Archive for December 21st, 2010

The Science of Kissing Table of Contents!

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | December 21, 2010 3:01 pm

The Science of Kissing finally arrived on my doorstep last week. After years of research and writing, to hold the finished book in my hand is a very surreal experience.

Even though the official publication date is January 5th, I’ve just learned that Amazon is already shipping copies… early enough to arrive by Christmas and New Years Eve! Here’s a glimpse at Chapter titles:

Part One: The Hunt For Kissing’s Origins

1. First Contact

2. Jungle Fever

3. Kiss My Past

4. Cultural Exchange

Part Two: Kissing in the Body

5. The Anatomy of a Kiss

6. Women Are from Venus, Men Are Easy

7. Scent of a Man

8. Close Encounters

9. There Are Such Things as Cooties

Part Three: Great Expectations

10. This Is Your Brain on Kissing

11. The Open Lab

12: The Future of Kissing

13: The Right Chemistry

the science of kissing

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Uncategorized
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The Evolution Polling Numbers Have *Nudged* A Little

By Chris Mooney | December 21, 2010 11:12 am

For many years, Gallup has been asking the same survey question about belief in evolution. And it has been consistently finding that an alarming percentage of the public (more than 40 %) believes that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form within the last 10,000 years or so.” Technically speaking, this is young-Earth creationism. (The other two choices in the poll are a type of God-guided evolution and an atheistic or non-guided evolution. I would argue that both are pro-evolution responses.)

Anyway, we now have new Gallup results, and while it shouldn’t be over-emphasized, it’s starting to look like there’s some slight movement. The young Earthers are now at just 40 %; they’d been as high as 47 % at various points in the 1990s. Meanwhile, the non-guided evolution camp has gone up to 16 % (from as low as 9 % in the 1990s). Here’s an image from Gallup, showing responses to the same polling question over time:

Gallup Data

Gallup headlined these results by emphasizing that 4 in 10 Americans reject evolution; but might it not also have said that more than half now accept it?

Anyways, in a discussion of these data, Gallup notes how they’ve drifted in recent years, but also puts that fact in its needed context–it’s not a very big change:

[Americans’] views have been generally stable over the last 28 years. Acceptance of the creationist viewpoint has decreased slightly over time, with a concomitant rise in acceptance of a secular evolution perspective. But these shifts have not been large, and the basic structure of beliefs about human beings’ origins is generally the same as it was in the early 1980s.

Fair enough. Still, I can’t help thinking about the arguments of Barry Kosmin, who will be my next guest on Point of Inquiry and is the chief expert on the growing number of non-religiously affiliated Americans (the “Nones”). I’m no pollster, but I wonder, could we be starting to see their growing prevalence in these data?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Evolution, Science and Religion

Never Knew I'd Been Sitting in Pews (A Strange Story From the Front Lines of Coffeeshop Science Journalism)

By Chris Mooney | December 21, 2010 8:57 am

So this is kind of funny.

At least since 2003, I’ve been working–including writing two of my three books–at Tryst coffeeshop in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C. And being a creature of routines, over time I’ve established my favorite place to sit–usually, on one of two wooden benches against the back wall of the place.

I’ve probably had ass planted in these seats for hundreds of hours in total over the years. Suffice it to say, it’s a multi-year routine; and the best coffeeshop I’ve ever worked in. When I chose to move back to D.C. this year after a multiyear jaunt across Los Angeles, Princeton, NJ, and Cambridge, MA, Tryst had something to do with it.

At the same time, as a second generation atheist,* I wasn’t brought up religious at all, and the number of hours I’ve spent in a church is…well, it depends on if you count architectural tours in European cities, but it’s surely a tiny fraction of the time spent at Tryst.

pew not a surveySo it came as a total surprise the other day when, to my minor horror, I heard a waitress refer to these beloved benches as “pews.” But as soon as she said it, I knew it was true. I then snapped the following picture. Proof.

All this time, it seems I have been seated in religious benches.¬†Kinda ironic, given the kinds of things I’ve written while seated there. (Although maybe some atheists will say, “ah ha!”)

Now, I know what you’re wondering. Why are there pews in Tryst, of all places, in a city (D.C.) where the first thing most people think of when they hear the word is an organization that does surveys?

That’s something I may have to get to the bottom of.

* Apparently we “second generation atheists” aren’t “productive.” Here’s Conservapedia, where Einstein is wrong and ideological blinders are part of the business model:

…it is not easy to find many examples of productive second generation atheists. While atheists raised in religious environments have occasionally been productive, atheists raised in atheistic environments are not known to be. On the other hand, it has been shown that second generation atheists who converted to Christianity early in life have been moderately successful.

I think I’ve been very productive as a second generation atheist unwittingly sitting in pews, at a very secular coffeehouse, without undergoing a conversion. I hope Conservapedia will footnote me.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Personal, Science and Religion

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