April 12th, 2012
UCLA anthropologists asked hundreds of Americans to guess the size and muscularity of four men based solely on photographs of their hands holding a range of easily recognizable objects, including handguns.
The research, which publishes today in the scholarly journal PLoS ONE, confirms what scrawny thugs have long known: Brandishing a weapon makes a man appear bigger and stronger than he would otherwise.
"There's nothing about the knowledge that gun powder makes lead bullets fly through the air at damage-causing speeds that should make you think that a gun-bearer is bigger or stronger, yet you do," said Daniel Fessler, the lead author of the study and an associate professor of anthropology at UCLA. "Danger really does loom large — in our minds."
Researchers say the findings suggest an unconscious mental mechanism that gauges a potential adversary and then translates the magnitude of that threat into the same dimensions used by animals to size up their adversaries: size and strength.
"We've isolated a capacity to assess threats in a simple way," said Colin Holbrook, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar in anthropology and co-author of the study. "Though this capacity is very efficient, it can misguide us."
The study is part of larger project funded by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research to understand how people make decisions in situations where violent conflict is a possibility. The findings are expected to have ramifications for law enforcement, prison guards and the military.
"We're exploring how people think about the relative likelihood that they will win a conflict, and then how those thoughts affect their decisions about whether to enter into conflict," said Fessler, whose research focuses on the biological and cultural bases of human behavior. He is the director of UCLA's Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture, an interdisciplinary group of researchers who explore how various forms of evolution shape behavior.
For the study, the UCLA researchers recruited participants in multiple rounds using classified advertisements on the websites Craigslist and MechanicalTurk. In one round, 628 individuals were asked to look at four pictures of different hands, each holding a single object: a caulking gun, electric drill, large saw or handgun.
"Tools were used as control objects to rule out the possibility that a simple link with traditionally masculine objects would explain intuitions that the weapon-holders were larger and stronger," Fessler explained.
The individuals were then asked to estimate the height of each hand model in feet and inches based solely on the photographs of their hands. Participants also were shown six images of progressively taller men and six images of progressively more muscular men and asked to estimate which image came closest to the probable size and strength of the hand model.
Study participants consistently judged pistol-packers to be taller and stronger than the men holding the other objects, even though the experiment's four hand models were recruited on the basis of their equivalent hand size and similar hand appearance (white and without identifying marks such as tattoos or scars).
To rule out the possibility that a feature of any one hand might influence the estimates, researchers had taken separate pictures of each hand holding each object — some participants saw the gun held by one hand model, others saw the same gun held by another model, and so on; they did the same thing for each of the objects. The researchers also shuffled the order in which the photos were presented.
On average, participants judged pistol packers to be 17 percent taller and stronger than those judged to be the smallest and weakest men — the ones holding caulking guns. Hand models holding the saw and drill followed gun-wielders in size and strength.
"The function of the system is to provide an easy way for people to assess the likelihood that they would win or lose in a conflict," said Jeffrey K. Snyder, a UCLA graduate student in anthropology and a study co-author.
Concerned that their findings might be influenced by popular culture, which often depicts gun-slingers as big and strong men, the team conducted two more studies using objects that did not seem to have a macho image: a kitchen knife, a paint brush and a large, brightly colored toy squirt gun. In the initial round, a new group of 100 subjects was asked to evaluate the danger posed by each of the objects (which were presented alone, without hands holding them). They then were asked to pick the type of person most associated with the object: a child, a woman or a man.
Not surprisingly, individuals rated the knife most dangerous, followed by the paint brush and squirt gun. But where the most lethal object in the earlier studies — the handgun — would likely have been associated with men, participants in this study most often associated the most lethal object — the kitchen knife — with women. The paint brush was most often associated with men, and the squirt gun with children.
In the final round of tests, a new group of 541 individuals was shown male hands holding the knife, paint brush and squirt gun and was then asked to estimate the height and muscularity of the hand models. Once again, men holding the most lethal object — in this case, the kitchen knife — were judged to be the biggest and strongest, followed by those holding the paint brush and the squirt gun.
