Skeptikai Notices (June18) – News, psychology, Japan, & more

News:

Understanding Vancouver’s ‘Hockey Riot’ – The entire nation of Canada face-palmed simultaneously, causing a shockwave of embarrassment regarding the very un-Canadian riots that took place in Vancouver. There were later clean-ups organized by facebook and Twitter, as well as a website created to help identify the criminals by using pictures of many of the crimes as they were happening. Many Vancouverites came after the riots to write post-it notes of apologies and thank-you’s onto a police car when the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) came to help with the clean up efforts. The VPD received applause and cheers, with the notes on their car saying things like “Proud of our VDP”  “Dear VPD, you deserve nothing but respect. Thank you.” “Thank you VPD – You saved Vancouver!” “My faith in humanity is restored.” “VPD rocks! Thank you! Sorry you had to deal with those idiots.” Also, in the midst of the chaotic rioting, an beautiful shot of an Australian kissing his Canadian girlfriend was sent all around the world, and I suspect that it will be a famous image in the future. How the picture came to be is actually an interesting story in and of itself.

Number of baby girls named Palin spikes – The number of American babies being named “Palin” is sharply increasing. Some say it’s not right to name your baby after a political affiliation, though I personally think it’s a choice for the parents alone. Besides, if you google “celebrity baby names” you’ll find much worse. Still, there are people who find solace in using a name as a brand for affiliation, as can be exemplified by the parent who named his child “Facebook” in Egypt, due to its role in the revolution. Or there was the Indian village who recently renamed itself “Snapdeal.com” in order to honor the website that recently gave them drinking water for the first time.

Christchurch stress as high as war zone – The damage in Christchurch is taking its toll on the New Zealanders, much like it is in Japan. Though it’s obviously much worse in Japan. Not only has the stress of survivors in Eastern Japan multiplied exponentially, since about 100,000 people are still homeless, but there are fewer than 20 psychotherapists specializing in PTSD in the entire country. And just like in Japan, there are now scammers in New Zealand who are using the opportunity to steal from vulnerable people. New Zealand police have been warning residents of “earthquake inspectors” who are really malicious burglars.

Should We Blame Scientists for Not Predicting Earthquakes? – A group of Italian scientists have been charged with manslaughter for not warning the public of an earthquake. The title is foolishly misleading (it says right in the article that it’s not about earthquake prediction) but they are accused of downplaying the risk of a major earthquake.

Psychology:

Criminal Minds: Adrian Raine thinks brain scans can identify children who may become killers – This is a pretty dangerous speculation to make, essentially positing that social or environmental factors are obsolete in detecting whether or not one may become violent criminals. In my opinion, judging children based on brain patterns is worse than thought-crime. It’s tantamount to punishing thought-potential.

Not your stereotypical Autistic – This woman diagnosed with autism sure challenges our stereotypes of the disorder. She’s bad at math, and makes a living as a communicator.

This week, BodyLanguageProject.com launched their extensive “Body Language Dictionary.” It has some problems, such as not having enough pictures for the more complicated examples (but then, perhaps it would have been too cluttered), or being slightly gimmicky, etc. – but this is probably one of the best reference of body language on the internet. The best part is that you can search its alphabetical index for examples of body language directly; but within its greatest strength is its most obvious weakness – what exactly do you call “that gesture”…?

The Backfire Effect – When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger. Yep. This may be a good time to check out the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Japan:

Japan Criminalizes Cybercrime: Make a Virus, Get Three Years in Jail – Why are more countries not doing this? Viruses need to be criminalized, since the world is evolving alongside technology, making us vulnerable the more we rely on computers.

First ever Western geisha leaves the ‘sisterhood’ – If you ever wondered whether Japan is losing its culture, I would use this as an interesting case. The first ever Western geisha (Australian) basically spent her time trying to promote herself instead of follow the traditions of the geisha world, such as taking the relevant classes to ensure her ability to perform well. As a documentary filmmaker, she wanted an insider’s account, but ended up being less of a geisha and more of a documentary filmmaker by the end of it.

School casualty questions: Parents seek answers for high death toll at primary school – Why were the casualties of one school so high (74 killed out of 108 students) while other schools nearby had such fewer casualties (13 students among 4 schools)? Parents want answers.

Misc:

A smart bandage reveals healing –  We may be soon using bandages that change colors to inform us of the severity of the wound.

3-D printers may someday allow labs to create replacement human organs – The new science of bioprinting has begun, hoping to print living tissue for patients in need.

Do Atheists Have Better Sex? – Yes, atheists have better sex. Click the link to find out why.

Do Kids Need a Summer Vacation? – A good article about the necessity of a vacation. I find this an interesting topic because in Japan there is none of that. They have periods of no classes, but I would hardly call it a vacation, let alone a break from school. And yet, Japanese students appear to be doing well in and outside of school.

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2 Responses to Skeptikai Notices (June18) – News, psychology, Japan, & more

  1. 6 8 10 says:

    Noticed a couple of typos:

    Face-palmed in the first line.

    In the bit on Christchurch it should read “taking its toll”

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