July 19, 2010

It Pays to Be My Facebook Friend
Research tracking our habits on networking sites is only just emerging, and its conclusions have come as a surprise to cynics like me. It seems these tools are altering our influence over others, improving our chances of professional success, and even making us happier. Could the benefits of social networking be too good to miss out on? (Richard Fisher, New Scientist)

China’s Religious Boom
The collapse of the communist ideology created a void that has left many Chinese staring into a spiritual vacuum, looking for a value system to counterbalance the rampant materialism that seems to govern life in China. (Louisa Lim, NPR)

The amygdala is located in the right brain, which controls emotion. The left brain controls thinking and reasoning. The stronger the circuits that connect left and right brain, Judith Siegel, a professor at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work, says, the better people are able to cope with intense emotions. But overreactions occur in split seconds, and the part of the left brain that regulates logic and reasoning can be bypassed. (Sharon Kirkey, Postmedia News)

Studying Responses to Genetic Test Results
Will patients be willing to make lifestyle changes to forestall what their genes foretell? Do they appreciate the difference between an increased likelihood of a disease indicated by genetic makeup and a fixed medical destiny? (Ilana Yurkiewicz, The News & Observer)

Moral Thinking
Peter Railton: Are the optimistic Darwinians wrong, and impartial morality beyond the reach of those monkeys we call humans? Does thoroughly logical evolutionary thinking force us to the conclusion that our love, loyalty, commitment, empathy, and concern for justice and fairness are always at bottom a mixture of selfish opportunism and us-ish clannishness? (Opinionator, The New York Times)

In Defense of Secularism
Secularism works both ways—while it does not permit religion to interfere in affairs of state, it also forbids the state from seeking to control religion. This is surely the best way to ensure that those with faith can pursue their beliefs unencumbered. (Terry Sanderson, New Statesman)

When Facts “Backfire”
Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. (Joe Keohane, The Boston Globe)

More on the World Science Festival’s S&R Panel
Dave Munger: I don’t think it’s wrong to assemble a panel that believes it’s possible to reconcile faith and science, but I do think that when a public conference devoted to science presents an issue on which the scientific community is fairly evenly divided, it’s the conference organizers’ responsibility to ensure that the primary points of contention are addressed. (Research Blogging, Seed)

Church-Made Movies
Moviemaking churches are venturing into the cineplex to attract souls who might never set foot in a megachurch. (Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA Today)

Category: Field Notes


Leave a Reply