People avoid learning the calories in a tempting dessert to protect their preferences to eat the dessert. People sometimes choose to remain ignorant.
You can now buy “premium” water that’s not only free of GMOs and gluten but certified kosher and organic. Never mind that not a single drop of water anywhere contains either property or is altered in any way by those designations.
Normal consciousness relies, at least in part, on the brain’s Default Mode Network (DMN), according to neuroscientist Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research in the brain sciences division of the Imperial College of London medical school. The DMN is a network of interacting brain regions that acts as a cognitive transit hub, integrating and assimilating information. As the name implies, it’s the usual system of organization for your mind. Carhart-Harris says the DMN “gives coherence to cognition” by connecting different regions of the brain, and is considered the “orchestrator of the self.” Carhart-Harris and his colleagues found what seems to be an important function of the DMN inadvertently. While studying brain networks, they got curious about what changes might occur when people are under the effects of hallucinogens. In studies analyzing the effects of psilocybin on brain wave oscillation and blood flow, they found that when the DMN was inactive, an alternate network of consciousness seemed to arise. When some study subjects tested psilocybin, they reported a strong sense of interconnectedness, as well as spiritual, magical, and supernatural feelings. In the alternate mode, brains produced a different world that offered other sensations and realizations than in everyday life. In this mode, the self wasn’t the protagonist of the narrative. Meanwhile, scans of blood flow and brain wave oscillations showed new, unusual—but orderly and synchronous—connections forming between cortical regions, as if the brain was reorganizing its network. This led Carhart-Harris to posit that the DMN generates the feeling we each have that we’re individuals, a feeling that manifests very strongly as reality. And that means we can temporarily switch off, or mute, this part of the brain. [Quartz]
According to the famous work of Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga, “split brain” patients seem to experience a split in consciousness: the left and the right side of their brain can independently become aware of, and respond, to stimuli. Split brain patients are those who underwent surgery to sever the corpus callosum, the nerve tract connecting the two hemispheres of the brain. [Neuroskeptic]
Drawing on the past well-being literature, the authors propose that a person’s chronic happiness level is governed by 3 major factors: a genetically determined set point for happiness, happiness-relevant circumstantial factors, and happiness-relevant activities and practices. [Review of General Psychology | PDF]
Teens whose eyes are habitually glued to their smartphones are markedly unhappier, study Specifically, young people’s life satisfaction, self-esteem and happiness plummeted after 2012. That’s the year that the percentage of Americans who owned a smartphone rose above 50 percent.
One thing we often do believe without much evidence is that others will believe just about anything. The only domain where we are really gullible is our estimate of other people’s gullibility./a>
Grapheme-color synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which viewing a grapheme elicits an additional, automatic, and consistent sensation of color. Color-to-letter associations in synesthesia are interesting in their own right, but also offer an opportunity to examine relationships between visual, acoustic, and semantic aspects of language. […] Numerous studies have reported that for English-speaking synesthetes, “A” tends to be colored red more often than predicted by chance, and several explanatory factors have been proposed that could explain this association. Using a five-language dataset (native English, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean speakers), we compare the predictions made by each explanatory factor, and show that only an ordinal explanation makes consistent predictions across all five languages, suggesting that the English “A” is red because the first grapheme of a synesthete’s alphabet or syllabary tends to be associated with red. We propose that the relationship between the first grapheme and the color red is an association between an unusually-distinct ordinal position (“first”) and an unusually-distinct color (red). [Cortex]
A Black, E white, I red, U green, O blue: vowels, Someday I shall tell of your mysterious births [Arthur Rimbaud]
Why Women Wear High Heels: Evolution, Lumbar Curvature, and Attractiveness …high-heeled footwear increased women’s attractiveness only when wearing heels altered their lumbar curvature to be closer to an evolutionarily optimal angle. [Frontiers in Psychology]
