May 29, 2012

Trying to Persuade
Our irrational nature is very difficult to explain if you maintain that human intelligence evolved to solve complex problems, where clear, logical thought should offer the advantage. As such, it has remained something of a puzzle. An elegant explanation may have arrived. Hugo Mercier at the University of Neuch√Ętel, Switzerland, and Dan Sperber at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, believe that human reasoning evolved to help us to argue. (Dan Jones, New Scientist)

Can We Use Social Networks to Boost Our Creativity?
Zella King: Creativity research has zeroed in on the specific traits of the social groups of great artists, scientists, and inventors that made them a fertile environment for new ideas. The constant tension between alien perspectives and familiar faces seems to be key. (New Scientist)

Explaining the Public’s Division Over Climate Change
Support for climate science doesn’t increase with science literacy, a survey suggests. Rather, people with technical backgrounds just dig in harder on their views about global warming, finds the study in the Nature Climate Change journal. Overall, technically astute people are more “culturally polarized” than other folks and tend to side with the views of people in their social setting about global warming, concludes the survey of 1,540 people nationwide. (Dan Vergano, USA Today)

Richard Leakey Predicts the Debate Over Evolution Will Soon Be History
Sometime in the next 15 to 30 years, the Kenyan-born paleoanthropologist expects scientific discoveries will have accelerated to the point that “even the skeptics can accept it.” (Frank Eltman, Associated Press)

Problems With Brain Scans
Vaughan Bell: Now neuroscientists have had to come to terms with the fact that many of the methods on which brain scan studies are based have been flawed. (The Observer)

The Transition From Promiscuity to Pair Bonds
A new study says we should thank two key players: weak males with inferior fighting chops and the females who opted to be faithful to them. These mating strategies may “have triggered a key step in the very long process of the evolution of the family,” said study author Sergey Gavrilets, a biomathematician at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. “Without it, we wouldn’t have the modern family.” (Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles Times)

Category: Field Notes


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