Discovered: Your Facebook likes can indicate your sexuality; being frustrated can make you seek out violent video games; HIV, if controlled, presents no greater risk of death; ancient humans suffered from heart disease, just like us.
Facebook likes can indicate sexuality. The things you like on Facebook can paint a fairly accurate picture of who you are, according to a University of Cambridge researcher who created the Facebook app myPersonality. Some of these are obvious ("most fans of the satirical, Fox News–mocking show 'The Colbert Report,' are Democrats"); some, however, are not. A program written to mine the data collected by myPersonality on 58,000 users "correctly identified gay men 88 percent of the time, even though less than 5 percent of them had liked things explicitly related to sexual orientation." The findings, though clearly valuable to marketers, pose a striking existential question: are we nothing more than a list of likes and dislikes? [Science News]
Frustration can make you seek out violent video games. The urge to steal and cheat isn't accepted in the social order, so do video games — and the worlds into which their players can escape — offer a kind of refuge from the frustration over society's rules? "Denying people the opportunity to engage in these taboo behaviors may lead them to seek out violent video games as a way of managing their frustration," an Ohio State researcher reported in a recent paper, which offered violent video games as a final response to a survey, rather than studying actual gameplay. He was quick to warn that such a dynamic can be self-fulfilling rather than relieving: "While people may turn to violent video games as a way to manage their feelings of frustration, the video games may actually enhance negative emotions." [Psychological Science]
HIV, if controlled, presents no greater risk of death. Has HIV finally become so manageable that it presents no real risk of early mortality? Negating the ill effects of the virus depends on a strict regiment of medicine, a doctor at University College London showed in a study of HIV-positive men and women. But when done correctly, "patients with undetectable viral loads and near-normal levels of immune cells on state-of-the art antiretroviral therapy (ART) can expect to have about the same risk of death as people without HIV." To be sure, managing HIV is not the same thing as curing it — but such studies show that medicine, and the visibility of HIV-positive individuals has come a long way since the virus began to proliferate toward the end of the twentieth century. [AIDS]
Ancient humans suffered from heart disease, just like us. Heart disease, usually depicted with computer-generated imagery of plaque-encrusted arteries, is often thought to be a fairly new condition, accelerated by our taste for fatty foods. But researchers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City say that ancient humans suffered from heart problems, too: "A significant cross-section of mummies, from all cultures and timeframes, had calcified plaque in artery walls — most frequently the aorta but also in the neck's carotid artery — hinting at atherosclerosis, a major cause of heart attack." So, you should still think twice about ordering that basket of fries. But by no means is the risk of arterial plaque (resulting from such indulgences, or other things) a new threat to human life. [New Scientist]