Learning! Roundup: Fat Protection, Why We Worship, Discrimination Aging, and More!

A roundup of research from the past week, including the fact that being fat may help protect you from different health problems.
Photo by AllGo.

Fat Protection

Long-judged as a scourge to health, new research is now showing that being fat may actually be good for patients with certain medical conditions, including pneumonia, burns, stroke, cancer, hypertension, and even heart disease. In fact, using BMI as a measure (which is kind of faulty in and of itself), people classified as overweight have lower mortality rates.

Why We Worship

A question that has, apparently, plagued some researchers for decades is starting to get answers: why do people worship deities and some secular superheroes, but not others? Why don't we worship Mickey Mouse the same way we worship gods? (The Mickey Mouse comparison is a little lost on me, but it's common enough that this is called "the Mickey Mouse problem.") Apparently, when we create creatures of worship, we give them lots of mind-related superpowers (omniscience) as well as helpfulness, as opposed to the other random attributes held by cartoon characters (running through walls and leaving the shape of their body behind).

Discrimination and Aging

Another piece on the negative impacts of racism on the people who receive it: when people experience racial discrimination early in life, they age faster, leading to more health problems down the line. It's almost as if discrimination is bad, you guys!

Gender Reassignment Joy

Back when I worked at a faith-based organization, I was on an email list for a church networking group that held an event on understanding transgender people. You will not be surprised to learn that they were a little biased in the "understanding" they sought, citing evidence that transgender people are more depressed after treatment and surgery. As I read the email summary (I did not attend the event), I thought, "there's no way that's what the science really says...", but did not have the capacity at the time to look into it. Well! Here you go: transgender people who choose to receive gender reassignment surgery are less likely to need mental health support for anxiety, depression, and suicide.

Conservative Orderliness

Want to predict if someone is likely to be a conservative? If they have a high need for order and experience more disgust, they are likely to fall to the right side of the political spectrum! In fact, a person's cognitive response to one disgusting image was enough to reliably predict a person's political leanings.

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