Humans are getting sexier, marijuana is acting as birth control and global warming warnings are using "climate porn."

Looks Be A Lady
According to a study out of the London School of Economics, girls may be getting sexier with each generation. Satoshi Kanazawa found that ‘very attractive’ individuals are 36% more likely to beget a daughter than those rated less-than-stunning. Kanazawa based his conclusions on nearly 3,000 in-home interviews with parents aged 18 to 28, during which the interviewer rated the attractiveness of the subject. Kanazawa says his work supports the idea that parents produce children who will benefit more from their parents’ attributes: Physically attractive parents tend to have female children, while males tend to be born to parents who can be considered attractive for other attributes such as strength. He says this theory is a generalization of the Trivers-Willard hypothesis, which proposes that parents should invest more in the sex that has greater reproductive potential. Kanazawa has authored other surely uncontroversial papers, such as “Why beautiful people are more intelligent,” and “Teaching may be hazardous to your marriage,” which contends that male high school teachers and college professors constantly exposed to young women may begin to find their wives less attractive and their marriages less satisfying.
Update: There may be some statistical issues with the figures cited in the study.

Mel O’ Drama
While newscasters, bloggers and sane people everywhere dropped their jaws at Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic drunken tirade, experts tried to determine what caused his unsavory comments: racism or sheer intoxication. University of Kentucky psychologist Mark Fillmore fell on the alcohol-doesn’t-create-anti-Semitism side, saying “Alcohol doesn’t produce new behaviors. It releases things that people believe or know.” Steven Sussman, a USC professor of preventative medicine and psychology, said that drunk people can sometimes say things they don’t believe just to be belligerent and provocative. “Basically, the person talks gibberish,” said Bankole Johnson, chairman of psychiatric medicine at the University of Virginia, who gave the most credit to booze. “They might not even be certain of what they are saying,” he continued. “They don’t understand what they are saying, and they don’t mean what they are saying.” That may be true, Dr. Johnson. However the statement, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world” is a lot of things, but gibberish it ain’t.

Weeding Out the Runts
Hey, teenagers, are you smoking pot and having unprotected sex? Science has good news for you: A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that in mice using cannabis around the time of conception can prevent pregnancy. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, binds to cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, which are found not only in the brain but also in sperm, eggs and newly formed embryos. Once it binds, it can prevent transport and implantation of the embryos. Other studies show that cannabis use can negatively affect fertility in men. Together, they make a not-so-bad case for marijuana as birth control.

While environmentalists whine about the melting of the polar ice caps, one group of Greenlanders is making the best of the situation. An entrepreneurial company is turning the melted Arctic Island into beer. The first ever Inuit microbrewery is taking the fine water—over 2,000 years old and pollutant-free, according to the brewers—and using it to produce ale that supposedly tastes cleaner and smoother than other beers. The first 66,000 liters are on their way to Denmark, and the brewery says the US and Germany have expressed interest in the product.

A Taste for Fat
If many a modern man is attracted to an unhealthily thin female ideal, a new paper may suggest a way to halt their unrealistic expectations: Instead of forcing women to fit this image by losing weight, starve the men. The study, published in the British Journal of Psychology, demonstrates that “caloric dissatisfaction” can influence preference for female body weight. Researchers showed pictures of women’s bodies to 30 hungry men and 31 sated men and asked them to rate the photos for attractiveness. The hungry men put their highest rating on women who were heavier than those preferred by the full fellows, and they rated obese women higher than their sated counterparts. The authors suggest that old associations between weight and health—the heavier you are, the more likely your are to be properly nourished—still influence men’s preference.

Is It Hot In Here, Or ...
The progressive Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has issued a report accusing newspapers, environmental groups and the UK government of using “climate porn” to show the effects of global warming. The report contends that this brand of alarmism makes people resigned to their fate and unwilling to take action. The report also criticizes campaigns that call for small actions with language of “ease, convenience and effortless agency.” When headlines such as “20 things you can do to save the planet from destruction” juxtapose the mundane with alarmism, the IPPR asks, how can we take the rhetoric of impending catastrophe seriously? The report suggests that communicators market climate-friendly activity as a brand. Hopefully it won’t have too many competitors.

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Originally published August 7, 2006


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