Narcissism has higher health costs for men

A fascinating but not entirely surprising result from a study about narcissism suggests that men incur a higher cost health-wise for trying to appear manly, or otherwise in conformity with stereotypical gender roles.

For the new study, Konrath and colleagues David Reinhard of the University of Virginia, and William Lopez and Heather Cameron of the University of Michigan examined the role of narcissism and sex on cortisol levels in a sample of 106 undergraduate students. Cortisol, which can be measured through saliva samples, is a widely used marker of physiological stress.

The researchers measured cortisol levels at two points in time in order to assess baseline levels of the hormone, which signals the level of activation of the body’s key stress response system, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Participants were not asked to complete any tasks that would elevate their stress. Elevated levels of cortisol in a relatively stress-free situation would indicate chronic HPA activation, which has significant health implications, increasing the risk of cardiovascular problems.

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Do extreme weather events make you more liberal?

I will happily admit, the next several posts over the next several days constitute me trying to play some amount of catch-up with my ever-burgeoning Firefox tabs and RSS feeds. I’m trying to post a bunch of days ahead of time, too, so I might be reporting on some older stuff. But I’ll try to keep it fresh and relevant with my opinionation. Apologies if we’re covering ground you’ve already covered, you savvy and avid reader you.

Via Peter Sinclair’s excellent Climate Denial Crock of the Week, this story from USA Today explores the ramifications of a study about how people react to global warming policy when having been exposed to examples of the kind of extreme weather event that climate realists have been warning of for decades.
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Life may not depend on planet having a large moon

Via Universe Today, some news regarding the long-held belief that a stable axial tilt requires a large enough moon to provide stabilization — a study suggests it’s less necessary than previously believed.

Ever since a study conducted back in 1993, it has been proposed that in order for a planet to support more complex life, it would be most advantageous for that planet to have a large moon orbiting it, much like the Earth’s moon. Our moon helps to stabilize the Earth’s rotational axis against perturbations caused by the gravitational influence of Jupiter. Without that stabilizing force, there would be huge climate fluctuations caused by the tilt of Earth’s axis swinging between about 0 and 85 degrees.

But now that belief is being called into question thanks to newer research, which may mean that the number of planets capable of supporting complex life could be even higher than previously thought.

Anything that widens the scope of potential planets where life might have arisen is welcome news. We’re finding new exoplanets every damn day nowadays, so the search for extraterrestrial life-harboring planets is simply a matter of time, I’m willing to wager.

Did climate change doom Neanderthals?

Busy day. Quick link for you via Discovery News:

When climate took a turn toward the cold tens of thousands of years ago, both Neanderthals and early humans started traveling further distances to find food, found a new study.
[...]
The study also hints at what’s to come if climate change forces modern cultures to blend, as their homes become inhospitable from drought, flooding or severe weather.

“We are increasingly finding evidence of sophisticated behavior among Neanderthals, and now the question is: If they were so smart, why did they become extinct?” said Michael Barton, an anthropologist at Arizona State University in Tempe.

“Our answer is that they became extinct because they were so smart, not in spite of it,” he said. “They were doing what everyone else was doing, and how they dealt with worldwide environmental change made their population and probably other endemic populations disappear.”

A portent of what’s to come? Certainly changing climate would affect us differently this time around, since it’s toward the hotter end of the spectrum, not the colder.

Study shows making medical marijuana legal has no effect on kids

Interesting bit of news from a study on medical cannabis’ legalization. The prohibitionists have long suggested that legalizing medical marijuana would just lead to more kids smoking up after school. Turns out that’s a claim that’s easily studied! Which, as you must know by now, you should avoid doing at all costs when you’re advocating something so anti-reality as prohibition of a substance less harmful than alcohol — because you’ll just get caught making claims that don’t bear any level of scrutiny. There’s even two states that are fairly close culturally to serve as subjects.

Rhode Island legalized medical marijuana in 2006, but Massachusetts did not. “We wanted to pair these two states because they have so much in common culturally and geographically,” says Dr. Esther Choo, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School and emergency medicine physician at Rhode Island Hospital.

Choo’s analysis used data collected from 1997 to 2009 for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The analysis involved nearly 13,000 youth in Rhode Island and about 25,000 in Massachusetts. In each state in any given year, the study found, about 30% of youth reported using marijuana at least once in the previous month.

In other words, while marijuana use was common, there was no significant difference in rates of pot use between the years before and after legalization in Rhode Island. “We found no effect of the policy change,” says Choo.

Emphasis mine. Wow, giving patients access to pot for medical purposes doesn’t turn kids into stoners. What a surprise!

Read more at time.com.