Fewer Women in Developed Nations seek STEM Degrees

Fewer Women in Developed Nations seek STEM DegreesPeople would think that those countries that are most aware of gender inequalities, would actually do the most in addressing the need for more women to graduate with a science, a technology, an engineering, or a math (STEM) degree. However, recent studies are discovering quite the opposite. Scientists at the University of Missouri, and also those from Leeds Beckett University that is located in the UK, discovered that ladies in developing worlds, where it is believed that there is more gender inequality, are actually more interested in entering STEM fields than women from developed nations. These findings were posted in the publication Psychological Science.

Why the Absence of Women?

Even though there are girls who perform as good as if not better than boys in the field of math and science within several countries, the greater gender equality a country has, the smaller the quantities of female STEM graduates. This was not the case for organic sciences though, only the inorganic sciences. This negative correlation is now called the “gender-equality paradox.” A professor of psychological sciences named David Geary, from the University of Missouri’s College of Arts and Sciences, was a researcher for this study.

Here is what he stated in a recent press release:

“We analyzed data on 475,000 adolescents across 67 countries or regions and found that while boys’ and girls’ achievements in STEM subjects were broadly similar in all countries, science was more likely to be boys’ best subject. Girls, even when their abilities in science equaled or excelled that of boys, often were likely to be better overall in reading comprehension, which relates to higher ability in non-STEM subjects. As a result, these girls tended to seek out other professions unrelated to STEM fields.”

This was not the case where girls performed poorly in science or math. Actually, their individual strengths are in the field of language and reading instead of science and math. People are apt to select professions which need skills that they are excel at. As a result, girls are picking fields that require reading comprehension, even if they possess the skills that are necessary for excelling in STEM.

This might very well explain why these STEM fields have had the very same quantity of workers from both genders for several decades and why today’s strategies to attract more women to STEM field have failed. The trend is more pronounced in nation like Finland, Norway, and Sweden.

Geary commented on these results:

“In countries with greater gender equality, women are actively encouraged to participate in STEM; yet, they lose more girls because of personal academic strengths. In more liberal and wealthy countries, personal preferences are more strongly expressed. One consequence is that sex differences in academic strengths and interests become larger and have a stronger influence on college and career choices than in more conservative and less wealthy countries, creating the gender-equality paradox.”

Nations that are wealthier usually have more economic options, which allow women to choose a field based on things other than economics. In countries that are poorer and have less gender equality, women are finding that opportunities for employment are not that easy to find, and thus security and great salaries can come from seeking a STEM career. Scientists feel that these findings could actually help develop more strategies to reach women in developed nations, and urge them to pursue a career in STEM.

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One Psychedelic Drug Trip Could Change Your Personality for Years

One Psychedelic Drug Trip Could Change Your Personality for YearsAccording some new study reviews that have been posted online in the publication Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, the answer should probably be no to more drugs, dude. Scientists have discovered that people who took just one single dose of psychedelic drugs such as “magic” mushrooms, LSD or ayahuasca could very well have prolonged changes to their personality that might last many weeks, months or perhaps even years — but often times, such changes were actually for the better.

Several Studies Were Reviewed

In this brand new meta-analysis, researchers from Brazil and Spain examined the results from some 18 earlier studies that were published between the years of 1985 and 2016, which link psychedelic drug usage and changes in personality. These researchers placed their focus on those papers that specifically looked at serotonergic drugs, or drugs having a structure that is similar to those found on the neurotransmitter serotonin, which assists in regulating mood, appetite and other various functions. These substances tend to bind with serotonin receptors (referred to as 5-HT receptors), which increases activities found in visual regions of the brain, and causes dream like hallucinations and, for a few users, feelings of transcendence.

The drugs that were examined in these brand new meta-analysis mostly included LSD (known as lysergic acid diethylamide), psilocybin (the psychedelic compound that exists organically in hundreds of “magic” mushrooms species) and ayahuasca (a psychedelic tea derived from plants that are grown in the Amazon, are traditionally ingested for rituals or for religious purposes).

