March 13, 2012

How to Be More Creative
Jonah Lehrer: Creativity is not magic, and there’s no such thing as a creative type. Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It’s a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it. New research is shedding light on what allows people to develop world-changing products and to solve the toughest problems. A surprisingly concrete set of lessons has emerged about what creativity is and how to spark it in ourselves and our work. (The Wall Street Journal)

Our Aversion to Harmful Actions
A recent study published in the journal Emotion, by psychologists Fiery Cushman, Allison Gaffey, Kurt Gray, and Wendy Mendes, provides some further evidence for the link, as the authors put it, “between the body and moral decision-making processes.” This may be the first paper to have experimental subjects simulate murder with a real gun (it’s certainly the first one I’ve ever read). Essentially, the experimenters wanted to show that it is the physical act of potentially doing harm, rather than the viewing or hearing about such acts, that really turns your stomach. (Sam McDougle, Motherboard)

Do We Enjoy Watching Violent TV Programs?
When it comes to graphic gore, there’s a gap between what whets our appetite and what we actually find satisfying. That’s the conclusion of a study by Indiana University scholars Andrew Weaver and Matthew Kobach, which found students were enticed by descriptions of violent scenes, but actually enjoyed the programs more when those elements were edited out. (Tom Jacobs, Miller-McCune)

Earworms and Memory
Research suggests that there are psychological reasons why some songs are more likely to stick, including memory triggers, emotional states, and even stress. Some researchers hope to better understand why this happens and figure out what, if anything, music memory can teach psychologists about how to treat patients dealing with memory loss. (John Donvan, Talk of the Nation, NPR)

Science and Religion and a Bill to Establish a Wolf Hunting Season in Wisconsin
The state Senate has approved it, and the Assembly is set to consider the bill. Hunters approve of the season, and Republicans are all for it, as are some Democrats. Wildlife biologists have a number of criticisms and suggestions about the bill involving how, when, and how many wolves should be killed. But the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Game Commission, which represents 11 tribes of the Ojibwe (also known as the Chippewa, or Anishinaabe) in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan, opposes the hunt on the basis of religious principle and tradition. (James Gorman, The New York Times)

New Effort to Repeal the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act
Karen Carter Peterson, a state senator in Louisiana, wants to make sure evolution is taught in science classes. Last week, Peterson introduced a bill that would repeal a four-year-old state law that encourages teachers to critique science such as evolution and global warming. The repeal effort, the second one in the state in the last year, represents the latest in a broader pushback against anti-evolution laws passed since 2008. (Nicole Pasulka, Blue Marble, Mother Jones)

Remembering William Hamilton
The questions with which he grappled were eternal, essential, and are with us still: How does a culture that tends to be religious continue to hold to a belief in an all-powerful, all-loving divinity beyond time and space given the evidence of science and of experience? (Jon Meacham, TIME)

Category: Field Notes

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