You don’t always know what you’re saying. People’s conscious awareness of their speech often comes after they’ve spoken, not before.
It was only a few decades ago that incision and suction were recommended snakebite first aid. However, concerns arose about injuries and infections caused when laypersons made incisions across fang marks and applied mouth suction. Meanwhile, several snakebite suction devices (eg, Cutter’s Snakebite Kit, Venom Ex) were evaluated, and it was determined that they were neither safe nor effective. So, recommendations changed, and mechanical suction without incision was advocated instead. It seemed intuitive that suction alone would probably remove venom and should not cause harm. However, when the techniques were studied rigorously, quite the opposite was discovered. One of the most popular suction devices, the Sawyer Extractor pump (Sawyer Products, Safety Harbor, FL), operates by applying approximately 1 atm of negative pressure directly over a fang puncture wound (or wounds) without making incisions. […] Although each of these 3 studies was done independently of each other and using different methodology, they arrive at the same conclusion: the Extractor does not work, and it could make things worse. [Annals of Emergency Medecine | PDF]
Cutting, a professor at Cornell University, wondered if a psychological mechanism known as the “mere-exposure effect” played a role in deciding which paintings rise to the top of the cultural league. In a seminal 1968 experiment, people were shown a series of abstract shapes in rapid succession. Some shapes were repeated, but because they came and went so fast, the subjects didn’t notice. When asked which of these random shapes they found most pleasing, they chose ones that, unbeknown to them, had come around more than once. Even unconscious familiarity bred affection. […] The process described by Cutting evokes a principle that the sociologist Duncan Watts calls “cumulative advantage”: once a thing becomes popular, it will tend to become more popular still. [Intelligent Life]
Can you tell a person’s gender by their video game avatar? According to a new study, a male gamer who chooses to play as a female character will still display signs of his true gender.
Have you ever found someone particularly sexy without knowing why? It could be that you are lured in by their pheromones, invisible chemical signals that can subtly alter a person’s mood, mindset, or behavior. According to new research published last week in Current Biology, men and women give off different signals, but you subconsciously only respond to the gender you find attractive. And when you smell these pheromones, the object of your affection instantly appears even sexier in your mind.[ Popular Science]
This study investigated whether swearing affects cold-pressor pain tolerance (the ability to withstand immersing the hand in icy water), pain perception and heart rate. […] Swearing increased pain tolerance, increased heart rate and decreased perceived pain compared with not swearing. [Neuroreport]
Previously we showed that swearing produces a pain lessening (hypoalgesic) effect for many people. This paper assesses whether habituation to swearing occurs such that people who swear more frequently in daily life show a lesser pain tolerance effect of swearing, compared with people who swear less frequently.[…] The higher the daily swearing frequency, the less was the benefit for pain tolerance when swearing, compared with when not swearing. This paper shows apparent habituation related to daily swearing frequency, consistent with our theory that the underlying mechanism by which swearing increases pain tolerance is the provocation of an emotional response.[American Pain Society]
What doesn’t kill you may make you live longer: McGill research finds unexpected link between cell suicide and longevity
What does not kill me makes me stronger: Study suggests improved survivorship in the aftermath of the medieval Black Death)
Researchers have known for decades that the eye does much more than just detect light. The dense patch of neurons in the retina also processes basic features of a scene before sending the information to the brain. For example, in 1964, scientists showed that some neurons in the retina fire up only in response to motion. What’s more, these “space-time” detectors have so-called direction selectivity, each one sensitive to objects moving in different directions. But exactly how that processing happens in the retina has remained a mystery. […] Although researchers have imaged the retina microscopically in ultrathin sections, no computer algorithm has been able to accurately trace out the borders of all the neurons to map the circuitry. […] Enter the EyeWire project, an online game that recruits volunteers to map out those cellular contours within a mouse’s retina. [Science]
“It’s simple, the less stress you have the better your memory.” The facial expression that fights memory loss
The US National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) said the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) had so many problems we effectively need to tear it up and start again. The way forward, it said, is a new research programme to discover the brain problems that underlie mental illnesses. That research is now taking off. The first milestone came earlier this year, when the NIMH published a list of 23 core brain functions and their associated neural circuitry, neurotransmitters and genes – and the behaviours and emotions that go with them (see “The mind’s 23 building blocks”). Within weeks, the first drug trials conceived and funded through this new programme will begin. [ NewScientist]
A study that was published a few years ago in Nature suggests that indeed our initial inclination is to cooperate with others. We are only selfish if we are allowed to reflect.
The various theories of consciousness can arguably be grouped into five categories: materialism, dualism, panpsychism, neutral monism, and idealism. As noted above, the current mainstream view looks for materialistic explanations. This typically takes the form of arguing that consciousness must be a higher level activity that has emerged from lower level processes, such as complex biological processes. […] After a brief survey of the evidence, I conclude that the best explanation would probably be neutral monism. I then explore a framework for neutral monism, using well-known features of quantum mechanics, to develop a ground or bridge between consciousness and matter. [The Journal of Mind and Behavior | PDF]
What if someone had already figured out the answers to the world’s most pressing policy problems, but those solutions were buried deep in a PDF, somewhere nobody will ever read them? According to a recent report by the World Bank, that scenario is not so far-fetched. The bank is one of those high-minded organizations — Washington is full of them — that release hundreds, maybe thousands, of reports a year on policy issues big and small. Many of these reports are long and highly technical, and just about all of them get released to the world as a PDF report posted to the organization’s Web site. […] They dug into their Web site traffic data and came to the following conclusions: Nearly one-third of their PDF reports had never been downloaded, not even once. Another 40 percent of their reports had been downloaded fewer than 100 times. Only 13 percent had seen more than 250 downloads in their lifetimes. […] And let’s not even get started on the situation in academia, where the country’s best and brightest compete for the honor of seeing their life’s work locked away behind some publisher’s paywall. [Washington Post]
If Nietzsche claims that all our knowledge is from a particular perspective, then his claims about perspectives and his theory of perspectivism must itself be from a particular perspective. [Michael Lacewing | PDF]
Behind the scenes of the NY redesign That includes using Github instead of SVN for version control, Vagrant environments, Puppet deployment, using requireJS so five different versions of jQuery don’t get loaded, proper build/test frameworks, command-line tools for generating sprites, the use of LESS with a huge set of mixins, a custom grid framework, etc. [Source]
He said he was hired with a mandate to clean up the building, which meant “trying to get all those people who were involved with drugs out.” Duarte began by winning the residents’ trust, which he did by hiring the most destructive young male tenants to work for him.
Why were old scientific instruments put together with an apparent wish to make them beautiful, and not just coldly functional? First, there is obviously a selection effect at work here of the kind that all historians and curators are familiar with. What tends to get preserved is not a representative cross-section of what is around at any time, but rather, what is deemed to be worth preserving. Second, there were of course no specialized scientific-instrument manufacturers in the early modern period. When investigators like Galileo and Boyle wanted something made that they could not make themselves, they would go to metalsmiths, carpenters, potters and the like, who inevitably would have brought their own craft aesthetic to the objects they made [Third,] they were catering to a particular clientele that their products reflected. Reeve was making microscopes and so forth for the wealthy dilettantes. […] Scientific instruments were used to delight and entertain their noble patrons. [Philip Ball]