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June 18, 2008

Devious Narcissistic Psycopaths get all the girls

Bad guys really do get the most girls - sex - 18 June 2008 - New Scientist

NICE guys knew it, now two studies have confirmed it: bad boys get the most girls. The finding may help explain why a nasty suite of antisocial personality traits known as the "dark triad" persists in the human population, despite their potentially grave cultural costs.

The traits are the self-obsession of narcissism; the impulsive, thrill-seeking and callous behaviour of psychopaths; and the deceitful and exploitative nature of Machiavellianism. At their extreme, these traits would be highly detrimental for life in traditional human societies. People with these personalities risk being shunned by others and shut out of relationships, leaving them without a mate, hungry and vulnerable to predators.

But being just slightly evil could have an upside: a prolific sex life, says Peter Jonason at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. "We have some evidence that the three traits are really the same thing and may represent a successful evolutionary strategy."

Jonason and his colleagues subjected 200 college students to personality tests designed to rank them for each of the dark triad traits. They also asked about their attitudes to sexual relationships and about their sex lives, including how many partners they'd had and whether they were seeking brief affairs.

June 17, 2008

Bumper Stickers linked to road rage

Bumper stickers reveal link to road rage : Nature News

Bumper stickers such as “Make Love, Not War” and “More Trees, Less Bush” speak volumes about a vehicle's driver — but maybe not in the way they might hope. People who customize their cars with stickers and other adornments are more prone to road rage than other people, according to researchers in Colorado.

The number of road rage incidents — bouts of aggressive driving such as speeding or tailgating, or confrontations with other motorists — has risen dramatically in recent years. In 1995 the American Automobile Association found 12,000 injuries and 200 deaths were linked to US road rage. In 2008, the numbers are estimated to exceed 25,000 injuries and 370 deaths, and many more road rage incidents, especially those that do not lead to injury, go unrecorded.

Solstice Moon Illusion

science.nasa.gov | Solstice Moon Illusion
On Wednesday night, June 18th, step outside at sunset and look around. You'll see a giant form rising in the east. At first glance it looks like the full Moon. It has craters and seas and the face of a man, but this "moon" is strangely inflated. It's huge! You've just experienced the Moon Illusion.
Thanks, ** Aunt Liz **!

June 16, 2008

Scientists find that seals know their astronomy

Navigating seals perform a star turn - life - 11 June 2008 - New Scientist

SEALS in the open ocean may be able to navigate by the stars.

Whales, sea lions and seals exhibit a behaviour called spyhopping, where they stick their heads out of the water, apparently surveying their surroundings. This led some biologists to suspect that these mammals might use the stars for navigation.

Bjorn Mauck of the University of Southern Denmark in Odense and colleagues used a specially built pool planetarium to test two harbour seals on their ability to recognise and orient themselves by the stars. The 5-metre round pool was covered by a dome onto which was projected a simulation of the northern sky, with about 6000 stars.

Science finds that gay brains are different

Gay brains structured like those of the opposite sex - sex - 16 June 2008 - New Scientist

Brain scans have provided the most compelling evidence yet that being gay or straight is a biologically fixed trait.

The scans reveal that in gay people, key structures of the brain governing emotion, mood, anxiety and aggressiveness resemble those in straight people of the opposite sex.

The differences are likely to have been forged in the womb or in early infancy, says Ivanka Savic, who conducted the study at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

"This is the most robust measure so far of cerebral differences between homosexual and heterosexual subjects," she says.

Previous studies have also shown differences in brain architecture and activity between gay and straight people, but most relied on people's responses to sexuality driven cues that could have been learned, such as rating the attractiveness of male or female faces.