We explored the effect of revealing or conservative attire on perceptions of women’s leadership competence. We also used eye-tracker technology to determine whether looking at sexualized body parts (i.e., breasts, hemline) was related to lower perceptions of leadership competence and electability. A female candidate for a student senate presidency at a U.S. university wearing revealing clothing was perceived by 191 college students as less honest and trustworthy, electable, and competent than one wearing conservative clothing. Sexualized body parts were looked at longer when the candidate was wearing revealing clothing compared to conservative clothing. Furthermore, mediation analyses indicated that the revealing clothing led participants to gaze at sexualized body parts, which, in turn, led to perceiving the candidate as less honest/trustworthy, which lowered their evaluations of her competence and electability. These findings suggest that viewing a woman in a sexy outfit can lead others to stare more at her body and make negative evaluations of her personal attributes. [Sex Roles]
Energetic vampirism is the process whereby one person, through manipulation, essentially steals some life energy from another. […] Vampirism is all around you. In fact, most of us have done it a little, at least. […] According to Roy Masters and some other authorities on this subject, women who are not well enough developed spiritually vampirize others more than men. This may occur because such women, whom Roy Masters calls “females”, have their energy centers reversed, and they tend to absorb energy rather than radiate energy. Also, they may steal some energy from others, particularly men, in an effort to correct their energy centers. […] We find that most successful vampires are fast oxidizers on hair tests. This is a higher amperage state, electrically speaking, and this may be necessary to extract energy from another person. It could also just be a result of the vampirism, but it is an interesting observation. [Dr. Lawrence Wilson]
Sperm competition theory can be used to generate the hypothesis that men alter the quality of their ejaculates as a function of sperm competition risk. We investigated whether men produce a higher-quality ejaculate when primed with cues to sperm competition (i.e., imagined partner infidelity), relative to a control prime. Men (n = 45) submitted two masturbatory ejaculates—one ejaculate sample for each condition (i.e., sperm competition and control conditions). Ejaculates were assessed on 17 clinical parameters. The results did not support the hypothesis: Men did not produce higher-quality ejaculates in the sperm competition condition relative to the control condition. [Evolutionary Psychology]
Why the Victorian era saw a surge in female births and war begets boys There is empirical evidence that heavy sexual activity increases the chances that conception will occur before the most fertile time of the female cycle, as the woman may be pregnant by then. And the data also suggest that, possibly for hormonal reasons, such conceptions are slightly more likely to be boys. “It doesn’t take much imagination to suppose that the ends of wars, with servicemen home on leave or returning home, are associated with fairly intense sex – more babies were born in the UK in 1919 than any other year in history. Put all these together and you get the conclusion – frantic fornication breeds boys.” […] Which brings us back to the mysterious surge of female births in the late Victorian period. Could it be that, in the same vein in which heavy sexual activity increases the sex ratio, a trend towards sexual inactivity lowers it? “Victorian morality” distinguished itself through a set of values that espoused sexual restraint, with an increased condemnation of masturbation and sexual activity in general, repressing any form of sexuality other than penetrative intercourse. And indeed, statistics reflect a steady decline of sexual activity throughout the Victorian period, reaching its lowest point in the year 1898. But as there was less sex going on, conception tended to occur around the most fertile time of the months, bestowing a (relative) excess of baby girls on the Victorians. [Rolf Degen]
Hypothesis 1. Up to circa two decades age, it was generally supposed – but without hard supporting evidence – that pregnant women exposed to adverse environmental circumstances were at increased risk of foetal loss, and that male foetuses were at greater risk than female foetuses; and that therefore the liveborn infants produced by stressed women contained a higher proportion of daughters. That hard evidence has now been accumulated in a series of papers by Catalano and colleagues, and others. Using time-series analysis, it has been shown that the Sex ratios at birth (SRB) briefly declined, slightly but significantly, some three to five months after many catastrophic and other adverse events e.g. the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001; the Troubles in Northern Ireland (1969–1998), the Breivik shooting in 2011 in Norway, the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 in Connecticut; the assassination of President Kennedy [though the effect in this case was more marked in non-White than White births]. […] Thus there is overwhelming evidence that sex ratios at birth are partially controlled by maternal stress-induced selective culling of frail males in utero, resulting in a conception cohort with a low sex ratio at birth. It has also been postulated that the ratio may be skewed because of fertilization of non-optimally matured oocytes under these circumstances. Moreover, it has also been hypothesized that higher coital rates will lead to ejaculation of newly formed spermatozoa cells, possibly leading to a preponderance of Y-sperm since it is also hypothesized that X-sperm age faster and are eliminated earlier. However, it will be appreciated that selective culling of frail males during pregnancy cannot explain some of the established variations of SRB. First, it cannot explain why some reported sex ratios are higher than prevailing norms. Second, it cannot explain why these norms almost always exceed 0.5 (equal numbers of males and females). Hypothesis 2. It has been hypothesized that human sex ratios at birth are partially controlled by the parental hormone levels of both parents around the time of conception. Ex hypothesi, high levels of testosterone (in either parent) and/or of oestrogen (in the mother), are associated with subsequent male births. And high levels of gonadotrophins (in either parent) are associated with subsequent female births. Most of this evidence is observational and correlational, and is in accordance with the hypothesis of Trivers & Willard. [Early Human Development]