Several studies of all three of these drug types were found to cause many long-term (perhaps even permanent) changes of personality in those who were given psychedelic drugs compared to people who were not. In particular, people who ingested small doses of these psychedelic drugs in clinical settings got higher scores for the openness personality trait — which is the psychological term that refers to the affection for new experiences — after their drug trips than the nonusers did. In some of these studies, the personality changes produced therapeutic, antidepressant effects, which existed for a year or more. (Research for these studies that were included took place in the United States, Spain, United Kingdom, Brazil, and Germany.)

“This type of research may offer new evidence to the classic discussion on whether personality is or isn’t a constant and stable psychological trait,” claimed the study’s researchers.

The question as to whether or not psychedelic drugs could cause long-term changes in someone’s personality has been examined since the 1950s, when the United States government famously (and often illegally) tested LSD to see if it could be used for the mind control of humans. Research that links drug us and personality picked up dramatic momentum during the mid-1980s, the research authors noted in this new review, and the tests used for personality taking are much more accurate as well.

Considerably more research that has bigger sample sizes are definitely needed prior to drawing any permanent conclusions about the link between these drugs and personality, the researchers noted. When you consider that most of the drugs used are currently illegal in the United States, there the kind of analysis needed is still several years away.

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Could Artificial Intelligence Ever Become Conscious?

Could Artificial Intelligence Ever Become ConsciousWhen we look around at the world today, we are seeing several modest advances in artificial intelligence, such as being on the doorstep to seeing cars drive themselves. And now we could be on the verge of yet another amazing development: machines that are aware of their own existence and their surroundings. Now only that, such machines could have the ability to absorb massive quantities of real time data. They could go out dangerous missions, into either combat or space. Besides perhaps driving folks around, they could be able to cook for us, clean our homes, and even do our laundry.  They could also us company when there are no other people around.

Replacing Humans Altogether?

An advanced group of these machines could totally replace us at most all jobs. That could save mankind from drudgery of daily work, but it will probably disturb several societal foundations. Lives with all play and no work could become a dystopia.

Conscious machines will most likely bring up some disturbing ethical and legal problems as well. How about the liability behind a conscious AI machine if it were to hurt someone? Or to go a step further, perhaps these machines would come together and rebel against human society – just like in the science fiction movies. Many experts consider these machines to be a bit of an societal evolution.

Many scientists and engineers are somewhat divided as to whether these conscious machines will ever exist. In addition to that, they are also debating as to whether these machines would ever be called “conscious” in the same way that we think of a human being conscious – or even the way that some animals are conscious. Some of these great questions pertain to technology; while other questions ask about the definition of consciousness itself.

Is awareness enough?

Many computer scientists believe that consciousness is will the result as technology advances. Some of these experts feel that consciousness means being able to accept new information, retrieving and storing old information and then applying some cognitive processing of this data which results into actions and perceptions.

If this is true, then perhaps there will be a day when these machines become conscious. They will be able to collect much more data than a human ever could, and store enough of it to fill countless libraries, have access to massive databases within only milliseconds, and then compute all of this into decisions that are more complex than any human could ever dream of.

However, there are philosophers and physicists who claim there are more to humans than could ever be computed by a computer. Creativity, for instance, and the feeling of freedom are states of mind that humans have which are not derived from calculations or logic.

But these aren’t the only viewpoints of what consciousness is all about, or even if machines could ever get there.

Quantum viewpoints

Yet another view of consciousness comes from the popular quantum theory, which comes from the field of physics. The orthodox Copenhagen Interpretation claims that the physical world and consciousness are complementary factors of the very same reality we see. Whenever someone observes, or conducts an experiment on, a certain part of our physical world, their individual conscious interaction will cause changes in what they are testing.

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Those Who Think Further into the Future Less Likely to Take Risks

Those Who Think Further into the Future Less Likely to Take RisksThe folks that think further in the future may be more likely to avoid risks, accord to a brand new study. Scientists have referred to some very big data sources in order to analyze the texts from almost 40,000 people on Twitter. And they also ran online experiments to assess their overall behavior.

These researchers also discovered a correlation between those who have longer future-sightedness and those who less apt to make risky decisions, according to the study.

