Research shows that hookah’s are smokey murder machines

I’ve always been wildly skeptical of hookahs only because my dopey Los Angeles friends who don’t appear to be making the most health conscious of choices frequent these hookah lounges so much so the patterns and associations to me connect it to being a poor risk/reward indulgence despite my not knowing anything about the actual science of how it even works.

Turns out hookahs are filthy nasty body killing death pipes or something.

Sounds over-stated, especially after my fair disclosure of my existing confirmation-bias, but how else am I supposed to read the findings that 1 hookah session has 25 times more tar than a cigarette?

There’s a common misconception that hookahs aren’t very dangerous. A recent Rutgers University study revealed that 24 percent of both smokers and nonsmokers under age 25 believe hookahs— shared pipes that allow users to inhale tobacco smoke that’s been passed through a water basin—are safer than cigarettes. But according to a new study from the journal Public Health Reports, this is an even bigger myth than thought.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that one hookah session produces 2.5 times more nicotine, 10 times more carbon monoxide, 25 times more tar, and 125 times more smoke than a single cigarette.

I didn’t even know how hookahs work but it sounds horrifying:

He says studies indicate that more oxygen being pulled through the Hookah bowl could be causing the release of more toxins.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in recent years, smoking Hookah is becoming more popular among young people, with more U.S. high school students saying they smoked Hookah than cigarettes within a 30 day window.

“It’s much more palatable, it’s easier,” says Dr. Primack, referring to Hookah’s appeal.

The process of smoking from a Hookah pipe starts with a hot coal, which is placed over tin foil that heats up dense and often flavored tobacco. The smoke then travels down a stem into a bowl, where it is pulled upwards through water and then through a hose to the consumer. Hookah pipes are also known as “Water Pipes.”

Repent, you hookah hooligans. Cut the habit and find a new way to socially enjoy something.


Non-Surprise: Your house cat really wants to kill you

Science shows what those of use not blinded by the allure of moving-stuffed-animals already knew:

The study is entitled “Personality Structure in the Domestic Cat (Felis silvestris catus), Scottish Wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia), Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia), and African Lion (Panthera leo)” (PDF). Truly, I love these academic titles.

The researchers set out to discover whether there were any consistent similarities in personality between these disparate types of felines.

What they found was that each had three dominant personality types. The Scottish wildcat, for example, had at its core dominance, agreeableness and self-control. Which is not dissimilar to many of my Scottish friends.

How is this all not totally obvious and easily observable? –

In order to better understand cat personalities, cat experts rated a number of animals’ behaviors using the “Big-Five” human personality traits:

1- Openness to Experience
2- Conscientiousness
3- Extraversion/Introversion
4- Agreeableness
5- Neuroticism

According to the research, domestic house cats and African lions have similar personality structures. Both have strong characteristics related to dominance, impulsiveness and neuroticism.

If you have ever thought your cat was anxious, insecure, tense, suspicious, or aggressive toward you, you aren’t making it up. If they were bigger, your cats would probably consider killing you.

But the news isn’t all bad: just like lions, house cats are also playful, excitable and impulsively hilarious.

Thirst for approval makes you a weirdo

No one trusts people who try too hard to be liked because we all naturally assume they’re up to no good. Everyone is drawn to people who appear not to care about their acceptance for the same principals. I realized this in 8th grade when I literally wrote analysis down in a notebook one night trying to compare myself to the cool kids in my class and figure out why the hell despite my best efforts for the past 3 years I had completely failed to advance into that group. After realizing the difference between “I want people to like me” and “I’m not at all worried about whether or not people like me, I’ll just do me” I felt like I had wasted a significant portion of my life, but that is only because I was a dumb teenager. Many people continue to not realize and notice this into adulthood and actually *do* end up wasting precious years and missing out on experiences and relationships because of the lack of self awareness.

This aspect of human psychology is articulated well in an interview in the Washington Post with behavioral economist Sendhil Mullainathan about how scarcity and insecurity lead people to make more desperate decisions because… they are more desperate.

The title is “Being poor changes your thinking about everything” but that thesis seems too obvious to most people I think. Instead, I find his articulations about behavioral reactions in regards to scarcity to be more enlightening when applied to social interactions. Mainly that most lonely people don’t actually lack social skills, they just find themselves in lonely situations that activate survival instincts that make them offputting and weird because they’re trying so hard to make people like them. This traps them in isolation because their response to their loneliness is literally perpetuating their loneliness…

Another tragic example concerns lonely people. The lonely are interesting because it’s so tempting to say: “Oh, lonely people. Yeah, those are just losers, or whatever. Those are people who can’t make friends.” Actually, the data suggests that the vast majority of lonely people don’t lack any social skills at all. It’s just they found themselves in lonely situations.

You move to a new town and you don’t really know anybody. How do you meet people? It’s hard to meet people. The longer that persists, now the longer you’ve been lonely, and then ‑‑ this is the key part with the lonely and the busy and the money and the poor ‑‑ now that you’re in that state, your behavior changes, and the way your behavior changes seems to keep you in that state.

There are, I think, a few ways in which your behavior changes. Scarcity draws a lot of attention to itself. That’s the key finding that I think motivates everything. When you’re experiencing scarcity, your mind automatically focuses on that thing. That focus brings benefits, which we talk about. But it has some costs, too, which help create the scarcity trap.

One cost, for the lonely: If you want to be interesting, the one thing you shouldn’t do is really focus on the fact that “I want this person to like me.” That’s going to make you very uninteresting. But the lonely, they just can’t help but focus on that.

There’s this beautiful study in which subjects speak into a microphone and they either think that someone else listening to them, or they think they’re just talking. Among the non-lonely, there’s very little difference in how third parties would rate subjects’ responses. A third party rates subjects as equally interesting in both conditions. Yet lonely people become less interesting when they think someone is listening. It’s sort of a choking effect. That’s one kind of scarcity trap.

