Latest Blog Posts


Human Chains: "Prayer Camp" Psychiatry Study Raises Ethical Questions

By Neuroskeptic | February 21, 2018 3:12 pm

A new medical paper raises complex questions over ethics and human rights, as it reports on a study that took place in a religious camp where mentally ill patients were chained up for long periods.

The paper’s called Joining psychiatric care and faith healing in a prayer camp in Ghana and it’s out now in the British Journal of Psychiatry. The authors are a Ghanian-British-American team led by Dr Angela Ofori-Atta.

In Ghana, the authors explain, there are just 25 psychiatrists to cater  …


Is It Possible to Forecast Evolution?

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 21, 2018 1:37 pm

Can we predict the course evolution will take?

That’s the question an international team of researchers decided to tackle, using a quarter-century of stick insect observations. Comparing the first half of the data set to the latter half, they set out to see if they could forecast the path of natural selection.
Take A Guess
As it turns out, it’s really hard. The researchers were able to predict some simple evolutionary changes, but the rest were subject to forces they couldn’t account fo …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals, evolution


Study Adds Weight to Benefits of Genetically Engineered Crops

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 21, 2018 12:10 pm

A review of the research on genetically engineered corn concludes that the benefits appear to outweigh the drawbacks.

In a meta-analysis, where researchers synthesize the findings of many studies, researchers from the University of Pisa and the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies look at papers on genetically engineered (GE) corn from between 1996 and 2016. They were looking for research on crop yields, grain quality, impacts on other organisms and how well the corn degraded in fields a …

MORE ABOUT: agriculture


Red Wine Could Yield a Better Toothpaste

By Carl Engelking | February 21, 2018 11:34 am

Red wine colors your tongue, but your teeth may not mind a little juice of the vine.

Sipping moderate—keyword, moderate—amounts of wine on a regular basis can be good for your colon, heart, immune system and mental health. Wine, after all, was at the core of the so-called “French paradox,” or the observation in 1980 that cardiovascular disease was far less prevalent among the French, despite their penchant for saturated fats, low activity levels and cigarettes. The outlier: The Fr …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: personal health


Why Partisanship Is Such a Worthy Foe of Objective Truth

By Charlotte Hu | February 20, 2018 4:18 pm

The truth is out there, but if it doesn’t come from “my side” who cares?

In an era of “fake news” our relationship status with factual knowledge, and a shared reality, has changed to “it’s complicated”. Democracies depend on informed populations, but objective truth has of late taken a back seat to partisanship. In an essay published in Cell Press Reviews, New York University psychologists Jay Van Bavel and Andrea Pereira attempt to demystify how partisan bias has skewed t …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts
MORE ABOUT: psychology


Mr. Steven, a Netted Claw-Boat, Could Save SpaceX Millions

By Lauren Sigfusson | February 20, 2018 3:06 pm

Mr. Steven is expected to save SpaceX millions of dollars. Mr. Steven, by the way, is a giant boat with a net.

Building and launching reliable rockets into space is a costly endeavor, and SpaceX has been hellbent on bringing those costs down since the rocket company…launched. Until recently, spent rockets could only be used once. But Elon Musk, CEO and founder of SpaceX, has proven rockets are reusable, and can coordinate a simultaneous landing. But the cost-cutting can go even further …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts


An Adorable Dumbo Octopus Stretches Its 'Wings'

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 20, 2018 12:37 pm

See this little guy? He’s just emerged into the world, but the appropriately-named Dumbo octopus is already taking his first flaps.

Resemblance to a certain flying elephant notwithstanding, Dumbo octopuses actually live far below the ocean’s surface. They’re some of the deepest-living octopuses, and are so rare that this is the first hatchling that was caught on camera. The “ears” are actually fins that help them to swan about the seafloor.
Stretch Your Wings
They belong to a sub-order  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals, ocean

Seriously, Science?

Running roaches resolutely ram right-angles for rapid reorientation.

By Seriously Science | February 20, 2018 6:00 am

We here at Seriously, Science? really respect roaches. Not only do rambling roaches require receivers to run ’round roadblocks, but recently, researchers reproduced resourceful running of roaches to rapidly reorient running robots by ramming right into restrictions rather than retarding and reorienting. Never mind, just watch these videos of cockroaches running into things. It will help you relax.

Transition by head-on collision: mechanically mediated manoeuvres in cockroaches and sma …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals
Terra/MODIS image of the Sinabung eruption on February 19, 2018. NASA.

Rocky Planet

Sinabung's Massive Explosion Seen from Space

By Erik Klemetti | February 19, 2018 12:48 pm

Today, Indonesia’s Sinabung had its biggest blast in its nearly 5 years of eruptions. I reported on the initial reports of the blast and now we have some pretty stunning images from space on the eruption. It really captures the power of the blast and how the ash spread mainly to the north over Sumatra (rather than the west as predicted). Sinabung appears to have settled down since the explosion, but with this change of character, volcanologists will be looking for signs if this change will b …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Rocky Planet, Science, Science Blogs

The Crux

Let's End the Debate About Video Games and Violence

By Christopher J. Ferguson, Stetson University | February 19, 2018 11:03 am

In the wake of the Valentine’s Day shooting at a Broward County, Florida high school, a familiar trope has reemerged: Often, when a young man is the shooter, people try to blame the tragedy on violent video games and other forms of media. Florida lawmaker Jared Moskowitz made the connection the day after the shooting, saying the gunman “was prepared to pick off students like it’s a video game.”

In January, after two students were killed and many others wounded by a 15-year-old sho …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: psychology

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