Thursday, November 5, 2015

Goodness from Pacific Standard, November 2015

I've said it before: I love Pacific Standard magazine. Here are a few cool facts from their November-December 2015 issue.

Two heads aren't necessarily better than one: In experiments, teams of two people were asked to solve a simple visual puzzle. Each person answered separately. When their answers were different, "one member was shown the other's answer and then made a final decision... The low performers took the high peformers' input less often" and the high performers took the low performers input more often. Oops. Chalk one more up to the Dunning-Kruger effect.

We don't even know how we pass on gender roles: "In a study of gender difference in the play of migrant workers' children, researchers found no differences between girls and boys in classroom play or during unstructured play at home. This is in contrast to research showing gender differences emerging in play behavior in non-migrant American children as young as two."

Are religious people healthier? Usually this is the finding when social scientists look into the question. But there's an asterisk: "For people who live in more secular societies, the impact appears to be small. This suggests the salutary effect of religion is the result of fitting in with one's surroundings and the reduced stress levels this produces."

A retired Baltimore cop working to change the pack mentality: Michael Wood, who retired from the Baltimore Police Department in 2014, has been eroding the thin blue line since the Freddie Gray killing last June. Full story here.

Why are we fatter? An entomologist started out studying locusts and ended up with a hypothesis about what's causing our current obesity epidemic. It has to do with climate change, too. Way to tie it all together, Stephen Smith!

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