January 19, 2012

Polling People Outside Religious Landmarks
A new study adds to growing evidence that where you vote might affect how you vote. When asked about gun laws, the death penalty, and climate change, people responded with more conservative views if a church was nearby, the study found. (Katie Moisse, Good Morning America)

Good Intentions Can Soothe Pain, Increase Pleasure, and Improve Taste
The study shows that physical events are influenced by the perceived contents of another person’s mind, University of Maryland professor Kurt Gray contends. “It seems we also use the intentions of others as a guide for basic physical experience,” Gray writes in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. (Sue Scheible, The Patriot Ledger)

Longevity Study Republished
Boston University researchers have corrected and republished a study that describes a genetic signature of extreme longevity, although the overall findings of associations between genes and longevity are less robust. The study was retracted from the journal Science last year because of unintentional errors, and after the researchers redid some of the work, the finding did not meet that journal’s standards for publication. (Carolyn Johnson, The Boston Globe)

Computational Creativity
While some animals such as crows and monkeys have displayed traits that could be labelled as limited creativity, we are the only species to perform sophisticated creative acts regularly. If we can break this process down into computer code, where does that leave human creativity? (Catherine de Lange, New Scientist)

Why Do So Many Have Trouble Believing in Evolution?
Marcelo Gleiser: The problem seems to be related to the age-old God-of-the-Gaps agenda, that the more we understand of the world the less room there is for a creator God. This is bad theology, as it links belief to the development of science. (13.7: Cosmos and Culture, NPR)

Q&A
Sue Savage-Rumbaugh

Sue Savage-Rumbaugh is a primatologist who works at the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, where she explores the mental and linguistic skills of our primate cousins. (Sean O’Neill, Big Wide World, New Scientist)

Category: Field Notes

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