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What's Wrong With Rewarding Mediocrity?

Aug 28, 2015

Kids these days typically get a trophy for participation in most events. Some argue that the practice ultimately serves as a disincentive for a child to compete. Others ask, if your kid is smiling, what more do you want?

In this week's edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke look into the system of reward and evaluate what we are rewarding and why.

Photo credit Giuseppe Milo | Creative Commons

So you just got that raise you've been working toward, and a new project starts tomorrow, and you're making great money, but — you don't really like the work. You're moving up, but you're not happy. It might be time to re-evaluate your situation, and maybe get on a different proverbial treadmill.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about the concept of The Hedonic Treadmill, and what we can do to set ourselves up for a happier life.

Failure is a word that carries a lot of baggage, arousing emotional responses that we’d usually rather avoid. 

What about success? Why does the thought of success conjure images and feelings of comfort and satisfaction. This week, "Two Guys on Your Head" examine how the heights of success and the "training wheels" of failure impact our everyday lives.

www.psypost.org

Our sensory systems are pretty smart. Typically we like things that are going to be good for us to ingest, and dislike things that are going to be bad for us to ingest. Pretty simple right? Not so much!

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about benefit of the disgust reaction, and how we as human beings co-opt that system and use it more conceptually than it what it’s meant for. Therefore disgust has come to have a moral dimension to it.

From Texas Standard

Rehabilitation after a health issue or accident can be a long and painful process. For people recovering from a stroke or spinal cord injury, the challenges are unique. One side of the body can be affected more than the other, and damage to the brain can also cause roadblocks to regaining movement. But some Texas researchers have developed a new way to help stroke and spinal cord injury patients move again.

flickr.com/pagedooley

There are a lot of stereotypes about how men and women seek out different qualities in a mate. But researchers from the University of Texas say they now have a clearer picture of just how different the preferences of men and women are.

As part of the study, researchers asked people (all of whom identify as heterosexual) what they find desirable in a partner. Judging from their answers, researchers were able to guess with 92 percent accuracy whether the respondent was male or female.

“The patterns in the sexes barely overlap at all,” says Dan Conroy-Beam, a UT grad student and lead author of the study. Conroy-Beam says women tend to prefer a partner who is more financially established and older, while men place a premium on physical attractiveness and youth. That, he says, tells us when the sexes are going out and looking for a mate, they’re looking for something completely different.

Flickr/cellculture (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Planned Parenthood is under scrutiny over their alleged involvement in fetal tissue research. The Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group, has now released three different secretly recorded videos of Planned Parenthood employees discussing fetal tissue. While the videos don’t provide any concrete evidence that Planned Parenthood is illegally profiting from fetal tissue donation, critics say the video certainly raises questions about how fetal tissue donation is done.

Virtual Or No, Therapy Can Be Beneficial

Jul 23, 2015
Nejron Photo/Shutterstock

Therapy can be life-changing. However, anyone who’s ever seen a bad therapist likely agrees, on at least some level, that virtual therapy may be a step in the right direction. But is it actually effective?

Virtual therapy offers a true judgment-free zone. It also removes much of the shame and fear associated with telling even (or perhaps especially) the kindest of therapist one’s deepest and darkest secrets. It’s also much more convenient and, likely, inexpensive.

However, a good therapist can sense what’s going on beneath the surface. Due to the way the brain is structured, we can rationalize our emotional problems in a way that fits into the context of our current environment and feels safe, which can have little to do with accuracy. A good therapist also provides advice on how to face these issues, as we become ready to hear it.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke discuss the purposes of therapy and provide some perspective on the roles virtual therapy can and can’t fill.

NASA

From Texas Standard:

Big news this morning from NASA’s planet-hunting mission: The Kepler Space Telescope at the University of Texas' McDonald Observatory has revealed the most Earthlike planet found to date, researchers say. The planet, called Kepler-452b, lies in the constellation Cygnus, about 1,400 light years from Earth. It qualifies as super-Earth-sized, as it's about 1.6 times larger than Earth, and its orbital period is quite similar to ours, at 385 days.

The Kepler scope was launched in 2009 to detect Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zones of distant stars — planets that have the potential to sustain life like that on Earth.

