Shocking but true: students prefer jolt of pain than being made to sit and think | Science | The Guardian

Shocking but true: students prefer jolt of pain than being made to sit and think | Science | The Guardian.

“It was not so much how hard people found the challenge, but how far they would go to avoid it that left researchers gobsmacked. The task? To sit in a chair and do nothing but think.


So unbearable did some find it that they took up the safe but alarming opportunity to give themselves mild electric shocks in an attempt to break the tedium.


Two-thirds of men pressed a button to deliver a painful jolt during a 15-minute spell of solitude. One man – an outlier – found thinking so disagreeable he opted for a shock 190 times.”



A good example for discussion in critical thinking classes.

明報網站 2008年10月14日








UK : computer-generated images of child sex abuse to be illegal

A good discussion topic for ethics.


Drawings and computer-generated images of child sex abuse would be made illegal under proposals announced by Justice Minister Maria Eagle.

Owners of such images would face up to three years in prison under the plans.

The Obscene Publications Act makes it illegal to sell or distribute photos of child abuse but it is legal to own drawings and computer-generated images.

Ms Eagle said the proposed move would “help close a loophole that we believe paedophiles are using”.

The plans are part of the government’s response to a public consultation exercise carried out last year.

The government has acknowledged that paedophiles may be circumventing the law by using computer technology to manipulate real photographs or videos of abuse into drawings or cartoons.

Buffet on IQ and independent thinking

In response to a question on how to control emotions in investment:

“… You have to have the right temperament. I tell the students who come visit me that if you have more than 120 or 130 I.Q. points, you can afford to give the rest away. You don’t need extraordinary intelligence to succeed as an investor. You need a philosophy and the ability to think independently…It doesn’t make any difference what other people think of a stock. What matters is whether you know enough to evaluate the business,” he opined.

“You should be able to write down on a yellow sheet of paper, ‘I’m buying General Motors at $22, and GM has [566] million shares for a total market value of $13 billion, and GM is worth a lot more than $13 billion because _______________.” And if you can’t finish that sentence, then you don’t buy the stock. [Note: Buffett mentioned GM for illustrative purposes only.] All this requires some temperamental detachment from other people’s behavior. Both Charlie and I have a natural instinct in that direction. We value our opinions more than others’ — perhaps to an extreme!”

Texting Improves Parent-Teen Relationships?

A good exercise for discussion regarding media reports of statistics:
– how significant is the effect being reported?
– what is the sample size?
– what might be the margin of error?
By Nick Mokey
Staff Writer, Digital Trends News

A survey commissioned by Samsung suggests that over half of American teens and their parents would say that text messaging has improved their relationship.

It’s rare that technology actually gets credit for improving parent-teen relations rather than purported serving as another generational divide, but Samsung claims text messaging has actually moved the two groups closer together. According to a survey commissioned by the Japanese mobile giant, teens report better relationships with their parents since picking up texting.

The results show that 53 percent of teens who text would credit texting with improved parental relations, while on the other side of the relationship, 51 percent of parents who text would make the same statement about their kids, and say that they communicate more often with them than before. If it seems that the results are skewed because only a small percentage of parents actually text with their kids, think again: the survey also found that 68 percent of parents text with their kids.

Besides the surprising results suggesting improved parent-teen relations, the survey also turned up surprising data about the sheer volume of communication kids are carrying out via texting. On average, it found that teens send 455 text messages per month and receive 467, an average of 15 sent and 16 received daily. For their part, parents send 84 and receive 96.

The survey, carried out by Kelton Research, included 300 American kids between 13 and 19, and 500 American parents with kids between 13 and 19.

More Brain Research Suggests ‘Use It Or Lose It’

More Brain Research Suggests ‘Use It Or Lose It’

ScienceDaily (Feb. 12, 2008) — Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) scientists have found another important clue to why nerve cells die in neurodegenerative diseases, based on studies of the developing brain.

Neuroscientists at The University of Queensland have just published findings, which add more weight to the “use it or lose it” model for brain function.

QBI’s Dr Elizabeth Coulson said a baby’s brain generates roughly double the number of nerve cells it needs to function; with those cells that receive both chemical and electrical stimuli surviving, and the remaining cells dying.

Men with A1 gene mutation bad at learning from mistakes


Maybe time to make use of ?

“Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany have found a genetic factor that affects our ability to learn from our errors. The scientists demonstrated that men carrying the A1 mutation, which reduces the amount of dopamine D2 receptors in the brain, are less successful at learning to avoid mistakes than men who do not carry this genetic mutation. This finding has the potential to improve our understanding of the causes of addictive and compulsive behaviors. “

US court says child born in vitro after father’s death cannot inherit

Definition in law


WASHINGTON (AFP) — A child born in a test tube and implanted in his mother’s womb after his father’s death cannot necessarily be considered as an heir to his father’s property, an Arkansas court has ruled.

The state supreme court of Arkansas last week addressed a complaint from Amy Finley, who had applied for child insurance benefits based on her late husband’s earnings but was denied by state authorities.

A central question before the court of Arkansas was whether the date of conception for her child should be considered when the embryo was created or when the embryo was implanted in the mother’s womb.

Married in 1990 but unable to have children, Amy and Wade Finley opted for in vitro fertilization, which produced several embryos in June 2001. Two embryos were implanted in Amy Finley’s womb and she later had a miscarriage.

The following month, Wade Finley died. In June 2002, Amy Finley had two frozen embryos from her late husband thawed and implanted. She gave birth nine months later.

But when she applied for child insurance benefits, Arkansas social service officials denied her request, saying the child was “conceived” after the father had died.

The Arkansas social security administration argued that “conception” was defined as the onset of pregnancy or the implantation of an embryo in the womb.

Amy Finley, however, maintained that her child was “‘conceived’ at the time her egg was fertilized by the father’s sperm,” court papers said.

The court refused Finley’s complaint, saying there was no explicit basis in state law to support her argument.

The justices said the law on inheritance did not address in vitro fertilization and was adopted before the procedure was developed.

But the court declined to offer a legal definition of conception, saying that was “not our role.”

“Were we to define the term ‘conceive,’ we would be making a determination that would implicate many public policy concerns, including, but certainly not limited to, the finality of estates,” the court said in its decision. Instead, it urged the state legislature to address the question.