Triple-Decker Weekly, 119

Woman blinded as a child can see again after hitting her head on a coffee table.

MIT computer scientists can predict the price of Bitcoin

Alleged Bitcoin ‘creator’ is crowdfunding his lawsuit against Newsweek using Bitcoin

The owner of Ebola.com wants at least $150,000 for it

A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 49% of Americans still believe the U.S. economy is in recession, even though we are now in the sixth year of the recovery. […] If investing when others are skeptical has historically been a successful strategy, why don’t more investors do so? […] Taking advantage of the findings discussed earlier requires investing when the economy and market seem to be at their worst, and rebalancing when conditions appear to be the best. This is counterintuitive for many investors, who tend to wait for confirming evidence before acting. This is related to herd behavior, the tendency to follow the crowd with portfolio decisions. Investing when others are skeptical is emotionally difficult but, as we’ve shown, tends to be when rewards are the greatest. [JP Morgan Funds | PDF]

It is not possible for a human to know whether Bank of America made money or lost money last quarter

Even depressed people believe that life gets better

Alabama man gets $1,000 in police settlement, his lawyers get $459,000

How to Get Rich on Pot Stocks

Always Gamble on an Empty Stomach: Hunger Is Associated with Advantageous Decision Making

Sicily, for instance, employs 950 ambulance drivers who have no ambulances to drive

Researchers have shown that exposing people to pictures of money, or to money-related words, reduces their emotional expressivity and makes them more sensitive to other people’s expressions of emotion.

People change their moral values to benefit themselves over others

Death metal band to play in airtight cube until they run out of oxygen [Thanks Tim]

Electronic Blow Job Machine “Autoblow 2” Opens European Headquarters

Do women perform fellatio as a mate retention behavior?

I spoke to dozens of women in their early to late 30s who had frozen eggs and to a few whose unfrozen eggs had resulted in successful pregnancies. This is a relatively invasive procedure that has a success rate of only 20 percent.

Leveraging the insight that periods, while a pain, also bring women together, JWT has created an augmented reality app that combines Chinese consumers’ love of technology, cute characters and selfies into a new branded platform for Sofy sanitary pads. [Campaign Asia | Thanks Tim]

New research suggests a third child doesn’t bring any extra joy

Can parents make their kids smarter?

Pham and Schackelford (2013) argued that men with more attractive partners are at a greater recurrent risk of sperm competition because other men are more likely to woo them into having affairs. Therefore, men with more attractive partners have more reason to be concerned about and more likely to engage in behaviour aimed to detect infidelity. The idea that cunnilingus, oral sex performed on a woman, could function to detect infidelity was proposed in a 2006 book, but this study is the first to test this empirically. The idea is that oral sex may allow a man to detect the presence of another man’s semen through smell or taste. […] As side-note I’d like to point out that there is a common misconception often advanced by its critics that evolutionary psychology assumes that everything that people do is somehow an evolutionary adaptation and that evolutionary psychologists cannot or will not acknowledge that some behaviours are simply by-products of other adaptations with no special function of their own. This is a gross misrepresentation of what evolutionary psychology is about and in fairness to the authors of the study they were attempting to actually test whether or not their hypothesis about the adaptive function of oral sex is valid, rather than just assuming it is. It is quite possible that oral sex has no evolutionary function in itself. Humans are a highly sexed species compared to most mammals and engage in many non-procreative sexual acts, perhaps for pleasure alone. Oral sex might simply be a by-product of this interest in sex that humans have. However, if it can be shown that this particular behaviour appears to serve a definite purpose that has an evolutionary history, a reasonable case can be made that it has an adaptive function. […] They found that “recurrent risk of sperm competition” (attractiveness) predicted interest in performing oral sex independently of relationship length, relationship satisfaction, and duration of intercourse. [Psychology Today]

In species where females mate with multiple males, the sperm from these males must compete to fertilise available ova. Sexual selection from sperm competition is expected to favor opposing adaptations in males that function either in the avoidance of sperm competition (by guarding females from rival males) or in the engagement in sperm competition (by increased expenditure on the ejaculate). […] We found that men who performed fewer mate guarding behaviors produced higher quality ejaculates, having a greater concentration of sperm, a higher percentage of motile sperm and sperm that swam faster and less erratically. [PLoS]

Britain’s sperm shortage – and the man who helps two women a month [via gettingsome]

Men who had slept with more than 20 women lowered their risk of developing cancer by almost one third. In contrast, men who slept with 20 men doubled their risk of developing prostate cancer.

