December 13, 2012

Do We Exaggerate the Moral Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives?
Regarding issues of morality, “people overestimate how dramatically liberals and conservatives differ,” psychologists Jesse Graham, Brian Nosek, and Jonathan Haidt write in the online journal PLOS ONE. Specifically, their research suggests those on the left unfairly assume their counterparts on the right are cold-hearted on issues involving harm and fairness. “There are real moral differences between liberals and conservatives,” the researchers write, “but people across the political spectrum exaggerate the magnitude of these differences, and in so doing create opposing moral stereotypes that are shared by all.” (Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard)

Applying the Prisoner’s Dilemma to the Search for Aliens
Sending messages into deep space could be the best way for Earthlings to find extraterrestrial intelligence, but it carries a grave risk: alerting hostile aliens to our presence. Game theory may provide a way to navigate this dilemma. (Jacob Aron, New Scientist)

More on Deep-Voiced Candidates
Both women and men prefer female leaders who have lower-pitched voices to ones with higher voices, even in stereotypically female positions, according to a new study. When given a choice between a hypothetical high-pitched or low-pitched candidate for parent teacher organization president or school board member, people more frequently chose the lower-pitched voice, according to the research detailed online in the journal PLOS ONE. (Tia Ghose, LiveScience)

Religious Documents Go Digital
The Cambridge Digital Library has just made available thousands of pages from fragile religious manuscripts for Internet users’ perusal, including a 2,000-year-old copy of the Ten Commandments, known as the “Nash Papyrus.” (Megan Gannon, LiveScience)

What Is Love?
In an attempt to get to the bottom of the question once and for all, The Guardian has gathered writers from the fields of science, psychotherapy, literature, religion, and philosophy to give their definition of the much-pondered word. (guardian.co.uk)

Sentencing in Blasphemy Case in Egypt
A Cairo court sentenced an atheist from a Christian family to three years in prison for insulting religion, firing up fears about the future of freedom of expression here just as Egyptians prepare to vote on an Islamist-backed draft constitution denounced by secular groups as failing to protect such rights. (David Kirkpatrick, The New York Times)

Q&A
Alan Alda

What is time? And how would you explain it to an 11-year-old? That’s the question actor Alan Alda has posed to scientists in the second Flame Challenge—so named because the question in last year’s competition was, “What is a flame?” The challenge aims to spur scientists to think about how they can better communicate with the public. (Adrian Cho, ScienceInsider)

Category: Field Notes

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