Science denial and climate change

This is an interesting article on science denial and how it may be possible to inoculate people against misinformation.

Science denial has significant consequences. AIDS denial caused over 300,000 deaths in South Africa. Vaccination denial has allowed preventable diseases to make a comeback. Climate science denial helped delay sorely needed mitigation policies, committing us to direr climate impacts for decades to come.

Source: A Skeptical Response to Science Denial – CSI

Recognizing faces is hard

When studying automatic, biometric face recognition it is import to understand what an appropriate baseline performance level is. Research has often shown that humans are actually not that good at doing face recognition, especially when comparing a photograph with a person in front of them.

Here is some more research in this area.

Experiments suggest that telling if two unfamiliar faces are the same or different is no easy task. … A new article in Applied Cognitive Psychology confirms these fears, suggesting that our real-world capacity to spot fakes in their natural setting is even worse than imagined.

 

Death by selfie

Here is interesting research on the growing phenomenon of getting yourself killed while trying to shoot a selfie. Apparently, the goal is to build a kind of this-is-a-dangerous-selfie warning app.

In 2014, 15 people died while taking a selfie; in 2015 this rose to 39, and in 2016 there were 73 deaths in the first eight months of the year. That’s more selfie deaths than deaths due to shark attacks. That raises an interesting question—how are these people dying, and is there a way to prevent these kinds of accidents?

Source: Data Scientists Chart the Tragic Rise of Selfie Deaths

and the research paper can be found at https://lnkd.in/fpdiVwx

 

Correlations and milk

Another example of the importance of understanding the relationship between correlation and causation.

In a study of more than 2,700 children aged one to six, Toronto researchers found that those who drank whole milk had a body mass index score almost a full unit lower than kids who drank one per cent or two per cent milk.That’s comparable to the difference between having a healthy weight and being overweight, said Dr. Jonathon Maguire, a pediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital who led the study.

Did drinking whole milk make the kids thinner, or are heavier kids drinking low-fat milk because they are heavier?

Source: Kids who drink whole-fat milk are leaner, study finds – Macleans.ca

On Facebook and happiness

Here is another study that explores the relationship between Facebook and emotions.

People’s emotional life improves significantly when they quit Facebook for 1 week… Millions of hours are spent on Facebook each day. We are surely better connected now than ever before, but is this new connectedness doing any good to our well-being? According to the present study, the answer is no…

Source: If You Want to Be Happy, Quit Facebook? – Neuroskeptic

Who’s the playground boss?

The development of social behaviour has always been fascinating. How and when do children learn to interact with adults and each other? Here is some interesting research.

A new paper in Child Development has explored the … question of when and how young children are able to discern social power from more subtle social dynamics between two parties, finding that already by age three children can interpret various forms of social power – resource control, goal achievement, and permission giving – to identify who’s in charge.

https://digest.bps.org.uk/2016/11/16/by-age-three-children-are-already-adept-at-figuring-out-whos-boss/

 

Happiness and sunshine

Ever wonder whether your happiness is related to the weather? Feel gloomy when it is raining outside?

This research suggest that it is the number of daylight hours that really matters, not the rain or wind.

This might be quite relevant for those of us who live in places with short winter days.

The one weather variable that really matters to mental health is the amount of sunlight hours, new research finds. Rain, air pollution, wind and high or low temperature have relatively little effect. It is the amount of time between sunrise and sunset that is linked to people’s mental health.

Source: Mental Health Is Only Affected By This One Aspect Of Weather – PsyBlog

Psychological damage from torture

Here is an important, and somewhat hard to read, article on the lasting psychological damage from US torture programs.

Before the United States permitted a terrifying way of interrogating prisoners, government lawyers and intelligence officials assured themselves of one crucial outcome. They knew that the methods inflicted on terrorism suspects would be painful, shocking and far beyond what the country had ever accepted. But none of it, they concluded, would cause long lasting psychological harm.

Fifteen years later, it is clear they were wrong.

Source: How U.S. Torture Left a Legacy of Damaged Minds – The New York Times

Good writing is like a dirty joke, but…

Here is an interesting collection of tips for how to write well. Some are obvious, and some are rather novel and interesting.

Remember that the model of the drama is the dirty joke. This joke begins: “A traveling salesman stops at a farmer’s door” — it does not begin: “Who would think that the two most disparate occupations of agriculture and salesmanship would one day be indissolubly united in our oral literature? Agriculture, that most solitary of pursuits, engendering the qualities of self-reliance and reflection, and salesmanship, in which…”

Source: This Is How To Improve Your Writing: 7 Easy Expert Secrets

Can memory be trained?

Here is another interesting article that asks whether memory training programs or products actually have any beneficial effects.

Today, in our health-conscious culture permeated by people eating kale, meditating, and working out, it seems tempting to regard the brain as just another muscle, one whose relevant parts can be “exercised” to keep them from getting flabby and plump. Memory exercises and meditation to the rescue! Puzzles, games, and challenges are today’s mental weights.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the results tend to show that the only benefits are very specific to what was actually practiced, and short lived. As the article points out, this is important because many people, including school systems, are paying money for these unproven products.

Source: Skeptic » Reading Room » Can Working Memory Be Trained to Work Better?