Wednesday, August 29, 2012

This Week at Psychology Today: Senator Stacey Campfield Out-Does Congressman Todd Akin

Why did the Tennessee senator get his facts on HIV/AIDS so hysterically wrong?

It’s old news, perhaps. Sorry to arrive on the scene late. But in January of this year the Huffington Post reported some troubling quotes of Stacey Campfield, a Republican in the Tennessee Senate. He is the sponsor of that state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits schools from discussing with students any sexual orientation other than heterosexual. According to HuffPo, on a radio show hosted by gay activist Michelangelo Signorile, Campfield said:

"Most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community — it was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall."

"My understanding is that it is virtually — not completely, but virtually — impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex...very rarely [transmitted]."

"What's the average lifespan of a homosexual? It's very short. Google it yourself."

Since last week when Missouri’s Republican Congressman Todd Akin said, “If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing [sperm fertilizing egg] down,” the country has grown another skin on its ever-hardening nub of understanding that politicians occasionally get their science wrong. But that’s no reason not to set the record straight. So, for the record, AIDS is only one of about 80 infectious diseases that humans are capable of acquiring from animals....

Read more at Psychology Today.

This Week at Psychology Today: Congressman Akin, Meet Genghis Khan and Your Evolutionary Ancestors

The DNA of 8% of men in the former Mongol empire prove Akin wrong.

"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing [impregnation] down,” Congressman Todd Akin, the Republican nominee in Missouri for U.S. Senate famously said this week.
Yeah? Well tell that to Genghis Khan.

And tell it to the chimps.

According to 2003 research by geneticists and biologists at universities across Europe and Asia, approximately 8% of the men now living in areas of Asia once occupied by Genghis Khan’s army are direct descendants of the legendary conqueror. This is roughly the equivalent of 0.5% of the world’s total population of adult men.

Testing the blood of 2,123 living men, researchers from the UK’s Oxford University, China’s Harbin Medical University, Italy’s University of Ferrara, ...

Friday, August 24, 2012

5000 Years of Air Pollution

Like politics, all epochs are local.

Iberia, a peninsula on Europe's southwestern reaches, has long been known as a prehistoric mining center, with metal resources that continue to be harvested. As reported in The Journal of Archaeological Science (corrected proof available online July 23, 2012) researchers from Spain and the UK have examined three Iberian wetlands for clues about human metal use over the ages.

These peat bogs were not themselves mines. Nor were they necessarily ever sites of metal use by humans. Still, in the peat is a record of metal use over the ages. The data are in the trace minerals present in the soil because they precipitated with rain out of polluted skies.

The metal use timeline that the researchers have constructed for Iberia coincides with much of what's known about the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, Celtic and Roman culture, and the industrial revolution both locally and globally. Uninhabited and even never-inhabited areas, it seems, can be an ongoing resource for investigations of early mining and metallurgy practices, and, hence, early culture.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This Week in Psychology Today: Bad News, Bearishly Delivered

Bad things happen, and not just to good people. Which means that, in no small measure, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, downsizing corporations, and many other organizations are in the bad news business. Knowing this, many train employees in interpersonal sensitivity and compassion—and they don't just do it because they value kindness and consideration. There’s a huge financial cost to heartlessness. Morale plummets throughout a company, and absenteeism and employee thievery rise, as do lawsuits.

What is behind the chronic compassion deficits of some doctors, managers, police officers, school counselors, and other "bad news bears?" Why do they express so little appropriate emotion and invoke such costly wrath? Read more at Psychology Today.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

This week on Psychology Today: All Too Human?

Chimps, at least, really are.

Humans and chimps had a common ancestor 4-6 million years ago. Humans’ common ancestor with orangutans lived a far more distant 15 million years ago. This may be why chimps' personalities are like humans’ in many respects, and why orangs' personalities are like humans’ only in some.

Or not. How much like humans are chimps and orangs, anyway? Are they more similar to us than the puppies we dress in doll clothes so we can circulate cute pictures on the Internet? Are they more similar than cows that look pensive or chipmunks that “complain?”

Such are the questions that intrigued the University of Edinburgh's Alexander Weiss, lead author of a study in the journal Animal Behavior