Feb 26, 2009 | 2
We really do judge a book by its cover—and, it seems, the competence of politicians by their faces. What's more, adults and kids see the same competence—or, as the case may be, ineptitude—in a person's visage, which helps explain why children can accurately predict presidential elections, according to new research published today in Science.
Swiss adults unfamiliar with French politics were shown 57 pairs of photos of opponents from an old French parliamentary election and asked to pick which ones looked most competent. In a separate experiment, Swiss kids ages 5 to 13 played a computer game that enacted Odysseus' trip from Troy to Ithaca. Then, using the same pairs of photos, researchers asked the kids which candidate they'd choose to captain their ship. In both experiments, the adults and children tended to pick the winners of the election.
Nov 4, 2008 | 13
Are you more likely to get a joke if you lean politically left or right? That's the question New York Times columnist John Tierney asks today, extending a line of inquiry popular this campaign season: the personality characteristics of ideologues.
Tierney cites a study by MIT behavioral scientist Dan Ariely, who ran 22 jokes by 285 Bostonians and discovered that, lo and behold, conservatives are better humored — at least about the funnies.
Those findings may come as a surprise in light of other research suggesting that conservatives are more close-minded, intolerant and allegedly scare more easily than liberals (but do keep neater quarters). Using a scale from 1 to 9, in which 1 indicated "not at all funny" and 9 was "hilarious," conservatives gave an average rating of 5 and liberals gave an average rating of 4.32 to three religious jokes Ariely told them, Tierney writes. Conservatives also liked the golf jokes better, as well as three "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey (who doesn't think that guy's a hoot?).
Oct 27, 2008
Many of us once dreamed of becoming astronauts. But faced with the prospect of attaining an advanced aeronautics degree, enduring g-force training, and, um, drinking recycled urine, most of us opted for more mundane careers.
There is one activity, however, that Earthbound Americans can do just like the space jockeys: vote. NASA astronauts E. Michael Fincke and Gregory Chamitoff broadcast a video message today from the International Space Station (ISS) encouraging all U.S. citizens to vote in the November 4 election and vowing to do the same from the ISS, more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) above the nearest polling place.
“We’re exercising our Constitutional right and privilege in casting our ballot this Election Day,” Fincke said. “Voting is the most important statement Americans can make.” Fincke and Chamitoff will benefit from a Texas measure signed into law in 1997 by then Gov. George W. Bush that permits voters registered in the state to cast ballots from space.
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