Monday, November 22, 2010

Experts claim 2006 climate report plagiarized

Experts claim 2006 climate report plagiarized
By Dan Vergano
Nov. 22, 2010

An influential 2006 congressional report that raised questions about the validity of global warming research was partly based on material copied from textbooks, Wikipedia and the writings of one of the scientists criticized in the report, plagiarism experts say.

Review of the 91-page report by three experts contacted by USA TODAY found repeated instances of passages lifted word for word and what appear to be thinly disguised paraphrases.

..."It kind of undermines the credibility of your work criticizing others' integrity when you don't conform to the basic rules of scholarship," Virginia Tech plagiarism expert Skip Garner says.

U.N. CONFERENCE:Negotiators give talks another try

Led by George Mason University statistician Edward Wegman, the 2006 report criticized the statistics and scholarship of scientists who found the last century the warmest in 1,000 years.

"The report was integral to congressional hearings about climate scientists," says Aaron Huertas of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C. "And it preceded a lot of conspiratorial thinking polluting the public debate today about climate scientists."

But in March, climate scientist Raymond Bradley of the University of Massachusetts asked GMU, based in Fairfax, Va., to investigate "clear plagiarism" of one of his textbooks.

Bradley says he learned of the copying on the Deep Climate website and through a now year-long analysis of the Wegman report made by retired computer scientist John Mashey of Portola Valley, Calif. Mashey's analysis concludes that 35 of the report's 91 pages "are mostly plagiarized text, but often injected with errors, bias and changes of meaning." Copying others' text or ideas without crediting them violates universities' standards, according to Liz Wager of the London-based Committee on Publication Ethics.

Allegations under review

"The matter is under investigation," says GMU spokesman Dan Walsch by e-mail. In a phone interview, Wegman said he could not comment at the university's request. In an earlier e-mail Wegman sent to Joseph Kunc of the University of Southern California, however, he called the plagiarism charges "wild conclusions that have nothing to do with reality."

The plagiarism experts queried by USA TODAY disagree after viewing the Wegman report:

• "Actually fairly shocking," says Cornell physicist Paul Ginsparg by e-mail. "My own preliminary appraisal would be 'guilty as charged.' "

•"If I was a peer reviewer of this report and I was to observe the paragraphs they have taken, then I would be obligated to report them," says Garner of Virginia Tech, who heads a copying detection effort. "There are a lot of things in the report that rise to the level of inappropriate."

•"The plagiarism is fairly obvious when you compare things side-by-side," says Ohio State's Robert Coleman, who chairs OSU's misconduct committee.

The report was requested in 2005 by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, then the head of the House energy committee. Barton cited the report in an October letter to The Washington Post when he wrote that Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann's work was "rooted in fundamental errors of methodology that had been cemented in place as 'consensus' by a closed network of friends." ...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pastor who said Facebook was 'portal to infidelity' had four-way relationship

Pastor who said Facebook was 'portal to infidelity' had four-way relationship

By Jon Swaine, New York 5:28PM GMT 21 Nov 2010

Rev Cedric Miller, of Neptune, New Jersey, last week told 50 married church officials to delete their accounts with the social networking site or resign.

Rev Miller, 48, claimed that 20 couples from his 1,100-member church had experienced marital problems in recent months after contacting ex-partners through the site.

But over the weekend Rev Miller's local newspaper disclosed that he "didn't need Facebook to be part of an extramarital affair".

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It found transcripts from a criminal trial against the church assistant in 2003, in which details emerged of what Rev Miller has since called "a very painful part of my past".

In the case, which was eventually dismissed, he testified that his wife, Kim, had an affair with the assistant, and that he and the man's wife were often present at their meetings.

"I mean between the four of us," Rev Miller said. "It was just, I mean there was touching ... it was crazy, it was as wrong as wrong could get."

Asked by a lawyer whether he was talking about "sex", Rev Miller replied: "Yes". He described their behaviour as "beyond what was appropriate".

Rev Miller told the court that the meetings between the couples often took place after Thursday Bible study sessions and after church services on Sundays.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pope approves use of condoms in fight against Aids

Pope Benedict XVI was born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on 16 April 1927.

