Expect problems and eat them for breakfast


A growing body of literature has shown that environmental exposures in the period around conception can affect the sex ratio at birth through selective attrition that favors the survival of female conceptuses. Glucose availability is considered a key indicator of the fetal environment, and its absence as a result of meal skipping may inhibit male survival.

We hypothesize that breakfast skipping during pregnancy may lead to a reduction in the fraction of male births. Using time use data from the United States we show that women with commute times of 90 minutes or longer are 20 percentage points more likely to skip breakfast. Using U.S. census data we show that women with commute times of 90 minutes or longer are 1.2 percentage points less likely to have a male child under the age of 2. Under some assumptions, this implies that routinely skipping breakfast around the time of conception leads to a 6 percentage point reduction in the probability of a male child. Skipping breakfast during pregnancy may therefore constitute a poor environment for fetal health more generally.

{ Biodemography and Social Biology | Continue reading }

photo { Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Occasion for Diriment, 1962 }

related { Determinants of online sperm donor success: How women choose }

Every day, the same, again

44.jpg‘Scrotum Squeezing’ Getting Closer Look From Paralympics Officials

People who drink about three to five cups of coffee a day may be less likely to die prematurely from some illnesses than those who don’t drink or drink less coffee

Our findings showed that people felt less stressed when they checked their email less often

Couples who have sex weekly are happiest. More sex may not always make you happier, according to new research

The effect of wearing different types of textiles on sexual activity was studied in 75 rats

What is stupid? People’s conception of unintelligent behavior

Even the CEO’s Job Is Susceptible To Automation, McKinsey Report Says

Are Successful CEOs Just Lucky?

Color preference in the insane

Since the end of the Second World War, the number of independent states has nearly tripled.

Why New York Subway Lines Are Missing Countdown Clocks

Gluten Free Museum

Period panties

Towards a Fictionalist Philosophy of Mathematics


We now have four good Darwinian reasons for individuals to be altruistic, generous or ‘moral’ towards each other. First, there is the special case of genetic kinship. Second, there is reciprocation: the repayment of favours given, and the giving of favours in ‘anticipation’ of payback. Following on from this there is, third, the Darwinian benefit of acquiring a reputation for generosity and kindness. And fourth, if Zahavi is right, there is the particular additional benefit of conspicuous generosity as a way of buying unfakeably authentic advertising.

{ Richard Dawkins | Continue reading }

photo { Todd Fisher }

Every day, the same, again

43.jpgIndonesia considers crocodiles for prison guards

Coffee hydrates as well as water, study says. The belief that caffeinated drinks such as coffee could cause dehydration is based on a 1928 study that demonstrated caffeine’s diuretic effect.

It costs as much as $4 million to open a new diner these days, compared with $500,000 to $1 million for a higher-end restaurant, because diners require so much storage space for the inventory that their large menus require.

The Air-Conditioning Capacity of the Human Nose

Why Do Most Languages Have So Few Words for Smells?

Human language may be shaped by climate and terrain

What will the English language be like in 100 years?

English Names for fungi 2014

$635 pills of fecal matter cure deadly gastrointestinal infection

What if the gamblers are researchers betting on how each other’s experiments will turn out, and the results are used to improve science itself?

Not even astrology researchers believe in astrology

Astrobiologists Revise the Chances of Finding Advanced ET Civilizations

Last year, Kennedy, a 67-year-old neurologist and inventor, did something unprecedented in the annals of self-experimentation. He paid a surgeon in Central America $25,000 to implant electrodes into his brain in order to establish a connection between his motor cortex and a computer.

What’s worse than a password? A fingerprint. + How to mimic a fingerprint

What is becoming of Deleuze?

