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Our top global posts might change how you think about hunters, AI and hellos

Images from some of our most popular global stories of 2023 (left to right): A woman from Brazil's Awa people holds her bow and arrow after a hunt; an artificial intelligence program made this fake photo to fulfill a request for "doctors help children in Africa"  — AI added the giraffe; researchers are learning that a stranger's hello can do more than just brighten your day.
Scott Wallace/Getty Images, Midjourney Bot Version 5.1. Annotation by NPR, David Rowland/AP
Images from some of our most popular global stories of 2023 (left to right): A woman from Brazil's Awa people holds her bow and arrow after a hunt; an artificial intelligence program made this fake photo to fulfill a request for "doctors help children in Africa" — AI added the giraffe; researchers are learning that a stranger's hello can do more than just brighten your day.

We did a lot of coverage of viruses this year (see this post) but other stories went viral as well.

The post with the most pageviews tackled a diverse array of topics. New research upends hunter/gatherer gender stereotypes. Preliminary results from a study in Kenya on how to help peope who are poor show the power of handing over cash — and a lump sum seems more effective than a monthly payout. And psychologists are finding that when a stranger gives a greeting, it's not just an empty gesture.

Here are our most popular stories (not about viruses) from 2023.

It's one of the biggest experiments in fighting global poverty. Now the results are in

The study focuses on a universal basic income and spans 12 years and thousands of people in Kenya. How did the money change lives? What's better: monthly payouts or a lump sum. Published December 7, 2023.

Men are hunters, women are gatherers. That was the assumption. A new study upends it

For decades, scientists have believed that early humans had a division of labor: Men generally did the hunting and women did the gathering. And this view hasn't been limited to academics. Now a new study suggests the vision of early men as the exclusive hunters is simply wrong – and that evidence that early women were also hunting has been there all along. July 1, 2023.

It's one of the world's toughest anti-smoking laws. The Māori see a major flaw

New Zealand has declared war on tobacco with a remarkable new law. The indigenous Māori population, with the country's highest smoking rate, has a lot to gain. But they have a bone of contention. October 1, 2023. (Editor's note: New Zealand's new conservative government has vowed to repeal the anti-smoking law; we covered that development as well.)

Why a stranger's hello can do more than just brighten your day

Just saying "hello" to a passerby can be a boon for both of you. As researchers explore the impact of interactions with strangers and casual acquaintances, they're shedding light on how seemingly fleeting conversations affect your happiness and well-being. August 23, 2023.

AI was asked to create images of Black African docs treating white kids. How'd it go?

Researchers were curious if artificial intelligence could fulfill the order. Or would built-in biases short-circuit the request? Let's see what an image generator came up with. October 6, 2023.

MacKenzie Scott is shaking up philanthropy's traditions. Is that a good thing?

On December 14, 2022 billionaire philanthropist and novelist MacKenzie Scott announced that her donations since 2019 have totaled more than $14 billion and helped fund around 1,600 nonprofits. But as much as the scale, it is the style of giving that is causing a stir; it's targeted at a wide spectrum of causes, without a formal application process and — it appears — no strings attatched. January 10, 2023.

This is not a joke: Chinese people are eating — and poking fun at — #whitepeoplefood

The playful term is trending on social media: Urban workers are embracing (even while joking about) easy-to-fix, healthy Western-style lunches — think sandwiches, veggies ... a lonely baked potato. July 10, 2023.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.