“Twitter is like a microscope for psychologists,” said Phillip Wolff, who is an associate professor of psychology from Emory University and also one of the coauthors for a report that recently appeared in the publication, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Naturalistic data mined from tweets appears to give insights not just into tweeters’ thoughts at a particular time, but into a relatively stable cognitive process. Using social media and big-data analytical tools opens up a new paradigm in the way we study human behavior.”

Revealing ourselves on social media

The other coauthor Robert Thorstad, who is also a PhD candidate from Wolff’s lab, created the idea for this research, and he also created its design and analyses, and even implemented the experiments.

“I’m fascinated by how people’s everyday behavior can give away a lot of information about their psychology,” Thorstad claimed. “Much of our work was automated, so we were able to analyze millions of tweets from thousands of individuals’ day-to-day lives.”

Those who view further into the future tends to have fewer and shorter tweets, usually just a few after only a couple of days, which is far different than previous research which indicated future-sightedness on the order of years.

“One possible interpretation is that the difference is due to a feature of social media,” Wolff says. Another potential reason was that previous studies explicitly asked folks exactly how far they were thinking into the future while this research used implicit measures for previous tweets.

While this interesting relationship between decision-making and future-sightedness may appear obvious, prior findings on this subject haven’t been that consistent. Those inconsistencies could be because of factors like observer bias in laboratory settings or small sample sizes.

These researchers employed an array of methods (like the Stanford CoreNLP which is a natural language processing system and also SUTime, which is a rule-based temporal tagger that is built on regular expression patterns) to automatically assess Twitter text trails that were left by individual topics.

They collected this experimental data through the use of Amazon’s crowdsourcing tool called Mechanical Turk, which is actually a website where people can perform a variety of internet-based tasks. Scientists asked the participants in these Mechanical Turk experiments to furnish their Twitter screen names.

In one particular experiment, the Mechanical Turk participants were required to answer delay discounting questions, like: Would you rather have $60 today or $100 six months from now? The researchers then analyzed the tweets of these participants. They assessed future orientation by their tendency to tweet about topics related to the future as compared to the past. Their future-sightedness was based on how frequently their tweets talked about the future, and how far they looked in the future.

The data indicated that future orientation was not related to investment behavior, but those people who looked further into the future were most likely to opt for waiting for bigger rewards in the future than those who didn’t look as far in the future. This revealed the link between investment behavior and how far people look into the future.

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Near-Death Experiences Have Proven an Afterlife

Near-Death Experiences Have Proven an AfterlifeMany religious visions of an afterlife, like those of heaven from Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, are essays of faith that are expected to be believe without any demands for proof or evidence. However, scientific quests for immortality are based on beliefs that evidence is the main premise but could already exists through Near-Death Experiences and even reincarnation. Let us look at both paths to heaven independently since they have completely different rationale for what’s actually happening.

Are Near Death Experiences Really Stairways to Heaven?

Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) are usually depicted by 5 components that common to each incident: (1) Out-of-Body Experiences (OBE) with feelings of floating above their body while they look down; (2) Total separation from their body; (3) Going into darkness via a hallway or tunnel; (4) Observing a very bright light at the tunnel’s end that appears to be a passageway to… (5) Another side, where bright light, the holy God, angels, and loved ones who have “crossed over” are all there to usher in and welcome the person who is dying.

Often times there’s a review of one’s life, and most of these NDEs are very positive and lead dying individuals to experience extreme joy and gratitude. But according to the International Association of Near-Death Studies, some 9 – 23% of these people have experienced very negative NDEs that were characterized by void, fear, pain, emptiness, and even the feelings of nonexistence. Rather than going to heaven, several of these folks feel they are going to hell. According to one NDE scientist named Phyllis Atwater, who’s gone through NDEs herself and now specializes in these negative experiences that some people are reporting, these hellish NDEs happen to “those who seem to have deeply repressed guilt, fear, and anger, or those who expect some kind of punishment after death.” So whenever we start explaining NDEs, we have to realize that there is going to be big variety of them and therefore, no single monolithic theory is going to explain all of them.