Pope approves use of condoms in fight against Aids
After decades of fierce opposition to the use of all contraception, the pontiff will end the Catholic Church's absolute ban on the use of condoms.
Pope Benedict XV will accept that in some circumstances it is better for a condom to be used if it protects human life
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones
The Telegraph
20 Nov 2010

He will say that it is acceptable to use a prophylactic when the sole intention is to "reduce the risk of infection" from Aids.

While he will restate the Catholic Church's staunch objections to contraception because it believes it interferes with the creation of life, he will argue that using a condom to preserve life and avoid death can be a responsible act – even outside marriage.

Asked whether "the Catholic Church is not fundamentally against the use of condoms," he replies: "It of course does not see it as a real and moral solution.

"In certain cases, where the intention is to reduce the risk of infection, it can nevertheless be a first step on the way to another, more humane sexuality."

He will stress that abstinence is the best policy in fighting the disease, but accept that in some circumstances it is better for a condom to be used if it protects human life.

"There may be justified individual cases, for example when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be ... a first bit of responsibility, to redevelop the understanding that not everything is permitted and that one may not do everything one wishes...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fox News' Roger Ailes Calls Obama Socialist, Jon Stewart 'Crazy' and NPR 'Nazis'

Lee Atwater (see bottom of this post) apologized for political dirty tricks he pulled with Roger Ailes, but it looks like Ailes isn't about to apologize.

Fox News' Roger Ailes Calls Obama Socialist, Jon Stewart 'Crazy' and NPR 'Nazis'
David Knowles Writer
AOL News Surge Desk
Nov. 18, 2010

How does one define "fair and balanced"?

In a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes was not shy about voicing his opinions on a variety of subjects, including President Barack Obama, Jon Stewart and NPR. The interview, which ran in two parts at Tina Brown's site, offered insights into how the man charged with running Fox News views some of the topics most discussed on his network.

On President Obama:

"The president has not been very successful. He just got kicked from Mumbai to South Korea, and he came home and attacked Republicans for it. He had to be told by the French and the Germans that his socialism was too far left for them to deal with."

On Jon Stewart:

"He loves polarization. He depends on it. If liberals and conservatives are all getting along, how good would that show be? It'd be a bomb. He hates conservative views. He hates conservative thoughts. He hates conservative verbiage. He hates conservatives."


"They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don't want any other point of view. They don't even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive."

What's striking about Ailes' commentary is not that it mirrors the perspective that often seems to be offered by the hosts and anchors at Fox News, but that it is being offered so freely by the head of a news organization whose motto would seem to dictate withholding it.

"If you watch most of the programming on the channel, I don't think you would find many of those comments surprising," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in response to the interview.

For his part, Ailes contends that his network, which donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association in the 2010 elections, is still focused on maintaining objectivity. "We're interested in two points of view; most networks aren't," Ailes told Kurtz while drinking from a mug adorned with the network's famous logo, "Fair & Balanced."

Ailes and Atwater (from Wikipedia)

Ailes served as a political consultant for many Republican candidates during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. His first such job was as media advisor for the Nixon campaign in 1968. He returned to presidential campaigning as a consultant to Ronald Reagan in the latter stages of the 1984 campaign. He is widely credited with having helped coach Reagan to victory in the second presidential debate with Walter Mondale, after aides Richard Darman and David Stockman bungled preparations for the disastrous first debate.

In 1987 and 1988, Ailes was credited (along with Lee Atwater) with guiding George H. W. Bush to victory in the Republican primaries, and the later come-from-behind[8] victory over Michael Dukakis. Ailes scripted and (with Sig Rogich) produced the "Revolving Door" ad, as well as all of Bush's broadcast spots in the primary and general-election campaigns.

Ailes denies producing the so-called Willie Horton ad, which showed the face of the convicted rapist furloughed by Michael Dukakis. The ad was sponsored and funded by the independent-expenditure group National Security Political Action Committee (NSPAC), but the Democrats later charged the Bush campaign with illegally coordinating the ad with the NSPAC. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) investigated the charge, but deadlocked on a 3-3 vote, essentially clearing Ailes and the campaign of any legal wrong-doing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Efforts to Improve Evolution Teaching Bearing Fruit

November 16, 2010
Efforts to Improve Evolution Teaching Bearing Fruit
Education Week
By Sarah D. Sparks

When a federal court in 2005 rejected an attempt by the Dover, Pa., school board to introduce intelligent design as an alternative to evolution to explain the development of life on Earth, it sparked a renaissance in involvement among scientists in K-12 science instruction.

