Archive for February, 2008

Why Do We Love Babies? Parental Instinct Region Found in the Brain

Friday, February 29th, 2008
A region of the human brain called the medial orbitofrontal cortex is highly specifically active within a seventh of a second in response to (unfamiliar) infant faces but not to adult faces.

Researchers Find Fish That Can Count Up to Four | Science | the Guardian

Friday, February 29th, 2008
Fish are able to count to four, according to experiments which involved giving them the option of joining shoals of different sizes.

1 in 100 U.S. Adults Behind Bars, New Study Says – New York Times

Thursday, February 28th, 2008
With 1.6 million people in prison, the incarceration rate is now the highest in American history, a new report says.

Israeli Bombs Destroy Oxfam-funded Health Clinic in Gaza

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
Oxfam International today confirmed that a health clinic it helps fund was hit and vital medical equipment were destroyed in an attack by the Israeli air force on Gaza City late last night (27 February). The head quarters of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, the organization which runs the clinic, was also destroyed in the attack.


Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
The Philosophical Forum, Volume 39, Issue 1, Page 95-106, Spring 2008.

The Audacity of Hopelessness – New York Times

Sunday, February 24th, 2008
The Clinton camp has been the slacker in this presidential race, and its candidate?s message, for all its purported high-mindedness, is self-immolating.

What Single Book Is the Best Introduction to Your Field (or Specialization Within Your Field) for Laypeople? | Ask MetaFilter

Sunday, February 24th, 2008
I'm particularly interested in introductions for non-experts to subjects like biology, physics and astronomy, but I thought that opening up the question as broadly as possible would make it most interesting to me and other readers, especially as a future

Comment: Truth Is the Best Defence – Opinion – 16 February 2008 – New Scientist

Thursday, February 21st, 2008
The real question with animal experiments, then, is not their involvement in major breakthroughs, but whether they actually do any good. Astonishingly, that has never been formally established. Despite decades of research involving animals, there have bee

Lessig ’08 – Change Congress.

Thursday, February 21st, 2008
I have decided I want to give as much energy as I can to the Change Congress movement. I will decide in the next week or so whether it makes sense to advance that movement by running for Congress.

Nature Editors Reject Peer Review Process That Reduces Gender Bias Blogs Scientific American Community

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008
Following a surprisingly unscientific line of reasoning, the editors at the most renowned and prestigious of science journals have rationalized away the need to fix an ailing peer-review system. – Diavlogs

Monday, February 18th, 2008
Joshua Knobe interviewed by John Horgan.

Examples of Solved Philosophy

Sunday, February 17th, 2008
Given my complaints about the perennial accusation that philosophy never settles anything, I figure it'd be worth offering some examples of philosophical knowledge. (Nothing is for certain, of course, but I think that the following claims are at least as well-established as most scientific results.) Feel free to add you own examples in comments. 1. Knowledge does not require certainty. But nor does justified true belief suffice. 2. Psychological egoism is false: it is possible to act from non-selfish desires, i.e. for some good other than your own welfare. 3. Rational egoism is false: we are not rationally required to always and only act in our own self-interest. 4. (E.g. Moral) Principles may take situational variables into account without thereby sacrificing their claim to...

Cruelty Charges Filed Against Slaughterhouse Boss – Los Angeles Times

Saturday, February 16th, 2008
A video taken at the Chino facility prompted schools nationwide to pull beef from their menus.

Human Culture Subject to Natural Selection, Study Shows

Saturday, February 16th, 2008
The process of natural selection can act on human culture as well as on genes, a new study finds. Scientists have shown for the first time that cultural traits affecting survival and reproduction evolve at a different rate than other cultural attributes. Speeded or slowed rates of evolution typically indicate the action of natural selection in analyses of the human genome.

Does Socializing Make Us Smarter?

Friday, February 15th, 2008
Humans are social animals; we spend much of our time with others in groups. We are also wise. It is not our size, speed, or strength that distinguishes us from other mammals, but our intelligence. How might these two features -- being social and being smart -- go together? Researchers found that people who engaged in social interaction displayed higher levels of cognitive performance than the control group.

What Men and Women Say and Do in Choosing Romantic Partners Are Two Different Matters

Thursday, February 14th, 2008
When it comes to romantic attraction men primarily are motivated by good looks and women by earning power. Think again, say researchers. In short, the data from the psychologists' study suggest that what men and women said and did in choosing romantic partners are two different matters. Whether you're a man or a woman, being attractive is just as good for your romantic prospects and, to a lesser extent, so is being a good earner.

