Archive for 'Arts and Science'

Program details from last year’s cannibalism conference

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

Here’s the program (downloadable!) from last year’s cannibalism conference at the University of Leeds.

The lunch break was from 12:45-13:45.

Evaluating the Value of Thoughts and Prayers [study]

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

What is one to think about words about thoughts about prayers and thoughts? A new study tries to tease out the answer.

The study is: “The Value of Thoughts and Prayers,” Linda Thunström and Shiri Noy, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, epub 2019.

The authors, at the University of Wyoming, explain:

“A standard response of both policy makers and private citizens to hardships—from natural disasters to mass shootings—is to offer “thoughts and prayers.” Critics argue that such gestures are meaningless and may obstruct structural reforms intended to mitigate catastrophes. In this study, we elicit the value of receiving thoughts and prayers from strangers following adversity. We find that Christians value thoughts and prayers from religious strangers and priests, while atheists and agnostics are “prayer averse”—willing to pay to avoid receiving prayers. Furthermore, while indifferent to receiving thoughts from other secular people, they negatively value thoughts from Christians.”

(Thanks to Mason Porter for bringing this to our attention.)

Seeing Spider/Antman Movies Lessen Fear of Bugs?

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

What power over the minds of humans lurks in bug-human-hybrid superhero movies? One study, at least, asks that question.

The study is: ” ‘Spidey Can’: Preliminary Evidence Showing Arachnophobia Symptom Reduction Due to Superhero Movie Exposure,” Yaakov S.G. Hoffman, Shani Pitcho-Prelorentzos, Lia Ring, and Menachem Ben-Ezra, Frontiers in Psychiatry, epub 2019. The authors, at Bar-Ilan University and Ariel University, Israel, explain:

“Fear of insects, mainly spiders, is considered one of the most common insect phobias. However, to date, no conducted studies have examined the effects of phobic stimulus exposure (spiders/ants) within the positive context of superhero movies, such as Spider-Man or Ant-Man. A convenience sample of 424 participants divided into four groups watched different clips. Two intervention groups (Spider-Man/Ant-Man) and two control groups (Marvel opening/natural scene) were measured twice (pre–post intervention)…. Reduction in phobic symptoms was significant in the Spider-Man and Ant-Man groups in comparison to the control groups. Seven-second exposure to insect-specific stimuli within a positive context reduces the level of phobic symptoms.”

Recent progress in cat-video studies

Monday, September 16th, 2019

The first peer-reviewed academic study to investigate and document the internet’s cat-video-proliferation-phenomenon might well [we think] be :

Do Cats Know They Rule YouTube? Surveillance and the Pleasures of Cat Videos by Radha O’Meara, in the M/C Journal, Vol. 17, Issue 2, 2014.

Since then, the prevalence of scholarly investigations which reference internet cat videos has not abated. Here’s a partial list [no particular order] :

● Emotion regulation, procrastination, and watching cat videos online: Who watches Internet cats, why, and to what effect?  Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 52, November 2015, Pages 168-176.

● It’s Not All Cat Videos : Moving beyond legacy media and tackling the challenges of mapping news values on digital native websites Digital Journalism, Volume 6, 2018 – Issue 8.

● Cat Videos and the Superflat Cinema of Attractions, Film Criticism, Volume 40, Issue 2, July 2016.

● Not Just Silly Cat Videos: Exploring Student Knowledge Sharing via Social Media Association for Information Systems, Conferences, AMCIS2015 , ISEdu, 6.

● What can science researchers, practitioners learn from the success of cat videos? CSA News (Crop Science America), Oct 2017.

● A Note From the Digital Scholarship Editor: Digital Media Scholarship—Beyond Viral Cat Videos Journal of Family Theory, Volume 7, Issue 3.

● QoE matters more than QoS: Why people stop watching cat videos IEEE INFOCOM 2016 – The 35th Annual IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications.

[Research research by Martin Gardiner]

Watch the Full Ig Nobel Ceremony

Friday, September 13th, 2019

The 29th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony was a riotous festival of scientific fun! Watch the full ceremony below!

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