Turgidson: Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn’t that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned? Dr. Strangelove: Regrettably, yes. [Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 1964]
The “Foot-in-the-door” (FITD) is a compliance technique that consists of making a small initial request to a participant, then making a second, more onerous request. In this way greater compliance with the second request is obtained than under a control condition where the focal request is not preceded by the initial request. Most of the studies using this paradigm have tested prosocial requests. So the generalization of this compliance technique to other types of requests remains an open question. The authors carried out two experiments in which the FITD effect on deviant behaviors was tested. Results showed that the FITD technique increased compliance with the focal request, but only among male participants. [Taylor & Francis]
The Human Cannonball doesn’t usually remember much about each flight, aside from a quick impression of soaring through the air. […] She has just been shot out of a 24-foot-long air-compression cannon and travels between 75 and 100 feet at a force of 7 g. That’s greater force than a roller coaster, greater than a Formula One racecar, greater than the space shuttle. A force powerful enough to have caused some human cannonballs to pass out midflight. […] She’s in the air approximately three seconds. [Riverfront Times]
Quantum Archaeology (QA) is the controversial science of resurrecting the dead including their memories. It assumes the universe is made of events and the laws that govern them, and seeks to make maps of brain/body states to the instant of death for everyone in history. Anticipating process technologies due in 20 – 40 years, it involves construction of the Quantum Archaeology Grid to plot known events filling the gaps by cross-referencing heuristically within the laws of science. Specialist grids already exist waiting to be merged, including cosmic ones with trillions of moving evolution points. The result will be a mega-matrix good enough to describe and simulate the past. Quantum computers and super-recursive algorithms both in their infancy may allow vast calculation into the quantum world, and artificial intelligence has no upper limit to what it might do. [Transhumanity]
Would Time Travellers Affect Security Prices? Financial markets in a world with time travel would look very different from ours. But would time travellers come to our time, making our markets look like theirs? This paper discusses this issue and related matters such as the problem of prediction in financial economics, the nature of security prices, the social and mental nature of financial reality, and the relation of Financial Economics to Physics. It presents a solution to the problem of bilking behaviour of time travellers, and gives a definite answer to the title question. [Richard Hudson]
Insomnia, euphoria, anxiety and obsession; modern science shows us that these symptoms are just as likely to be found in someone who is deeply in love as someone who is having mental problems. Should these people be once again diagnosed as having “lovesickness”, as they would have been in the past? […] Although lovesickness is not used as a medical diagnosis anymore, recent research in the fields of clinical psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience has more fully consolidated the pathological components of passionate love, showing that people in love are not so different from patients suffering bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance-related disorders. [United Academics]
A huge study involving over 12,000 participants across 51 cultures from Argentina to Uganda has concluded that men tend to have more varied personalities than women. That male and female students tended to rate men’s personalities with more variability might say more about how men are perceived, than about how they actually are.
Men and women get sick in different ways. Recent research in laboratory medicine has revealed crucial differences between men and women with regard to cardiovascular illness, cancer, liver disease, osteoporosis, and in the area of pharmacology.
Viruses are particularly dangerous because they don’t seem to serve any useful purpose for us (unless you count “selecting the fittest humans” as a useful purpose). It is estimated that there are 10 to the 31st power viruses on this planet, compared with 10 to the 10th human beings. We are outnumbered big time. If you have trouble killing all the dozen flies that fly into your living room when you leave the patio door open, imagine trying to kill your quota of 10 to the 21st viruses. It is foolish to think that we can kill all viruses. There are only two winning strategies: 1. quarantine humans from the natural world (e.g. confining cities inside artificial domes), 2. engineer such a strong immune system that the human body will resist any virus attack of any kind. Ironically, human society has been moving in the opposite direction. On one hand humans travel a lot more than ever, therefore getting in touch with many more viruses than ever. On the other hand, by keeping alive millions of children who would have died of all sorts of diseases and by “protecting” people with all sorts of vaccinations, we are creating a immune system that is now vulnerable to anything, from the dirt in your backyard to the water of mountain creeks. In other words, we have both of the worst worlds: the human body is getting weaker, and it is getting easier to spread diseases. [IEET]
A single drug can shrink or cure human breast, ovary, colon, bladder, brain, liver, and prostate tumors that have been transplanted into mice, researchers have found. The treatment, an antibody that blocks a “do not eat” signal normally displayed on tumor cells, coaxes the immune system to destroy the cancer cells.