Casualty-free casual fighting for free

Every day, the same, again

6.jpgBaby Born Pregnant with Her Own Twins

First ‘KFC’ to open in Iran shut down after just 24 hours

Diners at his restaurant are presented with an iPod loaded with a recording of crashing waves and screeching gulls to listen to while enjoying an artfully presented plate of seafood

Testosterone levels affect how much makeup women use, study finds

The best way for swarming insects to get the protein and salt they need is to eat each other.

Can scientists agree on a definition of curiosity?

Self-driving delivery robots to hit streets of London in 2016

How does a container port work? And why aren’t America’s shipping ports automated?

Liverpool Just Opened Fast-Walking Pedestrian Lanes

The mansion is what real estate experts call a “stigmatized property” — jargon for a listing with a grisly back story

There are approximately 900 actively working mail chutes in New York. As letters grew in size, clogging of the mail chutes became an increasing problem.

Smell expert Sissel Tolaas is on a mission to capture and replicate the “smellscapes” of cities around the world [Thanks Tim]

The Popularity of Music Genres, 2005-present

I renamed some of the paint colors at the hardware store

‘Sound trumpets! Let our bloody colours wave! And either victory, or else a grave.’ –Shakespeare


By licking a wound it heals faster — this is not simply popular belief, but scientifically proven. Our saliva consists of water and mucus, among other things, and the mucus plays an important role. It stimulates white blood cells to build a good defense against invaders.

{ Lunatic Laboratories | Continue reading }

Blood is a bodily fluid in humans and other animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells. […] In vertebrates, it is composed of blood cells suspended in blood plasma. Plasma, which constitutes 55% of blood fluid, is mostly water (92% by volume), and contains dissipated proteins, glucose, mineral ions, hormones, carbon dioxide (plasma being the main medium for excretory product transportation), and blood cells themselves. Albumin is the main protein in plasma, and it functions to regulate the colloidal osmotic pressure of blood. The blood cells are mainly red blood cells, white blood cells (also called leukocytes) and platelets. The most abundant cells in vertebrate blood are red blood cells.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

related { A completely new view of how human blood is made has been discovered by scientists, upending conventional dogma from the 1960s. }

photo { Young Kyu Yoo }

Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis


Can people differentiate what they know from what they do not? Several lines of research suggest that people are not always accurate judges of their knowledge and often overestimate how much they know. Research on overconfidence finds that people commonly judge the accuracy of their judgments too favorably and typically overestimate how well they perform everyday tasks relative to other people. Work on the illusion of explanatory depth demonstrates that participants tend to think they have a better understanding of how objects work (e.g., a ballpoint pen) than they can demonstrate when that understanding is put to the test.

At times, people even claim knowledge they cannot possibly have, because the object of their knowledge does not exist, a phenomenon known as overclaiming. For example, in the late 1970s, nearly a third of American respondents expressed an opinion about the “1975 Public Affairs Act” when asked about it directly, even though the act was a complete fiction. Approximately a fifth of consumers report having used products that are actually nonexistent. More recent research has asked participants to rate their familiarity with a mix of real and nonexistent concepts, names, and events in domains such as philosophy, life sciences, physical sciences, and literature. Participants reported being familiar with the real items but also, to a lesser degree, with the nonexistent ones. […]

What underlies assertions of such impossible knowledge? We found that people overclaim to the extent that they perceive their personal expertise favorably. […]

A sizable body of work on how people evaluate their own knowledge suggests that they rely not only on a direct examination of their mental contents but also on a feeling of knowing. Notably, a feeling of knowing is often only weakly predictive of actual knowledge and appears to be informed, at least in part, by top-down inferences about what should be or probably is known. We theorized that such inferences are drawn from people’s preconceived notions about their expertise, inducing a feeling of knowing that then prompts overclaiming.

{ Psychological Science | PDF }

and go we know not where


This article examines associations between the Great Recession and 4 aspects of 9-year olds’ behavior - aggression (externalizing), anxiety/depression (internalizing), alcohol and drug use, and vandalism - using the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal birth cohort drawn from 20 U.S. cities (21%, White, 50% Black, 26% Hispanic, and 3% other race/ethnicity).

