The perks of being a bit neurotic

It's one of our five major personality traits, and arguably, it's the worst one. Why are some human beings neurotic?

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  • Scoring high in neuroticism is associated with a slew of negative outcomes for your physical and mental health.
  • However, it appears to be an inherited trait, one that has persisted through the many thousands of years of human evolution.
  • Some researchers argue that in the environment where humans first evolved, being a little neurotic may have been highly beneficial.
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Is creativity actually just a brain malfunction?

A new study says curiosity and creativity are computational errors.

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  • If the job of the brain is to find the safest decision, why do creative people come up with the most interesting ones instead?
  • Scans show that the brain silently registers such "non-greedy" decisions as errors.
  • The experiments suggests we're not curious or creative, just fallible.
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Men with psychopathic traits are more desirable to women, Canadian researchers say

The results have startling implications about the evolution of psychopathy in humans.

Image source: Lions Gate Films
  • The researchers asked about 50 male university students to participate in a mock dating scenario.
  • Men with more psychopathic traits were seen as significantly more desirable by women who watched videos of the encounters.
  • Psychopathic traits may help men to mimic the qualities women are looking for, but it's a short-term strategy that comes at a cost.
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Did we evolve to see reality as it exists? No, says cognitive psychologist Donald Hoffman.

Cognitive psychologist Donald Hoffman hypothesizes we evolved to experience a collective delusion — not objective reality.

Image: Rendering of "St. John the Baptist" by Leonardo Da Vinci, 1516.
  • Donald Hoffman theorizes experiencing reality is disadvantageous to evolutionary fitness.
  • His hypothesis calls for ditching the objectivity of matter and space-time and replacing them with a mathematical theory of consciousness.
  • If correct, it could help us progress such intractable questions as the mind-body problem and the conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics.
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Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
  • Researchers in the Czech Republic ranked 25 animals we fear most in a new online survey.
  • While predatory animals evoke fear, they rarely raise our sense of disgust.
  • By contrast, parasites, spiders, and snakes make us fearful and repulsed.
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