It has been proposed that kissing, a near-ubiquitous custom among human cultures, may play a significant role in the process of human mate assessment and relationship maintenance. Kissing might aid mate appraisal in humans by facilitating olfactory assessment of various cues for genetic compatibility, health, genetic fitness, or even menstrual cycle phase and fertility. […] It is likely that kissing works to affect initial mate assessment by bringing two individuals into close proximity so as to facilitate some kind of olfactory/gustatory assessment, since olfaction in most mammals, as well as in humans, can play an important role in assessing potential mates. In established relationships, on the other hand, the contact and physiological arousal initiated by continued romantic kissing is likely to also affect feelings of attachment between individuals over time, influencing the release of neuropeptides (including oxytocin and vasopressin), dopamine, and opioids, which have all been variously associated with human pair-bonding. [Evolutionary Psychology | PDF ]

Women who are ovulating are more into kissing, study finds. [via gettingsome]

Religiosity delays initiation of sexual behavior, but the association may be bidirectional, and individuals may become less religious after first intercourse.
This study uses longitudinal data from college students to examine whether 2 aspects of religiosity change before and after first intercourse using multiphase growth curve models. Students’ religiosity did not change in the 6 months preceding first intercourse, but on average they attended services less often and felt religion was less important in the 12 months after first intercourse. [APA PsycNet]

Attributions to God and Satan About Life-Altering Events

In social psychology, revenge is defined as a behavioural reaction toward perceived injustice that aims at re-establishing a (personal) sense of justice by “getting even” and giving wrongdoers what they deserve. The question I will address in this presentation is, what exactly does “getting even” mean? By addressing this question, I will adopt a “social functionalist” perspective on revenge: This perspective highlights the notion that revenge is a goal-driven response that has certain functional aspects, both on the intrapersonal and on the interpersonal level. The “social functionalist” perspective implies that revenge is not the mindless, animalistic impulse that legal scholars and some philosophers sometimes tend to see in it. Revenge has oftentimes been contrasted with law-based retribution by arguing that revenge was irrational, savage, unlimited, unprincipled, and disproportionate, and that the “emotionality” inherent in vengeful reactions overshadowed any rational response. Psychologically, the idea that emotions are irrational is neither useful nor correct. On the contrary, emotions are functional, adaptive, and ecologically rational in that they direct the organism’s attention to important aspects of a situation, and they prepare the organism to respond to problems that arise in social interactions. For example, empirical studies show that anger involves a shift of blood away from the internal organs towards the hands and arms, and it increases one’s sensitivity toward potential injustices and the moral implications of other people’s actions. Of course, anger can also trigger disproportionate retaliatory behaviours, but this does not mean it is inherently “irrational.” Most behavioural systems that the human organism is equipped with are “irrational” in that they may be incompatible with logical, deductive reasoning and a stringent cost-benefit analysis of gains, risks, and losses, but they are nevertheless functional in that they enable us to deal with complex problems and to make useful decisions under uncertainty. Revenge belongs to the human behavioural system just as communication, competition, or helping does; and just as these systems, it has important societal and individual functions. [Individual and social functions of revenge | PDF]

This article investigates whether acts of displaced revenge, that is, revenge targeted at a different person than the original transgressor, can be satisfying for the avenger. We assume that displaced revenge can lead to justice-related satisfaction when the group to which the original transgressor and the displaced target belong is highly entitative. Two experimental online studies show that displaced revenge leads to less regret or more satisfaction when the transgressor and the displaced target belong to a group that is perceived as highly entitative. Study 3 shows that avengers experience more satisfaction when members of the transgressor group were manipulated to be both strongly interconnected and similar in their appearance. Results of an internal meta-analysis furthermore corroborate the notion that displaced revenge leads to more satisfaction when the transgressor group is highly entitative. Taken together, our findings suggest that even displaced revenge can achieve a sense of justice in the eyes of avengers. [ScienceDirect]

