Miller-McCune.com

Are Conservatives More Fearful Than Liberals?

The tone of this year’s Republican presidential primary (which now seems destined to last much longerthan Mitt Romney had been planning) seems sort of, well, fearful. One after the other, these would-be presidents have warned of looming threats — war with Iran, economic collapse, class warfare, social disintegration, illegal immigration — and have sought to position themselves as the best candidate for the job of protecting America.

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Why Are People Still Afraid of Atheism?

Plenty of people are reviled for their religious beliefs. But a lack of faith seems to inspire even more intense antipathy.

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Musicians Hear Better Into Old Age

Musicians retain the ability to distinguish speech in noisy conditions far longer than non-musicians. That’s the key finding of a just-published study by two Canadian researchers, who report playing music seems to delay the decay in an aging brain’s central auditory processing system. “This finding suggests that continued practice throughout life may alleviate some of the age-related decline in speech perception often experienced by older adults,” Benjamin Rich Zendel and Claude Alain of the Rotman Research Centre and University of Toronto report in the journal Psychology and Aging.

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How Meditation Makes You More Rational

It’s no secret that humans are not entirely rational when it comes to weighing rewards. For example, we might be perfectly happy with how much money we’re making — until we find out how much more the guy in the next cubicle is being paid.

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The Simple Trick That Can Bolster Willpower At the Supermarket

Do you routinely walk out of the supermarket and find your grocery bags are filled with junk food? Have you bemoaned the fact that, against your better judgment, you can’t resist strolling down the cookies-and-candy aisle? Here’s an idea. Next time you walk into the store, don’t grab one of those little hand-held baskets. Even if you’re only purchasing a few items, push around a cart instead.

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Why Men in Southern States Are More Likely to Die in Accidents

Be a man! That pointed phrase, often offered as a rebuke, means pretty much the same thing the world over. Be strong. Don’t back down. Show some courage.

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Will the FCC Ever Do Its Job and Take on the Telecoms?

FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker announced earlier this month that she’s leaving the agency for a job as the senior vice president of government affairs for Comcast-NBC Universal. The decision wasn’t particularly surprising or even unusual. Public servants exit government all the time for K Street suites where their expertise is more profitable.

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Can Psychedelics Make You Happier?

Mike is hunched over a pile of soggy wood chips at the bottom of a glade in Golden Gate Park. It’s a clear winter afternoon and sunlight filters through the eucalyptus trees, landing on grass still damp from a recent storm. Mike sifts through the wood chips, slowly and deliberately examining the soil beneath. Two paper bags fill a pocket of his Patagonia fleece jacket.

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Making Medical Miracles With Inkjet Printers

You’ve probably owned an inkjet printer or two — one of those homely plastic boxes that performs mundane functions like scanning pictures and spitting out boarding passes while running through pricy ink cartridges like nobody’s business.

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Facebook Linked to Narcissism?

Who uses Facebook? The simple answer is a whole lot of people: The online social network has more than 600 million members.

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Americans Are Far Less Conservative Than the Right Wing Claims

Among the many memes floating around in the wake of the 2010 election is that America has taken a rightward turn, and conservative pundits seem re-energized in calling America a center-right nation. After all, a plurality of American voters (42 percent) now call themselves “conservative” — as compared to just 35 percent who say they are “moderate” and 20 percent who say they are “liberal.” Two years ago, moderates and conservatives both were at 37 percent.

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How Fears of Bin Laden Can Lead to Authoritarian Parenting

With the recent discovery of explosives hidden in cargo airplanes, fears of a terrorist attack have returned to the front of many people’s minds. If the past is any indication, this sense of apprehension is likely to make us less trusting of outsiders, and less tolerant of those who violate social norms.

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People Are Allergic to the Facts

A clear consensus of opinion emerges within the scientific community on an important issue, such as climate change. But the public, and its elected leaders, remains unconvinced and unreceptive to well-founded warnings.

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Do School Lunches Plump Up Poor Kids?

Students who participate in the National School Lunch Program are more likely to come from lower-income families or families with two working parents who don’t have time to pack a brown-bag lunch the night before. Those same students, as a quick glance around many school cafeterias this fall will show, are also more likely to be overweight.

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7 States Where the Levels of Corruption and Ideological Madness Have Gotten Beyond Embarrassing

Ideological hijinks, bipartisan incompetence and outright corruption have infected state capitals -- and mortified citizens -- across the U.S. Is there a cure? Miller-McCune.com has supplyied a dose of satire.

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How Not to Stop Smoking

Over the past 25 years, a series of studies have found suppressing unwanted thoughts is not only ineffective, but counterproductive. Try to not think of a white bear, and chances are the creature will come roaring into your mind.

