02 February, 2012 – This Week in Science


Meat Eating, Facebook Psych, This Week In Castration, Yawns Of Love, Interview w/ Shawn Lawrence Otto Re: Fool Me Twice, And Much More…

Disclaimer, Disclaimer, Disclaimer!!!
Like our primitive ancestors of the past, mankind is still hunter gatherer
Our past prey was meant to be eaten, to be used as clothing to provide warmth and protection, and along the way we would gather material that could be fashioned into tools for hunting still more prey which we would pursue no matter where the journey took us.
In the pursuit of knowledge mankind has traversed many hostile territories,
fashioned many tools, and has gathered enough information from our surroundings
to protect us from environmental threats both seen and unseen.
We have hunted our prey across all landscapes of the earth, under the oceans, in the air and beyond the limit of our atmosphere.
We have chased our prey to the moon, to mars, across the milky way, to the most distant galaxy beyond right up the first moments of the big bang
We have hunted in the microbial, molecular, atomic and quantum worlds as well.
And each week we return to the cave of humanity with a bounty of new beasts to feast upon
Here on this week in science, coming up next.

What meat do you eat?
Well, it doesn’t matter. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been found on a frighteningly-high percent of both organic, antibiotic-free meat, and the conventional meat found in stores. We’re still not sure where this contamination is taking pace, either. It could be at any point in the line of processing, from the field, to the packaging plant.

Facebook Psych
Your Facebook friends will like you more if your profile is positive, whereas all of your negative updates tend to rub people the wrong way. Not surprisingly, people don’t go on Facebook to get depressed…

They say it’s voluntary
Male orb-weavers will castrate themselves during mating. Believe it or not, this has several advantages: 1) the male spider is not cannibalized by the female, 2) the male organ serves as plug to block other males from mating with the female, and 3) the organ continues to deliver sperm after copulation has been terminated, increasing the likelihood of passing on DNA.

A Yawn really means “I love you.” The contagion of yawns between yourself and the people around you indicates emotional closeness between the parties.

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Are you reading along with the TWIS Bookclub? This month, check out ‘A Planet of Viruses’ by Carl Zimmer

Interview with Shawn Otto, author of Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America.

From the Minion Mailbag:
“First, I want to say how much I enjoy the TWIS episodes that you and Justin put together…
When I heard you begin to describe the “Serial Killer Math” story, I couldn’t help but cringe. While the article *sounds* interesting, it’s really a terrible conglomeration of bad statistics, crackpot neuroscience, and general silliness on the part of the authors. Dr. Cosma Shalizi, a statistics professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has a very readable (and scathing) explanation of Simkin and Roychowdury’s error on his blog:
The short version is that the data is much better fit by a log-normal distribution than a power-law distribution. This is a common mistake made by many researchers (see another of Shalizi’s posts, “So You Think You Have a Power Law — Well Isn’t That Special”: http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog/491.html ). Because Simkin and Roychowdury’s neuro”scientific” model depends on the number of days between murders being power law-distributed, the model could not possibly be correct since the data *isn’t* power law-distributed…”

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