If you happen across a pond full of croaking green frogs, listen carefully. Some of them may be lying.
A croak is how male green frogs tell other frogs how big they are. The bigger the male, the deeper the croak. The sound of a big male is enough to scare off other males from challenging him for his territory.
While most croaks are honest, some are not. Some small males lower their voices to make themselves sound bigger. Their big-bodied croaks intimidate frogs that would beat them in a fair fight.
Not once does the article mention that it is not using the term "deception" in the standard sense. Presumably, the frog that alters its voice does not choose to alter its voice tone knowing that doing so will fool other frogs. If that claim were proved, it should probably be on the front page of the newspaper. Barring evidence that this is more than just an evolved frog behavioral adaptation, we ought not assume that the frog vocalizations constitute "deception" in any standard sense of the term.
In a story reminsicent of Phineas Gage, a British man "suffered severe head injuries in a fall, transforming him from a loyal newlywed into a 'disinhibited' character who had two affairs" and solicited prostitutes. He was in a coma for two months and received 3.1 million pounds in compensation from his former employer. Story here (though it's not clear from this article how much of the damage award relates to the changes in his sexual behavior).
Kevorkian, once the nation's most vocal advocate of assisted suicide for the terminally ill, is serving a 10- to 25-year sentence for second-degree murder in the 1998 poisoning of Thomas Youk, 52, an Oakland County man with Lou Gehrig's disease. Michigan banned assisted suicide in 1998. . . .
Kevorkian has always been eligible for parole on June 1, 2007, and will now be released on that date, Lalonde said. . . .
If Kevorkian is released on June 1, he will have spent close to 3,000 days in prison since being sentenced in April 1999.
He has promised he would not assist in a suicide if he was released from prison.
The Sunday New York Times had an interview with Dr. Louann Brizendine about her controversial new book, The Female Brain, which has been previously discussed on this blog. The interview included the following passage:
Although your book draws heavily on other scientists’ research, you don’t do any clinical research yourself. Isn’t that a drawback?
No. I don’t like doing clinical research because of placebos. In a “double-blind placebo-controlled study,” as they are called, neither the doctor nor the patient knows what the patient is taking. I don’t want to give patients a placebo. It’s cruel.
Not in the long term. How are scientists supposed to find a cure for cancer and more generally advance medicine if no one does controlled tests?
I am glad someone does it, but I’d rather help each female brain that walks into my clinic walk out in better shape.
As the interviewer notes, it isn't cruel (at least as a general matter) to conduct double-blind placebo studies. Many of our most important medical discoveries have demonstrated their efficacy under just such conditions. Does Brizendine think it's cruel to do such research, yet is "glad someone does it?" Or, more likely, the sound bite world of one-page interviews loses some of the nuance that would ordinarily accompany such a discussion.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to bolster a hypothesis by seeking consistent evidence while disregarding inconsistent evidence. In criminal investigations, preference for hypothesis-consistent information could contribute to false convictions by leading investigators to disregard evidence that challenges their theory of a case. Two studies examine factors that influence confirmation bias in criminal investigations. In study 1, participants (N = 108) who stated hypotheses early in their review of a mock police file showed bias in seeking and interpreting evidence. In study 2 (N = 109), asking participants to consider why a hypothesis might be wrong remedied bias, but asking them to generate additional hypotheses did not. Implications for improving accuracy of investigations and suggestions for future research are discussed.
According to this Reuters story (here entitled "Chess players to face anti-doping measures"), the World Chess Federation will now require some chess players to undergo tests for steroids. Apparently, this is window dressing that is part of a bid to make chess an Olympic sport. I imagine that steroids might hurt chess performance more than help it.
Steroid testing is not the kind of anti-doping measure I expected to read about in the article. I thought the article would say that chess players will be tested for pharmaceuticals that might improve memory or concentration or the like. Here's an article by Jonathan Moreno in Scientific American Mind about attempts to cognitively enhance soldiers. For example, the military has taken an interest in drugs to enable soldiers to work days on end without sleep. As Moreno notes:
The military wants to juice up personnel's brains because the human being is the weakest instrument of warfare. Although for centuries astonishing and terrifying advances have been made in the technology of conflict, soldiers are basically the same. They must eat, sleep, discern friend from foe, heal when wounded, and so forth. The first state (or nonstate) actor to build superior fighters will make an enormous leap in the arms race. In the short run, researchers are trying to devise aids that would overcome a person's inherent limitations, such as mental fatigue. Long-term results could lead to individuals everywhere who are tireless, less fearful or even better speakers.