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SOCIAL STUDIES

Do sneezes reflect our personalities? Add to ...

Your sneeze is you

“We each have our own individual sneezing style,” writes Diane Mapes of NBCNews.com. “But what, exactly, determines whether those sneezes come out dainty and demure or whether they blow down the whole dang house? ‘Sneezes are like laughter,’ says Dr. Alan Hirsch, a neurologist, psychiatrist and founder of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. ‘Some [laughs] are loud, some are soft. And it’s similar with sneezing. It will often be the same from youth onward in terms of what it sounds like.’ Hirsch says he doesn’t know of any studies that have been conducted on various sneezing styles and what they might mean, but says he does believe the way we sneeze reflects some component of the personality. … A person who’s demonstrative and outgoing, for instance, would most likely have a loud, explosive sneeze, whereas someone who’s shy might try to withhold their sneezes, resulting in more of a Minnie Mouse-type expulsion.”

Big Mother is watching

“As inventors insert the Internet into ever more things, they are making a business out of what your mother used to needle you about,” says The Wall Street Journal. “Some call it Big Mother tech – like George Orwell’s Big Brother, but with your best interests at heart. … Last year, Greek tech consultant and researcher Charalampos Doukas, who lives in Athens, bought a Fitbit One, a pedometer that measures how many steps he takes daily and how many calories he burns. He found the data wasn’t enough to keep him motivated. ‘I needed something like a punishment,’ he says. So about three months ago, Doukas wrote a program to connect his Fitbit data to an Internet-connected switch on his refrigerator that can shut it down if he doesn’t exercise.”

Music for a gentler recess

“Can music soothe the savage sixth grader?” asks Pacific Standard magazine. “Perhaps, according to a first-of-its-kind study from Israel that finds gentle melodies may help deter schoolyard bullying. ‘If the findings of this pilot study are replicated and can be generalized,’ researchers Naomi Ziv and Einat Dolev write in the journal Children and Schools, ‘they point to a very simple, inexpensive method of reducing aggressive behaviour.’ … The results were striking. ‘Occurrences of direct and indirect bullying were both significantly reduced during the three days when calming background music was played at the school,’ the researchers report. ‘Furthermore, the participants reported lower levels of arousal and anxiety during recess, and enjoyed the recess more with background music.’”

Voice versus thumbs

Drivers using smartphone speech-to-text systems rather than their thumbs when texting while they drive are no less distracted, a Texas A&M study indicates. Laws against texting while driving have led many people to use voice-based systems, but they offer no real safety advantage over manual texting, the study authors report, adding that using a voice-to-text application may give drivers a false sense of security.

A sheep that plays fetch

In Britain, a sheep rescued after it was hit by a car and raised with three puppies now acts as if it were a dog, reports The Daily Telegraph. “Thirteen-month-old Lamo is so sure he is a canine that he fetches sticks and balls, wears a collar and a leash, jumps up on his hind legs and tries to bark. Lamo does not even recognize his own kind – preferring to chase rabbits instead.” Owner Jennifer Jones of Shropshire says: “He really is wonderful, he follows us around everywhere and is always under our feet.”

Thought du jour

The stupidity of a theory has never impeded its influence.

Oswald Spengler, German historian (1880-1936)

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