Numerous studies have shown that people are over-confident in their own abilities. Most people, for example, think that they are better drivers than average.
As discussed in a previous tidbit, people are over-confident in their abilities for many reasons. Here's an example...
As you have no doubt observed, brothers and sisters do not mate. While they may find one another attractive, they find the notion of sex with one another repulsive. This is because a child produced by siblings has a high probability of sharing the same recessive genes, and recessive genes are often harmful unless coupled with dominant genes.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that motivates us to engage in rewarding activities such as eating and sex. Animals without dopamine stop eating and starve to death.
There are ants in Tunisia that are roughly a few millimeters long. They leave their nests and find food sources by smelling them.
Four separate studies have found that taller people tend to earn more money, on average $789 per year for each additional inch of height.
Often someone who is bone-tired will lay down in bed and flip on the TV or his laptop thinking that it would be nice to relax for a few minutes before going to sleep.
Altruism was first explained as kin selection: "I would lay down my life for two brothers or eight cousins", as J.B.S. Haldane put it.
Obviously, it's evolutionarily advantageous for us to remind ourselves of tasks we have yet to finish, and experimentally it has long been observed that unmet goals keep popping into people's minds.
Humans are able to produce a wide variety of sounds in part because they have descended voice boxes that makes room for longer vocal tracts.
According to special relativity, if a twin leaves earth in a high-speed rocket, goes out into space, and then returns to earth, he will return younger than his twin who stays home.
In an office area, there is a coffee machine and a jar in which people are asked to put voluntary contributions for the coffee they consume.
In yesterday's tidbit, we learned that across the planet women seek material wealth in their mates. This stems from our hunter-gather past in which females depended on male hunters to provide them and their children the meat necessary to support their large brains.
A vast number of studies ranging across time, continents, cultures, political systems, and religions show that when evaluating potential mates, women place significantly greater emphasis than men on material wealth, and that men tend to both display and exaggerate their financial status and prospects when around women.
When subjects are asked to watch a movie and not display emotions (say, a comedy without laughing, or a tearjerker without crying), they evidently use up glucose in particular areas of their brain in a way that subjects who are free to react however they want do not.
Legal Services A group of lawyers refused to provide legal services to needy AARP members for $30 per hour, but when asked to do it for free, they readily agreed.
Comparing the average amount of school days per year by country, the United States contains the least amount of days, besides Belgium.
Expensive hotels are frequented by business travelers who charge everything to their companies, and therefore don't care about the cost of incidentals.
Scientists are able to control hierarchy in rhesus macaques. They do this by introducing monkeys into groups one at a time, and at least initially the monkeys that are introduced first have higher status.
Before lead was removed from gasoline, lead from car exhaust got into the air, was breathed in by kids, lowered their IQs, and increased crime rates (there is a very strong correlation between IQ and criminal behavior).
Imagine two stakes in your backyard. Now draw an east-west, north-south coordinate system on your lawn. Measure the east-west distance between the stakes and also the north-south distance. Take the square root of the sum of the squares of the two measurements and, voilà, you end up with the "distance" between the two stakes.
As we approach the holiday (i.e. gift-giving) season, don't forget to make sure to include the usual notes in your gifts indicating that they can be returned. Otherwise, you'll just cause the recipients to save your gifts until they can be properly regifted onto some other ungrateful chump.
The cat virus Toxoplasma gondii produces psychotic symptoms in cats similar to those in humans suffering from schizophrenia.
There is a ton of evidence that people find a loss from whatever their reference point is more painful than they find pleasure in a gain of the same magnitude.
Remember Dan White's "Twinkie defense" in 1979? Well it turns out that the the ability to convert food into glucose is correlated with the ability to control oneself.
In an attempt to get parents to pick up their kids on time, a number of Israeli day-care centers decided to impose fines on parents who show up late.
Particles, such as electrons, have a property called spin which can be measured at any angle, but when measured always results in one of two answers—up or down.
560,000 U.S. citizens die of cancer each year, and we spend $5 billion per year on cancer research. By comparison, we spend $5.3 billion per year on potato chips.
Studies with identical and non-identical twins show that between 50 and 80 percent of one's reported level of happiness is genetically determined.
Asian Americans comprise 4% of the American population, but account for 25% of the students at top universities.
Life has many perils: parasites, predators, and pitfalls. Eventually, any organism will succumb, and if that organism has not first passed on its genes, those genes will face extinction.
Wikipedia is an astonishing resource that provides an enormous amount of information to billions of users.
One of the roles our government has taken on is to provide us with information to be used in making decisions.
Humans clearly demonstrate altruistic tendencies towards other members of groups with which they identify.
The connection between self-control and glucose is not unique to humans. A bunch of trained dogs were divided into two groups. One group was instructed to sit and stay for 10 minutes. Dogs in the other group could run around and do whatever they wanted.
Males fight for dominance in order to gain access to the limited supply of female eggs. This is why male birds expend energy on brightly colored plumage, but female birds do not.
Economists have long since known that people want to be rewarded for taking on risk. Investments are thus judged by their risk-adjusted returns (Sharpe ratios). A typical hedge fund has a Sharpe ratio of around 0.5. This means that its excess annual return over the risk-free rate is about half its annual standard deviation.
Roughly five million years ago, humans split off from chimpanzees, who had in turn split off from gorillas five million years earlier.
There are these people called "ethicists" or "moral philosophers". They make their livings by thinking about what is right and wrong and how to live a moral life. Does all this thinking get them anywhere?
In evolutionary times, we were far more likely to die from starvation than from diseases related to obesity. In those times, when food was available, it was best to stuff oneself.