The study was in the field for the 9-year follow-up right before and during the Great Recession (2007-2010; N = 3,311). Interview dates (month) were linked to the national Consumer Sentiment Index (CSI), calculated from a national probability sample drawn monthly to assess consumer confidence and uncertainty about the economy, as well as to data on local unemployment rates.

[W]e find that greater uncertainty as measured by the CSI was associated with higher rates of all 4 behavior problems for boys (in both maternal and child reports). Such associations were not found for girls.

{ Developmental Psychology | Continue reading }

photo { Yosuke Yajima }

‘If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.’ –Cicero


Most people own things that they don’t really need. It is worth thinking about why. […]

A policy aimed at curbing luxury shopping might involve higher marginal tax rates or, as a more targeted intervention, a consumption tax. As it becomes harder to afford a Rolex, people will devote more money to pleasures that really matter. Less waste, more happiness.

{ Boston Review | Continue reading }

photo { Teale Coco by Ben Simpson }

We are for the dark


Decades of research have shown that humans are so-called cognitive misers. When we approach a problem, our natural default is to tap the least tiring cognitive process. Typically this is what psychologists call type 1 thinking, famously described by Nobel Prize–winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman as automatic, intuitive processes that are not very strenuous.

This is in contrast to type 2 thinking, which is slower and involves processing more cues in the environment. Defaulting to type 1 makes evolutionary sense: if we can solve a problem more simply, we can bank extra mental capacity for completing other tasks. A problem arises, however, when the simple cues available are either insufficient or vastly inferior to the more complex cues at hand.

Exactly this kind of conflict can occur when someone chooses to believe a personal opinion over scientific evidence or statistics.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

Every day, the same, again

4.jpg18% of Americans say they’ve seen a ghost

Our investigation found lottery retailers make up at least three of the top five D.C. Lottery frequent winners – all with about 100 wins or more

Intestinal worms can actually be good for you

Stuffy offices can halve cognitive scores. The bad air quality found in many office buildings may also affect performance, health.

When daylight saving time ends in fall, criminals use the extra hour of evening darkness to commit more robberies

Sleep interruptions worse for mood than reduced overall amount of sleep and Black Americans aren’t sleeping as well as whites.

The Changing Vocabulary of Mental Illness

French city launches literary vending machines

How Auction Houses Orchestrate Sales for Maximum Drama [NY Times]

The mystery of the woman who reviewed 30,000 books on Amazon and The Most Prolific Editor on Wikipedia

Sony Filed a Copyright Claim Against the Stock Video I Licensed to Them

How a Fracking Company Borrowed $5 Billion from Itself and Stuck Its Landowners with the Bill

Why The Machines That Dig Tunnels Are Always Named After Women

Why Are Sports Bras So Terrible? The science of and psychology behind bouncing breasts

Why don’t people see the yeti any more?

Brian Eno’s Music For Airports played at San Diego International Airport, Terminal 2

23-year-old Google employee lives in a truck in the company’s parking lot and saves 90% of his income

As part of the performance, named ‘Site’, she will sit naked on top of Toynbee Studios between 1-5pm today and Saturday.

‘Love is joy with the accompanying idea of an external cause.’ –Spinoza


Past research showed that people accumulate more knowledge about other people and objects they like compared to those they dislike. More knowledge is commonly assumed to lead to more differentiated mental representations; therefore, people should perceive others they like as less similar to one another than others they dislike.

We predict the opposite outcome based on the density hypothesis; accordingly, positive impressions are less diverse than negative impressions as there are only a few ways to be liked but many ways to be disliked. Therefore, people should perceive liked others as more similar to one another than disliked others even though they have more knowledge about liked others.

Seven experiments confirm this counterintuitive prediction and show a strong association between liking and perceived similarity in person perception.

{ Journal of Experimental Social Psychology | Continue reading }