Many gardeners and horticulturalists seek non-chemical methods to control populations of snails. It has frequently been reported that snails that are marked and removed from a garden are later found in the garden again. This phenomenon is often cited as evidence for a homing instinct. We report a systematic study of the snail population in a small suburban garden, in which large numbers of snails were marked and removed over a period of about 6 months. While many returned, inferring a homing instinct from this evidence requires statistical modelling. […] Maximum likelihood techniques infer the existence of two groups of snails in the garden: members of a larger population that show little affinity to the garden itself, and core members of a local garden population that regularly return to their home if removed. The data are strongly suggestive of a homing instinct, but also reveal that snail-throwing can work as a pest management strategy. [The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences | LA Times]
“Neuroreductionism” is the tendency to reduce complex mental phenomena to brain states, confusing correlation for physical causation. In this paper, we illustrate the dangers of this popular neuro-fallacy, by looking at an example drawn from the media: a story about “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” in women. We discuss the role of folk dualism in perpetuating such a confusion, and draw some conclusions about the role of “brain scans” in our understanding of romantic love. [Savulescu & Earp]
We investigate the possibility that a decision-maker prefers to avoid making a decision and instead delegates it to an external device, e.g., a coin flip. In a series of experiments the participants often choose lotteries between allocations, which contradicts most theories of choice such as expected utility but is consistent with a theory of responsibility aversion that implies a preference for randomness. A large data set on university applications in Germany shows a choice pattern that is also consistent with this theory and entails substantial allocative consequences. [ SSRN]
Procrastination is a common phenomenon — but new research suggests that “pre-crastination,” hurrying to complete a task as soon as possible, may also be common.
The impact of stress on brain function is increasingly recognized. Various substances are released in response to stress and can influence distinct neuronal circuits, but the functional advantages of having such a diversity of stress mediators remain unclear.
The highest European Union court decided on Tuesday that Google must, in some cases, grant users a so-called right to be forgotten that includes the removal of links to embarrassing legal records. [NY Times]
Relying on a GPS device placed in a decoy pill bottle, police officers tracked an armed man suspected of robbing a pharmacy on Friday afternoon and fatally shot him during a confrontation on the Upper East Side [NY Times]
Square is the latest example of a struggling industry segment that may never take off. Mobile Wallets Are Doomed
Madison Square Park, Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, and Bryant Park used to be cemeteries. There are 20,000 bodies buried in Washington Square Park alone. Central Park is larger than the principality of Monaco. It takes 75,000 trees to print a Sunday edition of the New York Times. 41 random facts about New York
Nazarian’s team at Hyde at the Bellagio has put together the “$250,000 Package,” which comes with a 30-liter bottle of Armand de Brignac “Ace of Spades” Champagne and the privilege of flipping the switch to turn on the casino’s famous musical fountains.
Millionaire playboy and Instagram celebrity Dan Bilzerian is best known of late for chucking a 90-pound porn star, Janice Griffith, off his mansion roof during a shoot for Hustler, and missing the pool. Griffith is now threatening to sue Bilzerian.