July 16, 2013

Six Types of Atheists
Two researchers at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga found that atheists and agnostics run the range from vocally anti-religious activists to nonbelievers who nonetheless observe some religious traditions. “The main observation is that nonbelief is an ontologically diverse community,” write doctoral students Christopher Silver and Thomas Coleman. “These categories are a first stab at this,” Silver told the website Raw Story. “In 30 years, we may be looking at a typology of 32 types.” (Dan Merica, CNN)

Why We Listen to Sad Songs
Music that was deemed sad made participants feel somewhat upset, but mainly produced romantic and inspired emotions. Common descriptive words were: allured, wistful, nostalgic, and tender. And it’s these emotions that help us get over the more unpleasant ones. (Sarah Sloat, Pacific Standard)

More Evidence the “Hobbit” Is a Separate Species
Much of the debate has centered on arguments by skeptics that these small-bodied, small-brained hominins were nothing more than modern Homo sapiens who had one of a number of growth disorders, possibly microcephaly, Laron syndrome, or endemic hypothyroidism, known as cretinism. In a paper in the journal PLOS ONE, the researchers said their findings “counter the hypotheses of pathological conditions.” (John Noble Wilford, The New York Times)

The Latest on Video Games and Violence
The link between violent video games and aggression has been firmly established, and there was good reason to think that motion-capture technology would only make things worse. After all, wouldn’t literally raising your arm to strike someone in the virtual world create a hostile mindset that could easily leak out into real-world behavior? Well, it’s not true, at least according to one newly published study. A research team led by Eric Charles of Penn State Altoona finds that this increasingly popular type of video gaming does not lead to increased levels of aggression. (Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard)

Experts in Emotion Series
Tania Lombrozo: Let’s face it, emotions are complex and the human mind and body don’t exactly come with an owner’s manual. That’s one reason people are often fascinated by the scientific study of emotion, and one motivation behind a new resource led by June Gruber, assistant professor of psychology at Yale University. The series, available on YouTube, offers over 60 interviews with leading experts in the field of emotion. (13.7: Cosmos and Culture, NPR)

Category: Field Notes

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