It is widely believed that dietary salt leads to increased blood pressure, and higher risks of heart attack or stroke. This is the “salt hypothesis.” Two major observational studies do not support the salt hypothesis.[U.C. Berkeley | PDF]
A study published in the Journal of Hypertension in 2011, which analyzed data from over 6,000 people, failed to find an association between lowered salt intake and lowered risk for heart attacks, strokes, or death.
The risk of waking from a general anaesthetic while under the surgeon’s knife is extremely small – about one in 15,000 – research reveals. Out of nearly 3 million operations in 2011 there were 153 reported cases. […] A third – 46 in total – were conscious throughout the operation. [BBC]
The incidence of accidental awareness during general anaesthesia (AAGA) is reported by several studies to be surprisingly high, in the range of 1–2 per 1000 general anaesthetics administered. These studies employ a direct patient questionnaire (usually repeated three times over a period of up to 30 days postoperatively) known as the ‘Brice protocol.’ It is also reported that a high proportion of patients experiencing AAGA suffer psychological problems including posttraumatic stress disorder. There are in fact very few studies reporting an incidence of AAGA much lower than this, an exception being that of Pollard et al., who found an incidence of 1:14 500. However, their methods might be criticised as they administered the questionnaire only twice over a 48-h period, which might only detect two thirds of cases . Anecdotally, anaesthetists do not perceive the incidence of AAGA to be so high. A small Japanese study found that only 21 of 172 practitioners had known of an incident of AAGA under their care, with an overall incidence of just 1:3500. In a larger UK survey of over 2000 consultants, Lau et al. reported that anaesthetists estimated the incidence to be approximately 1:5000, similar to the estimated incidence reported previously by 220 Australian anaesthetists of between 1:5000 and 1:10 000. [Anaesthesia/Wiley]
The capacity to deceive others is a complex mental skill that requires the ability to suppress truthful information. The polygraph is widely used in countries such as the USA to detect deception. However, little is known about the effects of emotional processes (such as the fear of being found guilty despite being innocent) on the physiological responses that are used to detect lies. The aim of this study was to investigate the time course and neural correlates of untruthful behavior by analyzing electrocortical indexes in response to visually presented neutral and affective questions. […] The ERP data [An event-related potential (ERP) is the measured brain response that is the direct result of a specific sensory, cognitive, or motor event] show the existence of a reliable neural marker of lying in the form of an increased amplitude of the N400 component (which likely indexes conscious control processing) in frontal and prefrontal regions of the left hemisphere between 300 and 400 ms post-stimulus. Importantly, this marker was observed to be independent of the affective value of the question. [PLoS]
People often reject creative ideas, even when espousing creativity as a desired goal. To explain this paradox, we propose that people can hold a bias against creativity that is not necessarily overt and that is activated when people experience a motivation to reduce uncertainty. [SAGE]
Research on warning labels printed on cigarette packages has shown that fear inducing health warnings might provoke defensive responses. Reformulating statements into questions can avoid defensive responses elicited by textual- and graphic warning labels.
Baerg was challenged by a Cornell colleague to investigate whether black widows were harmless or poisonous. […] He made extensive observations of black widow behavior and its venom’s effects on rats. Baerg used himself as an experimental subject to test the effects of the venom on humans. He induced a black widow to bite the third finger of his left hand, but the bite was apparently superficial, and he suffered no symptoms besides a “slight, sharp pain.” Baerg repeated the test the following day, this time allowing the spider’s fangs to remain inserted for five seconds. During the next three days, Baerg recorded his symptoms and reactions, creating the first account of the effects of the black widow spider bite on humans; it was published in the March 1923 edition of The Journal of Parasitology (vol. 9, no. 3). Baerg observed the swelling and pain that followed the spider’s bite, noting that, as the symptoms spread to his shoulder, chest, and hips, he had problems with breathing and speech. He also noted that the “doctor advises that I go to bed.” He recalled the experience later, saying that the pain was severe and different from anything he had ever experienced. Baerg induced numbers of arachnids to bite or sting him over the successive years and recorded the resulting effects. [Encyclopedia of Arkansas]
Who is smarter: a person or an ape? Well, it depends on the task. Consider Ayumu, a young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University who, in a 2007 study, put human memory to shame. Trained on a touch screen, Ayumu could recall a random series of nine numbers, from 1 to 9, and tap them in the right order, even though the numbers had been displayed for just a fraction of a second and then replaced with white squares. I tried the task myself and could not keep track of more than five numbers—and I was given much more time than the brainy ape. In the study, Ayumu outperformed a group of university students by a wide margin. The next year, he took on the British memory champion Ben Pridmore and emerged the “chimpion.” […] A growing body of evidence shows that we have grossly underestimated both the scope and the scale of animal intelligence. Can an octopus use tools? Do chimpanzees have a sense of fairness? Can birds guess what others know? Do rats feel empathy for their friends? Just a few decades ago we would have answered “no” to all such questions. Now we’re not so sure. [WSJ]
Climate scientists have linked the massive snowstorms and bitter spring weather now being experienced across Britain and large parts of Europe and North America to the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice.
