Re-cap on talks in Minneapolis

I'm back in DC after an all too short trip to Minneapolis. Chris Mooney and I flew in to speak at the annual meetings of the Association for Reproductive Health Professionals. Among the gathered physicians, nurses, and health advocates, there was definitely a lot of buzz about the potential to apply research on framing to issues ranging from contraception to abortion rights. As advisers to ARHP, Chris and I look forward to more collaboration over the next year.

Last night, we also spoke at the University of Minnesota's Bell Museum of Natural History, appearing on a panel with the bloggers PZ Myers and Greg Laden to discuss our framing science thesis. The auditorium was almost completely full and I peg attendance at about 150.

On hand were also several hundred free copies of the October issue of The Scientist featuring the cover article I co-authored with Dietram Scheufele on the future of public engagement. (It was the first time I had seen the issue in print. The cover art and layout looks amazing.)

The panel was more of a discussion and dialogue than a debate. (Though Chris claims victory, so does PZ Myers.) Afterwards, everyone gathered for food and drinks in Dinkytown and it was great to meet many of the attendees and discuss ideas about science communication. At some point, I am hoping the audio will be available as a podcast via the Point of Inquiry series. I will let readers know when it appears.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The tongue-in-cheek petition, whose stated aim is to reduce the national debt, has been signed more than 8,600 times as of Tuesday.
  • Selling Montana, the fourth largest state in the country, would constitute the largest land deal since the Louisiana Purchase.
  • The national debt is often a source of concern for individuals, but the chances of the U.S. defaulting on its debts are relatively low — in part because the bulk of the national debt is owned by the American public.
Keep reading Show less

Study: Memories of music cannot be lost to Alzheimer's and dementia

The part of your brain responsible for ASMR catalogs music, and appears to be a stronghold against Alzheimer's and dementia.

The parts of the brain highlighted in red and yellow are thought to control your sense of attention and memory. (image c/o Brain Network Lab)

Some music inspires you to move your feet, some inspires you to get out there and change the world. In any case, and to move hurriedly on to the point of this article, it's fair to say that music moves people in special ways. 

Keep reading Show less

What makes someone gay? Science is trying to get it straight.

Evolutionarily speaking, being gay is still something of an enigma

  • Heterosexual people have been less interesting to scientists than gay people, in terms of where they come from, because, evolutionarily speaking, being gay doesn't lead to a higher "higher reproductive fitness" — meaning, it doesn't lead to more babies.
  • Across cultures, gay boys tend to be more interested in spending time with their mothers.
  • We still don't really know why gay people are attracted to each other.