March 5, 2012

License to Sin
Anyone who has ever devoured a triple-chocolate brownie after an intense workout knows how tempting it can be to indulge after behaving virtuously. A new study suggests, however, that we often apply this thought process to inappropriate scenarios, giving ourselves license to act in unhealthy or antisocial ways. (Ashley Welch, Scientific American Mind)

Risks of Loneliness
Loneliness can send a person down a path toward bad health, and even more intense loneliness, studies have shown. But while some have assumed the culprit was a dearth of others to remind a person to take care of himself or herself, new research suggests there’s a direct biological link between being lonely and ill health. (Katherine Gammon, LiveScience)

Emotional Oracle Effect
Our emotions are neither stupid nor omniscient. They are imperfect oracles. Nevertheless, a strong emotion is a reminder that, even when we think we know nothing, our brain knows something. That’s what the feeling is trying to tell us. (Jonah Lehrer, Frontal Cortex, Wired)

Eye on the Lie
Researchers at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York claim their video-analysis software can analyze eye movement successfully to identify whether or not a subject is fibbing 82.5 percent of the time. (Larry Greenemeier, Scientific American)

The Deep Future
It’s fashionable to be pessimistic about our prospects, yet our species may very well endure for at least 100,000 years. So what’s in store for us? We now have the perspective to identify the forces and trends that have shaped humanity and the Earth to date. With this knowledge, we can make intelligent predictions about what is to come. (New Scientist)

Where Alvin Plantinga Goes Wrong on Science and Naturalism
Alva Noë: Alvin Plantinga’s idea that science is in conflict with its own worldview rests on a mischaracterization of that worldview. (13.7: Cosmos and Culture, NPR)

Q&A
Liane Young

Liane Young, an associate professor of psychology at Boston College, recently won a prestigious national award for early-career scientists for her work studying moral decision-making. (Karen Weintraub, The Boston Globe)

Category: Field Notes

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