May 5, 2011

Positive Emotions Across Cultures
In a new paper in the journal Emotion, a team of psychologists at the University of Washington finds that not everyone sees positive emotions such as joviality and self-assurance as unequivocally good. Depending on your ethnic background, you may find such emotions suspicious and even dangerous. (John Cloud, Healthland, TIME)

Does Reliance on God Affect How Much Cancer Patients Spend on Treatment?
Cancer patients who consider the length of their lives to be “in God’s hands” are more willing than others to spend money on treatments that might extend their lives, a new study shows. Michelle Martin, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama, based her research on findings of a National Cancer Institute study of 4,214 patients with colorectal and lung cancer. (Adelle Banks, Religion News Service)

Our Digital Legacies
Thanks to cheap storage and easy copying, our digital souls have the potential to be truly immortal. But do we really want everything we’ve done online—offhand comments, camera-phone snaps, or embarrassing surfing habits—to be preserved for posterity? One school of thought, the “preservationists,” believes we owe it to our descendants. Another, the “deletionists,” think it’s vital the Internet learns how to forget. These two groups are headed for a struggle over the future of the Internet—and the fate of your digital soul is hanging in the balance. (Sumit Paul-Choudhury, New Scientist)

Confirming Einstein’s Space-Time Theories
In a tour de force of technology and just plain stubbornness spanning half a century and costing more than 750 million dollars, a team of experimenters from Stanford University reported that a set of orbiting gyroscopes had detected a slight sag and an even slighter twist in space-time. The finding confirms some of the weirdest of the many strange predictions—like black holes and the expanding universe—of Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity, general relativity. (Dennis Overbye, The New York Times)

Frans de Waal

Citing social animal behavior, Frans de Waal posits that justice, morality, altruism, empathy—noble notions we tend to think of as being particularly human, and therefore antithetical to “animal nature”—are not “unnatural,” but rather are deeply rooted in our primate past; that the good in us is as instinctive a part of our biology as the bad. (Benjamin Hale, Religion Dispatches)

Category: Field Notes


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