Every year in Uto, a remote town at the Southern tip of Japan, a festival is held to celebrate a woman known locally as the Mother of the Sea. Dr Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker died without knowing her research would save the Japanese seaweed industry and lead to a world multi-billion dollar obsession with sushi. The story of nori in Japan.
Is Psychometric g a Myth? - "As an online discussion about IQ or general intelligence grows longer, the probability of someone linking to statistician Cosma Shalizi's essay g, a Statistical Myth approaches 1. Usually the link is accompanied by an assertion to the effect that Shalizi offers a definitive refutation of the concept of general mental ability, or psychometric g." [more inside]
A quarter-century of responses to the Pew Research Center's American Values survey statements show some surprising trends when graphed over time. A sampling:
- I think it's all right for blacks and whites to date each other
- Books that contain dangerous ideas should be banned from public school libraries
- School boards ought to have the right to fire teachers who are known homosexuals
- I don't believe that there are any real limits to growth in this country
The Beer Archaeologist. "Biomolecular archaeologist" Dr. Patrick McGovern has unearthed millennia-old alcohol recipes and ancient medicinals, "by analyzing residues in ancient pottery. Now he's working with brewer Sam Calagione, (of Discovery Channel's Brew Masters, (autoplaying video)) whose pub Dogfish Head serves up beers based on recipes that are thousands of years old." (Via) [more inside]
"Over the past few decades, 160 million women have vanished from East and South Asia — or, to be more accurate, they were never born at all. Throughout the region, the practice of sex selection — prenatal sex screening followed by selective termination of pregnancies — has yielded a generation packed with boys. From a normal level of 105 boys to 100 girls, the ratio has shifted to 120, 150, and, in some cases, nearly 200 boys born for every 100 girls. In some countries, like South Korea, ratios spiked and are now returning to normal. But sex selection is on the rise in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East." American journalist Mara Hvistendahl's new book: "Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men," examines and tries to predict the actual and potential effects of unequal sex ratios on men, women and the social economies of the affected regions, including the recent spike in sex trafficking and bride-buying across Asia. More. [more inside]
A nearly 25-year study has concluded that children raised in lesbian households were psychologically well-adjusted and had fewer behavioral problems than their peers. Results were published this month in Pediatrics: the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. (Abstract. Free PDF. Scribd). [more inside]
Science vs. Religion: a new book, Science and Religion: What Scientists Really Think by Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund, discusses the results of her detailed study of 1,646 scientists at top American research universities. Among her findings: ~36% of those surveyed not only believe in God but also practice a form of closeted, often non-traditional faith. They worry about how their peers would react to learning about their religious views. Interview with the author from the Center for Inquiry's Point of Inquiry podcast. Also, here's a webcast from an author discussion forum held at Rice University on April 7th. [more inside]
A new study suggests that humanity's sense of fair play and kindness towards strangers is determined by culture, not genetics. Speculation: the finding may be directly related to the rise of religion in human history, as well as more complex economies. (Via). [more inside]
Circuits are flipping on in the nation's attic. A couple of weeks ago, 31 "digerati" -- like Clay Shirky, Chris Anderson, and George Oates -- dropped in to the Smithsonian Institution for the invitation-only conference "Smithsonian 2.0: A Gathering to Re-imagine the Smithsonian in the Digital Age". Dan Cohen of the Center for History and New Media provides a great summary (and continues to pose provocative questions) on his own blog. Those whose invitations were somehow lost in the mail can play fly-on-the-wall by watching the keynotes, paging through the Flickr pool of envymaking glimpses of their behind-the-scenes lab and collections tours, reading the blog (where Bruce Wyman of the Denver Art Museum lays out a succinct road map for museums using social media), and poking around in the SI's website gallery. Want to cheer on the USA's favorite 163-year-old "Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge" without taking the trip to DC? Thanks to their recent efforts, you can now follow the SI on Twitter, listen to its podcasts, watch its YouTube channel, visit the Latino Virtual Museum in Second Life, or use the FaceBook gifts page to send your best friends their very own pair of Dorothy's ruby slippers, Hope diamond, Negro Leagues baseball, or coelocanth.
"If you like surfing the web, it is probably because you believe people are basically good." That's the Economist interpreting the results of a recent study by IBM researchers of how cultural characteristics apparently affect people's readiness to adopt new communications technologies.
Blue Springs, Missouri, is receiving federal funds for "Gothic Culture Research." "The funding for the proposed gothic program will supplement existing services already in place and allow the city to target additional 'at risk' youth in the gothic culture." Apparently, gothism is a "gateway" culture that may lead to harder stuff.
Understanding what makes America tick "The belief that America is exceptional, in the double sense that it is superior and that it is different...The United States had a mission, a manifest destiny, to change the world in its image. This conviction echoes down through American history....Other countries—France, Britain, Russia—have from time to time in their history felt a sense of mission, of carrying their civilisation to other peoples and territories. But in their cases it has been episodic and not deeply rooted—usually limited to when their power was at its zenith and usually clearly recognisable as a rationalisation for what they were doing for other reasons. In the case of the United States, it has been constant and central." [Centre of Independent Studies in Sydney via aldaily] American Exceptionalism. Mix it with sole super power status and massive military might. Should make it quite an intoxicating ride these next few years.
!Surréalisme! Home of, among many wonders, The Surrealist Compliment Generator--May clinging breasts always come to your aid in the kitchen, was mine--and you can talk to ESMÉ, Cadaveric Enigma Engine Generator*, visit The Department of Objects and Delusions or the cool links page.--and I quote: USENET: For those willing to brave the endless morass of asses, alt.surrealism... Now there's a tagline for here embedded in that there sentence!
'XIAMEN: A senior Beijing researcher on Taiwan affairs yesterday called for immediate measures to resist an ongoing bid by the island to promote its cultural independence..'. [More]
Do we all need to get out more? Although they're putting the "too much time with computers, not enough social interaction" spin on this study's findings, there are actually some good results of it. Heavy internet users spend less time in traffic (because they look up traffic before going anywhere?), less time in malls (shopping online instead, duh), and less time watching TV (this is the best news of all, I barely watch it anymore because it's mostly inane garbage, whereas on the internet, I can find interesting things to read and enjoy). As for the less face time with friends and family, I have a growing number of friends online that I consider to be as close as any Real Life friend could be.