February 27, 2013

When Pain Feels Pleasant
People experience pleasure during a painful stimulus if the stimulus turns out to be less bad than they were expecting, new research suggests. (Tia Ghose, LiveScience)

Looking at Animals for Clues to Our Past
Barbara King: In a recent paper in the journal Current Anthropology, Jennifer Smith, Eli Swanson, Daphna Reed, and Kay Holekamp suggest that the spotted hyena fits the bill and is an underappreciated source of information about human evolution. I like Smith et al.’s perspective because it shows how an understanding of convergent evolution may help us learn more about our past. Convergent evolution is the process by which distantly related species—like human ancestors and spotted hyenas—evolve similar traits as they adapt over time to similar ecological and social environments. (13.7: Cosmos and Culture, NPR)

Moving Pastors Toward Scientific Literacy
Craig Story and Justin Topp of Gordon College have received a 200,000-dollar grant from the BioLogos Foundation to help pastors become more scientifically literate. (Cristina Quinn, WGBH)

No-Religion Discrimination Lawsuit Settled
An atheist organization that invoked religious protections in suing a Michigan country club for cancelling an event said a settlement announced Tuesday was vindication for non-believers. (Associated Press)

BOOKS
Top Dog

“To compete well means to take risks that are normally constrained by fear,” Po Bronson tells NPR’s Michel Martin. Following their best-selling book, NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, Bronson and Ashley Merryman teamed up again for Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing. Bronson says “risk-taking is a crucial quality of competitiveness.” Science shows that “if you focus on the odds, you tend not to take the risk,” he says. (NPR)

Category: Field Notes

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