science

Scientists have established a link between religious fundamentalism and brain damage — here's how

study published in the journal Neuropsychologia has shown that religious fundamentalism is, in part, the result of a functional impairment in a brain region known as the prefrontal cortex. The findings suggest that damage to particular areas of the prefrontal cortex indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by diminishing cognitive flexibility and openness—a psychology term that describes a personality trait which involves dimensions like curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness.

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'Bad science' took away this mother's right to a normal life after falsely being convicted of murdering her son

This article is a partnership between ProPublica, where Pamela Colloff is a senior reporter, and The New York Times Magazine, where she is a writer at large.

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A communication scholar explains the psychology behind your favorite villain's evil laugh

Towards the end of the Disney film Aladdin (1992), our hero’s love rival, the evil Jafar, discovers Aladdin’s secret identity and steals his magic lamp. Jafar’s wish to become the world’s most powerful sorcerer is soon granted, and he then uses his powers to banish Aladdin to the ends of the Earth. 

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Here's Why These Harvard Astrophysicists Speculate that a Mysterious Interstellar Object Could Have Come from Aliens

Scientists and stargazers alike were transfixed last year when ‘Oumuamua, the first object known to come from outside our solar system, passed close by our sun. Astrophysicists had long believed it was possible for such objects to exist, but none had ever been observed before.

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Distrust in Science and Expertise Can Be Deadly - Here's How We Can Overcome It

Hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires have tested our resolve as individuals, communities and societies. Along with social crises such as political- and war-induced migration, these events provide stark illustrations of our ability to adapt, help and trust one another through informal social networks and formal social institutions.

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University Behind Study of Hurricane Maria's Death Toll Fights Back Against Trump's Self-Serving Doubts: 'We Stand by the Science'

In a disgraceful and fallacious series of tweets Thursday morning, President Donald Trump tried to cast doubt on the recent official death toll from Hurricane Maria that found that nearly 3,000 people were killed in Puerto Rico in the storm's aftermath.

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We Shouldn't Assume All 'Conspiracy Theories' Are False - Some Are All Too Real

Before 2012, if you had voiced suspicions that the Australian government had been anything but open and honourable in dealing with East Timor – its newly independent but impoverished neighbour – you would likely have been dismissed as a conspiracy theorist. But it was then revealed Australian Secret Intelligence Service agents had bugged East Timor’s cabinet office during treaty negotiations over oil and gas fields.

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Here's One Astonishing Fact About Earth's Biological Diversity That Is Truly Out-of-This-World

For centuries, humans have endeavoured to discover and describe the sum of Earth’s biological diversity. Scientists and naturalists have catalogued species from all continents and oceans, from the depths of Earth’s crust to the highest mountains, and from the most remote jungles to our most populated cities. This grand effort sheds light on the forms and behaviours that evolution has made possible, while serving as the foundation for understanding the common descent of life. Until recently, our planet was thought to be inhabited by nearly 10 million species (107). Though no small number, this estimate is based almost solely on species that can be seen with the naked eye.

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Children's Books Are Making the Gender Problem in Science Even Worse

Ask young children what they want to be when they grow up and the chances are that scientific jobs such as astronaut and doctor will appear high on the list. But ask them to draw a scientist and they are more than twice as likely to draw a man than a woman. Children can form these kinds of biases from many sources. But perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised to see such an absence of women scientists in children’s drawings when the illustrations we show them are often just as bad.

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Scientists Identify a Key Cognitive Error that Could Explain Why People Believe in Creationism and Conspiracy Theories

As absurd and patently false as it may be, the notorious Q Anon conspiracy theory has gained traction among a passionate portion of the United States in recent weeks and months. This should hardly be surprising given that the country elected Donald Trump, known widely for spinning racist conspiracy theories of President Barack Obama's place of birth.

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Should You Sometimes Be Bad for Another’s Good?

Imagine that someone you care about is procrastinating in advance of a vital exam. If he fails the test, he will not be able to go to university, an eventuality of major consequence in his life. If positive encouragement doesn’t work, you might reverse strategy, making your friend feel so bad, so worried, so scared, that the only strategy left is that he starts studying like mad. 

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