In response to a threat, the brain triggers the release of epinephrine and cortisol from your adrenal glands into the blood. As a result, your heart beats faster and stronger, your blood vessels dilate to move more blood, and your lung vessels dilate to exchange more oxygen for carbon dioxide. Equally as important, your liver breaks down glycogen (a sugar storage molecule) to glucose and dumps it into your bloodstream. All these processes work together to increase your alertness and increase the power of your muscles for a short time — like when mothers who lift cars off their small children. You are now ready to respond to the threat; however, there is an exception — you may do nothing at all. One of the major control mechanisms of the fight or flight response is the autonomic nervous system. This is part of the peripheral nervous system (PNS, outside the brain and spinal cord) and transmits information from the central nervous system to the rest of the body. The autonomic system controls involuntary movements and some of the functions of organs and organ systems. Parts of the autonomic system acts like a teeter-totter, it’s their relative balance that controls the outcomes. In the fight or flight response, the sympathetic system predominates and your heart rate increases and your blood vessels dilate. But what if the parasympathetic system gained an upper hand for a short time? […] The heart slows, the blood vessels constrict in the muscles, blood moves from muscles to the gut, and glycogen is produced from glucose. […] Many people have had the experience of parasympathetic domination coincident to a threat, for some folks it proceeds long enough to have an observable result – they faint. […] when your brain is starved of oxygen and glucose, you pass out. […] Lower animals will faint as well, but they have additional defenses along these lines. Mammals, amphibians, insects and even fish can be scared enough to fake death. […] There are overlapping mechanisms for feigned death, from tonic immobility (not moving) to thanatosis (thanat = death, and osis = condition of, playing dead). […] One study in crickets showed that those who feigned death the longest were more likely to avoid being attacked, so this is definitely a survival adaptation. [biological exceptions]

Miniature “human brains” have been grown in a lab in a feat scientists hope will transform the understanding of neurological disorders. [BBC | Thanks Tim]

You might have expected that feeling many negative emotions would be worse than only feeling one of them – but in fact, it’s better.

Sadness lasts longer than other emotions

Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults

Our mood clearly affects how we walk, but how does our walking style affect our mood?

Is It Good or Bad to Zone Out, Space Out or Daydream?

A paper published recently in the journal F1000 Research rose more than a few eyebrows by claiming to support the existence of telepathy.

In the mirror we see our physical selves as we truly are, even though the image might not live up to what we want, or what we once were. But we recognize the image as “self.” In rare instances, however, this reality breaks down. […] How can the recognition of self in a mirror break down? There are at least seven main routes to dissolution or distortion of self-image: 1. psychotic disorders; 2. dementia; 3. right parietal-ish or otherwise right posterior cortical strokes and lesions; 4. the ‘strange-face in the mirror’ illusion; 5. hypnosis; 6. dissociative disorders (e.g., depersonalization, dissociative identity disorder; 7. body image issues (e.g., anorexia, body dysmorphic disorder) [The Neurocritic]

The strange-face-in-the-mirror illusion […] a never-before-described visual illusion where your own reflection in the mirror seems to become distorted and shifts identity. […] To trigger the illusion you need to stare at your own reflection in a dimly lit room. […] The participant just has to gaze at his or her reflected face within the mirror and usually “after less than a minute, the observer began to perceive the strange-face illusion.” [Mind Hacks]

We assume that we can see the world around us in sharp detail. In fact, our eyes can only process a fraction of our surroundings precisely. In a series of experiments, psychologists at Bielefeld University have been investigating how the brain fools us into believing that we see in sharp detail. The results have been published in the scientific magazine ‘Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.’ Its central finding is that our nervous system uses past visual experiences to predict how blurred objects would look in sharp detail. [Universität Bielefeld]

Scientists have found “hidden” brain activity that can indicate if a vegetative patient is aware

Conman who pretended to be in COMA for two years is caught walking around Tesco

Researchers have hypothesized that men gain greater reward from alcohol than do women. An Examination of the Spreading of Smiles in Male and Female Drinking Groups

Cues to Catching Deception in Interviews: A Brief Overview [National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism | PDF]

Trust your gut when determining who is a nice person and who is a criminal. 6 seconds of observation will tell you who is good at their job. Trust your gut about whether a neighborhood is safe.

