Showing posts from August, 2016

Science shows why we can't tell Clark Kent is Superman

How many times have you watched a Superman film or TV show and found yourself almost screaming, "Clark Kent is Superman you dolt!"  Or have you actually screamed this, shocking everyone around you in the theater?

I guess it's because we're in on the joke, whereas, at least according to this research, donning a pair of glasses can be an effective disguise.  Add a hat and a dorky expression, and Superman becomes Clark Kent and no body is the wiser.

Here's the report.

Now go try it.  Put a costume of some sort on over your Superman duds and see for yourself.

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Scientists show that 'Superman' disguise could actually work
Researchers at the University of York have shown that small alterations to a person's appearance, such as wearing glasses, can significantly hinder positive facial identification.  The research has the potential to contribute to future policies concerning photo identification, such as drivers' licences or passports, where an…

Psychopathic individuals have trouble detecting threats.

Psychopaths feel fear but see no danger
Researchers from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Radboud University Nijmegen found proof that psychopathic individuals can feel fear, but have trouble in the automatic detection and responsivity to threat. For many decades fear has been put forth as a hallmark feature of psychopathy, the impairments in which would lead to bold risk-taking behavior. Sylco Hoppenbrouwers (VU Amsterdam), Erik Bulten and Inti Brazil (Radboud University) reviewed theoretical and empirical brain and behavioral data pertaining to fear and psychopathy and found that psychopathic individuals have trouble detecting threats. 
There was however little evidence that the conscious experience of fear was affected, indicating that the experience of fear may not be completely impaired in psychopathy. It's the first study to provide empirical evidence that the automatic and conscious processes can be independently affected within one psychiatric disorder. The results are publ…

Facial cues influence how social exclusion is judged

Fair or unfair? Facial cues influence how social exclusion is judged
People are often excluded from social groups. As researchers from the University of Basel report in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, whether un-involved observers find this acceptable or not may depend on the facial appearances of those excluded. The exclusion of cold and incompetent looking people is more likely to be accepted.
Social exclusion -- be it at school, work or among friends -- is usually a painful experience for those affected. This behavior also often has a considerable effect on third-party observers: Bullying and ostracism with the aim to hurt the victims are seen as particularly unfair and morally unacceptable. However, in some cases, social exclusion is also perceived as justified. Groups are, for example, more likely to ostracize people who cause trouble or arguments in order to restore the harmony in their group.

Quick moral judgment
Whether un-involved observers view social exclusion a…

The more we know, the easier we are to deceive

This confirms the reason academics, scientists and reputable journalists don't print things without thoroughly confirming their sources. At least two sources for a piece of information before posting anything. When I see anything posted with only a single source, I discount it until I have a chance to confirm the story from other independent sources.

I'm not alone in this, and this research clarifies why this is such an important practice.
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The more we know, the easier we are to deceive
Knowing a lot about a subject means you are more likely to have false memories about it. That is the paradoxical conclusion of research presented by Dr Ciara Greene from University College Dublin to the annual conference of the British Psychological Society's Cognitive Psychology Section in Barcelona.
Dr Greene and Anthony O'Connell, then a Masters student at University College Cork, asked 489 participants to rank seven topics (football, politics, business, technology, film, …

Why prison populations continue to grow even as crime declines

Why prisons continue to grow, even when crime declines Study finds more offenders have criminal records
"It is much harder for judges to not give prison sentences to repeat offenders, so we have more convicted people going to prison."
A new study may help explain why the number of people in prison in the United States continued to rise, even as the crime rate declined significantly. A sociologist found that the US criminal justice system continues to feel the reverberations from the increase in violent crime and imprisonment that occurred from the 1960s to the early 1990s.
The U.S. prison population continued to rise even after the crime rate began declining in the mid-1990s because judges were faced with more repeat offenders, a new study suggests.

Using data from Minnesota, an Ohio State University sociologist found that the U.S. criminal justice system felt the reverberations from the increase in violent crime and imprisonment that occurred from the 1960s to the early 1990s.

Ramen noodles supplanting cigarettes as currency among prisoners

Ramen noodles supplanting cigarettes as currency among prisoners
Ramen noodles are supplanting the once popular cigarettes as a form of currency among state prisoners, but not in response to bans on tobacco products within prison systems, finds a new study.  Instead, study author Michael Gibson-Light, a doctoral candidate in the University of Arizona School of Sociology, found that inmates are trying to figure out ways to better feed themselves as certain prison services are being defunded.
The rise of ramen as currency in prison signals "punitive frugality," indicating that the burden and cost of care is shifting away from prison systems and onto prisoners and their support networks, said Gibson-Light).

"Punitive frugality is not a formal prison policy, but rather an observable trend in prison administration practice in institutions throughout the country," Gibson-Light said.

"Throughout the nation, we can observe prison cost-cutting and cost-shifting as well a…

The more television you watch, the more you believe myths.

The conclusions of this Austrian study helps explain why some people see the world as frightening and filled with dangers.  As the study points out, they "overestimate the probability of being the victim of crime."

While this study did not address this, it raises the question that the more a person watches television, the more likely they are to stereotype different cultures, races, and societal issues.  For example, does watching reality police shows lead to the impression that a certain minority group is responsible for the majority of crime?  Do the images portrayed on television create either positive or negative stereotypes of different groups?

For example, does the way media focuses on problems in a racially segregated ghetto lead one to believe that all members of that racial group lead exactly that lifestyle in exactly those circumstances.  This could explain why a political candidate in a current election race seemed to express the view that all African-Americans l…

Attn Mystery Writers: Female CSI Workers More Stressed Than Males

Female forensic scientists more stressed than males Fueled by shows like "CSI" and "Bones," the field has surged in popularity, particularly among women, who greatly outnumber men in undergraduate and graduate forensic science programs.Females working in forensic science labs were almost two times more likely to report high stress levels than males, according to the study, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice. Forensic scientists aid criminal investigations by collecting and analyzing evidence such as fingerprints, ballistics and DNA.

"It's not clear why female scientists reported more stress than males," said Thomas J. Holt, MSU professor of criminal justice, "though it may stem from differences in the experiences of female scientists who are not sworn law-enforcement officers working in a quasi-military structure where more males are sworn officers, particularly in supervisory roles."

Employment for forensic science technicians is expec…

Origins of the female orgasm explained

Not sure how this article will help anyone's fiction - directly - however, it is a cool factoid.

As always, a link to the complete report is included in the attribution.


Origins of the female orgasm explained
Female orgasm seems to be a happy afterthought of our evolutionary past when it helped stimulate ovulation, a new study of mammals shows.  The role of female orgasm, which plays no obvious role in human reproduction, has intrigued scholars as far back as Aristotle. Numerous theories have tried to explain the origins of the trait, but most have concentrated on its role in human and primate biology.
Now scientists at Yale and the Cincinnati Children's Hospital have provided fresh insights on the subject by examining the evolving trait across different species.

"Prior studies have tended to focus on evidence from human biology and the modification of a trait rather than its evolutionary origin," said Gunter Wagner, the Alison Richard Professor of Ecology and …