Developing Intelligence : Caffeine: A User’s Guide to Getting Optimally Wired

Thursday, February 14th, 2008
Caffeine is the most widely used stimulant in the world, but few use it to maximal advantage. Get optimally wired with these tips.

?Street? Marijuana Harmful to Cognitive Function in MS Patients

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008
Sunnybrook researchers are the first to provide evidence of the harmful effects of inhaled cannabis on the cognitive and mental health of patients with multiple sclerosis

Male Births Are More Likely to Reduce Quality of Life and Increase Severe Post-natal Depression

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008
Women who give birth to boys are more likely to suffer from post-natal depression and reduced quality of life. What marks this study out is that, unlike previous research, the women who took part didn't face any cultural pressures over the sex of their baby. And women reported lower quality of life following the birth of a boy, even if they didn't suffer from depression.

Obama Inspiring but Inexperienced, Clinton Prepared to Lead but “Hard to Like”

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Sex Differences in the Brain’s Serotonin System

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008
The brain's serotonin system differs between men and women. The scientists who conducted the study think that they have found one of the reasons why depression and chronic anxiety are more common in women than in men. Serotonin is a brain neurotransmitter that is critical to the development and treatment of depression and chronic anxiety.

The Harvard Crimson :: News :: Psych Study Quantifies Therapeutic Spending

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008
A new study, conducted by a Harvard professor and three colleagues at other universities, has quantified consumers? tendencies to indulge in purchasing when feeling sad.

Thomas Pogge – John Rawls: His Life and Theory of Justice – Reviewed by Arthur Kuflik, University of Vermont – Philosophical Reviews – University of Notre Dame

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Acceptance, Not Distraction, Is the Way to Deal with Pain

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008
You've got a painful visit to the dentist lined up and what do people advise you to do once you're there? Try to think of something nice, they always say. Imagine yourself lying on a lovely sandy beach. Not only can such advice be annoying, new research suggests it's also ineffective. You're much better off accepting the pain when it comes along and dealing with it. That's according to Jenny McMullen and colleagues who tested the ability of student participants to cope with unpleasant electric shocks of increasing duration. The students were tested before and after receiving tuition in distraction or acceptance techniques. To learn distraction, the students were asked to imagine how the first round of electric shocks had felt and to distract themselves from these feelings by imagining a...

On Darwin’s Birthday, Dover Still Isn’t Over

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008
It's Darwin's 199th birthday Tuesday, but the debate about evolution still isn't over. Next week, Florida will vote on how to teach evolution in science classes.

The in Vitro Meat Consortium – Tentative Programme

Monday, February 11th, 2008
The first In Vitro Meat Consortium Symposium will be held at Ås, Norway, 9-11 April, 2008.

Science of the Orgasm – Los Angeles Times

Monday, February 11th, 2008
To unlock the secrets of the climax researchers are looking behind the scenes and into the nervous system, where the true magic happens.

BBC NEWS | Magazine | How to Make Better Decisions

Monday, February 11th, 2008
With Valentine's Day around the corner, don't trust your instincts when it comes to selecting a mate. Human decision making is seriously flawed - but it can be fixed with a few simple sums.

Stepping Up the Search for ET – Space – 09 February 2008 – New Scientist Space

Monday, February 11th, 2008
THE silence has been deafening. After almost 50 years of combing the skies, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) hasn't heard a peep from any alien neighbours.

Objective and Subjective Hedonism

Monday, February 11th, 2008
You are offered a choice between two experience machines. Machine A is just like the ones you already know about.  You'll be on the experience machine until you are 120 years old, getting lots of various sorts of pleasure. Machine B offers exactly the same experiences as Machine A.  However, the experiences are crammed into a much shorter period of time:  just one day.  The first 12 hours of this day seem to last 12 hours.  The next 6 hours seem to last 12 hours.  The next 3 hours seem to last 12 hours.  And so on (as in Sorensen's "The Cheated God").  A fraction of a second before the 24 hours are up, the machine kills you painlessly.  At that time it seems to you as if you have lived 120 highly pleasant years. Which machine should you choose? It seems to me that...

Pew Internet: Online Dating

Monday, February 11th, 2008
Americans who are seeking romance use the internet to help them in their search, but there is still widespread public concern about the safety of online dating

A Valley of Misery Between Peaks of Joy

Monday, February 11th, 2008
Hopeful thoughts, for those of us wriggling in the muck of love.

