June 8, 2012

Scientific Knowledge and Our Earlier Intuitions
Andrew Shtulman and colleagues summarize their findings: “When students learn scientific theories that conflict with earlier, naïve theories, what happens to the earlier theories? Our findings suggest that naïve theories are suppressed by scientific theories but not supplanted by them.” (Jonah Lehrer, Frontal Cortex, The New Yorker)

Zen Meditation and Unconscious Information
Meditation increases our ability to tap into the hidden recesses of our brain that are usually outside the reach of our conscious awareness. That’s according to Madelijn Strick of Utrecht University in the Netherlands and colleagues, who tested whether meditation has an effect on our ability to pick up subliminal messages. (Anil Ananthaswamy, New Scientist)

Do Dogs Understand When We’re Sad?
New research suggests that dogs really do respond uniquely to tears. But whether pets have empathy for human pain is less clear. (Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience)

BOOKS
The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty

David Brooks: For the past several centuries, most Westerners would have identified themselves fundamentally as Depraved Sinners. In this construct, sin is something you fight like a recurring cancer—part of a daily battle against evil. But these days, people are more likely to believe in their essential goodness. People who live by the Good Person Construct try to balance their virtuous self-image with their selfish desires. They try to manage the moral plusses and minuses and keep their overall record in positive territory. In this construct, moral life is more like dieting. (The New York Times)

EXHIBIT
Physics on the Fringe

Based on a recently published book of the same name by Margaret Wertheim—her third exploring the cultural history of physics—it is a fascinating exploration of the scientific drive as embodied by those who go at it alone, developing their theories with little to no formal training, well outside the bounds of the scientific community. (Holly Myers, Culture Monster, Los Angeles Times)

Category: Field Notes

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