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In this Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, file photo provided by Harpo Studios Inc., Lance Armstrong listens as he is interviewed by talk show host Oprah Winfrey during taping for the show "Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive" in Austin, Texas. Armstrong confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France cycling during the interview that aired Thursday, Jan. 17, reversing more than a decade of denial. (George Burns/AP)
In this Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, file photo provided by Harpo Studios Inc., Lance Armstrong listens as he is interviewed by talk show host Oprah Winfrey during taping for the show "Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive" in Austin, Texas. Armstrong confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France cycling during the interview that aired Thursday, Jan. 17, reversing more than a decade of denial. (George Burns/AP)

Social studies

Let’s face it: We’re pretty much all liars Add to ...

Are we all liars?

“Though we profess to hate it, lying is common, useful and pretty much universal,” writes Melissa Healy of the Los Angeles Times. “It is one of the most durable threads in our social fabric and an important bulwark of our self-esteem. We start lying by the age of four and we do it at least several times a day, researchers have found. And we get better with practice. In short, whatever you think about Lance Armstrong’s admission [last] week that he took performance-enhancing drugs to fuel his illustrious cycling career, the lies he told may be no more persistent or outsized than yours, according to psychologists and others who study deception. They were just more public. And the stakes were bigger.”

The one-child handicap

“China is widely perceived to be America’s No. 1 rival in the 21st century,” says The Boston Globe. “But China may have inadvertently handicapped its long-term success thanks to its one-child policy, which was introduced back in 1979. A new study by Australian economists finds that Chinese adults who were born right after the policy are now ‘significantly less trusting, less trustworthy, more risk-averse, less competitive, more pessimistic and less conscientious’ than those born right before the policy – ostensibly due to the experience of growing up without siblings. Moreover, these adults ‘are significantly less likely to report that their parents encouraged them to be unselfish and to trust in others [or] to be imaginative,’ or to have chosen a risky profession.”

More power, less pain

“A new study finds that people in authority positions are quicker to recover from rejection,” says Psych Central. “The study from researchers at the University of California-Berkeley also found that powerful people – whether in the home or in the workplace – will seek out social bonding opportunities even if they’ve been rebuffed by others. ‘Powerful people appear to be better at dealing with the slings and arrows of social life – they’re more buffered from the negative feelings that rejection typically elicits,’ said Maya Kuehn, a doctoral student in psychology at UC Berkeley and lead author of the study.”

Dancing at the library

In Scotland’s Midlothian area, district council is staging a free pole-dancing class in a library “in an attempt to persuade more people to borrow books,” reports The Guardian. “Midlothian’s council believes it is the first local authority in Scotland to hold such an event. It will run the session at Mayfield library in Dalkeith on Feb. 2, which is Love Your Library Day. Other activities in the council’s libraries include ‘booky table tennis’ in which players use books instead of bats. … Other libraries in the Midlothian area are offering Scottish country dancing, head massages and an Xbox challenge for both children and their parents.”

Chilling out, at last

“You are a member in good standing of an elite group dedicated to the proposition that the pursuit of happiness is for suckers,” writes Eric Nagourney in The New York Times. “‘Baby Boomers: The Gloomiest Generation,’ is how the Pew Research Center put it a few years ago after conducting a survey. But some of you have a secret. You are getting happier as you get older. Or if not happier, at least more content. ‘Why don’t things bother me any more?’ one colleague asked recently. As it happens, there is a lot of that going around, psychologists who work with older people say. ‘As most people age, they become much more accepting of themselves,’ said Jerrold Lee Shapiro, an author and professor of psychology at Santa Clara University. They also become more empathetic to others, he said.”

Thought du jour

Under a democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.

H.L. Mencken, American journalist (1880-1956)

 

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