Discovered: citizen scientists, when gossip is good, ominous global warming stats to skip over, and some more terrible things about apple juice.

  • Gossip is fine as long as you feign concern afterwards. "Indeed, the British Psychological Society has published research that found that gossiping is good for you – as long as it is tempered by a spirit of concern." You will find this odd advice and more scientific justifications for why gossip is good for you (it boosts serotonin levels! it releases "feel-good chemicals"!) in today's Telegraph, in case you were harboring any doubts that your habit was taking a toll on your health. In fact, it's not only healthy, but essential. From a quoted psychologist: "It’s one of the key things that makes us successful as a species. Without it we’d die." And there you go. [The Telegraph]
  • The global warming statistics that will be ignored today.  In a post-Inconvenient Truth era, the bar is set pretty high for a climate change study, stat, or theory to break through to an American public that's seen far too many ominous global warming stats. So, here's two: 74 percent of the "warming" in "global warming" was found to be man made, according to Swiss researchers who used a new statistical model to come to a "strikingly similar" results in line with previous studies, the journal Nature reports. Conveniently, this study arrives just as the Global Carbon Project released it's latest assessment of global fossil fuel burning: "Carbon Emissions Show Biggest Jump Ever Recorded." Briefly unsettling enough? No? Here's how Earth could look  in 2080.  [NatureThe New York Times]
  • Citizen journalists, meet citizen scientists. Think about all the things that media professionals constantly fret about hobby bloggers and transfer them to the scientific community and you'll get a sense of the The Wall Street Journal's weekend essay on people who are performing their own research  without any formal scientific background or expertise. Much of the promise (people are analyzing their own health data and trying to figure out ways to live healthier) and pitfalls apply ("Amateurs may not collect data rigorously, they say, and may draw conclusions from sample sizes that are too small to yield statistically reliable results"). One citizen scientist, Melanie Swan, described as an investment advisor, was used as an illustration of the reluctance that they may receive in academic circles. At a conference where she presented her research, "scientists clapped politely at the end of Ms. Swan's presentation, but during the question-and-answer session, one stood up and said that the data was not statistically significant—and it could be harmful if patients built their own regimens based on the results."  [The Wall Street Journal]
  • Apple juice is having a very bad few weeks. So, yes, last week--to the surprise of many--Dr. Oz's war against arsenic in apple juice found some vindication from Consumer Reports who convinced the FDA that there was some merit to checking up about those purported arsenic levels. But, for those who would really alter their apple juice consumption habits over the feud, today, the Associated Press published its own unfavorable profile of the drink. And it couldn't be more dismissive, seemingly connecting apple juice to everything unhealthy in just two sentences: "Apple juice has few natural nutrients, lots of calories and, in some cases, more sugar than soda has. It trains a child to like very sweet things, displaces better beverages and foods, and adds to the obesity problem, its critics say." [Associated Press]
  • Holiday billboards that grab attention: jumping things and dirt cheap prices.  EyeTrackShop, "a webcam eye-tracking company" that sounds ripped from Minority Report, gathered  400 holiday participants to track which ads from six clothing stores caught eyeball attention. From the USA Today article that reports on the study it's unclear who funded the research, but the old standby's of mall advertising--cheap prices for sweaters and "motion" in advertising (i.e. horses jumping in ads on the Bergdorf Goodman store windows) were the ones that kept people staring at the ads longer. While the "motion" finding makes sense, we're perplexed about why cheap sweater ads held people's attention, those are usually the blander window ads, no? [USA Today]