Summary of “Can Hollywood Movies About Climate Change Make a Difference?”

When climate change is depicted on screen, it’s often in an onslaught of fire and brimstone, an apocalyptic vision that hardly leaves room for a hopeful human response.
“Typically, if you really want to mobilize people to act, you don’t scare the hell out of them and convince them that the situation is hopeless,” said Andrew Hoffman, a professor at the University of Michigan who is the author of “How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate.”
“Although it’s not easy to do, when you’re talking about climate change, as you can see with what’s happening now,” with the recent hurricanes.
“The movie was 100 percent about fear,” said Ed Maibach, a professor and director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.
“We try not to create programming that is a cause for despair, but rather an opportunity.” Because, he added: “The greatest goal of climate change programs is to first find a new audience and stop preaching to the converted. At the end of the day, we’re trying to find new converts.”
One bright spot in showing environmental alarm onscreen is children’s programs, Ms. Levin said, which “Work beautifully for everyday practices and overall awareness. Parents often watch with them, and they learn together.” And climate change is a frequent topic of visual artists and writers, where the genre known as cli-fi is growing.
One thing too few people do, according to Mr. Boykoff, the University of Colorado researcher, is laugh about climate change.
Mr. Maibach, the George Mason professor and an expert in polling on climate understanding, said the greatest problem facing climate communicators is that Americans are not talking about climate change enough – in any shape.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The language used to describe colors was changed by industrialization”

Industrialization changed the world’s palette, adding an array of synthetic hues to the universal, more natural, color scheme.
We can see it in the similarities in the language of colors across tongues, according to cognitive scientist Edward Gibson of MIT. Gibson recently led a team of researchers studying how humans communicate about colors to Bolivia’s Amazonian rainforest to meet the Tsimane, a hunter-gatherer tribe living a pre-industrialized life.
In a paper published earlier this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they compare the color terms used in the Tsimane language those of Bolivian Spanish, English, and 110 other languages worldwide.
All languages categorize colors generally the same way, into two groups: warm and cool tones.
Blues and greens are background colors, as in sky or grass, say, while objects tend to be in warmer colors, stand out in our lives, and more often require describing.
The researchers believe that cultures more widely recognize and communicate about warm colors because those tones are more “Universally useful.”
Further, there’s wider recognition of warm colors than cool in languages across cultures, because of the “Color statistics of the world,” the researchers argue.
The researchers write, “Cultures vary in how useful color is. Industrialization, which creates objects distinguishable solely based on color, increases color usefulness.”

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Summary of “Why Education is a Limited Determinant of Mobility”

A new working paper authored by the UC Berkeley economist Jesse Rothstein builds on that research, in part by zeroing in on one of those five factors: schools.
Using data from several national surveys, Rothstein sought to scrutinize Chetty’s team’s work-looking to further test their hypothesis that the quality of a child’s education has a significant impact on her ability to advance out of the social class into which she was born.
For Rothstein, there’s no reason to assume that improving schools will be necessary or sufficient for improving someone’s economic prospects.
His work, like Chetty’s, is not causal-meaning Rothstein is not able to identify exactly what explains the underlying variation in his economic model.
Rothstein is quick to say that his new findings do not mean that Americans should do away with investments in school improvement, or even that education is unrelated to improving opportunity.
According to Rothstein, education systems just don’t go very far in explaining the differences between high- and low-opportunity areas.
Marie Connolly, an economist at the University of Quebec in Montreal who collaborates with Corak, told me that after studying geographic mobility across Canada, her team has identified similar patterns as Rothstein did in the United States.
Rothstein does not identify specific schools in his paper when drawing his school-quality conclusions, meaning he’s making indirect inferences.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Ford disguised a man as a car seat to research self-driving”