More people should learn this about themselves and others.

Research Saves

Not a hard choice. The rat is cute and that is it’s entire worth to the world. The girl has more to offer, even if you don’t believe in an inherent or divinely given worth to humans.

It’s not all lab rats of course. There is testing on beagles and chimps and other mammals. But if it saves human lives, there is no argument.

You want passion and truth? Okay. Teller and I would personally kill EVERY chimp in the world, with our bare hands, to save ONE street junkie…with AIDS.

-Penn Jillette

Good News: “Minority Report” (Movie) reality might be coming soon

Alternate Headline: Scientific Study suggests precognition may be possible.

If you never saw Minority Report, it’s a Tom Cruise movie where he plays a cop who arrests people before they commit the crime they’re being arrested for based on reports printed from data mined from 3 physics kept in a pool. yeay!

In one experiment subjects, all of whom were students, were briefly shown a word list and then asked to recall as many as they could. Later, they were asked to copy a list of words randomly selected from the same list by a computer. The surprising result of this experiment was that in the recall section of the experiment the subjects recalled at a significantly higher rate words they were later asked to type, even though they had no way of knowing which words would be on the list.

In another experiment subjects were shown images of two curtains alongside each other on a computer screen and told one was concealing a picture (sometimes of an erotic nature), while the other concealed a blank screen. They were then asked to click on the one they “felt” was hiding the picture. When the curtain was selected it was opened to reveal what was behind it. This was repeated 36 times for each subject, and the picture positions were computer-selected and random.

In the 100 sessions subjects consistently selected the correct curtain 53.1 percent of the time for the erotic pictures, significantly over the 50 percent expected by pure chance. For the non-erotic pictures, the success rate was only 49.8 percent.

In a third experiment Bem reversed a common test in which subjects are shown one of the words “Ugly” or “Beautiful,” and then shown a picture of something unpleasant (such as a snake), or pleasant (such as a puppy or kitten), and the subject is asked to quickly decide if the picture is pleasant or unpleasant. In Bem’s reversal experiment the subject was shown the picture first and was required to respond as fast as possible and was then shown the word, which was randomly selected by the computer.

Whatever Happened to the Hole in the Ozone Layer?

As Lewis Black says: “We’ve got men, we’ve got rockets, we’ve got Saran Wrap… FIX IT”.

All I heard about via the environment in the 90s was “the hole in the ozone layer”, the hole, the HOLE! Well, its not actually a hole, its an area that is thinner than the rest, and its not actually a big deal apparently since no one says a damn word about it anymore. LiveScience says the size of the hole has stabilized.

Yes, the ozone has thinned over the North Pole and is expected to keep doing so for 15 years due to “due to weather-related phenomena that scientists still cannot fully explain” (thats helpful). But theres good news:

Since the 1989 Montreal Protocol banned the use of ozone-depleting chemicals worldwide, the ozone hole has stopped growing. Additionally, the ozone layer is blocking more cancer-causing radiation than any time in a decade because its average thickness has increased, according to a 2006 United Nations report. Atmospheric levels of ozone-depleting chemicals have reached their lowest levels since peaking in the 1990s, and the hole has begun to shrink.

The most hilarious part for the hippies freaking out over Global Warming is that the article says recent studies show that the size of the ozone hole affects the global temperature…but not in the way you probably think…

Closing the ozone hole actually speeds up the melting of the polar ice caps, according to a 2009 study from Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research”.

bahaha. awesome.

“The brain of an addicted smoker treats nicotine as if it is essential for survival.”

The summary: The brain of an addicted smoker treats nicotine as if it is essential for survival. Genetic traits may predispose some smokers to stronger addiction. Most smokers try to quit unaided, resulting in a high failure rate.

If you smoke, no one needs to tell you how bad it is. So why haven’t you quit? Why hasn’t everyone?

Because smoking feels good. It stimulates and focuses the mind at the same time that it soothes and satisfies. The concentrated dose of nicotine in a drag off a cigarette triggers an immediate flood of dopamine and other neurochemicals that wash over the brain’s pleasure centers. Inhaling tobacco smoke is the quickest, most efficient way to get nicotine to the brain.

“I completely understand why you wouldn’t want to give it up,” said Dr. David Abrams, an addiction researcher at the National Institutes of Health. “It’s more difficult to get off nicotine than heroin or cocaine.”

Smoking “hijacks” the reward systems in the brain that drive you to seek food, water and sex, Dr. Abrams explained, driving you to seek nicotine with the same urgency. “Your brain thinks that this has to do with survival of the species,” he said.

Picky Eating may be in your genes

In response to kids not liking their vegetables, Dr Jane Wardle says “Children could actually blame their mothers for this.” That’s because according to a study published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (co-authored by Wardle), neophobia – the fear of new foods and a condition I guess I suffer from – is mostly in the genes.

Identical twins, who share all genes, were much more likely to respond the same way to new foods than non-identical twins, who like other siblings only share about half their genes. Researchers concluded that genetics played a greater role in determining eating preferences than environment – since each pair of twins lived in the same household.

Wardle said food preferences appear to be “as inheritable a physical characteristic as height.”

Unlike nearly every other phobia, neophobia is a normal stage of human development.

Scientists theorize that it was originally an evolutionary mechanism designed to protect children from accidentally eating dangerous things – like poisonous berries or mushrooms.

The study also sheds light on why I have never had any idea what “bitter” is supposed to taste like.

Other taste-related traits – like the ability to taste bitterness – are also inherited. Scientists have already identified the gene responsible, and have found that approximately 30 percent of Caucasians lack the gene and cannot taste bitterness.