What does a dog’s tail wagging signify? [Article]

This interesting article on the NPR caught my eye – “The Tail’s The Tell: Dog Wags Can Mean Friend Or Foe“.

Dogs can pick up emotional cues from another dog by watching the direction of its wagging tail, a new study suggests. In a series of lab experiments, dogs got anxious when they saw an image of a dog wagging its tail to its left side. But when they saw a dog wagging its tail to its right side, they stayed relaxed.

While you may not be very interested in this, a vet called in to treat a rather angry dog might 🙂

The Business of Science, & the fallout in the Economist’s eyes [Article]

A recent article in the Economist, titled “Trouble at the lab” attempted to paint scientific research as being abysmally poor at identifying & correcting errors.  Reminded me of that saying “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones at others”.  Bob Frankston explains why:

The larger issue is understanding motivation as market processes and not confusing “Science” as a business (or bodies of knowledge) with “science” as an operational methodology that doesn’t seek the singular truth any more than evolution is directed towards a goal.

Read more here for some thought-provoking discussion on this subject.

The value of reading literary fiction over popular fiction [Article]

Research shows that reading literary fiction is more valuable in improving empathy.

Popular fiction tends to be focused on plot, says Emanuele Castano, professor of psychology, and the characters are rather stereotypical. “You open a book of what we call popular fiction and you know from the get-go who is going to be the good guy and the bad guy.” Literary fiction, in contrast, focuses on the psychology and inner life of the characters. And importantly, characters in literary fiction are left somewhat incomplete. Readers have to watch what they do and infer what they are thinking and feeling.

On attending an Ig Nobel ceremony & after-party [Article]

Scientific research that makes people laugh, then think finds its way into the annals of the Improbable Research, eventually competing for the Ig Nobel awards each year. Carmen Nobel visited this year and writes about it:

The requisite small-talk name-dropping bests that of most cocktail parties. Overheard conversation snippets at this year’s party include, “I don’t know if you remember him, but he studied penguin poo under pressure,” and “Oh, right, she played Star Wars movies to locusts.”

The effect of skull shape & size on music preferences [Article]

Another one from the Improbable Research stable. Your skull, as much as what’s in it, may affect your musical taste — you may dislike a song because your head is too big (or too small) — suggests this study:

The influence of skull resonance on music preference was studied across a series of experiments. Listeners were presented with a set of original melodies and were asked to judge how much they enjoyed each selection…. this research suggests that the skull [shape and size] might influence the music that a person dislikes rather than the music a person likes.”

Can the chocolate temptation be held at bay? [Article]

Researcher Nicola Buckland discovers evidence that smelling oranges can do the trick:

She asked women to smell fresh oranges and chocolate. Later, she told them to help themselves to the aromatic fruit and chocolate treats. It turns out that women in the study who were trying to diet ate about 60 percent less chocolate after smelling the oranges (compared with how much they ate after smelling the chocolate).