Despite criticism from some quarters, Neuroeconomics has now become a well-established field of academic study (with dedicated research departments at New York University, Duke University, and Claremont Graduate University). A logical extension of the field, however, remains considerably less mainstream – Neuroaccounting.

What happens in our brain when we see banknotes being ripped up?

“Conversation analysts have used the term ‘laughter’ to refer to the free-standing tokens heh, hah, huh and the like.”

In his 2010 discussion paper Competitive careers as a way to mediocracy Professor of Business Administration, Matthias Kräkel, (presently at the Bonn Graduate School of Economics, Germany), provides a contemporary corollary to the well-known Peter Principle (1969). Which famously states that:

“Individuals are promoted until they reach their level of incompetence.”

Or, put another way,

“Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence”.

“Hand claps are a relatively primitive conveyor of sonic information, yet they are widely applied for different purposes.”

Almost three years have passed since the US patent for a Domestic Animal Telephone was issued. The patent describes :

“A phone for pets and pet owners is taught [sic?] which allows the owner to call the house and ‘talk’ to the pet”.

But then, in Feb. 2011 a new patent was issued (also entitled 'Domestic Animal Telephone') to the same inventors – at first glance strikingly similar to the original :

Can owning a dog or cat be classed as a dangerous activity?

Judy A. Stevens PhD. and colleagues at The Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, of the US National Center for Injury Prevention and Control have completed their report – Dogs and cats as environmental fall hazards – which is published in the Journal of Safety Research,Volume 41, issue 1, February 2010, Pages 69-73.

“A woodpecker is known to drum the hard woody surface of a tree at a rate of 18 to 22 times per second with a deceleration of 1200 g, yet with no sign of blackout or brain damage.”

As many of you know, I spent a fair amount of time last month engaged in debates about the wisdom of California’s Proposition 37, which would have mandated the labeling of genetically modified foods. While many of these discussions were civil, one particularly energetic fellow accused me of having been brainwashed by the “cult of the NIH” into believing that anything science does must be good.

At the time I just giggled. But his Tweet stuck in my head. After the election I looked back on my twenty years as a scientist in the “NIH system” and I began to see the signs. So I read about cults – about what differentiates them from normal, run-of-the-mill organization. And I started keeping score (on a 1-9 scale, of course, with 1 being the most cult-ish).

Q.1 Is it possible to use one’s tongue as a subatomic particle detector?
Q.2 If so, would that be a good idea?