Santa Women Failing Teenagers Viral Hunger
Trials And Errors: Why Science Is Failing Us by Jonah Lehrer (Wired): Lehrer makes the interesting case here that science - at least, in the area of medicine/pharmaceuticals - isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Scientists have worked out a bunch of stuff to do with how cholesterol works in the body, and as a result of this research, a pharmaceutical company put together a drug that was meant to reduce cholesterol levels. Except that the drug seemed to make things worse. Though, the fact that we’re discovering this and scientists are now trying different things is sort of evidence that science works (slowly), contrary to Lehrer - it’s just that scientists have to be more careful with their hypothesising.
The Evolution Of Santa Claus by Miss Cellania (Neatorama): Everything you ever wanted to know about why a person dressed up as a Turkish bishop from the 4th century is now sitting on a throne in every shopping mall in Australia with children on his lap.
Why Do Women Menstruate? by PZ Myers (Pharyngula): Most mammals don’t menstruate monthly; female cows, for example, just build up a womb lining when they get pregnant, and don’t bother to do it every month. So why do humans (and our primate relatives) do it? Turns out it might have something to do with the pregnant mother defending herself from chemicals emitted by the foetus - if the lining is already there, less of the chemicals emitted by the foetus get through (for example, human foetuses try to muck around with the mother’s insulin response, to get more sugar for themselves). So there you go.
Social Media In The 16th Century: How Luther Went Viral (The Economist): The modern social media environment, with people distributing links to articles they thought were good via Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and so forth (not that you’d do that regularly or anything…) is strangely similar to the situation in 16th century Germany, where Martin Luther distributed his pamphlets denouncing the Vatican as the Whore of Babylon. [via]
Did Hunger Drive The Evolution Of Homo Sapiens? by Brian Switek (Laelaps): A recent story in the news argues that we evolved to become who we are because we drove the elephants extinct and thus had to find other food sources - which needed improved communication and brainpower. But Switek looks at the actual research and finds big holes in the story. For one, there’s no proof that the humans living in the Levant 200,000-400,000 years ago mostly ate elephant, and for two, the human remains they’re basing it on may be Neanderthal anyway.
Teenagers And Group Sex: A Cause For Concern? by Petra Boynton (drpetra.co.uk): Sensationalist mainstream media types like the Daily Mail have gone nuts over a new study showing that shock! horror! teenagers are engaging in group sex! Except, when Boynton here looks at the actual research, it was based on interviews done at a sexual health clinic in the UK, and the kind of teenager who needs to go to a sexual health clinic is probably not quite the average teenager. And what’s more, out of 1224 female clients at the clinic between the ages of 14-20, there were 24 who’d had a group sex experience (and some of those may have misunderstood the question). So basically, a very small proportion of teenage girls (including some legal adults) who go to a sexual health clinic are having group sex (and if it’s consensual, maybe that’s only really the business of those girls?). Which isn’t as exciting a headline as the Daily Mail want it to be.