December 10, 2012

Disgust and Dirt
People who are disgusted are better at detecting impurities. In other words, disgust makes it easier to see dirt and other nastiness that might make us sick, researchers reported online in the journal Psychological Science. The findings aren’t the first example of emotions influencing perceptions. (Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience)

When Religious Leaders Tweet
Elizabeth Drescher: Social networking platforms provide plentiful space to broadcast religious messages to self-selecting and, therefore, presumably more attentive audiences. But they raise many nettlesome questions as well, not least among them being whether new media participation by well-known religious leaders is ministry or marketing. (Religion Dispatches)

Interbreeding and the Fossil Record
A bundle of recent genetic studies have suggested that modern humans had sex with Neanderthals thousands of years ago when the two populations roamed the planet alongside each other. However, the bones left behind by the two species don’t bear any obvious traces of interbreeding and a new study of monkeys in Mexico shows why we shouldn’t expect them to. (Megan Gannon, LiveScience)

“Freedom of Thought 2012”
Atheists and other religious skeptics suffer persecution or discrimination in many parts of the world and in at least seven countries can be executed if their beliefs become known, according to a report. The study, from the International Humanist and Ethical Union, showed that “unbelievers” in Islamic countries face the most severe—sometimes brutal—treatment at the hands of the state and adherents of the official religion. But it also points to policies in some European countries and the United States that favor the religious and their organizations and treat atheists and humanists as outsiders. (NBC News and wire reports)

Ice Age Art

“This show has been tens of thousand of years in the making and it will give visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the cream of Europe’s ice age art,” says exhibition organizer Jill Cook, the British Museum’s curator of European prehistory. “This show marks the beginning of the modern world. For the first time, humans were displaying the full imagination of modern humanity and externalizing thoughts. They are making objects not just for practical value but to express ideas in a symbolic, highly skillful manner.” (Robin McKie, The Observer)

Category: Field Notes


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