Ha, that's a good one
"Chimpanzees can share a joke just like any human," The Independent reports, "but they are also capable of sharing a laugh even when they don't find something particularly funny, scientists have discovered. A study of wild chimpanzees has found that laughter occurs not just when chimps are having fun but also when they want to promote some kind of social bonding - much like human smiles help bonding in a conversation. 'Humans clearly use laughter as an important response in a wide range of social situations, but it is particularly interesting that chimpanzees seem to also use laughter to respond in such distinct ways,' said Marina Davila-Ross of Portsmouth University."
Honest, humble people at work
"A new study has found that an honest, humble employee is likely to have a high performance rating by the employee's supervisor," Psychcentral.com reports. "Researchers from Baylor University [in Texas]determined for the first time that the honesty-humility personality trait was a unique predictor of job performance. 'Researchers already know that integrity can predict job performance and what we are saying here is that humility and honesty are also major components in that,' said Wade Rowatt, PhD, who helped lead the study. 'This study shows that those who possess the combination of honesty and humility have better job performance. In fact, we found that humility and honesty not only correspond with job performance, but it predicted job performance above and beyond any of the other five personality traits like agreeableness and conscientiousness."
Full bladder? You're wiser
"Anyone considering an expensive purchase might do well to drink a bottle of water first, scientists concluded after finding that people with full bladders make wiser decisions," The Daily Telegraph reports. "Researchers discovered the brain's self-control mechanism provides restraint in all areas at once. They found people with a full bladder were able to better control and 'hold off' making important, or expensive, decisions, leading to better judgment. Psychologists from the University of Twente in the Netherlands linked bladder control to the same part of the brain that activates feelings of desire and reward. The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, also concluded that just thinking about words related to urination triggered the same effect. Their findings contradict previous research which found people who are forced to 'restrain themselves' put more pressure on their brain and found it difficult exerting self-control."
Let your unconscious choose
"One of the greatest surprises in decision science is the discovery that some of our best decisions are made through unconscious processes," Newsweek reports. "… How can you protect yourself from having your decisions warped by excess information? Experts advise dealing with e-mails and texts in batches, rather than in real time; that should let your unconscious decision-making system kick in. Avoid the trap of thinking that a decision requiring you to assess a lot of complex information is best made methodically and consciously; you will do better, and regret less, if you let your unconscious turn it over by removing yourself from the info influx."
"A German showbiz manager has opened the world's first agency for albino and two-headed animals," Orange.co.uk reports. Tom Beser has a two-headed python called Mince and a two-headed turtle called Two-Face. He rents out animals from his collection to movie makers for films and advertisements. He said, "Of course with the two-headed animals, sometimes one head wants to go one way and the other wants to go the other. That happens with the snake and the turtle. Then the more dominant head wins. Luckily sometimes it's the left head and sometimes it's the right. Sometimes the two heads also fight about food. Two-headed animals rarely ever survive in nature, that makes them even rarer. But I'm an artists' agent so I'm used to hissy fits."
Life with seven sexes
"Finding someone to have sex with can be a trial," New Scientist says. "There are plenty of humans in the world, but the proportion who are desirable, live nearby and - crucially - are willing to have sex with you can be prohibitively small. Most of us make the quest still harder by ruling out half the population before we even start looking. At first glance it looks like the single-celled organism Tetrahymena thermophila has cracked this problem in spectacular fashion. It has not two but seven sexes, and each one can mate with any of the others, which opens up the field considerably. Unfortunately, they all look alike. What's more, the different sexes are not equally common - thanks to the peculiar way each individual's sex is determined. … An individual of a given sex can mate with individuals of any except its own, so there are 21 possible orientations."
Thought du jour
"The professions are by definition - or perhaps we should say by aspiration - autonomous, and not beholden to the mighty. Otherwise they would have no legitimacy in the public's eye: Claims to professional objectivity and neutrality cannot be made from an actual position of servility."
- Barbara Ehrenreich (1941-), U.S. author
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