March 4, 2011

Do You Really Agree With Me?
All your friends praise a film you just watched. Instead of admitting how dull you found it, you agree. We all sometimes mute our own beliefs like this, but it seems there is more to this than a little white lie. Conforming to others’ views can cause a real shift in your own opinion. (Ferris Jabr, New Scientist)

Spend Some Time on Your Own Facebook Page
Students who looked at their own profiles for the entire three minutes had higher self-esteem than students who spent some of that time clicking around on other people’s Facebook pages. In addition, students who made changes to their Facebook profiles also had higher self-esteem than students who didn’t. (Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times)

Do Parents Idealize the Emotional Rewards of Raising Kids?
The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, suggests parents are idealizing their role to cope with the downsides of being mom and dad—namely, how expensive it is to raise a family. “The well-being literature shows that during the years when most people are parenting, people tend to report lower life satisfaction and lower levels of happiness,” said study co-author Steven Mock, an assistant professor in the health studies and gerontology department at the University of Waterloo. (Sarah Boesveld and Derek Abma, National Post, Postmedia News)

The Protein That Can Make Old Memories Stronger
Precious memories need not fade if a report today bears fruit. Neuroscientists have successfully strengthened old memories in rats, according to research published today in Science. (Amy Maxmen, Nature)

Creationism in Schools Around the World
Many countries have only recently started taking a systematic look at how the topic of evolutionary theory and biology is addressed in classrooms. Early research suggests that not only does anti-evolution instruction make its way into science classes worldwide—from the European Union to Southeast Asia—but in many regions, it also seems to be on the rise. (Katherine Harmon, Scientific American)

EXHIBIT
Treasures of Heaven

Once upon a time, pilgrims would trudge halfway around the world just to glimpse one of these objects. Seen as conduits to God, holy relics were carried into battle as talismans, used to cement alliances between heads of state, sold for small fortunes, and coveted by Christians everywhere; some even believed relics could heal the sick. Now that a bevy of these once-prized objects are on display in downtown Baltimore, the question is: Are holy relics still relevant? Or are they, well, a thing of the past? (Daniel Burke, Religion News Service)

Category: Field Notes

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