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Friends not doing your brain any favours Add to ...

Have friends, think less?


“Plenty of research suggests having a strong, supportive social network has a positive impact on one’s health and well-being,” says Pacific Standard magazine. “But with an election approaching, it’s worth noting that this sort of interconnectedness apparently has a dark side. It seems to make us less-sophisticated thinkers, at least in the realm of politics and policy. That’s the conclusion of a study recently published in the journal Political Psychology. [Researchers] conclude close-knit networks of friends and acquaintances apparently create ‘social bubbles,’ which can limit ‘how one communicates with others and reasons about politics.’ The result, they add, is ‘low-quality thinking’ about matters of great importance.”


One scary teacher


“A kindergarten teacher in China is being investigated after allegedly lifting a female student by the ears and later posting the photo to Weibo, a social network that is the Chinese analogue of Twitter,” says The Huffington Post. “According to a [Post] translation of a news story from Sohu, a Chinese website, officials from the local education department in Zhejiang province investigated the incident after parents complained. When confronted, the teacher reportedly said she and the students ‘were just having fun.’ … Upon investigation, officials found that the uncertified teacher was hired because of a local shortage of certified teachers.”


Kids’ worries discounted


“A new study implies that parents, perhaps naturally so, are positively biased toward their child’s abilities and emotions,” reports Psych Central. “Psychologists at the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis, discovered parents consistently overestimate their children’s optimism and downplay their worries. The findings suggest that secondhand evaluations by parents or other adults of children’s emotional well-being need to be treated with caution.”


Cellphone mishaps


Research into unusual insurance claims by cellphone owners in Britain “has revealed the most bizarre and outlandish accidents befalling the nation’s technology,” reports The Daily Telegraph. “One farmer claims to have damaged his iPhone while calving, accidentally inserting it into the rear of a cow while attempting to use it as a [flashlight]. A woman in her early 40s from Nottingham admitted she had absentmindedly baked her Nokia 6303i into a Victoria sponge [cake] intended for her daughter’s birthday. It did not endure the heat.”


Burgeoning chimp tech


“Chimpanzee innovations may be low-tech by human standards,” says Discovery News, “but they get the job done and are gradually improving and spreading,” according to a new study. The research “presents the first documented case of successful transmission of a novel cultural behaviour – ant fishing – between wild chimpanzee communities. ‘Ant fishing in this case is using twigs, leaf midribs or grass probes to extract carpenter ants from their nests in living trees or dead wood,’” said lead author Robert O’Malley of Kenyon College in Ohio. A clever and popular female chimp named Trezia in the Mitumba chimp community of Tanzania’s Gombe National Park somehow figured out this technique. Then she was transferred to another community, Kasekela, in the park. Ant fishing is now all the rage among Kasekela females around her age. “Females tend to be the chimp versions of Bill Gates or the late Steve Jobs when it comes to innovations, however low-tech. That’s just because ‘in chimpanzees, females are the sex that will typically disperse from their natal group at sexual maturity, so any cultural transmission between communities is most likely to occur through female transfer,’” says Dr. O’Malley.


Thought du jour

“Do right, and you will be conspicuous.”

– Mark Twain, American author (1835-1910)

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