“We are pushing toward Earth 2.0,” McDonald Observatory astronomer Michael Endl said in a press release. “This planet is probably the most similar to Earth yet found.”

New images of Pluto have arrived from a NASA space probe, and they're already allowing scientists to update what we know about the dwarf planet — such as its size. NASA's New Horizons probe has traveled more than 3 billion miles to send photos and data about Pluto back to Earth.

Painkillers: What Are They Really Killing?

Jul 10, 2015
Eric Norris/flickr

Painkillers: Our societal views on pain are right there in the name of its cure — or, rather, primary form of treatment.

The high reliance on painkillers by the medical community has become an increasingly controversial topic. And for patients, that reliance can easily transform a treatment to an addiction or recreational drug use.

flickr/creative commons

Pain can range from barely noticeable to excruciating. Yet pain, in all its forms, is important. It is how the body communicates there is a problem.

Physical pain in the ankle may ask us to stop walking so fast or demand a pair of crutches immediately. Likewise, emotional pain may indicate that we need to talk about a problem with our partner or severe the relationship entirely.

In this episode of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, add to the series on pain and the brain, with a discussion on emotional pain and memory.

hortonsoandp.com

Understanding how our brains interpret pain is an ongoing investigation. Some think pain can be as much a physical phenomenon as it is a cultural one. While in the West pain management seems to be just part of life. We wanted to investigate what psychology can tell us about pain and the brain.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, kick off our three-part series on "Pain and The Brain" with a discussion of "Phantom Pain." What it is, and how psychologists are finding new ways of helping patients who suffer with it.

mitchelljwachtelpodiatryblog.blogspot.com

Even though is seems like a neverending April day in Austin, it's technically summertime. For some of us that means we take a break, with the intention of tackling all those projects we never had time to get to during the harsh Austin winter.

So why, when the summer comes to an end, do we feel disappointed when we haven't written that novel or cleaned out the closets?

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about the many elements of summer that can make it difficult to let go, and how re-thinking our intentions and being present can allow us to make the most of time off.

nasahqphoto/flickr

Neil deGrasse Tyson may be the biggest celebrity astrophysicist working today. In addition to hosting the reboot of the TV series “Cosmos,” he is also active on Twitter, where he makes science jokes, ruminates on the universe, and offers up physics-related facts. Now, Tyson is taking his ideas on the road. He'll be appearing across Texas this month, and today, he spoke with Nathan Bernier about the upcoming tour.

galleryhip.com

Nuclear energy. Penicillin. Lasers.

Science produces some pretty groundbreaking discoveries, but when we focus on the products, as opposed to the process, we miss a huge part of what makes science one of the most valuable resources we have as humans.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about some of the aspects of science education that could be improved upon, in order to ensure we have a public that's well-informed. 

www.newyorker.com

When you think of science, what comes to mind? Maybe you think about launching rockets into space, or antibiotics, or the electric car?

Maybe not. But let's say you do. If that is the case, it's more accurate to say you love what scientific developments have brought us, but not necessarily science itself.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about what science is, why the scientific process is important to understand and why it's so difficult to communicate science to the general public.

Why Seeing Isn't Believing

May 22, 2015
catalog.flatworldknowledge.com

Philosophers have long proposed that there is no objective reality. And now science agrees — at least as far as our personal experiences are concerned.

Perception is the process of interpreting our present environment through the lens of our past experiences. Everything we sense, think, feel, and even remember, actually arises in response to a combination of what is currently happening and our stored long-term memories. 

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Bob Duke and Dr. Art Markman discuss the evolutionary advantages of flexible perception, and how this process can influence both our behavior and modern day society.

vnnforum.com

Do ever get that burning feeling in your stomach that a situation just isn't fair and you must react? That feeling is an important part of our motivational system, and something we as humans evolved to protect.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke discuss how defiance may be best viewed, and responded to, as a reassertion of autonomy in situations where people feel a loss of control and self-identity. 

crobranch.co.za

Have you ever worked with a group of people on a project and really felt like you carried the lion's share of the weight? And then you think back on it and realize you always do more, you always have the great idea, and you never get the recognition you rightfully deserve?

It might be that you are both the problem and the solution.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about the psychology of egocentric bias. It can be pretty destructive, but not necessarily in ways we predict.

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