People can make remarkably accurate judgments about others in a variety of situations after just a brief exposure to their behavior. Ambady and Rosenthal (1992) referred to this brief observation as a “thin slice.” For example, students could accurately predict personality traits of an instructor after watching a 30-s video clip […] a 2-s look at a picture of a face was enough to accurately determine a violent or nonviolent past. Other research has demonstrated the predictive accuracy of short observations regarding social status, psychopathy, and socioeconomic status. […] The data indicate that this ability to predict outcomes from brief observations is more intuitive than deliberatively cognitive, leading scholars to believe that the ability to accurately predict is “hard-wired and occur[s] relatively automatically.” […] The viability of using brief observations of behavior (thin slicing) to identify infidelity in romantic relationships was examined. […] In Study 1, raters were able to accurately identify people who were cheating on their romantic dating partner after viewing a short 3- to 4-min video of the couple interacting. [Personal Relationships]

Thin-Slicing Divorce: Thirty Seconds of Information Predict Changes in Psychological Adjustment Over 90 Days [Psychological Science | PDF]

Why Bats Are Such Good Hosts for Deadly Diseases

Elephants may be able to hear rain generated sound up to 150 miles away

there might be a way to determine whether your horse wants a blanket or prefers to be naked

Whales Can Only Taste Salty

Virgin birth has been documented in the world’s longest snake for the first time

NYC rats are infected with at least 18 new viruses, according to scientists

Rats aren’t smarter than mice. So where did this idea that rats are smarter than mice come from, anyway?

For $100,000, You Can Clone Your Dog

The locomotion and ‘navigation’ abilities of Mexican Jumping Beans

Easter Island’s ancient inhabitants weren’t so lonely after all

Where did the legend of the mermaid come from in the first place?

When Plato gave Socrates’ definition of man as “featherless bipeds” and was much praised for the definition, Diogenes plucked a chicken and brought it into Plato’s Academy, saying, “Behold! I’ve brought you a man.” After this incident, “with broad flat nails” was added to Plato’s definition.

The Case of the Brooklyn Enigma, Part One and Part Two

This paper will explore how this perhaps counterintuitive idea—to help visitors become “delightfully lost”—has influenced mobile thinking at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

How English beat German as language of science

The Children of God practiced Flirty Fishing and Escort Servicing from 1974 until 1987 [Thanks Tim]

Geopolitical Drivers of Future Tourist Flows

Experts have severely underestimated the risks of genetically modified food, says a group of researchers lead by Nassim Nicholas Taleb In 2013 roughly 85 per cent of corn and 90 per cent of soybeans produced in the US were genetically modified.

3 Servings of Milk a Day Linked to Higher Mortality in Women

A mug of cocoa is not a cure for memory problems

What the World Eats

Here, a group of nine chefs and three scientists is pushing the boundaries in the most minimalist, nuanced way, part of an effort to ensure that this ultimate “slow food” remains relevant in a fast-paced world. The chefs are tinkering with a way of cooking that has remained unchanged for centuries. First, […] the chefs played around with the temperature at which they steamed abalone. Received wisdom says it should be steamed at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, or the boiling point of water, for two hours. […] So they spent six months — yes, six months — steaming abalone, changing the temperature in tiny increments. “It turned out that even two degrees had a huge impact on its deliciousness,” Fushiki said in his university office. The perfect temperature to steam an abalone, they concluded, is between 140 and 148 degrees, depending on how it is used. […] The second six-month period was devoted to coagulation. Not content with coagulating food, they experimented with coagulating air. “How can we make the smell of air?” Fushiki recalled the chefs asking. “Let’s whisk and make bubbles, so that each bubble contains the air, and the smell spreads when the bubbles pop.” [Washington Post]

British Army Wants Gamers to Drive its Smart-Tank of the Future

Date Ariane [Thanks Stevie]

26% of women between 18 and 24 have been stalked online, and 25% were the target of online sexual harassment

We took a hacker to a café. On his screen, phrases like “iPhone Joris” and “Simone’s MacBook” start to appear. The device’s antenna is intercepting the signals that are being sent from the laptops, smartphones, and tablets around us.

In 2015, most leading Web browsers will be set to support what are known as push notifications.

How the yoga brand Lululemon turned fitness into a spectator sport [Thanks Tim]

Swimming is the individual activity that most people would drop if they faced higher prices

How Drag Queens Protect Their Intellectual Property Without Law

Patent troll suits down a massive 35% in the third quarter of the year

A National Study on the Lives of Arts Graduates and Working Artists

After 400 years, mathematicians find a new class of solid shapes

Does pop music exist? [PDF]

Y2K Cooking [thanks GG]

RKO compilation [Thanks Tim]

I Scream