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How to confuse a moral compass

How to confuse a moral compass
People can be tricked into reversing their opinions on moral issues, even to the point of constructing good arguments to support the opposite of their original positions, researchers report today in PLoS ONE1. The researchers, led by Lars Hall, a cognitive scientist at Lund University in Sweden, recruited 160 volunteers to fill out a 2-page survey on the extent to which they agreed with 12 statements — either about moral principles relating to society in general or about the morality of current issues in the news, from prostitution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. But the surveys also contained a ‘magic trick’. Each contained two sets of statements, one lightly glued on top of the other. Two statements in every hidden set had been reworded to mean the opposite of the original statements. Participants were then asked to read aloud three of the statements, including the two that had been altered, and discuss their responses. Related:  HumanityAcademia

Europeans did not inherit pale skins from Neanderthals - life - 26 September 2012 The people who built Stonehenge 5000 years ago probably had the same pallid complexion of many modern inhabitants of the UK. Now it seems that the humans occupying Britain and mainland Europe only lost the darker skins of their African ancestors perhaps just 6000 years earlier, long after Neanderthals had died out. The finding confirms that modern Europeans didn't gain their pale skin from Neanderthals – adding to evidence suggesting that European Homo sapiens and Neanderthals generally kept their relationships strictly platonic. There is a clear correlation between latitude and skin pigmentation: peoples that have spent an extended period of time at higher latitudes have adapted to those conditions by losing the skin pigmentation that is common at lower latitudes, says Sandra Beleza at the University of Porto in Portugal. Those wanderings took modern humans into Europe around 45,000 years ago – but exactly when the European skin adapted to local conditions had been unclear. Three genes

WebElements Periodic Table of the Elements Why Mental Pictures Can Sway Your Moral Judgment iStockphoto.com When we think about morality, many of us think about religion or what our parents taught us when we were young. Those influences are powerful, but many scientists now think of the brain as a more basic source for our moral instincts. The tools scientists use to study how the brain makes moral decisions are often stories, said Joshua Greene, a Harvard psychologist, citing one well-known example: "A trolley is headed toward five people, and the only way you can save them is to hit a switch that will turn the trolley away from the five and onto a side track, but if you turn it onto the side track, it will run over one person." It's a moral dilemma. Most people say they would flip the switch and divert the trolley. What this shows is that people resolve the moral dilemma by doing a cost-benefit analysis. In other words, people are what philosophers would call utilitarians. He asked me to visualize another well-known dilemma: Would you push the big guy to his death?

Unbreakable crypto: Store a 30-character password in your brain’s subconscious memory A cross-disciplinary team of US neuroscientists and cryptographers have developed a password/passkey system that removes the weakest link in any security system: the human user. It’s ingenious: The system still requires that you enter a password, but at no point do you actually remember the password, meaning it can’t be written down and it can’t be obtained via coercion or torture. The system, devised by Hristo Bojinov of Stanford University and friends from Northwestern and SRI, relies on implicit learning, a process by which you absorb new information — but you’re completely unaware that you’ve actually learnt anything; a bit like learning to ride a bike. In short, the system teaches the password to a part of your brain that you cannot physically access — but it is still there in your subconscious, just waiting to be tapped. Before running, the game creates a random sequence of 30 letters chosen from S, D, F, J, K, and L, with no repeating characters.

La pensée PowerPoint - Franck FROMMER Qui est aujourd'hui l'ennemi numéro un de l'armée américaine ? Les Talibans ? Al-Qaida ? L'Iran ? Non, l'ennemi, c'est PowerPoint, comme l'a affirmé, en avril 2010, le général des Marines James N. Mattis, selon lequel « PowerPoint nous rend stupides ». Après la parution de ce livre, M. « Que le cadre sup' qui ne s'est jamais assoupi, après déjeuner, dans l'ambiance tamisée d'une réunion PowerPoint, qui ne s'est jamais arraché les cheveux à résumer une année de travail en dix slides (diapositives) et cinquante bullet points (points forts), jette le premier rétroprojecteur à Franck Frommer. « Une projection PowerPoint a valeur d'une "scène primitive" de notre époque : tous les salariés du monde sont aujourd'hui familiers des présentations réalisées par des consultants dans une salle terne où brillent sur l'écran magique des "souliers" et des "bullet points". « PowerPoint nous rendrait-il stupides ? In April 2010, Marine General James N. Contact : d.ribouchon@editionsladecouverte.com

