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facts & arguments

In this Friday, April 26, 2013 file photo Kate the Duchess of Cambridge leaves after attending the inauguration of "Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden" near Watford, approximately 18 miles north west of central London.Matt Dunham/The Associated Press

Welcome to Talking Points, a daily roundup of digital miscellany

BETTING ON BABY

7/4

Odds given by the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power that the royal baby's first word will be "PaPa," making it the site's likeliest choice. Odds that the first words will be "Your Majesty?" 80/1. The site is also taking bets on the new royal's age when the first national British newspaper publishes a photo of him or her entering or leaving a nightclub. We can only wonder if party boy uncle Harry has any influence on that one.

RITE FEELINGS

Does blowing out candles on a birthday cake make it taste even better? Performing even short, small rituals before eating can change our perceptions of food, according to a new study published in the journal Psychological Science.

In one experiment, a group of people were asked to eat a chocolate bar after breaking it in half, unwrapping one half and eating it, then unwrapping the second half and eating it. Another group was told to relax and eat the chocolate bar however they liked.

People in the first group rated their chocolate bar more highly and said they would pay more for it. Other experiments showed the value of fixed behaviours and personal involvement – watching someone else perform the ritual won't make that chocolate icing any sweeter.

Psychologist Kathleen Vohs, one of the study's co-authors, said she next plans to investigate if patients who perform rituals prior to surgery perceive pain differently in the post-op period and if they heal faster.

COGITO ERGO COMMUTE

The unexamined life is not worth living, said Socrates, but who's got the time? Well, what are you doing during the bus ride to work?

Penguin has launched a new series for the hurried but contemplative commuter. Called Philosophy in Transit, the series features "easily digestible, commute-length books of original philosophy," according to the publisher. But just what counts as "commute-length" in Penguin's eyes could make you Nietzsche-level angry. The first book, Truth, by John Caputo, weighs in at 256 pages.

The series also includes Why Grow Up? by Susan Neiman, Self by Barry Dainton and Event by Slavoj Zizek, the closest thing the world of philosophy has right now to a celebrity.

TWEETED

"Royal babies are tricky to deliver because of the whole silver spoon thing."

@serafinowicz

British actor Peter Serafinowicz – he played the stuck-up roommate in Shaun of the Dead – used his Twitter account to crack wise amidst all the breathless gushing in the lead-up to the birth of Will and Kate's child.