Showing posts from May, 2013

It's Better to Be Confident Than Correct

For Pundits, It's Better to Be Confident Than Correctenlarge
Jadrian Wooten, left, and Ben Smith analyzed a billion tweets and found the popularity of a pundit hinges more on whether he or she is confident than right. (Credit: Photo courtesy of Washington State University) It would be nice to think the pundits we see yelling on TV and squawking on Twitter are right all the time. It turns out they're wrong more often than they are right.
Now two Washington State University economics students have demonstrated that it simply doesn't pay as much for a pundit to be accurate as it does to be confident. It's one thing to be a good pundit, but another to be popular.

"In a perfect world, you want to be accurate and confident," says Jadrian Wooten. "If you had to pick, being confident will get you more followers, get you more demand."

Wooten made his discovery with Ben Smith, a fellow doctoral candidate in economics. Smith originally wanted to test the accur…

Change, Conflict Cue Memories of Life's Milestones

Understanding how and why people do things is critical knowledge for any writer of fiction and non-fiction.  Memory such as used in flash-back scenes, is a fickle mistress.  Some types of events most people remember, others you can't recall to save your life.  To craft a believable story, what causes people to remember what type of events?  While this study focuses on the Canadian life experience, the researchers' report of this study offers some clues that apply to us all.What will your kids remember about the life stories you tell them? New University of Alberta research shows that they're likely to be able to recall transitional moments you share with them, be it promotions or pets. The research offers strong evidence that societal values significantly affect how people think about and recall events in their lives -- and how we potentially carry old values and beliefs forward in a new country. Psychology researchers Connie Svob and Norman Brown conducted interviews with…

People Can 'Beat' Guilt Detection Tests

People Can 'Beat' Guilt Detection Tests by Suppressing Incriminating Memories New research published by an international team of psychologists has shown that people can suppress incriminating memories and thereby avoid detection in brain activity guilt detection tests.
Such tests, which are commercially available in the USA and are used by law enforcement agencies in several countries, including Japan and India, are based on the logic that criminals will have specific memories of their crime stored in their brain. Once presented with reminders of their crime in a guilt detection test, it is assumed that their brain will automatically and uncontrollably recognise these details, with the test recording the brain's 'guilty' response.

However, research by psychologists at the universities of Kent, Magdeburg and Cambridge, and the Medical Research Council, has shown that, contrary to this core assumption, some people can intentionally and voluntarily suppress unwanted …

Yes, People Can Learn Compassion

It's an old plotline: brainwashing. The Manchurian Candidate and all that. The common assumption is that people with personality disorders can't learn to be caring, compassionate or even aware of other's feelings.

So now research from University of Wisconsin-Madison demonstrates that some people can become more compassionate through certain types of training.  My question is:  will it stick?  Here's the report on the study ~ Brain Can Be Trained in Compassion, Study Showsenlarge
Investigators trained young adults to engage in compassion meditation, an ancient Buddhist technique to increase caring feelings for people who are suffering. (Credit: © byheaven / Fotolia) May 22, 2013 — Until now, little was scientifically known about the human potential to cultivate compassion -- the emotional state of caring for people who are suffering in a way that motivates altruistic behavior. A new study by researchers at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Cente…

Plotting Crime Through the Eyes of Burglars

Having tried my hand at writing a crime screenplay, I know that getting the details right is hard, unless one is a criminal to begin with. Which I'm not, to the undying surprise of my editors and friends. (My father once told me that "Plagarism is the purest form of theft." I disagree. It's the easy way out when your voices stop talking to you.)

Back to reality: here's some very handy research you can use to plot criminal activity ~

Through the Eyes of a Burglar: Study Provides Insights On Habits and Motivations, Importance of Security

May 16, 2013 — One way to understand what motivates and deters burglars is to ask them. UNC Charlotte researcher Joseph Kuhns from the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology did just that. He led a research team that gathered survey responses from more than 400 convicted offenders that resulted in an unprecedented look into the minds of burglars, providing insight into intruders' motivations and methods.

The study, &quo…

It's Getting Harder to Hide Murder

Yes, it's sad, but true. It is getting harder to hide the body, causing mystery writers all sorts of plot problems. Now comes word that the scientific world is getting organized in developing methods to find the body, threatening to put thousands of bloodhounds out of work.

Searching for Clandestine Graves With Geophysical ToolsMay 14, 2013 — It's very hard to convict a murderer if the victim's body can't be found. And the best way to hide a body is to bury it. Developing new tools to find those clandestine graves is the goal of a small community of researchers spread across several countries, some of whom are presenting their work on finding the body.

Tuesday, May 14, at the Meeting of the Americas in CancĂșn, Mexico, a scientific conference organized and co-sponsored by the American Geophysical Union.

"Nowadays, there are thousands of missing people around the world that could have been tortured and killed and buried in clandestine graves," said Jamie…

How Humans Got Hips

Did you know that according to research out of the University of Glasgow School of Ophthomology that six year old children with "squinty eyes" are less likely to be invited to birthday parties? It's true.

Did you know that according to the School of Public Relations at Tel Aviv University that good looking, tall men with a military background usually receive more positive media attention than Dennis Kusinich? Yes, to my surprise, it is true, proven by their extensive research.

Now, obviously, research into the origin of human hips doesn't fall into the WTF? catagory as do the two above, but it is interesting. So, guys, the next time you're ogling glutae in yoga pants slithering down the sidewalk, remember their origin. And, gals, let's not hear something like, "Do these pants make me look like a salamander?"

The Fishy Origins of Our Hipsenlarge
Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum). (Credit: © mgkuijpers / Fotolia) May 14, 2013 — New research has revealed…

Your Brain Spots Grammar Error You Might Miss

May 13, 2013 — Your brain often works on autopilot when it comes to grammar. That theory has been around for years, but University of Oregon neuroscientists have captured elusive hard evidence that people indeed detect and process grammatical errors with no awareness of doing so.
Participants in the study -- native-English speaking people, ages 18-30 -- had their brain activity recorded using electroencephalography, from which researchers focused on a signal known as the Event-Related Potential (ERP). This non-invasive technique allows for the capture of changes in brain electrical activity during an event. In this case, events were short sentences presented visually one word at a time.
Subjects were given 280 experimental sentences, including some that were syntactically (grammatically) correct and others containing grammatical errors, such as "We drank Lisa's brandy by the fire in the lobby," or "We drank Lisa's by brandy the fire in the lobby."

A 50 mil…