Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lazy Linking

"Psychopathy seems to be caused by specific mental deficiencies"
  • The Economist reviews research that used the venerable Wason selection task to reveal psychopaths seem unable to understand social contracts. This suggests (albeit weakly) that psychopathy is a frequency-dependent adaptation. 
  • Time magazine profile of the courageous James Onen, head of Freethought Kampalaan organization dedicated to science and reason in a highly superstitious country.
    "The Shadow Scholar"
    • Disturbing Chronicle of Higher Education profile of an 'academic mercenary' paid to write essays and other academic work for students. Scary stuff.
    • It seems to me that there is little academics themselves can do about this problem. If I suspect a student has paid someone to do her work for her, then what? I... hack her email account? The only long-term solution, it seems to me, is to criminalize the companies that provide these services - after all, they're arguably committing (or at least abetting) fraud. When the companies' records are seized, guilty students should be tracked down and punished. Degrees should be withdrawn, etc. I'm not saying this will solve the problem completely, but it'll at least lessen it, and provide some deterrent. 
    "Freaks, Geeks, and Economists"
    • The subtitle says it all: "a study confirms every suspicion you ever had about high-school dating".
    • Fallacies categorized and their family relationships mapped. Good stuff. 
    "This Is Your Brain on Metaphors"
    • Robert Sapolsky does great work, and this piece is as good evidence of that as any. He reviews a bunch of research which demonstrates that the brain conflates the literal and metaphorical. That is, certain 'higher' mental functions (like morality) is simply bolted onto 'lower' mental functions (like disgust). 
    • "Nelson Mandela was wrong when he advised, “Don’t talk to their minds; talk to their hearts.” He meant talk to their insulas and cingulate cortices and all those other confused brain regions, because that confusion could help make for a better world."
    "Tanzania's first elected albino MP fears for life"
    • What's the harm? This. This is the harm. 
    • Quacks + poachers = rhinos in trouble.
    "Not so fast... What's so premature about premature ejaculation?"
    • Jesse Bering strikes again. Premature ejaculation from an evolutionary perspective... Be sure to read the incisive comments.
    • Profile of Arthur Goldstuck, premiere cataloger of South Africa's urban legends. I attended the book launch, and I've read his latest book (The Burglar in the Bin Bag). Very good stuff. 
    • Arthur is on Twitter as @art2gee and blogs at Urban Legends.
    "What’s In Placebos?"
    • Apparently placebos are not all alike. Steven Novella covers the fascinating details and discusses the consequences. 
    "Palestinian Blogger Angers West Bank Muslims"
    • It's not exactly surprising that an atheist is unwelcome in the West Bank, but (1) it's still lametable that he isn't but (2) heartening that he exists at all. 
    "10 Bizarre Medical Discoveries"
    • Sample: symptoms of asthma can be treated with a roller coaster ride... 
    "Kasparov versus the World"
    • The fascinating story of Gary Kasparov's epic game against the rest of the world (well, a huge number of chess players who collaborated online). Kasparov called it "the greatest game in the history of chess".
    "The glorious mess of real scientific results"
    • This is written by Ben Goldacre. Go, read.
    "Calculate the Effect of an Asteroid Impact on Earth"
    • Go on, what are you waiting for? You know you want to...
    "Putting a Hex on Hitler, 1941"
    • Life covers a batty attempt to defeat Hitler... with witchcraft. 
    "There Are 5,000 Janitors in the U.S. with PhDs"
    • :-(
    • Another Economist piece, this time a review of the book A Wicked Company: The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment. According to the review, the book is the story of the salon presided over by the (unjustly forgotten - but not by me) Baron d'Holbach
    "The Fascinating Story of the Twins Who Share Brains, Thoughts, and Senses"
    Pretty / WOW / heh

    "'Dance Your Ph.D. 2010' Winner Announced"
    • This is just wonderful. Watch the video, srsly.
    "National Geographic's Photography Contest 2010"
    • Must see gorgeousness from Big Picture.
    "Wildlife through the lens"
    • Beautiful wildlife photography.
    "The Difference Between Jesus and Zombies"
    • heh
    "What I Think About Atlas Shrugged"
    • Sci-fi author John Scalzi rips into Ayn Rand. Hilarity results. 

    No comments:

    Post a Comment