Posts tagged ‘Nature’
Jonah Lehrer has another fantastic post on “Nature and compassion“:
Even a glimpse of greenery can make us behave in kinder, gentler ways.
[A recent] study consisted of several experiments with 370 different subjects. In each experiment, people were exposed to either natural settings (pristine lakes, wooded forests, remote deserts) or man-made environments (cityscapes, skyscrapers and highways). They were then tested for a variety of “prosocial” behaviors, such as compassion and generosity. For instance, two of the experiments used a simple trust task, in which a person is given a $5 prize and told that they could share their prize with an anonymous stranger, who would then be given an additional $5. (There was no guarantee that the second person would return any of the winnings.)
The scientists found that subjects exposed to nature were significantly more likely to open their wallets. Furthermore, increased exposure to nature led to an increased willingness to share with strangers.
Jonah’s explanations and interpretations of this study are here.
A couple quick and interesting reads…
- Dude looks like a lady. “We’re familiar with drug testing for athletes, but officials at the Beijing Olympics will be taking things one stage further and examining competitors whose sex is in doubt. And it is far from being a new problem, as Emine Saner discovers.”
- The WSJ asks if Obama is too fit to be president. “Facing an overweight electorate, Barack Obama might find low body fat a drawback.” No longer are we electing a president based on who we want to have a beer with, but maybe based on who’s beer belly looks the most like ours. Wow.
- Better than Wikipedia. The BBC’s Religion & Ethics website devotes a microsite to discussion about ethics and sport, including the pros and cons for legislating doping.
- In the most recent edition of Nature, Andy Miah offers a review of the book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, a memoir written by Haruki Murakami and translated by Philip Gabriel. You can read Miah’s review, “Inside the Mind of a Marathon Runner,” by clicking here.
- And if the summer weather is not enough an incentive to get out and play, a recent survey of 9 to 11 year-old children conducted by BBC Wildlife Magazine reveals that just half of these youngsters were able to recognize a daddy long-legs or oak-tree. The Independent concludes that “Children have lost touch with the natural world.”
The study also found that playing in the countryside was children’s least popular way of spending their spare time, and that they would rather see friends or play on their computer than go for a walk or play outdoors.
Dr Martin Maudsley, play development officer for Playwork Partnerships, at the University of Gloucestershire, said that adults had become too protective of wild places: “Environmental sensitivities should not be prioritised over children.”
He said: “Play is the primary mechanism through which children engage and connect with the world, and natural environments are particularly attractive, inspiring and satisfying for kids. Something magical occurs when children and wild spaces mix.”
Time for magic! Turn off the computer, get outside, and play! See you in September.
J. R. Atwood
From a recent survey published by the journal Nature:
Twenty percent of scientists admit to using performance-enhancing prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. The overwhelming majority of these med-taking brainiacs said they indulged in order to “improve concentration,” and 60 percent said they did so on a daily or weekly basis.
It’s a funny story, kind of. And a sad story, definitely. It’s certainly a concerning story that illustrates a tragic symptom — and cause — of our me-first-gotta-get-ahead-now culture.
The survey reveals that of the 1,400+ scientists who participated in the survey (most of whom live in the United States), “more than a third [!] said that they would feel pressure to give their children such drugs if they knew other kids at school were also taking them.”
Almost 70 percent “said they would be willing to risk mild side effects in order to ‘boost your brain power’ by taking cognitive-enhancing drugs.”
As the boundary between treating illness and enhancing wellbeing continues to blur, taking performance-boosting products continues to gain in cultural acceptance.
“Like the rise in cosmetic surgery, use of cognitive enhancers is likely to increase as bioethical and psychological concerns are overcome,” opined Nature in a commentary.
In the survey, 80 percent of all the scientists — even those who did not use these drugs — defended the right of “healthy humans” to take them as work boosters, and more than half said their use should not be restricted, even for university entrance exams.
More than 57 percent of the respondents were 35 years old or younger.
Was it utterly naive of me to expect that professional academics and researchers would think differently, and act differently, than professional athletes when presented with the opportunity to cut-corners by engaging in substance abuse?