The trial, conducted with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, also made use of a light bar mounted on the top of the windshield to provide communication about what the car was doing, including yielding, driving autonomously or accelerating from a full stop.
Ford VTTI Research 07 HR Ford VTTI Research 06 HR Ford VTTI Research 05 HR Ford VTTI Research 04 HR Ford VTTI Research 03 HR Ford VTTI Research 02 HR Ford VTTI Research 01 HR. So why engage in such elaborate dress-up, especially when it’s not even Halloween? Mainly because you actually still do need to have someone behind the wheel in real-world testing, and also because for the purposes of this experiment, Ford and VTTI didn’t actually need a self-driving car – they just needed people to believe wholeheartedly they were using one.
The Transit Connect van used for the trial would indicate its behavior using signals including a slow white pulse for yielding, a rapid blinking for accelerating from a stop, and staying solid if it’s actively in self-driving mode.
Ford’s chosen signals for the project are simple, but they’re intended to be, and they’re designed to not just replicate existing vehicle signalling apparatus, like break lights and turn signals, but to fill in gaps where we currently communicate via subtle gestures, eye contact and other less obvious mechanisms.
Ford and VTTI conducted VR testing to discover that these definitely need to be learned – people need a few different exposures before they clue in.
The test is just the start, though already Ford and VTTI have run 150 hours of tests covering around 1,800 miles in their urban testing ground, with a dense concentration of pedestrians, other drivers and cyclists.
The eventual goal is to continue with light signal research, and then to work together with industry standards organizations including the International Organization for Standardization and SAE International to make these shared in common across automotive and transportation companies.
There’s a lot of work ahead – I hope that seat costume is comfortable, since previous similar examples suggest wearable upholstery isn’t.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The great nutrient collapse”

Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican who chairs the House Committee on Science, recently argued that people shouldn’t be so worried about rising CO2 levels because it’s good for plants, and what’s good for plants is good for us.
How does rising atmospheric CO2 change how plants grow? How much of the long-term nutrient drop is caused by the atmosphere, and how much by other factors, like breeding?
The current gold standard for this type of research is called a FACE experiment, in which researchers create large open-air structures that blow CO2 onto the plants in a given area.
Within the category of plants known as “C3″―which includes approximately 95 percent of plant species on earth, including ones we eat like wheat, rice, barley and potatoes―elevated CO2 has been shown to drive down important minerals like calcium, potassium, zinc and iron.
The data we have, which look at how plants would respond to the kind of CO2 concentrations we may see in our lifetimes, show these important minerals drop by 8 percent, on average.
There aren’t any projections for the United States, where we for the most part enjoy a diverse diet with no shortage of protein, but some researchers look at the growing proportion of sugars in plants and hypothesize that a systemic shift in plants could further contribute to our already alarming rates of obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Ziska worries we’re not studying all the ways CO2 affects the plants we depend on with enough urgency, especially considering the fact that retooling crops takes a long time.
There are plenty of plant physiologists researching crops, but most are dedicated to studying factors like yield and pest resistance-qualities that have nothing to do with nutrition.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Science Says the Most Successful Kids Have Parents Who Do These 9 Things”

If you’re a parent, a more compelling question may be: “What can I do to make sure my kids succeed in life?” Here’s what researchers say.
According to a nonprofit organization operating out of Harvard University, kids who eat with their families roughly five days a week exhibit lower levels of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, obesity, and depression.
Researchers have found that the brains of little kids can be permanently altered when they spend too much time using tablets and smartphones.
There are certainly familial benefits to having a stay-at-home mother, but researchers at Harvard Business School have found that when moms work outside the home, their daughters are more likely to be employed themselves, hold supervisory roles, and make more money than peers whose mothers did not have careers.
“Top performers in every field-athletes, musicians, CEOs, artists-are all more consistent than their peers,” writes James Clear, an author and speaker who studies the habits of successful people.
Researchers at the New York University School of Medicine have found that babies whose parents read to them have better language, literacy, and early reading skills four years later before starting elementary school.
Kids who like books when they’re little grow into people who read for fun later on, which has its own set of benefits.
Desire to travel more Increased tolerance of other cultures and ethnicities Increased willingness to know/learn/explore Increased willingness to try different foods Increased independence, self-esteem, and confidence More intellectual curiosity Increased tolerance and respectfulness Better adaptability and sensitivity Being more outgoing Better self-expression Increased attractiveness to college admissions.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Disturbed sleep patterns may be key to ADHD, study finds”