Now, some of those teaching programs, studies, and research centers are starting to bear fruit.

The National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and other groups have increased research investment on identifying essential concepts for teaching evolution, including creating the Evolution Education Research Centre, a partnership of Harvard, McGill, and Chapman universities, and launching the first peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the subject, Journal of Evolution: Education and Outreach.

Though only one of a long series of skirmishes in a conflict that goes back almost as far as public education in America, the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, which took place five years ago this month, engaged the professional science community because it put on trial for the first time the scientific validity of intelligent design. The concept posits that the development of humans and other living things was designed by an unnamed guiding force, rather than being the result of natural selection based on random variations.

The school board in Dover argued that there were weaknesses in the theory of evolution, and that students should be exposed to the idea of intelligent design. Judge John E. Jones III of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania flatly rejected that argument, noting that evolution is one of the most strongly supported theories in all of science, backed by broad evidence from across the field. By contrast, he concluded that “the overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID [intelligent design] is a religious view, a mere relabeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory,” in his 139-page findingRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader of fact.
See Also
From the Archives: View an interactive timeline of historical highlights in the debate over teaching evolution.

The district chose not to appeal the ruling, limiting its legal jurisdiction. But, along with the rejection of efforts in Arkansas and Georgia to undermine evolution’s validity through disclaimer labels on textbooks and fights over state science standards in Kansas around the same time, the ruling ignited an unprecedented push by scientists and education researchers to become more directly involved in integrating evolution concepts in science classes.

“What it has done is made it clearer to the scientific community that they have to come out and make a stand; they can’t wait in the wings and hope it all blows over,” said E. Margaret Evans, an assistant research scientist in education at the Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Classroom Model

One of the instructional-improvement projects is Evolution Readiness, a program devised by a team of researchers from the Concord, Mass.-based Concord Consortium and Boston College. It pairs computer modeling of natural selection with classroom activities and readings on evolution concepts. In the process of developing the program, the researchers have crafted the first evolution-content assessment for elementary students, based on 11 standards-based learning goals for Massachusetts, according to Camelia Rosca, a senior research associate at the Center for the Study of Testing Evaluation and Education Policy at Boston College.

At Elizabeth G. Lyons Elementary School in Randolph, Mass., one of a handful of states where the program is being tested, 4th graders have finished a unit on plant adaptation, in which they watched the changes to a water-sensitive-plant population as the amount of water available was altered. The class is now extending the computer model to include rabbits and will soon add hawks to illustrate a basic food chain, said lead researcher Paul Horwitz, a senior scientist at Concord.

“We thought deeply about how to teach concepts to kids this young,” Mr. Horwitz said. “I didn’t want children to ‘believe’ in science; I wanted them to understand it as an explanation for the natural world.”
Brandon Ho, a 4th grader at Elizabeth G. Lyons Elementary School in Randolph, Mass., responds to a computer-based teaching program on evolution that was created by the Concord Consortium. The program is among several projects scientists have launched in recent years that are aimed at improving students' understanding of that topic.

In addition to using the computer program, the children study a 25-foot-long timeline of species development, play games about food webs, and experiment with Fast Plants®, which germinate and flower within a month.

Now in the last year of a three-year study sponsored by the NSF, the project’s initial results with 200 students and 10 teachers in Massachusetts; San Juan, Texas; and North Kansas City, Mo., suggest that students who participate in the program show significantly better understanding than those in a control group of evolution concepts, such as the idea that changes in the environment will prompt changes in a population over time...

Monday, November 15, 2010

As Glaciers Melt, Science Seeks Data on Rising Seas

As Glaciers Melt, Science Seeks Data on Rising Seas
New York Times
November 13, 2010

TASIILAQ, Greenland — With a tense pilot gripping the stick, the helicopter hovered above the water, a red speck of machinery lost in a wilderness of rock and ice.

To the right, a great fjord stretched toward the sea, choked with icebergs. To the left loomed one of the immense glaciers that bring ice from the top of the Greenland ice sheet and dump it into the ocean.

