June 3, 2013

Effect of Misinformation (in the Form of a Question)
Simply asking people whether they experienced an event can trick them into later believing that it did occur, according to a neat little study just out: “Susceptibility to long-term misinformation effect outside of the laboratory.” (Neuroskeptic, Discover)

More on Self-Esteem and Facebook
Catalina Toma and colleagues found that the participants experienced a significant boost in self-esteem even after looking at their own Facebook profile for just five minutes. However, the burst of self-worth seemed to sink the participants’ motivation to perform well on a follow-up math task. Compared with a control group who didn’t spend several minutes navel gazing, those who had just looked at their Facebook profiles before the test answered fewer questions in the allotted time, though their error rate was unchanged. (Megan Gannon, LiveScience)

Cloud Face
Cloud gazing seems like it should be a uniquely human activity—who else would stare up at the sky and turn wisps of clouds into shapes and faces? But, now, a robot can do that, too. What’s happening there? Is the robot … imagining? (Rose Eveleth, Smithsonian)

Eric Weinstein’s Theory of Everything
Eric Weinstein hit the headlines after mathematician Marcus du Sautoy at the University of Oxford invited him to give a lecture detailing his new theory of the universe, dubbed Geometric Unity. Du Sautoy also provided an overview of Weinstein’s theory on the website of The Guardian newspaper to “promote, perhaps, a new way of doing science.” (Jacob Aron, New Scientist)

Reviews of “The Serpent’s Promise”
Steve Jones: I have written plenty of needlessly rude reviews and am, as a result, more or less immune to the slings and arrows aimed at my own works (Amazon is a good place to look). The response from various reviewers to my latest effort, though, has been different. The Serpent’s Promise is subtitled The Bible Retold as Science. The reaction by some to that second phrase has been that of a Calvinist to a consecrated wafer: whatever its merits or otherwise, the believers cannot swallow it. (The Guardian)

Category: Field Notes

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