"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ungay Sex: Judi Chicago 

Last night I was treated to a real surprise following my habitual Project Runway viewing at Mary's: a live performance by this band called Judi Chicago. If nothing else, you have to give a pair of (I'm guessing) straight boys props for showing up to a gay bar, stripping to their skivvies, and being generally raucous and sweaty all over the place. Besides the visuals, which were really nice, the show was a blast: fun, high-energy and a bit mad, these boys certainly know how to party.

I definitely recommend checking them out!

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

An Oral Sex Gene? 

Sounds fishy*. Swiss researchers found that certain male chiclids have fin markings that 'trick' females in to sucking up their sperm. While this is hilarious and awesome, I would really not call it an "oral sex gene." Not that I'm saying there shouldn't be one...it'd explain a lot.

* No, I have no shame, and could not resist.

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Popular Belief 

Science can be frustrating to many people because it doesn't provide much in the way of certainty: last year's miracle cure becomes this week's leading carcinogen. Most scientists revel in this process of testing, rejecting, waiting, testing, not-rejecting, et cetera. Because science dictates that you can never "prove" something, only "disprove" it.

And oh, how many beliefs we hold based on flawed evidence, incomplete study, or simply folk knowledge. It turns out that some seem true, and other prove false:

Your mother always told you that pizza and twinkies would give you pizza face. A small clinical trial from Australia found that a lower-glycemic index diet with more protein significantly reduced acne in participants - another good reason to adopt such a healthier diet.

Your mom knows stuff, but the societal moms may not: prevailing wisdom has been that "bad kids" do worse in school, but two studies suggest that this is not necessarily (or even usually) the case. Even kids with ADHD (which is grossly overdiagnosed, so I question the findings) seem to just develop slower, and are at the same level as their peers by grade 5.

Then societal mom also want kids to never, EVER, have sex, at least until they are long past adulthood. Because it means that they're just delinquents, right? Wrong. A terribly clever UVa analysis found that teens and preteens who had had consensual sex were in fact less likely to end up being labeled 'delinquent.'

Speaking of sexual myths, a multi-national survey found that as many as 40% of people believe that AIDS isn't fatal anymore, and many of them even think that there's a cure. Memo to world: AIDS IS STILL INCURABLE AND LETHAL!!!

And finally, there's the persistent myth that the US has great quality healthcare and outcomes. Among other things, we continue to have a ridiculously high infant mortality rate, especially considering our neonatal care expenditures.

Now playing: Dengue Fever - Saran Wrap
via FoxyTunes

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Justify Anything 

If you've ever stared at a fabulous! $300 pair of shoes in the shop and decided, unlike Kelly, not to get them, you probably walked away thinking that they weren't that fabulous anyways. Or that they really wouldn't go with your pants. Or something. This is what we call cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is a process by which we humans rationalize our decisions, by essentially obliterating thoughts contrary to our actions.

Used to be, we thought that this was a pretty clever tick humans had learned, but as usual, further research suggests that we're not so unique in our cleverness. Yale researchers have found, for the first time, that monkeys seem to do the same thing (PDF here): then they have to choose between red and blue M+Ms, they subsequently value the rejected color significantly less than others (like green).

Even if we're not the only ones good at justifying our (often arbitrary) decisions, that's no reason to do less of it. So, here are some good reasons to justify things you're going to do anyways:

Data from the Framingham study suggest that drinking coffee and eating fish oil may help protect against Alzheimer's. There's probably a whole lot more going on here than it appears, and these things need to be properly tested, but I'll still say it's time for another coffee break, and sushi for lunch!

Also, there is yet more evidence that abstinence-only sex-ed is not useful, so go ahead and talk about sex with a teenager today! Actually, no. Just make sure your kids go to a school with a worthwhile curriculum.

Now playing: Gary Flanagan - Metro Boulot Dodo
via FoxyTunes

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