Hanging out the sides of the craft, two scientists sent a measuring device plunging into the water, between ice floes. Near the bottom, it reported a temperature of 40 degrees. It was the latest in a string of troubling measurements showing that the water was warm enough to melt glaciers rapidly from below.

“That’s the highest we’ve seen this far up the fjord,” said one of the scientists, Fiammetta Straneo.

The temperature reading was a new scrap of information in the effort to answer one of the most urgent — and most widely debated — questions facing humanity: How fast is the world’s ice going to melt?

Scientists long believed that the collapse of the gigantic ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica would take thousands of years, with sea level possibly rising as little as seven inches in this century, about the same amount as in the 20th century.

But researchers have recently been startled to see big changes unfold in both Greenland and Antarctica.

As a result of recent calculations that take the changes into account, many scientists now say that sea level is likely to rise perhaps three feet by 2100 — an increase that, should it come to pass, would pose a threat to coastal regions the world over.

And the calculations suggest that the rise could conceivably exceed six feet, which would put thousands of square miles of the American coastline under water and would probably displace tens of millions of people in Asia...

Oklahoma Surprise: Islam as an Election Issue

Oklahoma Surprise: Islam as an Election Issue
New York Times
November 14, 2010

OKLAHOMA CITY — Cory Williams, a Democratic state representative from Stillwater, expected his opponent in the recent election to label him a free-spending liberal allied with President Obama.

Residents at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City last week. A lawsuit has stalled the ballot initiative.

He did not foresee that he would be accused of trying to subject Oklahomans to Islamic law.

Mr. Williams was one of 10 Democrats who voted against putting a state constitutional amendment on the ballot that would forbid state judges from considering international or Islamic law in deciding cases. He considered the idea unnecessary, since the First Amendment already bans state-imposed religion.

His Republican challenger sent out mailers showing him next to a shadowy figure in an Arab headdress. On the other side, the flier said Mr. Williams wanted to allow “Islamic ‘Shariah’ law to be used by Oklahoma courts” and suggested that he was part of “an international movement, supported by militant Muslims and liberals,” to establish Islamic law throughout the world.

“At the end of the day, it was just fearmongering,” Mr. Williams said.

He won by 280 votes, but many of his fellow Democrats failed to hold their seats...

“It was inflammatory, and it got people to turn out,” said State Representative Wallace Collins, a Democrat from Norman who lost a close race. “It worked for them.”

The day after the election, Muneer Awad, executive director of the local Council on American-Islamic Relations, filed a lawsuit. Mr. Awad argued that the amendment violated the freedom of religion clause of the United States Constitution, because it singled out Shariah law and Islam for special treatment rather than banning consideration of all religious codes. That amounts to state disapproval of Islam, he argued.

Last Monday, Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange of Federal District Court agreed that Mr. Awad’s complaint had merit, finding that the amendment’s “primary purpose inhibits religion.” She temporarily halted the certification of the election results and scheduled a hearing for next week.

Outside the courthouse, Mr. Duncan said the restraining order “thwarts the will of the people.” He said the amendment was never intended as an attack on Muslims, but as an effort to prevent what he called “activist judges” from using Islamic law in deciding cases.

Law professors have begun to raise questions about the unintended consequences of the amendment. Because it also “forbids courts from using or considering international law,” it could complicate contractual arrangements between Oklahoma companies and those with headquarters abroad. The amendment might also prevent judges from referring to the Ten Commandments or exploring English common law in their decisions.

“You throw a series of ambiguous ill-conceived words into the State Constitution and you don’t know what will happen,” said Harry F. Tepker Jr., a law professor at the University of Oklahoma. “It’s a mess.”

Ms. Fallin, who has strong support from business, has begun to back away from the amendment, even though she supported it. “It’s something that she will have to meet with the attorney general on and look at the legal specifics,” said Alex Weintz, a spokesman.

Muslim leaders in Oklahoma said the amendment felt like a slap in the face. They worry that marriages, wills, divorces and contracts — often drawn up between parties under Islamic principles then submitted to a court for approval — will no longer be valid. Jews and Roman Catholics often follow the same procedure in civil matters.