"It's not Dirty Harry's or Rambo's handgun — it's just a kitchen knife, but it's still deadly," Holbrook said. "And our study subjects responded accordingly, estimating its holder to be bigger and stronger than the rest."
More information: Fessler DMT, Holbrook C, Snyder JK (2012) Weapons Make the Man (Larger): Formidability Is Represented as Size and Strength in Humans. PLoS ONE 7(4): e32751. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032751
Provided by University of California - Los Angeles
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April 11th, 2012
The Washington Post / By
A bill that allows Tennessee public school teachers to teach alternatives to mainstream scientific theories such as evolution will become law this month after the governor refused to sign or veto the measure, The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss reports.
Supporters of the law say its goal is to encourage healthy skepticism among students. “Critical thinking, analysis fosters good science,” Robin Zimmer, a biotechnology consultant and affiliate of a creationist organization, wrote in the Nashville Tennessean in March.
But critics say the true goal of what they call “the monkey bill” is made clear by the list of subjects that could be challenged by teachers during class, including global warming and evolution. The bill is a “permission slip” for schools “to bring creationism, climate-change denial and other non-science into science classrooms,” Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, told Nature magazine.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Association of Biology Teachers has also condemned the bill, along with more than 4,000 Tennessee residents who submitted a petition to ask the Republican governor, William Haslam, to veto the bill.
The name “monkey bill” refers to the landmark Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, in which Dayton, Tenn., high school science teacher John Scopes was prosecuted by the state for violating a state law against teaching evolution.
The bill passed in both houses of the Republican-controlled state legislature. Under the Tennessee State Constitution, a bill automatically becomes law if the governor fails to sign it within 10 days.
“I do not believe that this legislation changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools or the curriculum that is used by our teachers,” Haslam said in a written statement to Nature magazine.
Attempts by states to teach creationism and other alternatives to mainstream scientific theories have mostly been stymied in the past by the federal prohibition against promoting religion in public schools.
But while the overwhelming majority of scientists accept the theory of evolution as sound, some Americans continue to believe that both evolution and creationism should be taught together in public schools.
A 2010 Gallup poll found that four out of 10 Americans believe God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago.
At the “Miss USA” pageant last year, a number of contestants said that it was “silly” or “ignorant” not to learn both creationism and evolution in school. Miss Kentucky and Miss Alabama said they did not believe in the theory of evolution.
The new Tennessee law comes after a similar measure was enacted in Louisiana in 2008.
“Just as the Tennessee bill was inspired by a similar law in Louisiana,” Scott told Nature magazine, “the Tennessee bill would surely inspire other states to go down this same dangerous path.”
April 11th, 2012
The Wall Street Journal / By BILL TOMSON
The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday laid out new rules to cut the use of antibiotics in livestock to keep the drugs from losing effectiveness against bacteria in humans.
The agency, which had said it wanted to restrict such drugs, on Wednesday set a three-year timetable for phasing out the use of antibiotics to spur growth in food-producing animals. Its plan relies largely on letting the livestock and drug industries voluntarily cut their use.
"We know that the widespread use of antibiotics can contribute to antimicrobial resistance, which has public-health consequences," said Michael Taylor, the agency's deputy commissioner for foods.
The FDA's plan calls for drug makers to change their labeling by removing growth promotion as a valid use for antibiotics that are primarily given to livestock through feed. It also calls for livestock producers to use antibiotics only when prescribed by a veterinarian to ensure the drugs are being used to target specific diseases.
But the agency stopped short of asking livestock producers to end the practice of administering antibiotics to animals as a preventative measure to keep them from getting sick.
Using antibiotics to boost meat production has become commonplace, but it is also leading to the overexposure of bacteria to drugs. This boosts the risk that people will eat meet contaminated with bacteria that have become resistant to medically important drugs such as penicillin and tylosin.
