Should Cat Owners Avoid Healthy Cats?

October 31st, 2019

Is it safe to own a cat? A new paper suggests the answer may be Yes.

Maybe Yes

The new, possibly-pro-cat paper is: “Healthy cats provide more health benefits than risks to owners,” Michael Lappin, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, vol. 21, no. 11, November 2019, pp. 1007-1007. The author explains:

“In these 2019 AAFP Feline Zoonoses Guidelines, we discuss the most common zoonotic infections of cats and the classic clinical signs of disease, incorporating findings from the research published since the original 2005 version…. If the recommendations provided are followed, the odds of acquiring an infection from your own cats are quite unlikely, and the Guidelines also emphasize the fact that cat ownership can have health benefits.”

The paper suggests that one obtain an “easy-to-print” document called “What Can I Catch from my Cat?“:

Maybe No

The risks of owning a cat have been copiously documented by others, notably with the awarding of the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize for public health to two groups of researchers—to Jaroslav Flegr, Jan Havlíček and Jitka Hanušova-Lindova, and to David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan, Lisa Seyfried— for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat. The prize honored several publications written by the co-winners:

  • REFERENCE: ” Changes in personality profile of young women with latent toxoplasmosis,” Jaroslav Flegr and Jan Havlicek, Folia Parasitologica, vol. 46, 1999, pp. 22-28.
  • REFERENCE: “Decreased level of psychobiological factor novelty seeking and lower intelligence in men latently infected with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii Dopamine, a missing link between schizophrenia and toxoplasmosis?” Jaroslav Flegr, Marek Preiss, Jiřı́ Klose, Jan Havlı́ček, Martina Vitáková, and Petr Kodym, Biological Psychology, vol. 63, 2003, pp. 253–268.
  • REFERENCE: “Describing the Relationship between Cat Bites and Human Depression Using Data from an Electronic Health Record,” David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan, Lisa Seyfried, PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 8, 2013, e70585.

Psychological Responses to Horror Films

October 30th, 2019

Neil Martin scared up a bunch of psychological research about how people respond to scary movies:

(Why) Do You Like Scary Movies? A Review of the Empirical Research on Psychological Responses to Horror Films,” G. Neil Martin, Frontiers in Psychology, epub 2019. The author, at Regent’s University London, UK, explains:

“Despite a century of horror film making and entertainment, little research has examined the human motivation to watch fictional horror and how horror film influences individuals’ behavioral, cognitive, and emotional responses. This review provides the first synthesis of the empirical literature on the psychology of horror film using multi-disciplinary research from psychology, psychotherapy, communication studies, development studies, clinical psychology, and media studies.”

Associations: Financial Analysts’ Beauty and their Performance [new study]

October 28th, 2019

Looking for advice on your investment portfolio? If so, you might be able to gain an advantage by making sure that your financial advisor is (generally considered to be) physically ‘attractive’. According to a new study published in the journal Management Science, they tend to give better advice than their less alluring colleagues.

“In this study, we examine the effect of financial analysts’ physical attractiveness on their forecast performance. We find that more attractive analysts produce more accurate earnings forecasts and more informative stock recommendations.”

For full details, see : Analysts’ Beauty and Performance in Management Science.

Note: Sadly, there are no photographs of ‘attractive’ (or ‘unattractive’) financial advisors in the paper, so instead, we illustrate with the cover of Financial Advisor Magazine, Jan. 2017, (which is not connected with the study above).

Research research: Martin Gardiner

Luck, not just talent, in supposed meritocracy: A new documentary

October 25th, 2019

“A Shadow on Meritocracy” is a documentary film about the ongoing research springing from the Ig Nobel Prize-winning work of Alessandro Pluchino and Andrea Rapisarda, physicists at the University of Catania. The film is in Italian; this version has English subtitles:

Background: The 2010 Ig Nobel Prize for management was awarded to Alessandro PluchinoAndrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo of the University of Catania, Italy, for demonstrating mathematically that organizations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random.

That research is documented in the study “The Peter Principle Revisited: A Computational Study,”” Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo, Physica A, vol. 389, no. 3, February 2010, pp. 467-72.

Mathematicians’ Continuing Fascination with Cakes

October 23rd, 2019

If you had to choose one of the many papers written by mathematicians about cakes, and you had to choose that one at random, you might choose this one:

Better Ways to Cut a Cake,” Steven J. Brams, Michael A. Jones and Christian Klamler, Notices of the American Mathematical Society, December 2006, vol. 53, no. 11, pp. 1314-21. (Thanks to Penny Grace for bringing this to our attention.) The authors explain:

“In this paper we show how mathematics can illuminate the study of cake-cutting in ways that have practical implications. Specifically, we analyze cake-cutting algorithms that use a minimal number of cuts (n – 1 if there are n people), where a cake is a metaphor for a heterogeneous, divisible good, whose parts may be valued differently by different people.”

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