1) Spreading rumors may serve a higher purpose.
Talking smack behind someone’s back is generally frowned upon, but according to a new study, it could be socially beneficial. The research, published in Psychological Science, suggests that social groups that indulge in nasty gossip are actually doing a public good by sounding the alarm about people who don’t play nice—eventually leading to their being chastised or ostracized for bad behavior. [MNT]
2) The Neanderthal inside you.
Research from Science magazine suggests that our big-browed primitive counterparts might still live on in our genes. Scientists took blood samples from the remains of Neanderthals and compared their DNA to our own, and found that a whopping 20% of their genetics was still coursing through our veins. The ancient commingling of species could have shaped our modern-day appearance, from our hair to our skin. [NPR]
3) Media buzz and trends confuse the public on what’s actually good nutrition.
In the onslaught of online media, consumers can’t seem to separate the bogus hype from the solid perennial nutritional advice, says a study in the Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives. Because constant and contradictory info circulates every day, people are more likely to dismiss any nutritional advice they come across, even the well-respected and indisputable truths (you know, like “fruit and veggies are good for you”). The study suggests that the media could do a better job clarifying that our understanding of nutrition is constantly evolving, and that a finding from a single study might not actually be the whole story. [ScienceDaily]
4) Scientists have finally grown living, breathing human cells.
For the first time, skin cells that contain all the necessary parts have been engineered, complete with fully functional blood and lymphatic capillaries. The cells could be used to grow skin grafts to repair serious wounds like severe burns. [ScienceDaily]
5) The Napoleon complex: Shorter people are more paranoid than taller people.
Ever wonder why your tall buddy seems cool as a cucumber? It’s the height advantage. A research team from the University of Oxford reports that shorter people are more prone to paranoia and feelings of inferiority. Turns out the more inches you stack up—or at least the taller you actually feel—the more confidence and trust you’re likely to have. “Height is taken to convey authority, and we feel taller when we feel more powerful,” Oxford’s Daniel Freeman said in a press release. The university’s team is hopeful that, in better understanding the roots of height-related inferiority complexes, treatments can be developed to assuage the pangs of paranoia related to mental illnesses. [MedicalDaily]