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]
Mappiness is a free iPhone app that allows you to keep track of your happiness. It's also a research tool for London School of Economics scholars Susana Mourato and George MacKerron, who are using it to learn "how people's feelings are affected by features of their current environment—things like air pollution, noise, and green spaces." [more inside]
In a pilot Phase II study of PTSD sufferers with a median of 19 years since diagnosis, MDMA-assisted therapy resulted in 10 out of 12 patients no longer meeting the diagnostic criteria. [more inside]
What counts as sex? A group of researchers at the University of Kentucky-Lexington, thinks that Bill Clinton’s famous assertion that he “did not have sexual relations” with Monica Lewinsky may be the reason so many young people today don’t consider oral sex to count as doing the deed. The study "Sex Redefined: The Reclassification Of Oral-Genital Contact"PDF which was conducted in 2007 and published this month in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, surveyed 477 students enrolled in a human sexuality course at a large state university about their views on sex. What they found was that only 20 percent of those students considered oral-genital contact to be sex, compared with nearly 40 percent of a similar group of students surveyed in 1991.
An article in the June issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society of the Biological Sciences finds that "differences in reproductive strategies are driving individuals' different views on recreational drugs": namely, that views on sexual promiscuity are more closely related to views on recreational drug use than religion, political affiliation or other predictors. The study suggests attitudes against recreational drug use are an evolutionary attempt to promote reproductive stability.
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]
What do Singing in the Rain, Live Is Life, Don't Worry, Be Happy, I Will Survive and Ça fait rire les oiseaux have in common? In a study, French-speaking Internet users identified these five pop songs out of 100, as the most pernicious earworms. Here are their top 25 picks from BRAMS, including audio clips. [more inside]
"The so-called Victorian conception of women's sexuality was more that of an ideology seeking to be established than the prevalent view or practice of even middle-class women."
"Some enjoyed sex but worried that they shouldn't. One slept apart from her husband 'to avoid temptation of too frequent intercourse.' " Standford Magazine on the accidental discovery of an unpublished sex survey of American women made 55 years before Kinsey . (via)
A new study of death penalty deterrence by researchers from Sam Houston State University and Duke University suggests that there is a decline in murders in the month of or after executions. Meanwhile, Kenneth Mosley became the 448th inmate executed in Texas since 1982 on January 7th, 2010. (Last link: previously, previously and previously)
"...for the scientific community, the most critical organ of the incentive system is the cycle of credit."
Just how credible is Wikipedia? While some have tested this empirically, others have chosen more dubious methodology. For a site that gives no credit to its post authors, one wonders, why even bother?
From the publisher's website: "The YouTube Reader is the first full-length book to explore YouTube as an industry, an archive and a cultural form." Features some seasoned commentators, among them film analyst Thomas Elsaesser, and an online exhibition. Looks interesting.
Ethnography of Rock Band Bar Night. The Rock Band video game (and the similar Guitar Hero) are more than video games where players try to earn points and some are exploring the deeper meaning of such games. [more inside]
A recent study, commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency, has found that there is no evidence that organically produced foods are nutritionally superior to conventionally produced foodstuffs. On the basis of a systematic review of studies of satisfactory quality, there is no evidence of a difference in nutrient quality between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs. The small differences in nutrient content detected are biologically plausible and mostly relate to differences in production methods. Who cares?
Shmoop is study guides and teacher resources that help us understand how literature and history and poetry are relevant today. Take for example Shakespeare's Sonnet 130. Get a technical analysis of it's literary devices, explanations of the themes, and audio/video readings of the sonnet.
Is there a formula—some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life? For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Here, for the first time, a journalist gains access to the archive of one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. What Makes Us Happy?
A new university of Melbourne study finds that surfing the web at work can actually boost rather than hurt productivity, even when the content is not work related. Finally I have an excuse for why I am "always looking at that blue site."
One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.
A massive global study concludes a quarter of the 5,487 wild mammal species on the planet are threatened with extinction, according to a report released Monday at a World Conservation Congress in Spain. [more inside]
H.A.R.O., or "Help A Reporter Out," is the brainchild of Peter Shankman (aka skydiver on Twitter). Embracing the philosophy that "Everyone is an expert on something," HARO matches reporters and authors up with sources through the simple process of a sign-up form. Seems like a good match for all the experts here on MeFi. [more inside]
A BBC Horizon documentary, asks "Is alcohol worse than ecstasy?" (iPlayer link valid for UK users until 11 Feb). Here comes the science... [more inside]
Logo Study: Batman. "A lengthy look at the logos of Batman from his creation to the present." Part two, three, four, and five. [via]
An inside look at who jumps. Marin County Coroner Ken Holmes has released a study of 10 years of suicide jumps from the Golden Gate Bridge. [more inside]
High BMI Now Means Cognitive Difficulties Later? A study published in Neurology attempts to discover if there is a link between cognitive function, cognitive decline and BMI (body mass index) over time. Yes, I am aware that BMI is a flawed metric.
Full Text (sub. req'd).
Full Text (sub. req'd).
