed the economy to the worst-ever contraction — but GDP still remains well below its pre-pandemic level.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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