But many Muslims said they were more worried about the anti-Muslim mood that fueled the amendment’s passage. The vote here follows the controversy over a Christian pastor’s aborted plan to burn Korans in Florida and the opposition to an Islamic community center near ground zero in Manhattan...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why is Glenn Beck attacking a man who dedicated his life to promoting democracy in Communist nations?

Glenn Beck apparently approves of anti-Semitism as long as the target is a progressive.

Nov 13, 2010
This week in crazy: Glenn Beck
The king of conspiracy shamelessly attacks George Soros -- and finally nabs the award he was born to win
By Alex Pareene

Shocking but true: Glenn Beck has not yet been the subject of "This Week in Crazy," the feature that was essentially created to honor 2009's Craziest Man. This week, though, as if he knew that his usual conspiracy-mongering, fake tears and suffocating paranoia just weren't cutting it anymore, Beck aired a series of shameless attacks on George Soros that seemed ripped from the pages of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The message? Financier and philanthropist George Soros is a "puppet master" secretly at the center of a vast conspiracy that aims to destroy our economy and take over the nation through deceit. The proof? A lot of selectively edited quotes, wild innuendo and the fact that Soros "collapsed regimes" in "four other countries."

Beck knows full well that Soros dedicated his life to promoting democracy in Communist nations, which an avowed anti-socialist like Beck should theoretically be championing him for. But Soros is a progressive, and in the Beck world, progressives are socialists are Maoists are Communists are totalitarians, so any enemy of Soros is a friend of Glenn Beck's. Insanity makes strange bedfellows. Look who Beck quotes to support his argument that Soros is one of the secret rulers of the world:

He's known as the man who broke the bank of England. The Prime Minister of Malaysia called Soros an unscrupulous profiteer. In Thailand, he was branded the "economic war criminal." They also said that he "sucks the blood from people."

The prime minister of Malaysia went on to say: "We do not want to say that this is a plot by the Jews, but in reality it is a Jew who triggered the currency plunge, and coincidentally Soros is a Jew." (The other quote, about how Soros is a bloodsucking something-or-other, speaks for itself.)

I don't think people who read secondhand accounts of the specials -- or even those who read the transcripts -- can grasp how weird and shameless the entire spectacle was. There were puppets strewn about the set. The camera always watches Beck watching whatever we're supposed to be watching. Beck blatantly flirted with classic anti-Semitic tropes, knowing he'd be called on it but confident his friends would have his back. His taunting response to criticism: If he's a lying anti-Semite, why would Rupert Murdoch allow him on the air?

But the craziest bit of the entire thing came when Glenn Beck accused Soros -- a 14-year-old Jew in Budapest attempting, during the war, to survive the Holocaust -- of collaborating with the Nazis and "helping send the Jews to the death camps." Yes, that happened. Repeatedly.

Even Beck's allies in the Anti-Defamation League seemed taken aback by this -- though they affirmed that they still supported Beck the following day.

The fact that, for reasons of partisan convenience, half the media and the Anti-Defamation League ignore or pretend to not see fairly blatant repurposing of ancient anti-Semitic propaganda on a major cable news network by a prominent pundit? That makes me feel like this week's craziest person.

Eric Cantor's Pledge of Allegiance

Nov 13, 2010
Eric Cantor's Pledge of Allegiance
By Glenn Greenwald

Soon-to-be GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor met on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- the same day when the actual U.S. Secretary of State met with Netanyahu -- and vowed that he and his GOP colleagues would protect and defend Israeli interests against his own Government. According to a statement proudly issued by Cantor's own office:

Regarding the midterms, Cantor may have given Netanyahu some reason to stand firm against the American administration.

"Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington," the readout continued. "He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other."

Leave aside the absurdity of believing that Israel needs to be protected from the extremely deferential and devoted Obama administration. So extraordinary is Cantor's pledge that even the Jewish Telegraph Agency's Ron Kampeas -- himself a reflexive American defender of most things Israel -- was astonished, and wrote:

I can't remember an opposition leader telling a foreign leader, in a personal meeting, that he would side, as a policy, with that leader against the president. Certainly, in statements on one specific issue or another -- building in Jerusalem, or somesuch -- lawmakers have taken the sides of other nations. But to have-a-face to face and say, in general, we will take your side against the White House -- that sounds to me extraordinary.

