“New Year’s resolvers (n = 159) and comparable nonresolvers interested in changing a problem later (n = 123) were followed for six months via telephone interviews to determine their self-reported outcomes, predictors of success, and change processes. The two groups did not differ in terms of demographic characteristics, problem histories, or behavioral goals (weight loss, exercise program, and smoking cessation being the most prevalent). Read More
“A repeated measures 2 x 2 factorial design using a psychophysical experimental methodology was performed to quantify the effect of shaft design (straight and bent shaft) and shoveling technique (forward and backward progression) on heart rate, perceived exertion, productivity, trunk kinematics and load kinetics. Ten male subjects performed four 8-min trials of snow shoveling on a paved asphalt surface. Read More
“Some perversions, while representing formidable psychopathology, are also tributes to the complexity of the human mind and unconscious ego mechanisms. The patient, a man in his late twenties, reported a periodic desire to be injured by a woman operating an automobile. This wish, present since adolescence, he had by dint of great ingenuity and effort, gratified hundreds of times without serious injury or detection. Read More
Every year, the Sense About Science group puts out a list of some of the most egregious blunders made in science and medicine during the past 12 months. But they’re not talking about surgeons’ errors or the research mistakes of lab workers; instead, SAS focuses on celebrities who adopt fad diets and bogus healing remedies, and then spread the nonsense around the world.
In 2010, many celebrities–including David Beckham, Robert De Niro, and Shaquille O’Neal–jumped on the “Power Balance” sports fad (don’t actually go to that website, it will make you stupider). This absurd system suggests that plastic bracelets and pendants with holograms will optimize the body’s natural energy flow because they’re “designed to resonate with and respond to the natural energy field of the body.”
Sigh, I suppose we actually have to say this: There is no way a hologram could change your athletic ability. The website doesn’t even try to explain the company’s “science.” But just so we cheapies don’t all go around strapping our credit cards to ourselves before a long run, Michael Blastland responded to a claim from Shaq (who endorses the product) that the bracelets help him win basketball games. From the SAS report (pdf):
Reaching out through his Twitter account (where he has more than a million followers), Newark, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker rallied his troops of plows and shovelers to the places they were needed most. A few examples from TIME’s article on Booker’s heroic efforts:
“Just doug [sic] a car out on Springfield Ave and broke the cardinal rule: ‘Lift with your Knees!!’ I think I left part of my back back there,” he reported in one message. One person let Booker know, via Twitter, that the snowy streets were preventing his sister from buying diapers. About an hour later, Booker was at the sister’s door, diapers in hand.
A new study out in the American Association of Wine Economist’s “Wine Economics” journal suggests that monogamous societies are bigger drinkers than those in polygamous societies. Does this mean that being stuck with only one partner drives us to the bottle, or does drinking make us more likely to settle down?
Actually the answer is most likely neither. Both monogamy and drunkenness seem to be related to economics, or at least, that’s why both seem to have blossomed during the industrial revolution. Jo Swinnen, one of the study’s authors, told The New York Times Freakonomics blog (which seemed to have missed the actual conclusion of the study) that he noticed the correlation over, unsurprisingly, a glass of wine:
The inspiration came from a casual observation (over a glass of wine) that the two social/religious groups that do allow polygamy ((parts of) Mormonism and Islam) also do not consume alcohol. So we wondered whether this was a coincidence or not.
While many studies have compared alcohol and cultural traits, this is the study to look at its relationship with polygamy. The researchers compared the marital style and “frequency of drunkenness” of 44 well-documented pre-industrial societies (24 of which were polygamous; 20 monogamous) and found that monogamy was indeed positively correlated with drunkenness. The paper (pdf) says:
The fridge of the future they are designing can do it all: order food, plan your recipes, and even count your calories.
This future-is-now technology is being created by a team of researchers at University of Central Lancashire (that’s in England, in case your fridge hasn’t told you) working with grocery delivery company Ocado. The fridge will automatically scan its contents and order groceries accordingly. It can even plan recipes around the fridge contents, designer Simon Sommerville told the Daily Mail:
Differences in the oral size illusions produced by cross-modality matching of peg and hole stimuli by the tongue and fingers in humans.
“Individuals overestimate the diameter of 1-mm-deep stimulus holes presented to the tongue when they use their fingers to select a hole of matching diameter. The aim here was to determine whether the oral size illusion evident for 1-mm-deep holes would also occur with 1-mm-high pegs of similar diameters. The illusion was studied in 24 individuals who were blindfolded during the trials. Read More
That’s the label prosecutors are trying to lay on Leon Walker, charging the 33-year-old man with breaking a statute that’s more normally applied to people who want to steal your credit card numbers or your identity rather than prove your infidelity. From the Detroit Free Press:
Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper defended her decision to charge Leon Walker. “The guy is a hacker,” Cooper said in a voice mail response to the Free Press last week. “It was password protected, he had wonderful skills, and was highly trained. Then he downloaded them and used them in a very contentious way.”
Mr. Walker is indeed a computer technician, but his defense rests on arguing that his wife had no expectation of privacy because he used the computer in question for work—it wasn’t hers alone. Furthermore, he says, she kept her passwords in a notebook next to the computer (Public service announcement: Don’t ever do this).