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Things You Should Know (Maybe)

Monday, March 17, 2014
posted by Douglas Keene

fudge_dog-poopIt’s already time for another installment of things you should (maybe) know. These are typically items that make us take a second look but don’t merit a full blog post on their own. Light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek fare good for party conversation (probably only at certain sorts of parties) or trivia games, but not really likely to aid you in litigation advocacy. Trivia that can both amuse and annoy your friends!

Fudge shaped like feces and other ways to get tenure. Thanks to disgust researchers we are often treated to the creative use of fart spray in experiments, but we have never before run across fudge-shaped-like-feces. For serious lovers of fudge, the shapes of this fudge apparently creates an emotional confrontation between the diner’s aversion to the action (“I can’t bring myself to put this in my mouth…”) and knowledge of the outcome (“…although I know it will taste delicious”). The fudge-shaped-like-feces are actually from a study published in 1986 that these 2014 researchers probably delighted in including in the discussion of their article just for the disgust factor. (It works. And, don’t invite us to the party where you deftly slide a tray of these delicacies onto the buffet.)

A new(?) legal defense for murder. Instead of the “my brain made me do it” defense, how about this one? “My mom made me do it.” A New York City attorney accused of beating and strangling his girlfriend says it happened because his mom devoted herself to her career when Jason Bohn was just ten years old. In turn, says the defense psychiatrist (Alexander Sasha Bardey, who, by the way, has consulted for the TV series, Law and Order), young Jason developed “intermittent explosive disorder”. Specifically, Dr. Bardey says Mr. Bohn “suffers from [maternal neglect initiated] intermittent explosive disorder” and that Bohn “blew up” and had no idea what he was doing when he killed Danielle Thomas in 2012. The ABC News site adds additional details and voicemail messages from Bohn and his victim. Bohn has pled not guilty and hopes for a lesser manslaughter charge. According to the New York Post, Bohn (also known as the “Ivy League killer”) authored a document called “101 Ways to Kill Your Father”. I guess we can keep an eye out for the sequel,  “My Parents Made Me Do It”.

Who believes in astrology? More Americans than you might think according to a new survey from the National Science Foundation. Only 55% of adults (from age 18-24) believe astrology is “not scientific”. To add to your pain, the percentage who think astrology is scientific is increasing. In 2010, 64% of respondents aged 35-44 believed astrology was not scientific. But in 2012, only 51% said it was not scientific. Of course, maybe 2012 was a less literate sample, and they thought it was about astronomy.  Would that help us feel better?

astrology not scientific

Wondering how Puritans communicated their affections for Valentine’s Day? Probably something along the lines of these Puritan valentines. You may want to bookmark them for next year.

Political affiliation and ultimate verdict. We’re seeing renewed interest these days in the relationship of political affiliation to jury and mock jury verdicts. Unfortunately, we are also seeing a very significant decline in the proportion of mock jurors who will actually identify as a member of a political party. There has been a rise in the proportion of the public who don’t identify with either party. Instead they are increasingly flocking to “politically unaffiliated” or “politically independent”. So here, courtesy of Big Think is a quick and sweet way to identify who is what among potential jurors. Pass around a bowl of assorted candy treats and make a note of who chooses what. (Democrats who are politically active prefer Almond Joy, Baby Ruth and Raisinets while less involved Democrats prefer Airheads and Nerds. Active Republicans prefer York Peppermint Patties and less active Republicans choose Skittles and Rolo candies.) This study was done by the same people who carefully assessed the relationship of politics to beer, sports and fast food. Fortunately for the education system, the authors are advertising experts and not faculty in search of tenure. We will leave it up to you to determine the rigor of their scientific method. But any research that provides a happy array of processed treats can’t be all bad.

Miller, RM Hannikainen, IA Cushman, FA 2014 Bad actions or bad outcomes? Differentiating affective contributions to the moral condemnation of harm. Emotion.


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