In pop culture, conspiracy believers — like FBI agent Fox Mulder on The X Files or professor Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code — tend to reject the notion of coincidence or chance; even the most random-seeming events are thought to result from some sort of intention or design. And researchers have suggested that such a bias against randomness may explain real-world conspiracy beliefs. But new research from psychological scientists shows no evidence for a link between conspiracist thinking and perceptions of order, design, or intent.... Read more »
Dieguez, S., Wagner-Egger, P., & Gauvrit, N. (2015) Nothing Happens by Accident, or Does It? A Low Prior for Randomness Does Not Explain Belief in Conspiracy Theories. Psychological Science. DOI: 10.1177/0956797615598740
An ancient mass grave, uncovered during the construction of a shopping mall outside San Francisco, contains the bodies of seven men who appear to have been victims of “mass homicide” some 1,150 years ago, scientists say.
... Read more »
Eerkens JW, Carlson T, Malhi RS, Blake J, Bartelink EJ, Barfod GH, Estes A, Garibay R, Glessner J, Greenwald AM.... (2015) Isotopic and genetic analyses of a mass grave in central California: Implications for precontact hunter-gatherer warfare. American journal of physical anthropology. PMID: 26331533
A woman who won’t drive long distances because she has panic attacks in the car. A man who has contamination fears so intense he cannot bring himself to use public bathrooms. A woman who can’t go to church because she fears enclosed spaces. All of these people have two things in common: they have an anxiety disorder. They’re also parents.... Read more »
Ginsburg, G., Drake, K., Tein, J., Teetsel, R., & Riddle, M. (2015) Preventing Onset of Anxiety Disorders in Offspring of Anxious Parents: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Family-Based Intervention. American Journal of Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.14091178
A remarkable paper just published in PLoS ONE reports on what is, I think, one of the largest psychological experiments of all time.
Researchers Elizabeth L. Paluck and colleagues partnered with a TV network to insert certain themes (or messages) into popular dramas shown on US TV. They then looked to see whether these themes had an effect on real world behavior, ranging from Google searches to drink-driving arrests.
The study was based on three prime time Spanish-language dramas (tele... Read more »
Paluck EL, Lagunes P, Green DP, Vavreck L, Peer L, & Gomila R. (2015) Does Product Placement Change Television Viewers' Social Behavior?. PloS one, 10(9). PMID: 26398217
Classifying something as living isn’t as easy as it sounds, after all we are all atoms, so when do atoms go from nonliving to living? Despite the complexities of viruses, we have historically deemed them nonliving. However, a new analysis supports the hypothesis that viruses are living entities that share a long evolutionary history with cells. The study offers the first reliable method for tracing viral evolution back to a time when neither viruses nor cells existed in the forms recognized today.... Read more »
Arshan Nasir, & Gustavo Caetano-Anollés. (2015) A phylogenomic data-driven exploration of viral origins and evolution. Science Advances. info:/10.1126/sciadv.1500527
Social networking makes it easy to monitor the status and activities of a former romantic partner, an often unhealthy use of social media known as interpersonal electronic surveillance (IES) or, more commonly, “Facebook stalking.” Psychological and relationship factors and how individuals cope with the termination of a romantic relationship can help predict their use of online surveillance, according to a new study.... Read more »
Fox, J., & Tokunaga, R. (2015) Romantic Partner Monitoring After Breakups: Attachment, Dependence, Distress, and Post-Dissolution Online Surveillance via Social Networking Sites. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 18(9), 491-498. DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2015.0123
Leprosy is a fascinating disease- not just for its effects, but for the social implications of having the disease. Leprosy was an epidemic disease that not only infected millions of […]... Read more »
Blondiaux, J., Naji, S., Bocquet-Appel, J., Colard, T., de Broucker, A., & de Seréville-Niel, C. (2015) The leprosarium of Saint-Thomas d’Aizier: The cementochronological proof of the medieval decline of Hansen disease in Europe?. International Journal of Paleopathology. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpp.2015.02.005
by Agnes Bodis in Language on the Move
The refugee crisis in Europe has caught a lot of global media attention. Countries at the entry points and their official actions, as well civil organizations, get a lot of attention in online media; furthermore, social media comments quite often … Continue reading →... Read more »
Baker, P., Gabrielatos, C., KhosraviNik, M., Krzyzanowski, M., McEnery, T., & Wodak, R. (2008) A useful methodological synergy? Combining critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics to examine discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press. Discourse , 19(3), 273-306. DOI: 10.1177/0957926508088962
A team led by researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has published a new analysis of data on the genetics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). One commonly held theory is that autism results from the chance combinations of commonly occurring gene mutations, which are otherwise harmless. But the authors’ work provides support for a different theory.... Read more »
Ivan Iossifov, Dan Levy, Jeremy Allen, Kenny Ye, Michael Ronemus, Yoon-ha Lee, Boris Yamrom, & Michael Wigler. (2015) Low load for disruptive mutations in autism genes and their biased transmission. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States of America. info:/
Polyglot like a pitcher plant or cryptolectic like a sperm whale?
A: “Pitcher Tower, this is Bat K hardwickii, established ILS 16. Do you copy me?”
B: “Bat K hardwickii, clear to land. Please confirm: are you ready to discharge the cargo?”
A: “Roger. Affirmative.”