Struggling to concentrate, having too much energy and being unable to control behaviour – the main manifestations of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – have been linked to disruptions in sleep, researchers will reveal on Sunday.
The findings underline a growing awareness among doctors that disturbed sleep is associated with many major health hazards.
Speaking at a pharmacology conference in Paris, Professor Sandra Kooij, of VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, will outline research which shows poor sleep is a sign that the timings of many physiological processes are not properly synchronised.
“Our research is making clear that sleep disruption and ADHD are intertwined. Essentially, they are two sides of the same physiological and mental coin,” said Kooij, speaking before her presentation.
About 80% of cases are associated with profound sleep disturbances.
Other conditions linked to disturbed dopamine and melatonin levels include restless leg syndrome – an irresistible urge to move your legs – and sleep apnoea, in which breathing is disturbed during sleep.
“A disturbance of the circadian system may indeed be a core mechanism in ADHD but beyond these considerations, sleep abnormalities are a huge problem for many patients, heavily impacting on their social life. More research is very relevant to improve patients’ lives.” The crucial point is that a cascade of health disorders, including ADHD, appear to be triggered by disruptions to circadian rhythms, offering some routes to counter these conditions by attempting to restore a patient’s body clock.
“Once we can do that, we may be able to treat some ADHD by non-pharmacological methods, such as changing light or sleep patterns. We may also be able to prevent the negative impact of chronic sleep loss on health in general.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “A Nobel Doesn’t Make You an Expert: Lessons in Science and Spin”

Climate change deniers routinely put this canard forward in their arguments against action on global warming, describing climate research generally as a closed shop whose members somehow profit from a flow of research funds from government agencies that have drunk their particular brand of Kool-Aid.
Anyway, conflict of interest is just one of many factors to weigh when you are considering opinions, supposedly expert, on one issue or another.
One of the first things to consider is, who is making the claim? Are they people we should take seriously? In other words, are they experts? If you don’t at least try to answer this question, you may waste time or even delude yourself.
Who is an expert? Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York, puts the question this way: “How is the average intelligent person supposed to be able to distinguish between science and pseudoscience without becoming an expert in both?”.
Even researchers struggle for ways to define leadership in their fields.
The first of these metrics is the number of times a researcher or research paper is cited by other researchers.
Are the expert’s credentials relevant? Often people with legitimate credentials in one field begin opining about matters in other fields, in which their expertise may not be particularly helpful.
Cornelia Dean is a science writer, former science editor for The New York Times, and a lecturer at Brown University.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Even more evidence that we’re eating all wrong”

Two new studies in The Lancet on nutrition and cardiovascular health-examining which diets made people most prone to develop or even die from major heart-related diseases-are shedding some light on the situation.
Their conclusions? While we’ve long been told we should lay off the fat, the new studies support the growing school of thought that too many carbohydrates pose the real threat.
“The American Heart Association recommends that you keep your total fat consumption to less than 30 percent of total calories, and to keep your saturated fat to less than 10 percent of calories,” says Dr. Sonia Anand, the director of the population genomics program at Canada’s McMaster University and an author on the studies.
Some of the new study’s participants had diets that were 60 to 70 percent carbs, while also being very low in fat.
Having access to data on that very high level of carbohydrate consumption proved valuable: the PURE researchers found those super-consumers of carbs were 28 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease during the course of the study.
Several meta-analyses of those papers-studies that examine the results of multiple studies to determine how strong their conclusions are-didn’t actually find an association between overall fat consumption and heart disease.
The PURE study adds persuasive evidence to the debate.
The best controlled research on the subject is still the PREDIMED study, which showed that the Mediterranean diet could reduce cardiovascular events by 25 percent.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Intelligence and the DNA Revolution”

These studies search for differences in people’s genetic makeup-their “Genotypes”-that correlate with differences in their observable traits-their “Phenotypes.” In a GWAS recently published in Nature Genetics, a team of scientists from around the world analyzed the DNA sequences of 78,308 people for correlations with general intelligence, as measured by IQ tests.
Together, the SNPs accounted for about 5% of the differences across people in intelligence-a nearly two-fold increase over the last GWAS on intelligence.
Examining larger patterns of SNPs, the researchers discovered an additional 30 genes related to intelligence.
As the cognitive neuroscientist Richard Haier discusses in his excellent new book The Neuroscience of Intelligence, other intelligence research is combining molecular genetic analyses and neuroimaging.
In one study, using a sample of 1,583 adolescents, researchers discovered a SNP implicated in synaptic plasticity that was significantly related to both intelligence test scores and to cortical thickness, as measured by magnetic resonance imaging.
In animal research, other researchers are using chemogenetic techniques to turn “On” and “Off” neurons that may be important for intelligence.
Of course, intelligence is not solely the product of DNA-and no scientist studying intelligence thinks otherwise.
The big picture to emerge from research on the neurobiological underpinnings of intelligence and other psychological traits is that the nature vs. nurture debate is, once and for all, over.

The orginal article.