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A Slender Loris (Loris tardigradus) perches on a stick held by Sharath Babu of People For Animals (PFA) at a shelter for animals on the outskirts of Bangalore, India, Wednesday, June 14, 2006. (GAUTAM SINGH/AP)
A Slender Loris (Loris tardigradus) perches on a stick held by Sharath Babu of People For Animals (PFA) at a shelter for animals on the outskirts of Bangalore, India, Wednesday, June 14, 2006. (GAUTAM SINGH/AP)

Social studies

Excuse me, but is that a primate in your pants? Add to ...

A different kind of carry-on

“Three men have been arrested in Delhi for trying to board a flight with small primates hidden in their underwear,” reports BBC News. “Two of the men were found with slender lorises concealed in pouches in their briefs, a customs official at Indira Gandhi International Airport [said]. The men were transit passengers en route to Dubai from Bangkok. The animals were uncovered when security guards noticed a bulge in their underwear during a frisk.” Lorises, which are nocturnal and carnivorous, are native to parts of South Asia and Southeast Asia. The primates have become a popular exotic pet in recent years. Conservationists say poachers pull out their teeth – as the primates have a toxic bite – with pliers, making it impossible for them to return to the wild.

Monkey see, monkey shrug

“Punishing third-party theft may be a uniquely human trait,” says the New Scientist. “Although chimps punish those who steal food from them, they ignore thieves stealing from others, even when the victim is a relative.”

You knew this already?

“Every family has one: at the climax of a gripping murder mystery the same know-it-all will declare smugly, ‘I knew the culprit all along,’” writes Nick Collins for The Daily Telegraph. “Now it is the braggarts’ turn to be found out. Scientists claim to have established that, far from being super-sleuths, such people are usually deluded. Researchers found that they are suffering from ‘hindsight bias,’ when a person genuinely believes that they know something when in fact they are hearing or seeing it for the first time. Although the effects might seem relatively harmless, researchers claimed it could prevent people learning why something has happened or from taking advice.”

New conspiracy uncovered

“A study suggesting climate change deniers also tend to hold general beliefs in conspiracy theories has sparked accusations of a conspiracy on climate change-denial blogs,” writes Stephanie Pappas for LiveScience. “The research, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science, surveyed more than 1,000 readers of science blogs regarding their beliefs regarding global warming. The results revealed that people who tend to believe in a wide array of conspiracy theories are more likely to reject the scientific consensus that the Earth is heating up. … Now climate-skeptic bloggers are striking back with a new conspiracy theory: that the researchers deliberately failed to contact ‘real skeptics’ for the study and then lied about it.” Believing that climate change isn’t happening or that it’s not human-caused, write University of Western Australia psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky , requires a belief that thousands of climate scientists are lying outright.

How we react to chaos

“We live in a volatile, unpredictable world, but how you respond to that may depend on whether you feel like you can solve that problem with money,” writes Kevin Lewis in The Boston Globe. “In a series of experiments in which people were prompted to think about chaos, those who reported higher socio-economic status responded by becoming more materialistic, while people of lower socio-economic status responded by becoming more communitarian.” The study appears in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Thought du jour

You don’t think thoughts any more than you hear hearing or smell smelling.”

Alan Watts, British philosopher and writer (1915-73)

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