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social studies

Smashed your smartphone? You’re not alone Add to ...

Texting and tossing

“On a recent evening outside a San Fernando Valley movie theatre, a young man startled passersby when he hurled his cellphone onto the sidewalk,” writes Emily Dwass of the Los Angeles Times. “As he sheepishly picked up the pieces, he apologized and said he was having a bad day. It turns out he’s not the only one to transform a smartphone into a missile. Driven by impulse, it seems, a lot of people are texting and tossing. … Repair shops see a steady flow of smashed phones. Psychologists observe patients toting damaged devices. The trend has even made its way onto a popular singer’s new album. … Typically, the trigger is a text from a boyfriend or girlfriend. Or it might be a parent. In the past, teens might have slammed a door.”

Similar but different

“We all spend the first 30 hours of our lives as a single cell,” says the New Scientist, adding:

Babies born with teeth are rare – only one in 1,000, by the highest estimates.

Some 6 per cent of people have an extra nipple. They tend to occur on the left side of the body and are more common in men.

A handful of people go through life with no fingerprints, thanks to a rare gene variant, a condition dubbed immigration delay disease.

Bonjour, tristesse

“France, once famous for its joie de vivre, is suffering from existential gloom – and the French have only themselves to blame for their malaise, according to a study to be presented in London next month,” reports The Guardian. “Research by a French academic to be delivered to the Royal Economic Society suggests that the country’s citizens are ‘taught’ to be miserable by elements of their own culture. Claudia Senik, a professor at the Paris School of Economics, argues that her country’s education system and its cultural ‘mentality’ make the French far less happy than their wealth and lifestyle suggest they should be. … A recent WIN-Gallup poll found that their expectations for the coming year ranked lower than those in Iraq or Afghanistan.”

No bingo for you

“Yelling ‘bingo’ when nobody has won can get you in trouble with the law,” reports Gannett News. “[A] Covington, Ky., man who falsely yelled ‘bingo’ last month and was cited for second-degree disorderly conduct. As part of 18-year-old Austin Whaley’s punishment, Kenton District Judge Douglas Grothaus recently ordered him not to say the word ‘bingo’ for six months. ‘Just like you can’t run into a theatre and yell ‘fire’ when it’s not on fire, you can’t run into a crowded bingo hall and yell ‘bingo’ when there isn’t one,’ said Park Hills Police Sgt. Richard Webster, the officer who cited Mr. Whaley. … Mr. Webster said the crowd of mostly elderly women did not take kindly to Whaley’s bingo call. … ‘When they realized it wasn’t a real bingo, they started hooting and hollering and yelling and cussing. People take their bingo very seriously.’”

More choices, bigger risks

The more choices people have, the riskier the decisions they make, suggests a new study reported by Psych Central. Investigators “sought to determine how people behave when they are faced with large amounts of data. The researchers set up a gambling game in which they analyzed how decision-making is affected when people are faced with a large number of potential gambles.” A bias in the way people gather information leads them to take more risks when they choose a gamble from a large set of options, a phenomenon labelled search-amplified risk. This means that people are more likely to overestimate the probabilities of some of the rarest events.

Thought du jour

Only one person in a thousand is a bore, and he is interesting because he is one person in a thousand.

Harold Nicolson, British diplomat and author (1886-1968)

 

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