November 28, 2012

What Has Curiosity Discovered on Mars?
The Mars rover Curiosity has found something—something noteworthy, in a pinch of Martian sand. But what is it? The scientists working on the mission who know are not saying. Outside of that team, lots of people are guessing. The intrigue started last week when John Grotzinger, the Mars mission’s project scientist, told National Public Radio: “This data is going to be one for the history books. It’s looking really good.” And then he declined to say anything more. (Kenneth Chang, The New York Times)

How Lying Changes With Practice
The more you practice a lie, the better you get at it, say the results of a new study. Published in the journal Frontiers in Cognitive Science, the study found that, after 20 minutes of practicing their cover story, liars could respond just as quickly and easily to lies as to the truth. Moreover, they were no more likely to slip-up on falsehoods than on the truth. (Tia Ghose, LiveScience)

High School Ethics
A new survey from the Josephson Institute of Ethics finds that the portion of high school students who admit to cheating, lying, or stealing dropped in 2012 for the first time in a decade. The reasons aren’t totally known, but the results of the poll of 23,000 high school students give leaders of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization hope. The survey is “a pretty good sign that things may be turning around,” said Michael Josephson, the founder and president of the Josephson Institute. “I’m quite optimistic this is the beginning of a downward trend.” (Cathy Payne, USA Today)

Men Who Invest in the Kids of Their Sisters (Instead of Their Own)
In about 10 percent of human societies, men transfer their inheritances not to their own children, but to their sisters’ offspring. Now, researchers say they’re closer to understanding the evolutionary pressures that make this arrangement tick. (Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience)

Choosing Holiday Presents
Cass Sunstein: Here are some tips for gift-givers, building on six behavioral findings that bear directly on holiday-season mis-giving. (Bloomberg)

Category: Field Notes

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