Science & Society

California Senator Dianne Feinstein recently declared war on homemade soap in order to placate her corporate donors, so it is no surprise the public holds her in rather poor regard. Yet it is not just her, U.S. Congress approval ratings are at record lows across the board and a new study speculates that this may be partly due to a decline in the use of warm, agreeable language in the House.

The analysis found that the use of prosocial words -- language such as cooperate or contribute -- by lawmakers predicts public approval of Congress six months later.


Does anyone actually buy the clothes that show up on runways a few times per year? People do, and the thinking goes that in order to sell them, models need to look thin. Some cultural advocates have insisted that overweight women who look more 'real' - 65 percent of Americans are overweight - will sell more clothes, but that is in defiance of marketing principles which have shown that people buy on what they want to look like, not what they do look like.
Our adventure started here after an 8-mile hike to Snowmass Lake near Aspen, Colorado


I learned something very important about crop pests in a most unexpected setting – a paradise-like wilderness area in the Colorado Rockies. 

It was the summer of 1978 and I had gotten married the year before. This was my first chance to share a favorite place, the Snowmass/Maroon Bells Wilderness Area, with my wife. 

Kids from
multilingual environments
become better communicators, according to a new paper in 
Psychological Science
which says that such children are better at interpreting a speaker's meaning than children who are exposed only to their native tongue - even if the kids are not bilingual themselves.

Exposure to more than one language is the key for building effective social communication skills, says University of Chicago Katherine Kinzler, who believes this paper is the first to demonstrate the social benefits of just being exposed to multiple languages. 


As scientists, my colleagues and I are often told we need to engage the general public and decision makers, to use our expertise to inform public discourse and debates and to reach a far wider audience than just our professional colleagues.

I very much believe in the importance of doing this. This is, for instance, my 25th article for The Conversation. I’ve also written scores of articles for other popular venues such as New Scientist, Natural History, Yale Environment 360, Australian Geographic, the Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times, among others.

Women's magazines influence decisions to have a more 'natural' childbirth or not, with most stories in favor of epidural or potentially a Cesarean section.

Scholars writing in Women&Health decided to assess the effect of communicating the benefits of more natural birth. Kate Young, lead author from Monash University's School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, said popular media was biased towards things like epidurals even in low risk births, though the authors say it leads to preventable maternal and infant morbidity.

"We wanted to look at how women's decisions might be influenced by communicating the alternative benefits of non-medicalized birth," Young said.


A large study examined the impact of growth in Medicare's hospice benefit among nursing home residents between 2004 and 2009 and found improvement in indicators of care quality, such as less reliance on intensive care and feeding tubes, but that came with increased costs to Medicare of $6,761 per patient on average.

Early in the history of the Medicare hospice benefit, care was most likely to be provided by non-profit organizations, and that was how politicians sold the Medicare expansion to taxpayers - that hospice growth would save Medicare money by reducing expensive, aggressive end-of-life treatments such as hospital intensive care, because groups did it out of compassion. But once a lot of government money is involved, things change.


Millie Dollar sashays onto the stage in a green, feathered dress to conclude the evening’s entertainment with a sultry burlesque routine. The capacity audience at the ornate Epstein Theatre in Liverpool is enraptured by her sensual beauty.

Burlesque, she says in an interview, gives her a way of communicating through costume, routine and dance – which she does with panache. What the audience can’t see though is the hearing condition that means she must work hard to follow the beat during her glamorous routine.

As a tenured professor and mother of four young sons, I am constantly asked, “How do you do it?” What people mean is: “How can you have a full-time job and still manage child care and housework?”

I usually respond, “High-quality husband and high-quality child care, in that order.” From the outset, my husband, a full-time, clinical pharmacist, has been a committed partner in caring for our house and raising our children.

But I’ve learned that, with our equal division of housework and child care, he’s an outlier. There may be some like him, but our research group at The Ohio State University recently discovered that such husbands in dual-earner households are, indeed, rare.

According to a new paper, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the impact of Saturday morning cartoons, in particular the popular 1980s cartoon series "The Transformers", and what it did to shape children's perceptions of what behaviors are associated with effective leadership.

"The Transformers" started in 1984 with a toy line of transforming factions of alien robots fighting a civil war that spread to Earth -- the "good" Autobots, seeking peace, and the "bad" Decepticons, vying for galactic domination. The franchise has grown to include animation, comic books, video games and films, grossing more than $1 billion, whereas their competitors at the time, the Go-Bots, have been left behind.