This study documents that men and women experience and perform consumer shopping differently. […] There is an abundant literature on sex differences in spatial abilities and object location that follow from the specific navigational strategies associated with hunting and gathering in the ancestral environment. In addition to sex differences in navigational strategies, the unique features of hunting and gathering may have influenced other aspects of foraging psychology that underlie sex differences in modern male and female shopping experiences and behaviors. […] It is well accepted that humans do not simply develop new behaviors for every new situation we encounter but instead modify or extend existing behaviors to suit the new situation. Thus, the behaviors we exhibit in a modern and recently developed (i.e., with respect to an evolutionary timeframe) shopping mall, should be based on previously developed behaviors and skills. We believe, and study findings support this belief, that modern shopping behaviors are an adaptation of our species’ ancestral hunting and gathering skills. […] For the most part, contemporary stereotypes of women in modern industrial countries perceive women as enjoying shopping more than men. Our research provides evidence that this popular stereotype exists because most shopping activities have a greater similarity to women’s traditional activities of foraging and gathering than they do to men’s traditional activity of hunting. The results of our study show that shopping has significantly more in common with gathering than it does with hunting. [ Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology]
Raw intelligence doesn’t reduce conflict. Wisdom does. Such wisdom—in effect, the ability to take the perspectives of others into account and aim for compromise—comes much more naturally to those who grow up poor or working class, according to a new study.
The study is the first to connect humans’ ability to detect rhythms to the posterior parietal cortex, a brain region associated with planning body movements as well as higher-level functions such as paying attention and perceiving three dimensions.
This research establishes advice giving as a subtle route to a sense of power, shows that the desire to feel powerful motivates advice giving, and highlights the dynamic interplay between power and advice.
Here, we analysed 200 million online conversations to investigate transmission between individuals. We find that the frequency of word usage is inherited over conversations, rather than only the binary presence or absence of a word in a person’s lexicon. We propose a mechanism for transmission whereby for each word someone encounters there is a chance they will use it more often. Using this mechanism, we measure that, for one word in around every hundred a person encounters, they will use that word more frequently. As more commonly used words are encountered more often, this means that it is the frequencies of words which are copied. [Journal of the Royal Society Interface ]
If you write clearly, then your readers may understand your mathematics and conclude that it isn’t profound. Worse, a referee may find your errors. Here are some tips for avoiding these awful possibilities. 1. Never explain why you need all those weird conditions, or what they mean. For example, simply begin your paper with two pages of notations and conditions without explaining that they mean that the varieties you are considering have zero-dimensional boundary. In fact, never explain what you are doing, or why you are doing it. The best-written paper is one in which the reader will not discover what you have proved until he has read the whole paper, if then. 2. Refer to another obscure paper for all the basic (nonstandard) definitions you use, or never explain them at all. This almost guarantees that no one will understand what you are talking about. […] 11. If all else fails, write in German. [J.S. Milne]
A survey was performed to determine the frequency of unrecognized repetitive licking of fingers while reviewing hospital charts by various healthcare professionals who, by this habit, may be putting themselves at risk of acquiring a nosocomial infection. Nine of 14 charts demonstrated the presence of Staphylococci aureus, cultures obtained from three of nine charts grew methicillin-resistant S. aureus, and six grew methicillin-susceptible S. aureus. Of the 50 healthcare professionals surveyed, five (10%) admitted to habitual repetitive licking of fingers while reviewing charts. In addition, 30 (60%) of those surveyed had observed other professionals doing so. Forty-seven (94%) acknowledged that they did not routinely wash their hands after reviewing the charts, potentially placing themselves at risk of acquiring a nosocomial infection. As an immediate consequence of this study, staff members have been encouraged to wash their hands before and after reviewing a patient’s chart. [American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation]
