April 10, 2012

Was Jesus Happy?
Americans are more likely to associate Jesus Christ with positive terms such as “love” and “amazement” compared with South Koreans, who are more likely to associate the founder of Christianity with words like “sacrifice,” “blood,” and “suffering.” The results held true for both Christians and non-Christians in each culture, according to study researcher Shigehiro Oishi, a psychologist at the University of Virginia. (Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience)

Nice!
Researchers from the State University of New York at Buffalo and the University of California, Irvine found that actual niceness—defined as feelings of social responsibility and charity—corresponded with possessing a gene that produced a certain kind of receptor for oxytocin and vasopressin— two hormones that are linked with sociability and niceness. (Amanda Chan, The Huffington Post)

Effects of Social Stress in Monkeys
The stress of being the new kid on the block may cause changes to the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to getting sick, finds a new study on monkeys. Researchers knew that social stress of being the low female on the dominance totem pole induces social stress in monkeys, but Jenny Tung, an associate professor at Duke University, wanted to see how this stress impacted them physically. (Jennifer Welsh, LiveScience)

Atheists Respecting Religion
Atheists were firing thunderbolts suggesting that “religion poisons everything,” as Christopher Hitchens put it in the subtitle of his book, God Is Not Great. Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins also wrote best sellers that were scathing about God, whom Dawkins denounced as “arguably the most unpleasant character in fiction.” Yet lately I’ve noticed a very different intellectual tide: grudging admiration for religion as an ethical and cohesive force. (Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times)

Dream: ON
Richard Wiseman: About a year ago, I began working with app developers Yuza to create an iPhone app that would attempt to influence people’s thoughts and imagery while they are dreaming. Today we’re unveiling our creation and are now looking for thousands of volunteers to help discover whether it really is possible to create the perfect dream. (Shortcuts, The Guardian)

BOOKS
The Social Conquest of Earth

Edward O. Wilson argues that the tendency toward cooperation and collaboration that has powered our spectacular success as a species is explained not by kin selection—in which evolution favors the genes of individuals who sacrifice themselves for the sake of relatives—but by group selection, the tendency of evolution to favor groups that work together altruistically, beyond what might be predicted by simple genetic relatedness. (Jennifer Schuessler, The New York Times)

EXCERPT
The Sign

How did Christianity grow from an obscure sect into the most powerful religion in the world? In a controversial new book, The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection, the English art historian Thomas de Wesselow gives credit to the Shroud of Turin. (The Daily Beast)

Category: Field Notes

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