May 9, 2010

Science for Sunday 5/9/10

Managing the Emotions Behind Eating

They [weight-loss programs] focus on choosing healthier foods and exercising more, but they never answer a key question: how can people who have eaten to cope with emotions change their eating habits, when they haven't learned other ways of coping with emotions?

I still often think of food first when I am feeling emotional. For me, focusing on emotional intelligence and being mindful has been very helpful. I wonder if I would have been as successful with my weight if I had not also been studying those things.

Survey Reports Latest Honey Bee Losses

The 28 percent of beekeeping operations that reported some of their colonies perished without dead bees present--a sign of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)--lost 44 percent of their colonies. This compares to 26 percent of beekeepers reporting such dead colonies in the 2008-2009 winter and 32 percent in the 2007-2008 winter. Beekeepers that did not report their colonies having CCD lost 25 percent of their colonies.

Maybe I've just watched The Bee Movie too many times, but I find this alarming. I wonder why it's not bigger news?

How Cooperation Is Maintained in Human Societies: Punishment, Study Suggests

Their model had three stages in which a large group of unrelated individuals interacted repeatedly. The first stage was a signaling stage where group members could signal their intent to punish. In the second stage, group members could choose to cooperate or not. The final stage was a punishment stage when group members could punish other group members.

The results of their model look a lot like what is seen in most human societies, where individuals meet and decide whether and how to punish group members who are not cooperating. This is coordinated punishment where group members signal their intent to punish, only punish when a threshold has been met and share the costs of punishing. 

I'm sorta obsessed with these types of studies right now.

O.k. so humans use punishment to control people into cooperating. Here's the thing. I somehow got to the place where I make decisions based on what I know is the right way to treat people. It doesn't matter what the size of the group is; I feel a better when I make good choices. Isn't it like that for a lot of people? Or do most people not break laws because they fear jail? The motivation should be internal. That's why I do all of this emotion coaching and conflict resolution stuff with my kids. One day I hope they make good choices because it feels right, and not because someone might come along to punish them if they don't.

And even knowing all of that, I still sometimes revert to trying to punish and control. This is why I can't get enough of this science.

Being Obese Can Attract Bullies

Researchers found that obese children had higher odds of being bullied no matter their gender, race, family socioeconomic status, school demographic profile, social skills or academic achievement.

I remember kids being picked on for being overweight when I was in school too. Being the "fat" kid has always been terrible.

When the kids down the street where giving Robotson a hard time, and the mother came up to our house, she mentioned her son was overweight and sensitive about it. Her sons had told her that it was my son causing the problems, but that clearly wasn't the case. I'm not saying he didn't begin to mirror their behaviors back at them, but he wasn't the instigator. So her son is overweight and probably gets picked on at school. My son is younger and overweight, the perfect target. Had he been in school without a caring adult to intervene, might Robotson now be the one doing the bullying? It's an awful cycle. This is one reason I really love homeschooling. The kids in our play groups are always accepting regardless of outward appearances. It's a wonderful to have a group like that.

Resurrected Mammoth Blood Very Cool

Studies of recreated mammoth hemoglobin, published May 3 in Nature Genetics, reveal special evolutionary adaptations that allowed the mammoth to cool its extremities down in harsh Arctic conditions to minimize heat loss.

Yes, very cool! Love the picture with the article.

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