Triple-Decker Weekly, 26

We compare astronomers’ removal of Pluto from the listing of planets and psychiatrists’ removal of homosexuality from the listing of mental disorders. [Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine | PDF]

Can you determine a person’s character in a single interaction? Can you judge whether someone you just met can be trusted when you have only a few minutes together? And if you can, how do you do it? Using a robot named Nexi, psychology professor David DeSteno and collaborators […] have figured out the answer. […] In the absence of reliable information about a person’s reputation, nonverbal cues can offer a look into a person’s likely actions. This concept has been known for years, but the cues that convey trustworthiness or untrustworthiness have remained a mystery. Collecting data from face-to-face conversations with research participants where money was on the line, DeSteno and his team realized that it’s not one single non-verbal movement or cue that determines a person’s trustworthiness, but rather sets of cues. [EurekAlert]

The study presents evidence that sexual arousal in women temporarily reduces the disgust eliciting properties of sexual stimuli and weakens the hesitation to actually approach these stimuli. Due to this effect, women are able to experience body odors, sweat and semen as pleasant during sexual engagement, which in a non-sexual aroused state probably would elicit disgust. [United Academics]

New study finds clients want real love from sex workers.

This study finds that women who read sex-related magazine articles from popular women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan are less likely to view premarital sex as a risky behavior. Additionally, the women who are exposed to these articles are more supportive of sexual behavior that both empowers women and prioritizes their own sexual pleasure. [SAGE]

I experience pleasure at work in the mainstream sex industry that I certainly perceive as ‘real’. This pleasure comes from physical sensations (lactic acid, endorphins, sweat, carpet burn, whipping hair, a double ended dildo angled against my g spot, real orgasms) but also from the thrill of voyeurism (exhibitionism, cameras, being naked in front of thousands of people). [ Zahra Stardust/The Scavenger]

Women with resources are slower to marry and remarry, and are more likely to cohabitate with a partner. Women are also more likely to purchase homes on their own, build female friendships, and engage in community-based work. As women increase their earnings and status, women are also more open to date outside their ethnicity. [Metapsychology]

A 23-year-old mountain climber was hit by a lightning bolt and awoke in hospital to find herself experiencing bizarre hallucinations. […] The air rescue team took her to hospital and she was put in a drug induced coma for three days as she was disoriented and extremely agitated. When she awoke, her world was somewhat different. […] “On her left side a cowboy riding on a horse came from the distance. As he approached her, he tried to shoot her, making her feel defenceless because she could not move or shout for help. In another scene, two male doctors, one fair and one dark haired, and a woman, all with strange metal glasses and unnatural brownish-red faces, were tanning in front of a sunbed, then having sexual intercourse and afterwards trying to draw blood from her.” […] Her brain scan showed damage to the occipital lobes, the areas at the back of the brain that are largely taken up with the visual cortex that deal with the early stages of visual perception. [Mind Hacks]

Networks of muscles, of brain cells, of airways and lungs, of heart and vessels operate largely independently. Every couple of hours, though, in as little as 30 seconds, the barriers break down. Suddenly, there’s synchrony. All the disjointed activity of deep sleep starts to connect with its surroundings. Each network joins the larger team. This change, marking the transition from deep to light sleep, has only recently been understood in detail. […] Similar syncing happens all the time in everyday life. Systems of all sorts constantly connect. Bus stops pop up near train stations, allowing commuters to hop from one transit network to another. New friends join your social circle, linking your network of friends to theirs. Telephones, banks, power plants all come online — and connect online. A rich area of research has long been devoted to understanding how players — whether bodily organs, people, bus stops, companies or countries — connect and interact to create webs called networks. An advance in the late 1990s led to a boom in network science, enabling sophisticated analyses of how networks function and sometimes fail. But more recently investigators have awakened to the idea that it’s not enough to know how isolated networks work; studying how networks interact with one another is just as important. Today, the frontier field is not network science, but the science of networks of networks. […] Findings so far suggest that networks of networks pose risks of catastrophic danger that can exceed the risks in isolated systems. A seemingly benign disruption can generate rippling negative effects. Those effects can cost millions of dollars, or even billions, when stock markets crash, half of India loses power or an Icelandic volcano spews ash into the sky, shutting down air travel and overwhelming hotels and rental car companies. In other cases, failure within a network of networks can mean the difference between a minor disease outbreak or a pandemic, a foiled terrorist attack or one that kills thousands of people. [ScienceNews]