You are insolvent when you can’t pay your debts. Households and firms have struggled with insolvency for centuries. Insolvency is usually a balance sheet concept based around the valuation of assets. When the value of your assets is less than the value of your liabilities, you are insolvent. Usually you work out a repayment schedule with your creditors via a restructuring process. For countries the notion of national insolvency is a newer, and potentially very misleading, idea. Countries aren’t corporations. Technically almost every country would be insolvent if if was asked to pay all of its debt using its available assets. All governments in practice secure their national debts on their abilities to levy taxes. You can’t really repossess a country, in fairness. When a sovereign borrows too much, it either pushes the debt into the future by rolling over its debt, or failing that, defaults on some or all of the debt. The history of sovereign debt is in fact the history of sovereign default. Defaults tend to happen, in bursts, about every 30 years or so. But before the current crisis, very little attention was paid to this idea of national insolvency. There are very few mentions of national insolvency during the East Asian crisis of the late 1990s, for example. [HBR]
The world’s largest country and second largest economy has no tradition whatsoever of liberal democracy, says Zhang WeiWei, and many reasons for being wary of adversarial western political systems. He explains why Chinese see their own model as best suited to China’s needs.
While many Americans assume that the Federal Reserve is a federal agency, the Fed itself admits that the 12 Federal Reserve banks are private. […] Indeed, the money-center banks in New York control the New York Fed, the most powerful Fed bank. Until recently, Jamie Dimon – the head of JP Morgan Chase – was a Director of the New York Fed. [Washingtons Blog/Ritholtz]
“I don’t know. I don’t identify with the term ‘rich.’ But I think I make a shit-ton of money,” a 24-year-old Google employee making low six figures told me. Tech has brought very young, very rich people to the Bay Area like never before. And the changes to our cultural and economic landscape aren’t necessarily for the better.
On January 26, 2008, a 30-year-old part-time entrepreneur named Mike Merrill decided to sell himself on the open market. He divided himself into 100,000 shares and set an initial public offering price of $1 a share.
Giovanni Di Stefano conned clients like Saddam Hussein out of large sums of money by setting himself up as a lawyer when he had no legal qualifications and was not registered to work as a lawyer.
In the United States, nearly one in five women have been raped at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — most of them before age 25. Across the planet, more than one in three women will be physically or sexually abused by men.
How to Make a Computer from a Living Cell. Genetic logic gates will enable biologists to program cells for chemical production and disease detection.
This paper provides the most comprehensive discussion to date of whether so-called automated, autonomous, self-driving, or driverless vehicles can be lawfully sold and used on public roads in the United States. [Stanford | PDF]
Two hero lawyers have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Metropolitan Museum of Art over the museum’s attempts to make its absurd but optional $25 admission fee appear to be mandatory.
Yesterday NY Hardcore scene photographed by Brooke Smith (the actress who played the woman in the well in Silence of the Lambs).
We show that, in books, American English has become decidedly more “emotional” than British English in the last half-century, as a part of a more general increase of the stylistic divergence between the two variants of English language.
Kafka was a fervent womanizer, carrying on numerous romantic involvements (and frequenting brothels) throughout his life. Here, he tries to convince Bauer to marry him.
…the fact that we generally find pleasure to be not nearly so pleasant as we expected, and pain very much more painful. The pleasure in this world, it has been said, outweighs the pain; or, at any rate, there is an even balance between the two. If the reader wishes to see shortly whether this statement is true, let him compare the respective feelings of two animals, one of which is engaged in eating the other. [Schopenhauer, Studies on Pessimism]
James Franco: Lindsay Lohan wanted to have sex with me, I said no, because she had “issues.”