August 19, 2011

Presidential Candidate Jon Huntsman on Evolution (and Rick Perry)
A few hours after video hit the airwaves of Rick Perry telling a young boy in New Hampshire that evolution was a “theory that’s out there,” his GOP presidential rival pounced. “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,” Jon Huntsman wrote on Twitter. (Darren Samuelsohn, Politico)

Riots and the Psychology of Crowds
Stephen Reicher and Clifford Stott: Historical and psychological research tells us that in groups and crowds people are generally not anonymous to each other, that they don’t lose identity or lose control of their behavior. Rather they act in terms of a group or social identity. Correspondingly, their actions are determined by collective understandings, norms, and values. As a consequence, crowd events always have a pattern that reveals how people see their position in society and their sense of right and wrong. (guardian.co.uk)

Scrabble Changes How We Process Words
Psychology professor Penny Pexman and doctoral candidate Ian Hargreaves tested dozens of competitive Scrabble players to analyze how they recognized words. Compared with non-Scrabble players, the hobbyists were able to identify true words over strings of nonsense 20 percent faster. They were also better able to recognize vertical words and create anagrams. (Jen Gerson, Calgary Herald)

Science in the Muslim World
The poor state of science in the Middle East, especially in Arab countries, has been widely documented. Only about 0.2 percent of gross domestic product in the region is spent on scientific research, compared to 1.2 percent worldwide. Hardly any Arab universities make it into lists of the world’s 500 top universities. But Arab scientists say the first steps toward change have been taken. (Tom Heneghan and Sami Aboudi, Reuters)

BOOKS
Harnessed

Instead of tackling evolution from the usual position and become mired in the usual arguments, neuroscientist Mark Changizi focuses on one aspect of the larger story so central to who we are, it may very well overshadow all others except the origin of life itself: communication. Within “communication” I include language and musical expression, the key ingredients, Changizi argues, that human evolution had to have for us to become what we are. (David DiSalvo, Forbes)

Category: Field Notes

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