Today in research: chiding about materialism, learning about a "sixth sense" ancestor, noting junk food by another name, worrying about the FDA, and reading about the dangers of reading in bed. 

  • People are blatantly disregarding Disney movie morals. Nearly everything will destroy your marriage. Money is one of those things. Today, Brigham Young University researchers came to this conclusion by quantitative methods: "In a survey of 1,700 married couples, researchers found that couples in which one or both partners placed a high priority on getting or spending money were much less likely to have satisfying and stable marriages," ABC News reported. More interesting is that there seemed to be head-scratching number of participants who self-reported agreement with statements like "money can buy happiness" or "I like to own things to impress people." [ABC News]
  • Worries: about seafood, but also the FDA. People are quite trusting of the Food and Drug administration. Its consumer protection standards, however, are being questioned by a National Resource Defense Council study, which is warning about high levels of carbon compounds levels found in BP oil-spill polluted water that are making seafood dangerous. As USA Today reported, the study found that, "because of outdated assessment methods and assumptions, the [FDA's] standard for certain carbon compounds in seafood is off by 10,000 times."  [USA Today]
  • 'Better for you' foods are still don't look great for you. It seems slightly surprising that, as The Wall Street Journal reported, foods designated with the moniker "better for you" (i.e. "reduced-calorie items, such as flavored waters or diet sodas") are outperforming traditional junk food labeled products in sales, according to a Hudson Institute report. But the list of those "better for you" items still looks somewhat junky: "Examples include Oscar Mayer Lean Turkey and Wheat Thins from Kraft Foods, PepsiCo’s Pepsi Max and Quaker Oatmeal and Unilever’s Breyer’s Light ice cream and Lipton Dry Soups." [The Wall Street Journal, CNN]
  • The evolutionary ancestor of the 'sixth sense'.  Some animals, like the monarch butterfly for instance, have been noted to have the "sixth sense" ability to navigate direction based on magnetic fields. Today, Popular Science flagged a study from Cornell University purporting to trace back back this sense to a common, long-ago ancestor. Considering the dramatic notions held about the sixth sense, the godfather is a bit boring: it looks like some long-nosed fish. As the study's release describes: "This ancestor was probably a predatory marine fish with good eyesight, jaws and teeth and a lateral line system for detecting water movements, visible as a stripe along the flank of most fishes. It lived around 500 million years ago." [Popular ScienceCornell University - Press Release]
  • 100-year-old British research: 'Reading in bed is dangerous'. The Guardian dusted off its vault of science reporting to bring us this article from 1908 headlined as "Reading in bed is dangerous, warns Lancet," referring to the prestigious medical journal with that name. A fretful excerpt: "Probably most bed-readers will continue to indulge the vice, whether its object is to weary the resistance of the wakeful mind by severely exercising its attention, or to pass pleasantly into the extinction of slumber – which many people instinctively shrink from – amid the diversions of an imaginary world." [The Guardian]