Numerous Cases Experiencing the Door to Heaven

The public became aware of NDEs and OBEs in 1975 because of Raymond Moody’s bestseller entitled Life After Life, which described well over one hundred cases, where numerous individuals accepted as proof of the afterlife. The frequency at which NDEs take place is very difficult to express with reliable data or numbers. There is a cardiologist who is named Fred Schoonmaker, for instance, who claimed that some 50% of more than 2000 of his patients across an 18 year interval had reported having NDEs. In a 1982 Gallup poll, they reported a percentage number that was considerably smaller at 5%. There is another cardiologist named Pim van Lommel who is claiming that about 12% of his 344 cardiac arrest cases have been successfully brought back from NDEs, and he wrote in his book called Consciousness Beyond Life what most folks believe—NDEs are proof that the mind survives without their  brain.

Perhaps the most famous and popular NDE occurred in the year 1984 when this migrant worker named Maria entered a hospital in Seattle after suffering a heart attack. While in ICU she had another cardiac arrest. After resuscitation she described what had happened to her. She said that she had floated above her body to the ceiling. From there, she saw medics trying to revive her. Remarkably, she claimed says she floated outside that hospital room and spotted a tennis shoe on a ledge of a window on the third floor. Her social worker in the ICU, who was a woman called Kimberly Clark, went to the third floor and got a shoe from the ledge of that window: “The only way she could have had such a perspective was if she had been floating right outside and at very close range to the tennis shoe. I retrieved the shoe and brought it back to Maria; it was very concrete evidence to me.”

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Here are the Most Miserable Economies in the World

Here are the Most Miserable Economies in the WorldThe global economy is threatened more by rising prices this year than by joblessness, in accordance with the Misery Index from Bloomberg, which tallies unemployment and inflations outlooks of 66 economies throughout the world.

As it turns out, Venezuela and South Africa have the world’s unhappiest economies.

And Thailand, Singapore continues to have the ‘least miserable’ economies.

Venezuela is now marking its fourth straight year as the most miserable economy on the planet, having a score that has more than tripled since 2017. Thailand has again received the “least miserable” status, although its wacky way of measuring unemployment makes Singapore a very strong second place. And other notables include Mexico, who is looking to gain some ground this year as their inflation has become much more manageable, yet Romania gets a lot more misery for the exact opposite reason.

The Bloomberg Misery Index depends on the old theory that low unemployment and low inflation typically reflect the happiness people are about their economy. However, there are cases when a low number is indicative of something negative going on in a county. For instance, constant low prices could be attributed to poor demand, and low joblessness could hamper workers who are looking to find a better job.

These results indicate that they global outlook on the economy remains upbeat. Experts and economists are projecting a 3.7% world growth for 2018, which would match the pace of last year which was the best growth since 2011, according to Bloomberg surveys.

Not everyone was fortunate enough to enjoy this growth. Take Venezuela, their hyperinflation is making economists shake their head in disgust. Currency rates from the black market provide angles on the numbers, and alternative measures have created daily cost swings. Recent government cutting of grocery prices provided a very brief cease in the inflation, but the surveyed economists are expecting it to rise 1,864% this year.

Here the World’s Best Economies

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mexico made the best progress of anyone this year, as they moved 16 notches toward being the “least miserable”. This is because economists continue to be optimistic that its central bank will curb its high inflation from 2017, which will bring it to 4.1% this year after 6% percent in 2017. And its unemployment will remain around 3.4%.

But there are two caveats with Mexico. Their jobless numbers do not consider the 60% of workers that are in their informal economy. And in spite of the improvements from last year, consumer confidence is still in a funk and negotiations pertaining to Nafta may have a negative effect.

Some Other Honorable Mentions

Malaysia made a big move down this misery scale, going from No. 52 to No. 43 because of its easing inflation. The slow price growth is permitting the Bank Negara Malaysia to remain patient with the hiking of interest-rates, even while they were the very first in its region to tighten this year.

The United States should see an improvement to 6.2 this year from the score of 6.5 in 2017 even as inflation will rises after years of low price gains, and while the labor market tightens.

China, who owns the second biggest economy in the world, experienced rise on the misery scale with this year’s score of 6.3 from 5.5 in 2017. It is estimated that their consumer prices will rise 2.3% this year, compared with the 1.6% number from 2017.