This is how I imagined a conversation between the tropical carnivorous pitcher plant Nepenthes hemsleyana and the bat Kerivoula hardwickii would go. No, I am not on drugs; bats and plants can communicate with each other, as a study from Michael and Caroline Schöner together with other researchers (2015) just confirmed.... Read more »
Cantor M, Shoemaker LG, Cabral RB, Flores CO, Varga M, & Whitehead H. (2015) Multilevel animal societies can emerge from cultural transmission. Nature communications, 8091. PMID: 26348688
Schöner MG, Schöner CR, Simon R, Grafe TU, Puechmaille SJ, Ji LL, & Kerth G. (2015) Bats Are Acoustically Attracted to Mutualistic Carnivorous Plants. Current biology : CB, 25(14), 1911-6. PMID: 26166777
The search to determine how native engineers built Monk’s Mound — North America’s biggest prehistoric earthen structure — has turned up some new and crucial, but very small, clues: the seeds and spores of ancient plants.... Read more »
Lopinot, N., Schilling, T., Fritz, G., & Kelly, J. (2015) Implications of Plant Remains from the East Face of Monks Mound. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, 40(3), 209-230. DOI: 10.1179/2327427115Y.0000000003
Research has found evidence that spending time in nature provides protections against a startling range of diseases, including depression, diabetes, obesity, ADHD, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and many more. How this exposure to green space leads to better health has remained a mystery. After reviewing hundreds of studies examining nature’s effects on health, researchers believe the answer lies in nature’s ability to enhance the functioning of the body’s immune system.... Read more »
Kuo, M. (2015) How might contact with nature promote human health? Promising mechanisms and a possible central pathway. Frontiers in Psychology. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01093
Bacteria aren't the only nonhuman invaders to colonize the gut shortly after a baby's birth. Viruses also set up house there, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. All together, these invisible residents are thought to play important roles in human health.... Read more »
Lim, E., Zhou, Y., Zhao, G., Bauer, I., Droit, L., Ndao, I., Warner, B., Tarr, P., Wang, D., & Holtz, L. (2015) Early life dynamics of the human gut virome and bacterial microbiome in infants. Nature Medicine. DOI: 10.1038/nm.3950
It is a great relief that Homo naledi, a most curious critter, was announced to the world on Thursday. I’ve been working on these fossils since May 2014, and it was really hard to keep my trap shut about it for over a year. I was in London for the ESHE conference last week when **it […]... Read more »
Berger LR, Hawks J, de Ruiter DJ, Churchill SE, Schmid P, Delezene LK, Kivell TL, Garvin HM, Williams SA, DeSilva JM.... (2015) Homo naledi, a new species of the genus Homo from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa. eLife. PMID: 26354291
They don’t use gondolas or croon like Sinatra. But scientists have known for a long time that male mice belt out something like love songs to females when the time seems right to them. What they didn’t know – until a University of Delaware researcher developed a sophisticated array of microphones and a sound analysis chamber – was that female mice were singing back.... Read more »
Neunuebel, J., Taylor, A., Arthur, B., & Egnor, S. (2015) Female mice ultrasonically interact with males during courtship displays. eLife. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.06203
This morning's announcement of the first results from the Rising Star Expedition did not disappoint: a 35-page open access paper with 47 authors (Berger et al. 2015) describing fossil remains (Homo naledi) from at least 15 individuals recovered since 2013 from a cave in South Africa, and another paper by Dirks et al. (2015) describing the physical context of the fossils. I'm friends with several of the authors, and I am so happy for them both personally and professionally. And I'm jealous. [...] ... Read more »
Berger, L., Hawks, J., de Ruiter, D., Churchill, S., Schmid, P., Delezene, L., Kivell, T., Garvin, H., Williams, S., DeSilva, J.... (2015) , a new species of the genus from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa . eLife. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.09560
My migration newsfeed in the past few weeks has been dominated by news about the Syrian refugee crisis and the various European and international responses. But there have also been two other noteworthy migration news: one relates to the changing … Continue reading →... Read more »
Roberman, S. (2015) Not to Be Hungry Is Not Enough: An Insight Into Contours of Inclusion and Exclusion in Affluent Western Societies. Sociological Forum, 30(3), 743-763. DOI: 10.1111/socf.12190
Two pieces of iron armor — reportedly first found in the desert of West Texas about 150 years ago — have recently been analyzed by scientists in Nebraska, where the artifacts have been sitting for decades in museum storage.... Read more »
Bleed, P., Long, L., Long, J., Roberg, M., & Killick, D. (2015) Scale armor on the North American frontier: Lessons from the John G. Bourke armor. Plains Anthropologist, 60(235), 199-222. DOI: 10.1179/2052546X15Y.0000000001
A multinational team of scientists have sifted through cells of vastly different organisms, from amoebae to worms to mice to humans, to reveal how proteins fit together to build different cells and bodies. This tour de force of protein science, a result of a collaboration between seven research groups from three countries, led by Professor Andrew Emili from the University of Toronto’s Donnelly Centre, uncovered tens of thousands of new protein interactions, accounting for about a quarter of all estimated protein contacts in a cell.... Read more »
Wan, C., Borgeson, B., Phanse, S., Tu, F., Drew, K., Clark, G., Xiong, X., Kagan, O., Kwan, J., Bezginov, A.... (2015) Panorama of ancient metazoan macromolecular complexes. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature14877
Just like attempts at influencing hairstyles or clothing can backfire, adults who try to guilt middle-schoolers into exercising won’t get them to be any more active. The study found students who don’t feel in control of their exercise choices or who feel pressured by adults to be more active typically aren’t.... Read more »
DISHMAN, R., MCIVER, K., DOWDA, M., SAUNDERS, R., & PATE, R. (2015) Motivation and Behavioral Regulation of Physical Activity in Middle School Students. Medicine , 47(9), 1913-1921. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000616
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