There is no robust evidence of nonhuman suicides, notwithstanding countless opportunities for such self-killings, if they occurred, to be documented by the world’s farmers, animal breeders, naturalists, and scientists. We are left with anecdote and fable, including the scorpion’s self-sting, proffered by Peña-Guzmán as an example of animal suicide despite clear evidence that scorpions cannot sting themselves to death. Scorpions are immune to their own venom, presumably because selection has eliminated the germ lines of scorpions that were not so protected. The ubiquity of such specific, self-preserving adaptations connects to a third, theoretical, problem with animal suicide: the absence of a coherent explanation as to how selection could favour and maintain such a capability. […] Suicide is not observed in nonhumans for a straightforward evolutionary reason: any genes that permitted suicide would have been eliminated along with the suicides’ bodies. Any animal that, in the absence of restraints, was capable of escaping its pain and suffering by self- killing would be expected to seize the opportunity, because some pain is unavoidable in the Malthusian theatre in which selection plays out, and because pain is designed to motivate action to escape. A suicidal animal, if it appeared, would face a predictable and severe adaptive problem – the kind of problem that selection would expectably and powerfully have addressed in the evolutionary past. The most parsimonious explanation for the apparent absence of suicide among younger children, the severely cognitively impaired, and nonhuman animals, is that these populations lack the cognitive wherewithal to conceive and enact it. [Animal Sentience | PDF]
Of all the criticisms aimed at fracking, charges that it might increase the incidence of STDs – specifically gonorrhea – are seldom heard. Yet there might be a link – according to a new research paper published in the Journal of Public Health Policy. […] “We find that fracking activity is associated with a 20 per cent increase in gonorrhea.” [Improbable]
The Effects of Various Music on Angry Drivers’ Subjective, Behavioral, and Physiological States — Angry drivers with self-selected music showed more aggressive driving behavior.
Bitcoin’s long gestation and early opposition indicates it is an example of the ‘Worse is Better’ paradigm in which an ugly complex design with few attractive theoretical properties compared to purer competitors nevertheless successfully takes over a niche, survives, and becomes gradually refined.
The new machine isn’t an ATM, but a BTM—a Bitcoin teller machine. There are now more than 80 in New York City, and dozens more around the country.
Dozens of entrepreneurs, made newly wealthy by blockchain and cryptocurrencies, are heading en masse to Puerto Rico this winter. They want to build a crypto utopia, a new city where the money is virtual and the contracts are all public. [NY Times]
KODAKOne is a Flawed Concept that Will Never Deliver Promised Benefits. The KODAKCoin Team has Zero Credibility. Kodak KashMiner is a Scam. KODAKOne is a Sham. Below we provide the basis for why we think the equity is worthless.
Most digital currencies are unlikely to survive in their current form, and investors should prepare for coins to lose all their value as they’re replaced by a small set of future competitors, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s global head of investment research
Dishonesty plays a large role in the economy. Causes for (dis)honest behavior seem to be based partially on external rewards, and partially on internal rewards. We propose and test a theory of self-concept maintenance that allows people to engage to some level in dishonest behavior, thereby benefiting from external benefits of dishonesty, while maintaining their positive view about themselves in terms of being honest individuals.
meta-analytic results indicate that there is a small relation between service quality and percentage of a bill tipped, racial minority servers tend to be tipped less than White servers, and females tend to be tipped more than males
Contracts in all areas of business routinely include vague provisions. Parties often choose to define performance on the basis of terms such as “best efforts,” “good faith,” or “reasonable cause.” The widespread use of vague provisions places courts center stage. [PDF]
Stock market forces can be modeled with a quantum harmonic oscillator. By applying their model to seven years of data, researchers show that the quantum harmonic oscillator model outperforms other quantum models.
Since December, security researchers have been tracking an insidious piece of malware called Satori, which hijacks internet-connected devices and turns them into “zombies” that can be remotely controlled in unison.
Many companies let workers monitor and manage machines—and sometimes entire industrial processes—via mobile apps. The apps promise efficiency gains, but they also create targets for cyberattacks. At worst, hackers could exploit the flaws to destroy machines—and potentially entire factories.
Can Washington Be Automated? An algorithmic lobbyist sounds like a joke. But it’s already here. Here’s who the robots are coming for next.
