Girl You Know It’s True: Science Watch ‘10

The latest issue of “The Atlantic” featured a profile of Dr. John Ioannidis, a man who has devoted his career to debunking and disproving the myriad failures of medical research. According to the article, Ioannidis “charges that as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed,” due to factors such as institutional pride, corruption and conflicts of interest—in particular, researchers’ reliance on funding from pharmaceutical companies.

With all due respect to Dr. Ioannidis, science just had a magical week, proving awesome, important things left and right in a way that clearly is not designed to gain attention, but instead to enhance the body of human knowledge and the understanding of the magical world that surrounds us. This again proves that having an inquisitive nature and desire to figure out the natural world still has practical benefits, even in this day and age. Having said that, everything that follows is completely true and not to be questioned.

Study: Babies think friendly robots are human

A University of Washington study showed that if a robot exhibits humanoid characteristics and interacts socially with 18-month-old babies, the babies can be tricked into believing those silver devils are actually humans.

I know what you’re thinking: this ability to deceive man so easily may be the first step toward a dystopian future where robots act autonomously and crush the human race a la “Terminator,” but this strikes me as more like “Bicentennial Man”—remember that movie? Robin Williams was a robot. The movie actually took 200 years. Does this ring a bell at all? Anyway, in that movie, the future was really, really boring, and all the robots (well, really just the Robin Williams robot) wanted was to be recognized as human.

So the good news is that the future is not enslavement at the hands of the robots. The bad news is that the future is going to get a 38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes because it is slow-paced, and its plot will lack an identifiable conflict or a sympathetic protagonist.

Study: Drinking during pregnancy makes better children

Relying on self-reported data, a United Kingdom study showed that the children of women who drink lightly during pregnancy (one to two units of alcohol per week) fare better on cognitive tests.

On the one hand, there is the possibility that months after giving birth (when the survey was administered), when confronted by a person asking whether or not they were drinking while pregnant, it is the case that the women who were lying elected to go with the “no drinking ever” category.

On the other hand, we now have irrefutable proof that drinking during pregnancy makes smarter children. Fun fun!

Study: Watermelon shown to reduce blood pressure

Watermelon is tasty. And healthy. What more do I have to say?

Study: Teens average 3,339 texts per month

Say what you will about these teens averaging over 100 text messages a day, but this has to prove that they are remarkably technology-savvy. Teens send millions of texts a day, and nobody ever hears anything about it. But grandfather and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre tries to send one, and all of a sudden pictures of his, um, Minnesota Viking (helmet included) are all over the Internet.

Study: Taking a break from a task means you’re being lazy, weak-willed, not “recharging”

This is a fun one, and it’s from a team of Stanford psychologists. From the paper’s abstract: “whether depletion [of willpower] takes place or not depends on a person’s belief about whether willpower is a limited resource.” In other words, if you think you need to take a break in order to refresh, you are just a mentally weak pansy who needs to get back to work.

Study: Employees find prostitution less humiliating than being on LinkedIn

A recent survey showed that while 9 percent of American workers would consider having an office fling with their boss in order to advance their careers, only 6 percent are connected to their bosses on business networking site LinkedIn.

See, science is working to make our lives better. This week we learned a lot about human interactions. If you are a boss who has an ambitious employee, it is more tasteful to offer to advance their career in exchange for sexual favors than to send them a LinkedIn request. If you want to talk to teens, text them—or don’t. A different Stanford study showed cell phones to be infested with 18 times as much bacteria as toilet seats. If you want to be more productive, be more productive, and quit distracting yourself. If you want smarter kids, get drunk immediately. If you want to trick a child born of even the drunkest parents, get a robot. And if you want to keep your blood pressure down, eat some delicious, delicious watermelon.

Want to bond over some watermelon? E-mail Jordan at jcarr1@stanford.edu.

About Jordan Carr