As Kampeas notes, Cantor's office quickly disputed his understanding, but this is hardly the first time Cantor has violated supposedly sacred political conventions in order to side with Israel over his own country. Last August, Cantor led a GOP delegation to Israel and while in Jerusalem -- which happens to be "foreign soil" -- he condemned his own President and American policy for opposing the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Criticizing America while on Dreaded Foreign Soil is supposed to be one of the most extreme taboos in American politics: Al Gore was bitterly denounced as a borderline-traitor for a 2006 speech in Saudi Arabia criticizing American foreign policy, and Gore at the time was merely a private citizen, not a leading political official. But American political figures like Cantor feel free to do exactly that -- criticize America on foreign soil -- when it comes to Israel; recall the same thing being done by by Mike Huckabee.

That's because, in general, all the rules change -- are completely reversed -- when it comes to Israel. As Cantor's behavior demonstrates, the rules that apply to "foreign countries" are inapplicable to Israel because in mainstream American politics, Israel is not considered and therefore is not treated as a "foreign country" at all. Many Israel devotees actually tried to expand the "no-criticizing-the U.S.-on-foreign-soil" rule by suggesting there was something wrong with Obama's criticism of Israel while in Indonesia; apparently, it's fine for American officials to criticize the U.S. while in Israel, but not for the U.S. President to criticize Israel while on foreign soil...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Outspoken Chinese Risk Confinement in Mental Wards

Outspoken Chinese Risk Confinement in Mental Wards
Du Bin for The New York Times
November 11, 2010

LOUHE, China — Xu Lindong, a poor village farmer with close-cropped hair and a fourth-grade education, knew nothing but decades of backbreaking labor. Even at age 50, the rope of muscles on his arms bespoke a lifetime of hard plowing and harvesting in the fields of his native Henan Province.

But after four years locked up in Zhumadian Psychiatric Hospital, he was barely recognizable to his siblings. Emaciated, barefoot, clad in tattered striped pajamas, Mr. Xu spoke haltingly. His face was etched with exhaustion.

“I was so heartbroken when I saw him I cannot describe it,” said his elder brother, Xu Linfu, recalling his first visit there, in 2007. “My brother was a strong as a bull. Now he looked like a hospital patient.”

Xu Lindong’s confinement in a locked mental ward was all the more notable, his brother says, for one extraordinary fact: he was not the least bit deranged. Angered by a dispute over land, he had merely filed a series of complaints against the local government. The government’s response was to draw up an order to commit him to a mental hospital — and then to forge his brother’s name on the signature line.

He was finally released in April, after six and a half years in Zhumadian and a second mental institution. In an interview, he said he had endured 54 electric-shock treatments, was repeatedly roped to his bed and was routinely injected with drugs powerful enough to make him swoon...

Hometown paper blasts McConnell over Iraq revelation

Nov 11, 2010
Hometown paper blasts McConnell over Iraq revelation
By Justin Elliott

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is taking some serious heat from his hometown newspaper for the revelation in George W. Bush's memoir that McConnell asked the president to pull some troops out of Iraq to boost the GOP's chances in the 2006 election. As we reported yesterday, McConnell at the exact same time was publicly accusing Democrats of endangering America because of their calls to withdraw troops from Iraq...

Spacing Out Half the Day Makes People Unhappy in Harvard Study

Spacing Out Half the Day Makes People Unhappy in Harvard Study
November 11, 2010
Bloomberg Business Week
By Elizabeth Lopatto

People spend almost half of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and their daydreaming usually doesn’t take them to a happy place, a study reports.

People’s minds wandered about 46.9 percent of the time, and no less than 30 percent of the time during every activity except sex, according to a study in the journal Science. Straying attention occurred most often at work.

Some religions suggest happiness is to be found by focusing on what’s happening at the moment, or “be here now,” the authors wrote, using a title of a 1971 book by spirituality and meditation guru Ram Dass. By analyzing the data over time, the researchers discovered that people didn’t merely fantasize when they were unhappy; instead, wandering minds led to unhappiness, said study author Matthew Killingsworth, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“People spend a lot of time with their minds wandering and that seems to be damaging for their happiness,” Killingsworth said in a telephone interview. The ability to think about things other than the present is a uniquely human trait, and seems to come with an emotional trade-off, he said...