One day in the fall of 1981, eight men in their 70s stepped out of a van in front of a converted monastery in New Hampshire. They shuffled forward, a few of them arthritically stooped, a couple with canes. Then they passed through the door and entered a time warp. Perry Como crooned on a vintage radio. Ed Sullivan welcomed guests on a black-and-white TV. Everything inside — including the books on the shelves and the magazines lying around — were designed to conjure 1959. This was to be the men’s home for five days as they participated in a radical experiment, cooked up by a young psychologist named Ellen Langer.
"If a woman is objectified in a relationship, the research indicates, it's more likely that her male partner will sexually coerce and pressure her." [more inside]
Everyone knows that female fertility begins a rapid decline at thirty-five. Or does it? In the Atlantic, Jean Twenge dismantles the data and reaches a startling conclusion: many oft-cited statistics on female fertility are based on data from pre-twentieth century populations, whereas studies on contemporary populations yield very different results. Might the mid- to late-thirties be the ideal time to have a baby? Twenge suggests we consider forty as the new cut-off for pregnancy.
First noticed on tumblr but now available to all, Alex Clayden's paper "Same-Sex Desire in Pharaonic Egypt" which, among other things, tells you about the connection between lettuce and semen and the Ancient Egyptian for "You have a nice ass."
Staying_On-Topic in r/intelligentanimals posts a huge number of links explaining why Corvids (crows, ravens, magpies, etc) are amazing.
Barking Up The Wrong Tree distils scientific research, focused on its motto: "I want to understand why we do what we do and use the answers to be awesome at life." With a gradual shift to more digest posts packed with links to summaries & sources, a sampling of the past couple weeks includes: What are 10 things you should do every day to improve your life? - What are 10 things you should do every week to improve your life? - 25 research-based ways to increase your intelligence - What are 7 things that can make you happier in 7 seconds? - 7 steps to never procrastinating again. Another blog along the same lines but less glib & immediate is Peer-Reviewed By My Neurons; recently: How confusion facilitates learning - The science of coming on too strong - Want to be creative? Play Dungeons & Dragons [more inside]
The Ph.D. Grind: A Ph.D. Student Memoir is Philip J. Guo's candid book about his six years of working towards a Ph.D. in computer science at Stanford University. Lots of Hard-earned wisdom and useful advice (especially in the epilogue) for those thinking about getting a Ph.D. [more inside]
"Experimental adaptation of an influenza H5 HA confers respiratory droplet transmission to a reassortant H5 HA/H1N1 virus in ferrets." After an extensive, months-long debate, one of two controversial papers showing ways the H5N1 "avian" influenza virus could potentially become transmissible in mammals with only 3 or 4 mutations was published in Nature today. The journal included an editorial on the merits and drawbacks of "publishing risky research" with regard to biosafety. The debate included an unprecedented recommendation by The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) to block publication -- a decision they later reversed. (Via: 1, 2) Nature's special report has additional articles, including interviews with the teams behind both papers.
For my 250th post: There is a lot of interesting research going on in business schools, and some of it is even fun to watch. Wharton has been hosting 10 minute entertaining talks on cutting-edge research by faculty including: where inspiration comes from at work, how time relates to happiness, how to run an innovation tournament, socially responsible investing, learning from people who leave your company and what breakfast cereal and Steve Jobs have to tell us about the secret sources of innovation. If you want less academics in your business school mini-lectures, Stanford also has a collection of advice to entrepreneurs on many subjects that includes everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to Guy Kawasaki.
Apparently They, of "They say..." fame, have been misusing the statistical significance test. So much of what "They say" might not actually be. (via)
Findings: A Daily Roundup of Academic Studies Serious, Sublime, Surreal and Otherwise, compiled by Kevin Lewis
Albert Einstein once articulated what many scholars have felt in their own work: The history of scientific and technical discovery teaches us the human race is poor in independent thinking and creative imagination. Even when the external and scientific requirements for the birth of an idea have long been there, it generally needs an external stimulus to make it actually happen; man has, so to speak, to stumble right up against the thing before the right idea comes. The Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University [html][pdf] [more inside]
Challenging the notion that humans are motivated by monetary reward, Dan Pink presents a variety of studies that test this notion. Inspired by his newest book, Drive
"Psychologists refer to this as the paradox of power. The very traits that helped leaders accumulate control in the first place all but disappear once they rise to power. Instead of being polite, honest and outgoing, they become impulsive, reckless and rude." Jonah Lehrer for The Wall Street Journal writes about recent findings on power, corruption, and authority and what can be done about it.
Feeling like you need something to balance the scent of sandalwood and musk after reading this list of famous man caves (including Jefferson's study, Douglass' office, Edison's library, and Roosevelt's trophy room)? If so, you may be interested in seeing the inner sanctums of some of history's most influential women. Check out Eleanor Roosevelt's living room (picture/info), Marie Curie's laboratory (picture/info), Margaret Mead's room in Samoa (picture/info), Maya Angelou's parlor (picture/info), Susan B. Anthony's study and bedroom (more pictures and info), Georgia O'Keefe's sitting room (picture, info), Helen Keller's childhood bedroom (picture, info), and Frida Kahlo's studio (picture 1, picture 2/info). [more inside]
Two separate studies about the children of deployed military personnel with dramatically different conclusions.
A former colonel, and lieutenant colonel team up to show that 56% of kids do well (or even VERY well) when their parents are shipped off to war (again). [more inside]
People often say 90% of statistics are made up on the spot. This probably isn't true, but according to this scientific paper about a third of scientific papers turn out to be wrong. Perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to take published research at face value. (research applies to medical research, not other fields of science, as far as I can tell)
Is a "virtual" Philly even better than the real thing? Well, GeoSim Systems thinks so. Except for the aroma of freshly-grilled cheesesteak, at least. Their "Virtual Philadelphia" is the most detailed urban imaging system I've seen yet, and you can read about the monumental process of turning photographic images (taken from both aircraft and street-level) into this incredible rendering in a February 17 NY Times article (reg req). And - as expected - Google wants to get in on the action and do the same thing in San Francisco. via BB
Is circumcision an AIDS weapon? To cut or not to cut? Does circumcision prevent the transmission of HIV? It was deemed "An acceptable strategy for HIV prevention" in Bostwana and a study looking at the magnitude of females who get infected with HIV/AIDS/STDs through circumcision
Coffee is Good, Good, Good. Coffee is Bad, Bad, Bad. Seems like the experts just don’t know if our most common addiction is, well, good for us, or bad for us.
"Highway Deaths Spike After Super Bowl" says a study in today's New England Journal of Medicine. The Super Bowl has also been blamed for a spike in domestic violence and increased usage of water systems. Some articles try to set the record straight, while others try to debunk the debunkers. I prefer to concentrate on the real meaning of the Super Bowl, the commercials.
You may be incompetent and not even know it. According to Dr. David Dunning of Cornell University, the skills necessary to be competent are the same skills needed to recognize competence in others. You can read the whole report here.
Religious worship can keep you sane, say Canadian psychiatrists. But how do these results help explain some of these folks?
Journalism profs are soliciting Internet users' opinions on how "politically interested Web surfers are using the Internet in the 2000 U.S. presidential elections."