The Human Cost of the War in Iraq

Monday, February 11th, 2008
Conventional wisdom in American politics focuses only on American casualties even then, only military losses, and discounts or ignores the scale of suffering of the Iraqi people themselves. We include on this site resources and studies of human insecurity

Marry Him!

Monday, February 11th, 2008
The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough

1. on Facebook, Leaving Is Hard to Do

Monday, February 11th, 2008
Disenchanted users discover that Facebook is a lot like the Eagles' song "Hotel California: " you can checkout anytime you like, but you can never leave.

How to Live to 100: Remain Independent, Avoid Disability, Research Suggests

Monday, February 11th, 2008
Researchers report that for a substantial proportion of their centenarian subjects, avoiding age-related diseases (i.e., stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes) may not be the key to their longevity; rather, the avoidance of disability may be a key feature in their exceptional survival.

Nationalist Moral Chauvinism

Sunday, February 10th, 2008
The argument between the moral chauvinist and the moral universalist is an argument over the standard for moral justification. For the chauvinist, if a rule or policy benefits the group to which the chauvinist happens to be a member, then it is justified. One of the chauvinist’s many problems, besides getting morality fundamentally wrong, is that she is a member of many groups. She may be a Catholic, of Chinese origin, and an American citizen. She may be a loyal Michigander, a stalwart of the local community, and a member in good standing of clubs and associations. The chauvinist who prioritizes the nation needs to provide some justification for choosing this membership as especially salient. I don’t find communitarian conservatives confusing, but I do find communitarian nationalist... / Weekend Columnists / Tim Harford – Dear Economist…

Saturday, February 9th, 2008
I feel that the school does not meet my romantic needs and that I will never know true love while at school. In fact, I?m not having much luck at finding any love at all. Please can you help, or even just offer some hope?

Relax: Our Simple Guide to Meditation – Times Online

Saturday, February 9th, 2008
Research indicates that meditation, is good for the body and may also help to stave off cognitive disorders

Evolutionary Psychology

Saturday, February 9th, 2008
[New Entry by Stephen M. Downes on February 8, 2008.] Evolutionary psychology is one of many biologically informed approaches to the study of human behavior. Along with cognitive psychologists, evolutionary psychologists propose that much, if not all, of our behavior can be explained by appeal to internal psychological mechanisms. What distinguishes evolutionary psychologists from many cognitive psychologists is the proposal that...

Derek Parfit: Video Interview on Personal Identity

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

Five Reasons Hillary Should Be Worried – Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen –

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008
Hillary Clinton survived a Super Tuesday scare. But there are five big reasons the former first lady should be spooked by the current trajectory of the campaign.

Silicon Valley Donations: Microsoft Loves Hillary; Google, Obama | Threat Level from

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008
Microsoft employees support New York senator Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president, while Google and Yahoo staffers are for Illinois senator Barack Obama, according to recently updated 2007 filings with the Federal Election Commissio

The Tail-end of a Presidency |

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008
SIR ? Your review of a book on happiness and where to find it (?It's in Iceland?, January 19th) mentioned that Republicans are happier than Democrats. This can probably be explained in the same way that dogs are happier than their owners: they can't

Destined to Cheat? New Research Finds Free Will Can Keep Us Honest

Monday, February 4th, 2008
The link between fatalistic beliefs and unethical behavior has never been examined scientifically -- until now

Bias, Anyone?

Friday, February 1st, 2008
Dave Roberts notes that last night's CNN debate was the fourth such debate sponsored by a coal industry front group, and that, coincidentally enough, none of the four coal-funded debate broadcasts featured any questions about climate change. Your liberal media in action. / World / US & Canada – Mid-life Crisis Occurs Globally, Says Study

Friday, February 1st, 2008
Miserable middle age is a global phenomenon, according to an analysis of depression and happiness among 2m people in 80 countries. People everywhere follow a U-shaped curve of psychological well-being, with a nadir in their mid 40s. / World / US & Canada – Mid-life Crisis Occurs Globally, Says Study

Friday, February 1st, 2008
Miserable middle age is a global phenomenon, according to an analysis of depression and happiness among 2m people in 80 countries. People everywhere follow a U-shaped curve of psychological well-being, with a nadir in their mid 40s.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | ‘Bizarre’ New Mammal Discovered

Friday, February 1st, 2008
A new species of mammal has been discovered in the mountains of Tanzania, scientists report.