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Why Celebrity Ads Make You Want to Buy Stuff

For some of us, the increasingly popular practice of celebrity product endorsements is puzzling. What difference does it make if Brad Pitt recommends a particular pen, or Sally Field a certain cereal? Unless the famous spokesperson has a specific area of expertise — say, Tiger Woods endorsing a set of golf clubs — why would anyone care?

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Virginia AG and Tea Party Favorite Sues Scientist for Studying Climate Change

Virginia’s recently elected attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, has his hand in just about every divisive issue of the day. He is leading his own charge against the constitutionality of the health care bill, he is suing the Environmental Protection Agency to block it from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and he is tussling with state universities over whether they can bar discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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Do Blondes Have More Funds?

As a (natural) blonde, I have heard my fair share of “dumb blonde” jokes, ranging from the insidious to the relatively harmless. “How do you keep a blonde busy for hours?” (Write ‘Please turn over’ on both sides of a piece of paper.) “What do you call a blonde behind the steering wheel of a car?” (An air bag.) The list goes on.

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Obama Has Gone Contest Crazy

In late 2008, the Obama inaugural committee announced a classic contest straight out of Super Bowl sweepstakes season: Submit an essay on what this inauguration means to you, and you and a guest could win an all-expenses-paid trip to this once-in-a-lifetime event!

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Will Peak Oil Turn Flying into Something Only Rich People Can Afford?

Sitting atop the queue in my inbox is an e-mail from a travel company advertising a $736 roundtrip flight from Los Angeles to Auckland. Captain Cook discovered New Zealand in 1769; for the next 200 years the idea of visiting it, for an American, would have been alien to all but a few very wealthy individuals. Things change. As I write this, a ticket to travel 6,500 miles — one-quarter of the circumference of the Earth — is only a few clicks away.

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Female Teachers Anxious About Math Make Girls Less Confident in Their Abilities?

In spite of the multitude of research indicating otherwise, the assumption that boys are biologically better at math than girls is alive and well at schools across the nation. And a new study indicates that when female teachers believe the stereotype, they pass their own mathematical anxiety on to the girls in their classes.

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How Marijuana Could Save California Agriculture

The three-hour Northern California drive from San Francisco to Nevada County passes through some of the cream of the state’s agriculture industry: dairy, alfalfa, rice, almonds, grapes. On both sides of the freeway stretch enormous crop rows, interrupted only by the state capital of Sacramento and a number of small towns.

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Stop Hand-Wringing About Peak Oil and Climate Change and Do Something

You may or may not have heard of the Transition movement — described by its founder, Rob Hopkins, as “an exercise in engaged optimism”— yet Transition’s ideas are informing and even guiding the conversation of how communities confront the twin crises of peak oil and climate change.

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Can Threats and Living in a State of Anxiety Push People to Conservatism?

Over the past year, a conservative right-wing movement has found a loud political voice in the United States. Strongly anti-government, the movement seems largely oriented around a message that anything the Obama administration wishes to accomplish is an attack on American tradition, and it is up to them to stop this radical socialist agenda emanating from Washington to preserve the country.

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Can We Rescue the Republic Before the Dark Politics Take Over?

Did America slip into a semiliterate, polarized, pre-fascist state over the past decade or so, allowing greedy oligarchs and corporate elites to run the government? Two books I recently read offer reasonably persuasive evidence and arguments that the country did, and a third suggests that dictatorial mindsets could besiege Americans, with an assist from the Internet, if they don't come to their more deliberative senses. Each of the books offers an informed diagnosis of the dangers that widespread ignorance and ideological polarization pose for American democracy, though none offers a comprehensive treatment for the malaise.

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This Is Your Brain on Kafka

The befuddled tramps in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot are a poetic personification of paralysis. But new research suggests the act of watching them actually does get us somewhere.

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Is Handwriting Going the Way of the Dodo?

It turns out that the home page for msn.com had linked to a short article I had published a year earlier. In the article, I argue that we should stop teaching cursive in primary schools and provide some background on the history of handwriting to back up my claims.

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Is Belief in God Hurting America?

From Dostoyevsky to right-wing commentator Ann Coulter we are warned of the perils of godlessness. "If there is no God," Dostoyevsky wrote, "everything is permitted." Coulter routinely attributes our nation's most intractable troubles to the moral vacuum of atheism.

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Does Racism Drive Opposition to Health Reform?

Even among the most extreme opponents of President Obama's push for health care reform -- those who equate his proposals to Nazi death camps or Soviet gulags -- there's little overtly expressed racism. Aside from the occasional slip by Republican officials in South Carolina, the public debate over expanding coverage to the uninsured has largely ignored Obama's status as the first African-American president.

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