Findings — From the December 2013 issue
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Women’s drinking in parks was associated with male-on-female intimate-partner violence, while men’s drinking quietly at home in the evening was associated with female-on-male violence. Among federally licensed gun retailers, 98.9 percent support handgun restrictions for people with a history of both mental illness and violence. Mildly psychopathic Swedish teenagers tend to mellow as they age, some children diagnosed as autistic may instead have 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, and recovering bilingual aphasics are confused by homophonous noncognate words. Dyslexic Bostonians read better on e-readers. The ability to read facial emotions is improved by reading literary fiction. American soldiers were growing too attached to their battlefield robots. “They would say they were angry when a robot became disabled because it is an important tool,” said a researcher who interviewed members of an explosive-ordnance team. “But then they would add ‘poor little guy,’ or they’d say they had a funeral for it.” Genetic diagnosticians located the mutation of a girl who feels no pain. Stoicism was blamed for masking from nurses the suffering of Ireland’s elderly. Scandinavians have outgrown gods.
White plague continued killing Caribbean coral reefs, Tanzania continued killing its albinos, and Minnesota improved its monitoring of massive moose mortality. “If the heart stops beating,” explained a state wildlife veterinarian, “it sends a text message to our phone that says, ‘I’m dead at x and y coordinates.’ ” The cockroaches of the Upper West Side were found to be genetically distinct, and New Yorkers were found to be likelier than residents of other cities to respond to a request to mail in dead cockroaches. The female ancestors of most Ashkenazim were Gentiles. Archaeologists discovered a priestly bathroom in Jerusalem and twenty skulls beneath the Bedlam cemetery, concluded that the Bosham Head is Trajan, suggested toad may have been roasted at Blick Mead, and could not say where Mesolithic hunter-gatherers got their domesticated pigs or whether the nipples of a 4,000-year-old mummy at Cashel bog were mutilated when he was decommissioned as king. Most cave paintings in France and Spain were made by women, at a time when male and female humans’ hand shapes were apparently more dimorphic. “Twenty thousand years ago,” said the study’s lead author, “men were men and women were women.”
When one of two experimental test subjects sees photos of maggots, then touches toy slime, and the other subject sees photos of puppies, then touches fake fur, their empathy for each other is impaired. Some American entomologists are arachnophobic. University of Chicago researchers noted that gestures intended to avert jinxes are not all equally effective. A bioengineered lacrimal gland was successfully shedding tears. Electric stimulation of the lateral prefrontal cortex makes Swiss divvy up money more evenly, and a belief in God makes young Swiss men less likely to take ecstasy. Empathetic children better understand the sarcasm of puppets. The brains of straight people release natural opioids in response to imaginary sexual rejection. Photographing your food makes eating it less enjoyable, people burdened by guilt overestimate their own body weight, and African elephants possess an intuitive understanding of human finger-pointing. The voices of new lovers on the telephone, stripped of words, sound vulnerable.
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