science

‘Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes.’ —Nietzsche

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You see a man at the grocery store. Is that the fellow you went to college with or just a guy who looks like him? One tiny spot in the brain has the answer.

Neuroscientists have identified the part of the hippocampus that creates and processes this type of memory, furthering our understanding of how the mind works, and what’s going wrong when it doesn’t.

{ Lunatic Laboratories | Continue reading }

‘It’s about a guy who acts like he knows everything and then comes back crawling on his knees, which has happened to me so many times.’ —Claire Boucher

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An experiment was carried out in a French bar. A waitress briefly touched (or not) the forearm of a patron when asking him/her what he/she want to drink. Results show that touch increases tipping behavior although giving a tip to a waitress in a bar is unusual in France. The familiarity of tactile contact in France was used to explain our results.

{ International Journal of Hospitality Management | Continue reading }

still { Ingmar Bergman, The Passion of Anna, 1969 }

A tweeker will steal your stuff and then help you look for it

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“Despite the common belief that remembering our mistakes will help us make better decisions in the present,” says the study’s lead author, “we actually find that thinking about our failures at self-control leads us to repeat them and indulge in the present, so it’s not helpful at all.”

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

Apollo Creed: Now, when we fought, you had that eye of the tiger, man

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Criminal investigations often use photographic evidence to identify suspects. Here we combined robust face perception and high-resolution photography to mine face photographs for hidden information. By zooming in on high-resolution face photographs, we were able to recover images of unseen bystanders from reflections in the subjects’ eyes.

To establish whether these bystanders could be identified from the reflection images, we presented them as stimuli in a face matching task (Experiment 1). Accuracy in the face matching task was well above chance (50%), despite the unpromising source of the stimuli. […] In a test of spontaneous recognition (Experiment 2), observers could reliably name a familiar face from an eye reflection image.

For crimes in which the victims are photographed (e.g., hostage taking, child sex abuse), reflections in the eyes of the photographic subject could help to identify perpetrators.

{ PLOS | Continue reading }

‘We all have darkness and light within us, and we are in control of neither.’ —Fiona Neill

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A mezuzah is a small case affixed to the doorframe of each room in Jewish homes and workplaces which contains a tiny scroll of parchment inscribed with a prayer. It is customary for religious Jews to touch the mezuzah every time they pass through a door and kiss the fingers that touched it. However, kissing the mezuzah has also become customary for many secular Jews who think of the mezuzah as a good luck charm.

In view of a recent revelation that kissing the mezuzah entails a health hazard, the present paper inquires whether it also has some observable benefit. In an experiment conducted among non-religious mezuzah-kissing economics and business students confronted with a logic-problem exam, some were allowed to kiss the mezuzah before taking the exam, whereas the others were asked not to do so or could not do so because it had been removed from the room doorframe. The experiment revealed that participants who did not kiss the mezuzah performed worse than those who kissed it, and that the stronger is one’s belief in the mezuzah’s luck-enhancing properties, the better he performs when he kisses it but the worse he performs when he does not.

{ Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization | Continue reading }

‘Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?’ —T.S. Eliot

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We meta-analyzed the effects of sexual media, violent media, sexual ads, and violent ads on the advertising outcomes of brand memory, brand attitudes, and buying intentions. The meta-analysis included 53 experiments involving 8,489 participants.

Analyses found that brands advertised in violent media content were remembered less often, evaluated less favorably, and less likely to be purchased than brands advertised in nonviolent, nonsexual media. Brands advertised using sexual ads were evaluated less favorably than brands advertised using nonviolent, nonsexual ads. There were no significant effects of sexual media on memory or buying intentions. There were no significant effects of sexual or violent ads on memory or buying intentions.

As intensity of sexual ad content increased, memory, attitudes, and buying intentions decreased.

When media content and ad content were congruent (e.g., violent ad in a violent program), memory improved and buying intentions increased.

Violence and sex never helped and often hurt ad effectiveness.

{ Psychological Bulletin/American Psychological Association | PDF }

related { Allegation that ad-serving companies deliberately slow down web pages to maximise profit }

Adding up is the essence of democracy

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We present participants with coherent and incoherent narratives

When presented to coherent narratives participants remember plots

When presented to incoherent narratives participants remember facts

Plot formation modulate activity in the Default Mode Network of the brain

{ NeuroImage | Continue reading }

‘Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them.’ –Cioran

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New research finds that sarcasm is far more nuanced, and actually offers some important, overlooked psychological and organizational benefits.

“To create or decode sarcasm, both the expressers and recipients of sarcasm need to overcome the contradiction (i.e., psychological distance) between the literal and actual meanings of the sarcastic expressions. This is a process that activates and is facilitated by abstraction, which in turn promotes creative thinking” […]

“Those in the sarcasm conditions subsequently performed better on creativity tasks than those in the sincere conditions or the control condition. This suggests that sarcasm has the potential to catalyze creativity in everyone. That being said, although not the focus of our research, it is possible that naturally creative people are also more likely to use sarcasm, making it an outcome instead of [a] cause in this relationship.” […]

“While most previous research seems to suggest that sarcasm is detrimental to effective communication because it is perceived to be more contemptuous than sincerity, we found that, unlike sarcasm between parties who distrust each other, sarcasm between individuals who share a trusting relationship does not generate more contempt than sincerity”

{ Harvard Gazette | Continue reading }

art { Broomberg & Chanarin }

How do we know for sure than dinosaurs weren’t always skeletons?

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Two options for dealing with climate change — reducing greenhouse gas emissions through a global agreement, and geoengineering proposals such as injecting sulfur into the stratosphere — tend to dominate current thinking. But there is a “third way” that is almost entirely neglected in political negotiations and public debate. It involves capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it or using it to create things we need.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

Thursday: not a good day either for a mutton kidney at Buckley’s.

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Healthy people who were given the serotonin-boosting antidepressant citalopram were willing to pay twice as much to prevent harm to themselves or others, compared to those given a placebo. By contrast, those who were given a dose of the dopamine-enhancing Parkinson’s drug levodopa made more selfish decisions, overcoming an existing tendency to prefer harming themselves over others.

{ IB Times | Continue reading }

‘bathe in bat your eyelashes with dermatologist recommended water’ —@lady_products

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Research has shown that humans consciously use alcohol to encourage sexual activity. […]

In the current study, we examined if males exposed without their knowledge to pheromones emitted by fertile females would increase their alcohol consumption, presumably via neurobehavioral information pathways that link alcohol to sex and mating. We found that men who smelled a T-shirt worn by a fertile female drank significantly more (nonalcoholic) beer, and exhibited significantly greater approach behavior toward female cues, than those who smelled a T-shirt worn by a nonfertile female.

{ Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology | Continue reading }

photo { Miss August, 1957 }

‘I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring.’ —J.G. Ballard

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In a patent dispute between two pharmaceutical giants arguing over who owns the royalty rights to a lucrative wound-dressing solution, […] three judges coined a new legal definition of “one”. […]

The ConvaTec patent covered any salt solution “between 1 per cent and 25 per cent of the total volume of treatment”. However, Smith & Nephew devised a competing product that used 0.77 per cent concentration, bypassing, or so it believed, the ConvaTec patent. […]

Their lordships concluded that “one” includes anything greater or equal to 0.5 and less than 1.5  – much to the chagrin of Smith & Nephew.

{ The Independent | Continue reading }