Antibiotics help animals grow faster because they make them digest feed more efficiently.
The latest FDA estimate showed farm animals consumed 29.1 million pounds of antibiotics in 2010, up from 28.7 million pounds a year earlier.
Consumer groups were quick to say the FDA's reduction plan should be mandatory. "This is not an issue where trust should be the measure. This is an issue where the measure is whether or not the FDA has fulfilled its authority of protecting public health," said Richard Wood, chairman of the Keep Antibiotics Working coalition.
Mr. Taylor said the voluntary route would be easier than creating complex regulations to mandate the change. He said the FDA "will consider further action" if the livestock and drug industries don't comply.
National Pork Producers Council President R.C. Hunt warned the new plan "could eliminate antibiotics uses that are extremely important to the health of animals." He added that the requirement for veterinarians could be problematic, particularly for smaller producers and those in remote areas who may not have regular access to veterinary services.
Last month, a federal judge ordered the FDA to restart a process that could limit the use of two types of antibiotics—penicillin and tetracyclines—in cattle, pigs and poultry. Last week, the FDA enacted a partial ban on feeding cephalosporin antibiotics to livestock.
April 11th, 2012
When you listen carefully to Hilary Rosen, a lead advisor for the Democrats, she states that Ann Romney "Hasn't worked a day in her life" and this pretty much emulates the way that both Obama and the Democrats feel about women who work at home raising families, in general, unless, of course, they are on the government dole, one supposes.
However, what Rosen forgets is simply that Ms. Romney is the mother of (5) read that "Five" children! Does Rosen have any idea how much energy it takes to raise one, much less five children? Nor does Rosen speak to the disease that Ms. Romney has to deal with on a daily basis, a very tough disease, at that.
But Mrs. Romney is a Conservative Lady, therefore making any sort of emotionally typical connection that Liberals routinely make for political advantage, non-sequitor, in such cases.
Rosen also speaks to a "disconnect" between Romney and the American people, and yet totally forgets the actual difficulties involved in raising family, as if t'is no work at all, for a stay at home Mom.
However, this ladies and gentlemen, is the party we are up against, so miraculously clueless and devoid of common sense, that they will trash stay at home momma's, who are making a considerable future investment within the human race itself, rather than one terribly smallish investment in an authoritarian leader who has succeeded at nothing more than mangling this nation, which apparently is Rosen's main cause.
April 11th, 2012
Above is an O'Reilly video from the Imbecilic C0-Producer Mole
Hi. My name is Joe Muto. I was the Fox Mole.
Two hours ago I was called into a meeting with Dianne Brandi, the Fox News Executive Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs and suspended indefinitely... with pay, oddly enough.
They nailed me.
In the end, it was the digital trail that gave me away. They knew that someone, using my computer login, had accessed the sources for two videos that ended up on Gawker over the past few weeks. They couldn't prove it entirely, but I was pretty much the only suspect.
I denied it, which is why they didn't fire me outright. But two nice gentlemen from security escorted me to my desk to pack up my stuff, and it was pretty obvious at that point that I would not be setting foot back into 1211 Avenue of the Americas again.
So here I am. That's me in the photo, sitting in the Gawker offices, with a portrait of a rather mischievous looking Roger Ailes behind me. He was my ultimate boss for the past 8 years.
I joined Fox News Channel in July 2004 as a production assistant. I bounced around for a few years working for some now defunct shows. (Remember "The Lineup with Kimberly Guilfoyle"? No?)
In January 2007, I joined the O'Reilly Factor as an associate producer, and there I have remained ever since. That's me in this YouTube video pitching O'Reilly a story at the 4:00 mark.
I am a weasel, a traitor, a sell-out and every bad word you can throw at me... but as of today, I am free, and I am ready to tell my story, which I wasn't able to fully do for the previous 36 hours.
Stay tuned for much, much more tomorrow.