After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? -- Giubilini and Minerva -- Journal of Medical Ethics + Author Affiliations Correspondence to Dr Francesca Minerva, CAPPE, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia; francesca.minerva@unimelb.edu.au Contributors AG and FM contributed equally to the manuscript. Received 25 November 2011 Revised 26 January 2012 Accepted 27 January 2012 Published Online First 23 February 2012 Abstract Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus' health. Introduction Severe abnormalities of the fetus and risks for the physical and/or psychological health of the woman are often cited as valid reasons for abortion. A serious philosophical problem arises when the same conditions that would have justified abortion become known after birth. Such an issue arises, for example, when an abnormality has not been detected during pregnancy or occurs during delivery. Abortion and after-birth abortion There are two reasons which, taken together, justify this claim: Our reply is the following. Conclusions

Oldest paint-making studio ever discovered - Technology & science - Science - LiveScience A group of Home sapiens came across a picturesque cave on the coast of South Africa around 100,000 years ago. They unloaded their gear and set to work, grinding iron-rich dirt and mixing it gently with heated bone in abalone shells to create a red, paint-like mixture. Then they dipped a thin bone into the mixture to transfer it somewhere before leaving the cave — and their toolkits — behind. Researchers now have uncovered those paint-making kits, sitting in the cave in a layer of dune sand, just where they had been left 100,000 years ago. "To me, it's an important indicator of how technologically advanced people were 100,000 years ago," Henshilwood said. Along with the toolkits, Henshilwood said, the archaeology team found pieces of ocher, or colored clay, etched with abstract designs. This cave, now known as Blombos Cave, has been under excavation since 1992. After three days of painstaking excavation, the archaeologists saw one of the shells was coated with a red substance.

HD 40307g, une exoplanète potentiellement habitable et proche de la Terre Une exoplanète dont la masse équivaudrait à sept fois celle de la Terre et potentiellement habitable a été découverte à quelque 42 années-lumière de nous. La liste des exoplanètes connues s'allonge une nouvelle fois ! Une équipe internationale d'astronomes vient en effet d'annoncer en avoir découvert une autour de l'étoile appelée HD 40307. Selon l’étude publiée dans la revue Nature, cette planète baptisée HD 40307g tourne en environ 200 jours autour de son étoile. Avez-vous déjà partagé cet article? Partager sur Facebook Partager sur Twitter De plus, cette exoplanète qui entre dans la catégorie dite des "super-Terres", serait potentiellement habitable. "HD 40307 est une vieille étoile naine parfaitement stable et il n'y a, de ce fait, aucune raison que la planète HD 40307g ne puisse pas maintenir des conditions permettant à la vie d'exister", indique Guillem Anglada-Escudé de l'Université de Göttingen en Allemagne, un des co-auteurs de l’étude cité par l'AFP.

Taste buds and 'tude: The food and mood link Research sheds light on how food affects mood and the flip side: how emotions impact taste. All day, food metaphors weave their way into our thoughts about others. Watching someone cut in line may leave a bad taste in your mouth. Your current love may be the sweetest person you know. A growing body of evidence is making clear the links between what we taste and how we feel: Repulsion is repulsion, whether caused by a shameful act or a rotten egg. Sweet taste, sweet demeanor For two weeks in the spring of 2009, North Dakota State University shut down so that students could help place millions of sandbags along the Red River to prevent disastrous flooding during an especially wet season. Those who liked sweet foods most, the researchers reported last year in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, were most likely to offer help, not just with the sandbags but also with an unrelated study for an English professor. Bad taste in the mouth, and the brain health@latimes.com

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