Here, we present a method that estimates socioeconomic characteristics of regions spanning 200 US cities by using 50 million images of street scenes gathered with Google Street View cars. Using deep learning-based computer vision techniques, we determined the make, model, and year of all motor vehicles encountered in particular neighborhoods. Data from this census of motor vehicles, which enumerated 22 million automobiles in total (8% of all automobiles in the United States), were used to accurately estimate income, race, education, and voting patterns at the zip code and precinct level. The resulting associations are surprisingly simple and powerful. For instance, if the number of sedans encountered during a drive through a city is higher than the number of pickup trucks, the city is likely to vote for a Democrat during the next presidential election (88% chance); otherwise, it is likely to vote Republican (82%). [PNAS | PDF]
Foot binding became popular as a means of displaying status (women from wealthy families, who did not need their feet to work, could afford to have them bound). Feet altered by binding were called lotus feet.
Scotland’s Aldwych Café and Ice Cream Parlor is dishing up what they’ve deemed the world’s “most dangerous ice cream.” You have to be 18 years or older just to get a taste. Even if you pass the adult test, you’ll still need to sign a waiver warning of the ice cream’s “risk of personal injury, illness, and possible loss of life.” The makers of Respiro Del Diavolo – Italian for “Breath of the Devil” – claim the velvety red ice cream is 500 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. The Carolina Reaper pepper used comes in at a whopping 1,569,300 SHU on the Scoville scale. [IFL Science]
Often, damaged works of art end up in the vaults of insurance companies. Once the owner submits a claim on the damaged piece, a team of experts, appraisers, conservators and adjusters offer specialist advice on the artwork’s condition and devaluation. The economics of selling and repairing the work are weighed up, and generally, if the cost of restoring a work is far beyond what it is worth, the work will be claimed as “total loss”. The insurance company will pay out on the policy and, in exchange, retain the broken piece. The “total loss” artwork is effectively declared worthless, unsalvageable by both insurer and owner. From then on it belongs to the insurance company as salvage. Some of these pieces, though, end up being exhibited by the Salvage Art Institute (SAI), which calls itself a “haven” for written-off works. Conceived by Elka Krajewska, an artist in New York, in 2009 during a chance meeting with a representative of AXA Art Insurance, it took her until 2012 to jump through enough legal hoops to persuade the insurer to donate some of their total-loss works to the SAI. A selection of these works is now on show in “No Longer Art”, a show at BNKR Space, a gallery in Munich. [The Economist/1843]
To begin the discussion of how the oceans formed, I must take you back to the birth of earth itself, along with the rest of our solar system. [PDF | excerpted from The Oceans, A Deep History, by Eelco J. Rohling ]
We know that the poles have changed places hundreds of times, most recently 780,000 years ago. (Sometimes, the poles try to reverse positions but then snap back into place, in what is called an excursion. The last time was about 40,000 years ago.) We also know that when they flip next time, the consequences for the electrical and electronic infrastructure that runs modern civilization will be dire.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) future scenarios allow Paris Agreement targets to be met by deploying technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, putting a hypothetical technology into a computer model of future scenarios is rather different than researching, developing, constructing and operating such a technology at the planetary scale required to compensate for inadequate mitigation. [PDF]
Why do dogs eat poop? [Washington Post]
The Geometry and Pigmentation of Seashells [PDF]
Bamboozle Structures and Honeycombs [PDF]
Thomas P. “Boston” Corbett (1832 – presumed dead 1894) was a Union Army soldier who shot and killed President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865. Corbett was initially arrested for disobeying orders, but was later released and was largely considered a hero by the media and the public. Known for his devout religious beliefs and eccentric behavior, Corbett drifted around the United States before disappearing around 1888. Circumstantial evidence suggests that he died in the Great Hinckley Fire in September 1894, although this remains impossible to substantiate. […] On July 16, 1858, Corbett was propositioned by two prostitutes while walking home from a church meeting. He was deeply disturbed by the encounter. […] In order to avoid sexual temptation and remain holy, he castrated himself with a pair of scissors. [Wikipedia]
Daniel Defoe (c. 1660 – 1731) was an English trader, writer, journalist, pamphleteer and spy. He is most famous for his novel Robinson Crusoe, which is second only to the Bible in its number of translations. He died on 24 April 1731, probably while in hiding from his creditors. He often was in debtors’ prison.
Only a FOOL would buy IKEA furniture. Instead I just download instructions and keep emailing their service dept to say that I am missing a piece, until they ship me all the pieces over a six month period [@jasonarewhy]