Recent research on nearly 400 Labrador puppies reveals a genetic basis for a tendency to look to humans for guidance by DENYSE O’LEARY  Considerable mystery surrounds the question of why dogs achieve a close emotional relationship with humans. Chimpanzees are genetically very much closer to us but few of us bond with them. So the ability is not obviously genetic — but recent findings point to at least one genetic component: Puppies seem naturally adapted to learn the significance of a common human communication method, pointing: Scientists have known for more than 2 decades that dogs understand the logic behind a surprisingly complex … Continue reading RESEARCHERS: DOGS ARE HARDWIRED TO UNDERSTAND US

The science of terrible men

The pioneers of social genetics were racists and eugenicists: should we give up on the science they founded altogether? Kathryn Paige Harden is a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her first book, The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality, will be published by Princeton University Press in Fall 2021. Edited by Pam Weintraub ‘What’s your favourite Woody Allen movie?’ Dylan Farrow asked the readers of The New York Times, before giving her account of Allen molesting her when she was seven years old. She challenged the continued acclaim for Allen’s movies: ‘Imagine your seven-year-old daughter being led … Continue reading The science of terrible men


For as long as people have existed, people have got BUFF as SHIT by Mike Rampton People don’t look like they used to. We’ve been cave-dwellers, tribespeople, fought plagues and mammoths. In the two million or so years we’ve been knocking about, it’s only fairly recently that we’ve had the time and understanding necessary to think about our bodies — back when we were hairy grunters who died at 22 we didn’t really have the luxury of working on our pecs. Here, then, is a brief journey through the idea of exercise, from living under rocks to Dwayne “The Rock” … Continue reading THE LONG, SWEATY HISTORY OF WORKING OUT


SO-CALLED ZOMBIE GENES MAKE BRAIN CELLS GROW BIGGER AND BIGGER FOR SEVERAL HOURS. by NEUROSCIENCE/BRAIN SCIENCE When you die, most of the cells in your brain will gradually flicker out. But some, according to a new study, will become extremely active, growing to new sizes for several hours after death. It’s morbid to think about your brain becoming more active after you’re gone, but the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) researchers behind the discovery stressed in a press release that it doesn’t mean people are conscious or that the so-called “zombie genes” that trigger this neural activity could do anything as dramatic as … Continue reading AFTER YOU DIE, SOME CELLS IN YOUR BRAIN BECOME MORE ACTIVE

People gave up on flu pandemic measures a century ago when they tired of them – and paid a price

Author J. Alexander Navarro Assistant Director of the Center for the History of Medicine, University of Michigan State and local officials enact a slate of social-distancing measures, gathering bans, closure orders and mask mandates in an effort to stem the tide of cases and deaths. The public responds with widespread compliance mixed with more than a hint of grumbling, pushback and even outright defiance. As the days turn into weeks turn into months, the strictures become harder to tolerate. Theater and dance hall owners complain about their financial losses. Clergy bemoan church closures while offices, factories and in some cases even saloons … Continue reading People gave up on flu pandemic measures a century ago when they tired of them – and paid a price

How your brain turns fleeting frustrations into long-term negativity

By Rich Haridy For some people a single small irritation can wreck their entire day, while others can swiftly shake off minor problems and move on. A new study led by researchers from the University of Miami is suggesting persistent activity in the amygdala could be why some people are unable to quickly move on from momentary negative experiences. “The majority of human neuroscience research looks at how intensely the brain reacts to negative stimuli, not how long the brain holds on to a stimulus,” explains Aaron Heller, psychologist and senior author on the new study. “We looked at the spillover … Continue reading How your brain turns fleeting frustrations into long-term negativity

Can you be scientific and spiritual?

Spirituality can be an uncomfortable word for atheists. But does it deserve the antagonism that it gets? by Adam Frank  While the anti-scientific bias of religious fundamentalism requires condemnation, if we take a broader view, does the human inclination towards spiritual practice still require the same antagonism? The answer, I think, is a definitive “No.” Rather than ontological claims about what exists in the universe, the terms spiritual and sacred can describe the character of an experience. Instead of a “thing” they can refer to an attitude or an approach. One can be entirely faithful to the path of inquiry and honesty that is science while … Continue reading Can you be scientific and spiritual?

Final thoughts

Do deathbed regrets give us a special insight into what really matters in life? There are good reasons to be sceptical Neil Levy is professor of philosophy at Macquarie University in Sydney, and a senior research fellow at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford. He lives between Australia and the UK. Edited by Nigel Warburton How do we find out what really matters in life? One way might be to ask those who are dying. They might occupy a perspective that allows them to see better what’s trivial and what’s truly significant. The prospect of imminent … Continue reading Final thoughts

Dementia Has No Cure. But We Might Know Now What Causes It.

The discovery that alcohol has the potential to damage our brains at levels at which we might find surprising and in ways that are not usually detected, has major implications for our society. by Tony Rao It’s a well-known fact that drinking too much alcohol can have a serious impact on your health, including damaging your liver. But how much is too much? For conditions such as liver cirrhosis, that’s usually more than 21 units of alcohol a week – around two bottles of wine a week or one and a half pints of beer a day. The UK’s Chief Medical Officer recommends … Continue reading Dementia Has No Cure. But We Might Know Now What Causes It.

Mars missions could leave astronauts with severe psychological damage — new study

by THE CONVERSATION  Human space missions to Mars are the next great leap in space exploration, with NASA targeting the 2030s as a reasonable time frame for taking the first humans there. But boarding on a journey to Mars is not like catching a flight to New York. Space is an extremely hostile environment for human life – from the lack of gravity and harmful radiation to isolation and the absence of night and day. Deep space missions to Mars will be much more physically and mentally demanding than the journeys we’ve made so far during 60 years of human space exploration. A flight … Continue reading Mars missions could leave astronauts with severe psychological damage — new study