A study released by CERA has some interesting tidbits: the average motorist in 2005 used 703 gallons of gas, and drove 40 percent more than 25 years ago; the US has 1,148 registered personal vehicles for every 1,000 licensed drivers; the percentage of vehicles that are SUVs (including minivans and light trucks) is slowly going down from 55% in 2005 to 53% in 2006; the average fuel consumption for all vehicles is 19.8 mpg in 2005, a drop from when it peaked at 20.2 in 2001; and the share of U.S. household budgets going to gasoline and oil has has been relatively stable for decades, at about 3.8 percent in 2006.
The sketchbooks of Edward Burne-Jones, Benjamin Champney, Henri-Edmond Cross, Jacques-Louis David, Paul Feeley, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Sanford Gifford, George Grosz, Frederic Leighton, and John Singer Sargent. UnderCover, Artists' Sketchbooks exhibition by the Harvard Art museums [via woolgathering]
Blender, meet science: The Pain, the Pain: Modelling Music Information Behavior and the Songs We Hate [link to 454Kb PDF]. The paper, presented at ISMIR 2005, offers "a grounded theory analysis of 395 user responses to the survey question 'What is the worst song ever?'"
Emory University study describes the Millenial Generation An interesting comparison of Gen Xers and the so-called Millenial Generation, born since 1982, from Emory University. The M.Gen kids apparently want to do good, as long as there is a clear structure and leadership that tells them how and what to do . . . oh, and don't question the leaders. Really. Why would you?
The Musical Listening test is harder than it sounds, no pun intended. Hosted at the University of Newcastle at Tyne, it is a study of musical perception in the general population. Listen to two short melodic phrases and decide if they are the same or different.
Where do all the teaspoons go to? A scientific study published in the British Medical Journal about where all the teaspoons in a works canteen go to.
Do you spend a lot of time worrying about government mind-control satellites? New research from MIT indicates that your tin-foil hat may be less effective than you think.
Want to get lucky? Just start thinking like you already are.
From the Asia Times — "The more commercial television news you watch, the more wrong you are likely to be about key elements of the Iraq War and its aftermath, according to a major new study released in Washington on Thursday." [more inside]
Are Omega-3 oils an effective treatment for Clinical Depression and Bipolar Disorder? This doctor thinks so and the data seems to support his theory. Several studies are going at this time. So why isn't it used more widely in treatment for mood disorders? Do doctors see it as junk science? Or is there another reason?
A widely-reported study that showed recreational use of MDMA to cause Parkinson's diesase was found to be botched and has now been retracted. The results were not skewed, the margin of error wasn't miscalculated--the primates were given the wrong drug.
Web Project Seeks to Digitize Religious Images for Theological Libraries The American Theological Library Association's Cooperative Digital Resources Initiative aims to create a large database of religious images to spare research librarians the expense of digitizing documents that other institutions have already scanned
Fish have feelings too. Or so says Dr. Sneddon of the University of Liverpool. Her research into "trout trauma" is leading her to believe that fish don't care much for hooks and barbs.
“Our research demonstrates nociception and suggests that noxious stimulation in the rainbow trout has adverse behavioural and physiological effects. This fulfils the criteria for animal pain.”I'm all out of sorts now. My dad loves to fish. He taught me how to fish. I like to fish with my dad. And now I'm a fish-hurter?!?
Looking at an attractive woman swell's a man's ego. Looking even at a picture of an attractive woman is enough to dramatically boost a man's estimation of his earning prospects, career success, generosity and dominance --and research has found that women find them attractive.
At Northwestern University, psychologists are paying women to be aroused by porn. It's more fun than looking at ink blots.
At Northwestern University, psychologists are paying women to be aroused by porn. It's more fun than looking at ink blots. "Last spring, [the two scientists] were involved in a similar study that tested Chicago-area men for their reaction to straight and gay porn. The results were fairly definitive — straight men [were aroused by] watching a man and a woman have sex; gay men [were aroused by] watching two men have sex. Neither had much crossover. But when Chicago-area women [were exposed to] both stimuli...? 'It appears that women, regardless of sexual orientation, respond to everything.' This is science at its steamiest." (from Jim Romenesko's Obscure Store)
Your eyes never stop moving. Even though we are rarely aware of them, our eye movements are incredibly complex. They are also very informative. Eye movement data is being used to study painters painting, art lovers loving art, drivers driving, musicians sight reading, and speakers speaking, not to mention the cognitive science staples of reading and scene viewing. One interesting application of eye movement data is the Eyetrack2000 project, which attempts to describe the eye movement behavior of people viewing news websites in order to improve web page design. Some of the findings suggest that the internet and print media are different in important ways: on the web, text is fixated before pictures; in print, pictures are fixated first.
City Living Linked to Risk of Psychotic Symptoms Growing up in the suburbs never looked so good...
A study from researchers at the University of Alberta concludes that unhappy workers perform their tasks at the same rate as happy workers, but with about half as many errors (more inside).
whiteness studies (7.5 MB)
Video Games 'Unhealthy' for Girls, Study Says Anyone else think this is a bit overblown?
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