February 15, 2012

Linsanity and Psychology
Robert Wright: One of the most intriguing cultural contrasts between eastern and western ways of viewing the world was documented in experiments by the psychologist Richard Nisbett, some of them in collaboration with Takahiko Masuda. The upshot was that East Asians tend to view scenes more holistically than westerners. (The Atlantic)

Fear and Our Reaction to Abstract Art
A newly published study finds people are more likely to be moved and intrigued by abstract paintings if they have just experienced a good scare. This suggests the allure of art may be “a byproduct of one’s tendency to be alarmed by such environmental features as novelty, ambiguity, and the fantastic,” argues lead author Kendall Eskine, a research psychologist at Loyola University New Orleans. (Tom Jacobs, Miller-McCune)

Basic Physics for Babies
By five months of age, infants expect non-cohesive substances like water and sand to pour. Even more impressive, by two months—the earliest age at which testing can be done—they understand that unsupported objects will fall and that hidden objects do not cease to exist. (Hans Villarica, The Atlantic)

Does It Matter That Richard Dawkins Couldn’t Remember the Full Title of Darwin’s Seminal Work?
The dithering undermined his latest attack on Christianity—a poll produced by his think tank which claimed that the great majority of people who call themselves Christian do not read the Bible and rarely pray. In the broadcast, the 70-year-old geneticist said the survey showed that two out of three Christians could not name the first book of the New Testament as the Gospel according to St. Matthew. (Steve Doughty, Daily Mail)

Anti-Evolution Bill Dies in Indiana
A bill that would have allowed schools to teach creationism along with evolution in science classes has died in the Indiana House. House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, moved the bill to the rules committee, a procedural step that all but ensures it will not make it to a vote this year. The bill cleared the Indiana Senate last month but needed to pass both chambers to become law. (Scott Elliott, The Indianapolis Star)

BOOKS
The Joy of Sin

Simon Laham aims to convince us that, contrary to what folklore, Christianity, or even Hollywood may tell us, activities often branded sinful may in fact be good for us. (Jamie Condliffe, CultureLab, New Scientist)

Category: Field Notes

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