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7 Lies you Believe About Animals

As it turns out, many of the assumptions we have made about certain animals are not true at all. Yet many of us keep repeating these faulty stories from myths and incorrect studies that have since been debunked. Let us examine 7 erroneously believed animal “facts” that really aren’t factual in the least.

7 Common Misconceptions about Animals

1) The Zebra’s Black and White Stripes is not camouflage. This is a myth that has been circulating for years and years. However, scientists have long since debunked this camouflage theory, and we still have no clue why their stripes exist.

This myth most likely came about as humans observed zebras from a perspective of human vision. It seemed like a good reason that by having a confusion of colors it would allow them blend into their surroundings.

2) Piranhas do not devour anyone who jumps into piranha-infested waters. We have seen this myth promoted on TV and it movies which makes us think that it is a death sentence to swim with piranhas. The fact is that they do not kill mammals for food. This is because their normally eat carcasses that are decomposing.

Even when they get desperate for food, they will typically eat other fish and even insects – not an entire cow. This myth was largely promoted after Teddy Roosevelt returned from an Amazon trip.

penguin3) Penguins are not as sweet and adorable as people think. The fact is humans have not had a lot of interaction with penguins, yet we like to view them as lovely creatures that live in under some of the planet’s harshest conditions. Even how they like to walk is seen as cute.

The fact is that these terrible creatures commit perhaps the most heinous acts of depravity in the entire animal kingdom. For instance, the male Adelie penguin who live in Antarctica often engage in rape and necrophilia. This was initially documented by a scientist from Britain who studied them during an expedition that took place from 1910 to 1913.

Also female emperor penguins have actually kidnapped the chicks from other penguins to compensate for a lack of fertility. And if they were opposed, they get extremely violent. In fact, these female emperor penguins have resorted to kidnapping chicks from totally different bird species as well and attempted to raise them as one of their own.

pigs4) Pigs do not sweat and they are not nasty. So when people use the term “sweating like a pig”, it is just plain wrong because pig do not have working sweat glands. This is why they get in the mud, so they can cool off.

Also, contrary to what most people believe, pigs are actually pretty clean animals. In fact, most of them would give some of the cleanest humans in the world a run for their money. We got this misconception about them because of the places on a farm where they are forced to live.

Pigs that live in the wild will not pass any bodily waste near the area where they live. Some of them even wash their food before they eat.

Praying mantis5) The Female Praying Mantis does not always eat its male lover. Even the Discovery Channel has clearly said that the female eats the head of the male praying mantis that she is mating with.

However, biologists conducted a test to see if this popular belief is true, and they discovered that it was not. The female praying mantises that had done this were in captivity. As it turns out, this environment is totally different than what this creature would prefer. They actually would choose a private space in their normal environment. Previously, there were several people in lab coats hovering over them, closely examining their every move.

And the praying mantis couples that were used in these early tests were also very hungry and starving. So actually, the male praying mantises were just as likely to eat their sexual partners as would the females were.

So whenever scientists actually set up the conditions that mimicked there actually preferences, they observed a radically different outcome. From 69 different experiments, there was just one female praying mantis who ate her male after mating with him.

cockroach6) Cockroaches most likely would not survive a nuclear annihilation. This myth has circulated throughout the Internet for years. It most likely came from the rubble and aftermath of Nagasaki and Hiroshima where they observed a few cockroaches after the bombs were dropped. But they were not the sole creatures to have survived.

While it may be true that cockroaches could have a bigger resistance to extinction and radiation than some other living creatures, more current studies have revealed that they would probably be the very first bugs to get wiped out whenever one of these big bombs reach the ground.

dog7) The Alpha Dog Training Technique is not applicable to domestic dogs. Several dog trainers and dog training methods talk about the alpha dog technique. This means that you assert your dominance and let the canine know who is in charge since that is how things work in the wild.

This technique comes from the belief that all wolf packs have an alpha wolf, who is the dominant leader that calls all the shots. Therefore, dogs are in the same family and should be trained the same way.

As you might have known, it is a very cruel way to train your dog. And it actually points out a basic misunderstanding about the way that real wolf packs work. This alpha male theory comes from very early research pertaining to pack behavior, but only in an unnatural environment. More recent research about wolf packs in the wild has totally debunked these original conclusions.

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