Friday, January 6, 2017

Learning! Roundup: Crafty ants, gene editing, the return of Bill Nye, cognitive distortions, and more!

Learning! Roundup: Ants are crafty with tools, we can edit genes in babies, Bill Nye is coming back, and more! Learning is fun.
Photo Credit: Rodrigo Menezes (Wikimedia Commons)

Ants Getting Crafty

Think that the crafting of tools is something that only humans and clever primates do? Oh, and crows and a bunch of animals. But I bet you never thought ANTS would do it! Ants! (Okay, pause and make your Zoolander joke about an ant-sized school and then come back to me.) Turns out that when ants need to transport something like honey around, they craft tiny little sponges to soak it up and bring it home. Clever, clever ants.

Personality Trumps IQ

New research shows that IQ is even more meaningless than we thought. It's been commonly thought that IQ predicts life success, but it turns out that your personality is actually more important than your IQ. Comforting if your IQ isn't as high as you would have hoped, discouraging if you've got a high IQ and low ability to send thoughtful follow-up emails and show up on time for meetings. Luckily, unlike IQ, these other traits can be taught later in life.

Gene Editing

It has begun. We are entering Gattaca. Gene editing in human babies is now here. So far, one little girl named Layla was dying of leukaemia, until she was treated with gene-edited cells that took care of that pesky issue. It's thought that in 2017 we could save dozens of lives, and then the number of steps to "designer babies" is as long or short as your faith in the human race.

Bill Nye is Back!

Now here's a reboot from the 90s I can get excited about: Bill Nye's new Netflix show will be released in 2017. He is going to save the world.

A New Organ?

A new organ has been discovered inside the human body. You read that right. A NEW ORGAN. It's called the mesentery and it lives in your digestive tract and it's been there all along and nobody knew!

15 Common Cognitive Distortions

Our brains lie to us a lot, guys. They take shortcuts and make assumptions and fill in the blanks with past data and we have no idea. Most of the time, this is fine. It's efficient. It allows us to spend our time thinking about how to save the world and not processing what that funny shape is in the middle of the room (it's a table). Sometimes, though, they lead us astray and help reinforce biases, stereotypes, and all the bad-news "isms" in the world. Familiarity is the first step in winning the war against them, so learn the 15 most common cognitive distortions and don't let your brain trick you into been a close-minded dummy.


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