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facts & arguments

Steve Mason

How to look stupid

Next time you wake up the morning after, there's no need to wonder if you made an idiot of yourself the night before. You did," writes Roger Dobson in The Independent. "Apparently, just standing holding a drink changes, for the worse, colleagues' and bosses' assumptions about your brain power. Researchers have called this 'imbibing idiot bias.' Although most people think they look more intelligent when ordering or holding a glass of wine, the opposite is true, according to new research from the universities of Michigan and Pennsylvania, based on five studies involving over 1,300 people. 'The results suggest holding wine can selectively reduce perceived intelligence,' say the researchers, whose findings are to appear in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. 'They also suggest that imbibing idiot bias may be costly in professional settings.'"

Pin the tail on the doctor

Investigators say a Southern California doctor saw enough from an X-ray to prescribe painkillers to an undercover cop but missed the tail showing it was an image of a dog," says Associated Press. "Police and Los Angeles County deputies on Thursday raided the Glendora urgent care clinic of 69-year-old Dr. Rolando Lodevico Atiga after a two-month investigation that included three undercover deputies posing as patients. One of the undercover deputies showed Dr. Atiga an X-ray to prove she needed painkillers. The scan of her German shepherd clearly shows the dog's tail. The Los Angeles Times reports Dr. Atiga examined the X-ray and asked if she wanted Vicodin, oxycodone, Valium or Xanax."

Weather forecast? Fair or fine

"Local councillors in the Netherlands are calling for weather forecasters who get their predictions wrong to be fined," The Sunday Telegraph reports. "The demand comes from Labour councillors in Hoek van Holland who say that 'bad' forecasts are spoiling the local seaside trade. It follows claims that wrong forecasts in both the Netherlands and Belgium are damaging outdoor attractions as day trippers cancel plans to go out because of poor weather prospects. … Last week, tourist attraction bosses in Belgium called for 'less pessimistic forecasts' and urged meteorologists to pay as much attention to sun as they do to rain."

The curse of the fat toes

"If you thought women had plenty to nip and tuck before, well then the latest plastic surgery craze should open your eyes to a completely unexplored territory in the world of cosmetic procedures (in our minds, at least): surgery to slim down your toes," writes Rebecca Adams of The Huffington Post. "Americans' neuroses have now become so specific as to cause severe embarrassment over the width of our toes, an aptly titled condition known as 'toe-besity.'"

Lawsuit if they can't read

In a first-of-its-kind lawsuit, students "are suing the state of Michigan and their Detroit-area school district for violating their 'right to read,'" says The Christian Science Monitor. "The class-action lawsuit appears to be the first of its kind, and potentially signals a new wave of civil rights litigation in the United States to enforce laws intended to boost academic achievement, education law experts say."

Open offices hurt innovation

"In recent years, there's been a big movement toward open offices in the United States, partly based on the notion that transparency is good for business," writes Kevin Lewis of The Boston Globe. "But based on a recent study, the lack of privacy in those offices could be stifling innovation and efficiency. An in-depth study in a Chinese factory by a researcher from Harvard uncovered a 'transparency paradox': Workers in an open environment hide their procedural innovations from management for fear of being caught deviating from the 'best practices' script. The workers are so good at hiding this behaviour that the researcher had to arrange for several undergraduates who were originally from China to infiltrate the assembly line as regular workers. When management wasn't nearby, the workers used 'little tricks to improve efficiency, but, when management approached, the workers went back on script."

Halo rescinded

In State College, Pa., an artist has removed a halo from a mural of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno amid the school's child sex-abuse scandal, reports Associated Press. "Michael Pilato had put a halo over Paterno's image after the beloved coach's death in January, but said he felt he had to remove it Saturday after a report that Paterno … and others buried allegations of sex-abuse against ex-assistant Jerry Sandusky. Paterno's family denies the claim. Mr. Pilato added a large blue ribbon, instead, on Paterno's lapel symbolizing support for child abuse victims, a cause the artist said Paterno had endorsed."

Thought du jour

"To know what everybody else knows is to know nothing."

– Remy de Gourmont,French poet and novelist (1858-1915)

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