This Week in Weird Science: We learn that even science books have become political fodder, with both democrats and republicans seeking completely different types of scientific texts—likely those that support their pre-existing opinions. The only similar science selections are “dinosaur books”—i.e. books for their children. Next, we learn that “sexual afterglow” lasts 48-hours, indicating that everyone knows you just got laid—thus adding meaning to “you’re glowing.” Finally, we watch a badger bury a cow.
You can definitely judge a person by their book cover.
Americans’ political echo chambers extends far beyond the friendships they form, news they consume, and TV shows they watch. It also delves into the science texts they read.
An analysis of book sales, out of the University of Chicago, Yale, and Cornell universities indicates that the divisiveness of politics in the U.S. has spread to the science community, potentially harming the role of scientific literature as a “politically neutral” medium.
“We conclude that the political left and right share an interest in science in general, but not science in particular,” said co-authors James Evans and Michael Macy in the study. “This underscores the need for research into remedies that can attenuate selective exposure to ‘convenient truth,’ renew the capacity for science to inform political debate and temper partisan passions.”
The team of researchers examined purchase histories from two of the world’s largest online book sellers—Amazon and Barnes & Noble—and constructed a database built from “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” recommendations. From there, they analyzed the scientific purchases of readers who purchased the initial “liberal” or “conservative” book.
They found: People who purchase liberal political books also tended to purchase books on “basic sciences” like physics and astronomy; whereas buyers of conservative political literature preferred books on “applied sciences” like criminology and geophysics. Furthermore, left-leaning buyers tended to make their purchases with other science books of the same discipline. Quite different from conservatives whose science choices coincided with their political choices.
The authors speculate that people who buy political books, no matter their lean, tend to purchase scientific texts not necessarily because of their interest in the subject but because of a political interest the science addresses.
How can this be prevented in the future? According to the author’s, more people need to be interested in science for science’s sake—not using it to reaffirm some belief.
So what can Democrats and Republicans agree on? Well, both read the same dinosaur books on the same dinosaur topics. Let’s hope that book’s not Danny and the Dinosaur.
Sexual afterglow lasts 48 hours.
Sex stains relationships. Sex stains sheets. And apparently, it also stains your face. It makes you glow, and that “sexual afterglow” lasts up to two long days.
Research out of Florida State University—the only acceptable school to perform this study outside of Arizona State—confirms that sexual satisfaction can last up to 48 hours after boning, and that satisfaction also makes couples more attracted to their partners.
“Our research shows that sexual satisfaction remains elevated 48 hours after sex,” says psychological scientist Andrea Meltzer (Florida State University), lead author on the study. “And people with a stronger sexual afterglow — that is, people who report a higher level of sexual satisfaction 48 hours after sex — report higher levels of relationship satisfaction several months later.”
The team examined 214 newlywed couples who were asked to document their sex habits over the course of two weeks during a six month period. Each couple recorded their nights—whether they had sex, how satisfied they are with their sex lives, their relationship, etc.—in a personal sex diary (even if they didn’t have sex).
Those couples who had more sex reported happier, healthier relationships in the six month follow-up.
“This supports the idea that sex functions to pair-bond couples, which means keeping them happy, committed, and tied together over time,” said Meltzer.
That said, Meltzer doesn’t recommend having sex all of the time. “It wouldn’t be viable… You need time to find food, eat, and do other things to enhance survival,” but she suggests that sex may have evolved beyond the thirty-seconds of pound-town that, say, dogs love oh-so-much to have a more cognitive function that lets us feel “satisfied and bonded.” Or, for some of us, satisfaction comes not from bond but bound.
The story of the badger that buried a cow.
This is a badger. Badgers are feisty, nocturnal creatures that burrow and usually feast on rabbits and squirrels. This badger, though, clearly was craving some steak, and rather than splurging on a top-of-the-line LG LSXS26326S side-by-side refrigerator, this little rodent preserved his leftovers the old-fashioned way, by storing ‘em underground.
The 16-pound badger spent five days burying the 50-pound calf carcass that University of Utah researchers strategically placed to learn more about the scavenging habits in the Great Basin. Turns out, in the case of this animal, the badger burrows, builds a den next to its food stash, and hides out.
This was the first time the researchers, who hid seven carcasses in total, saw the animal burying a creature larger than itself. It also taught researchers that badgers know a bit about basic refrigeration—unlike my college roommate Berky.
Top photo by Jon Nelson CC BY 2.0
is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen San Diego but with more sunscreen and jorts.