If everyone knows a tenth of the population dishonestly claims to observe alien spaceships, this can make it very hard for the honest alien-spaceship-observer to communicate fact that she has actually seen an alien spaceship. [OvercomingBias]
In terms of psychological characteristics, porn actresses had higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction, and spirituality compared to the matched group. More: I also know that some of you will be very interested in the finding that porn actresses are more likely bisexual than the matched sample.
About 100 years ago, we’re told, boys wore pink clothes, but then during the early 20th century, it flipped over. However according to psychologist Marco Del Giudice, the whole “pink-blue reversal” is a ‘urban legend.’
This paper presents a theory of the Global Financial Crisis which argues that psychopaths working in corporations and in financial corporations, in particular, have had a major part in causing the crisis.
In 1870, German chemist Erich von Wolf analyzed the iron content of green vegetables and accidentally misplaced a decimal point when transcribing data from his notebook. As a result, spinach was reported to contain a tremendous amount of iron—35 milligrams per serving, not 3.5 milligrams (the true measured value). While the error was eventually corrected in 1937, the legend of spinach’s nutritional power had already taken hold, one reason that studio executives chose it as the source of Popeye’s vaunted strength. The point, according to Samuel Arbesman, an applied mathematician and the author of the delightfully nerdy “The Half-Life of Facts,” is that knowledge—the collection of “accepted facts”—is far less fixed than we assume. […] Copying errors, it turns out, aren’t uncommon and fall into characteristic patterns, such as deletions and duplications—exactly the sorts of mistakes that geneticists have identified in DNA. [WSJ]
This was terrible news for neuroscience—if six studies led to six different answers, why should anybody believe anything that neuroscientists had to say? […] And then, surprisingly, the field prospered. […] After two decades of almost complete dominance, a few bright souls started speaking up, asking: Are all these brain studies really telling us much as we think they are? [The New Yorker]
The past couple of years have seen findings, that, taken together, suggest that we should embrace coffee for reasons beyond the benefits of caffeine, and that we might go so far as to consider it a nutrient. […] Coffee, researchers found, appears to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. […] Caffeine might also function as a pain reliever. […] While a small study this month found that concentrated amounts of caffeine can increase positivity in the moment, last September the nurses’ cohort demonstrated a neat reduction in depression rates among women that became stronger with increased consumption of caffeinated coffee. […] Findings have been supporting that coffee can protect against some cancers. […] If you have fatty liver disease, a study from last December found that unspecified amounts can reduce your risk of fibrosis. [The Atlantic]
Over the second half of the 20th century, the average age for girls to begin breast development has dropped by a year or more in the industrialized world. And the age of first menstruation, generally around 12, has advanced by a matter of months. Hispanic and black girls may be experiencing an age shift much more pronounced. […] “If you basically say that the onset of puberty has a bell-shaped distribution, it seems to many of us the whole curve is shifting to the left,” says Paul Kaplowitz, chief of the division of endocrinology and diabetes at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. More girls, he says, are starting puberty before age 8, putting them at “the lower end of the new normal range.” Researchers are now turning their attention to what could be driving the trend. Many scientists suspect that younger puberty is a consequence of an epidemic of childhood obesity, citing studies that find development closely tied to the accumulation of body fat. But there are other possibilities, including the presence of environmental chemicals that can mimic the biological properties of estrogen, and psychological and social stressors that might alter the hormonal makeup of a young body. [ScienceNews]
In the name of equality, the French government has proposed doing away with homework in elementary and junior high school. French President Francois Hollande argues that homework penalizes children with difficult home situations, but even the people whom the proposal is supposed to help disagree.
During the recent $550 million upgrade of the Empire State Building, Ms. Christy was asked whether she could help get more people up to the observation deck. She said she couldn’t get more people into a car but could move them up more quickly. So she increased the elevators’ speed by 20%, to 20 feet per second. Now the cars can rise 80 floors in about 48 seconds, 10 seconds faster than before. Ms. Christy strikes down one common myth—that “door close” buttons don’t work. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, she says. It depends on the building’s owner. [WSJ]