In his seminal 1967 book, The Codebreakers, Kahn marveled at the ability of individuals to discover incredibly complex, albeit nonexistent codes, which he described as “classic instances of wishful thinking” caused by “an overactive cryptanalytic gland.” “A hidden code can be found almost anywhere because people are adept at recognizing and creating patterns,” says Klaus Schmeh, a computer scientist specializing in encryption technology. Schmeh has updated Kahn’s research, documenting dozens of bogus or dubious cryptograms. Some are more than a century old, but still making the rounds in books and on websites; others are more recent, such as a claim that all barcodes contain the satanic number, 666. […] Generations of investigators have been convinced that—through divine revelation or the assistance of extraterrestrials—the builders of the Great Pyramid embedded the sum total of scientific knowledge within the dimensions of the structure. Fringe pyramidologists persist in their claims despite a 1992 effort to debunk them by Dutch astrophysicist Cornelis de Jager, who demonstrated the dimensions of any object can be manipulated to yield a desired outcome; he derived the speed of light and the distance between the Earth and Sun from his measurements of a bicycle. [Smithsonian]

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is in part an embodiment of the idea that in the quantum world, the mere act of observing an event changes it. But the idea had never been put to the test, and a team writing in Physical Review Letters says “weak measurements” prove the rule was never quite right. […] Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, as it came to be known later, started as an assertion that when trying to measure one aspect of a particle precisely, say its position, experimenters would necessarily “blur out” the precision in its speed. That raised the spectre of a physical world whose nature was, beyond some fundamental level, unknowable. […] They aimed to use so-called weak measurements on pairs of photons. […] What the team found was that the act of measuring did not appreciably “blur out” what could be known about the pairs. It remains true that there is a fundamental limit of knowability, but it appears that, in this case, just trying to look at nature does not add to that unavoidably hidden world. [BBC]

Dawkins’s name for the statistical demonstration that “God almost certainly does not exist” is the “Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit.” Astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle, who was a Darwinist, atheist and anti-theist, but who advocated the panspermia theory (in which biological material is continually being distributed throughout outer space in debris from impacts) reportedly stated that the “probability of life originating on Earth is no greater than the chance that a hurricane, sweeping through a scrapyard, would have the luck to assemble a Boeing 747.” [Wikipedia]

Alan Gevins and colleagues of San Francisco took electroencephalography (EEG) out of the lab and organized an EEG party — allowing them to record brain electrical activity from 10 people as they chatted and drank vodka martinis. The purpose of the study was to measure the effect of alcohol on brain activity. [Neuroskeptic]

Some consumers are able to exercise great self-control when it comes to their diets while millions of others can’t seem to stop overindulging on unhealthy foods such as cookies and candies. Do the former have more willpower? Or are they simply satisfied more quickly? In a series of studies, the authors found that consumers who successfully control their diets eat fewer unhealthy foods because they are satisfied sooner. They also found that many consumers with poor self-control were able to establish greater control when they paid close attention to the quantities of unhealthy foods they consumed because simply paying attention made them more quickly satisfied. [University of Chicago Press]

That’s patient X, the former US marine who suffered a bite from his pet rattlesnake. Patient X, the man who immediately after the bite insisted that a neighbour attach car spark plug wires to his lip, and that the neighbour rev up the car engine to 3000 rpm, repeatedly, for about five minutes. Patient X, the bloated, blackened, corpse-like individual who subsequently was helicoptered to a hospital, where Dr Richard C Dart and Dr Richard A Gustafson saved his life and took photographs of him. […] Though rattlesnake bites can be deadly, there is a standard, reliable treatment – injection with a substance called “antivenin”. Patient X preferred an alternative treatment. The medical report explains: “Based on their understanding of an article in an outdoorsman’s magazine, the patient and his neighbour had previously established a plan to use electric shock treatment if either was envenomated.” [Guardian]

aaand it’s on the tongue. […] WHAT THE HECK THIS GUY NEXT TO ME JUST POPPED THE EMERGENCY EXIT WINDOW OUT I’M LAUGHING SO HARD LET’S GET OFF THE BUS NOW. I’m glad I showered before doing this because smells are EXTREMELY NOTICEABLE [brad does acid/Storify]

Meet Nexi and the Legged Squad Support System. [Thanks Tim]