Weird Science - I Sing The Body Eccentric

President Obama’s recent fall in approval rating may have an unusual cause, he may possibly be too thin. In a recent study by Elizabeth Miller of the University of Missouri, voters prefer their male politicians to be portly, while women representatives should be more wasp-waisted. In an experiment involving 120 volunteers, people were asked to assess fictitious male and female candidates from a brief bio and a picture, crucially two pictures of each candidate were used, a natural one and one manipulated to portray the person as overweight. People shown the heavier male scored him an average 10% higher for reliability, honesty, dependability and inspiration than his thinner doppelganger, but this relationship was reversed in the woman candidate. In the journal Obesity, Miller puts this down to societal expectation and stereotyping (Telegraph).

Social pressure also crops up in explaining another finding this week, this one by Meridith Young of McMaster University in Ontario, that what single women eat depends a lot on whom they are eating with. After covertly monitoring the canteen behaviour of 470 undergraduates, Young found that women significantly lowered their calorie intake when sat with men compared with all women groups. Moreover, the more men a woman sat with, the less on average she consumed. In the journal Appetite, she puts the discrepancy down to women unconsciously advertising themselves to men, adding "the salad leaves are meant to say, I'm pretty, I'm attractive, I take care of myself" (Guardian).

Of course, we all know what men really like in a woman; that she not appear too powerful. Or so says a study by Brian Meier and Sarah Dionne of Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. In the study, eighty 19 year-olds were asked to rate the attractiveness of a number of images presented in random order, some of which would be repeated. In fact the subjects saw each image twice, once near the top of the screen and once low down. The researchers found that men rated women 1.8% more attractive when observed near the bottom, and women found men 1.5% better looking when higher up. They suggest that their findings might explain why men are taller than their women partners more frequently than would be expected by chance (Times of India).

As to what women really like in men, perhaps not being British should be somewhere on the list. After champagne controversially lost out to an English wine earlier this week, French scientists have hit back at British research that concluded that the mythical “G-spot” did not exist. “Of course it exists,” say French gynaecologists, “you just can’t find it!” The original study by King’s College in London looked at over 900 pairs of identical or non-identical twins in the expectation that the identical siblings should both report having a G-spot more frequently than the others, they did not. The French however claim their cross-channel colleagues have got the wrong end of the speculum, “It is not a question of genetics but of use," said one (Telegraph).

More twin troubles this week for a Turkish man identified only as AK, after a paternity test revealed he was only the father of one of his 3 year-old twins. While exceedingly rare, the situation – called heteropaternal superfecundation – can only occur if a woman has sex with multiple partners over a short interval, thereby proving the woman’s infidelity. AK has since divorced his wife and has custody of the son positively identified as his, the other child currently resides in state care (ABC News).

Could your understanding of emotions somehow be linked to your ability to physically express them? That seems to be the obvious conclusion of a study by David Havas of the University of Wisconsin after it revealed that people who have undergone botox treatments are less able to read the negative feelings of others. In a test Havas had 40 people read emotional descriptions before and after injections of botulinum toxin, and press a button when they identified the emotion involved. The results showed that positive emotions such as happiness were unaffected, but the treatment significantly slowed people’s perception of negative emotions (NewsLite).

And finally, the shocking truth is that training shoes are bad for you and barefoot is best. That at least is the conclusion of Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University after investigating the biomechanics of over 200 shod and unshod runners from America and Kenya. By including the Kenyans in his study, Lieberman was able to probe the whole spectrum of shoe experience, from adults who had never worn any, to those who started only as adults, to those who had never gone unshod. Each subject was then tested while running in normal shoes, hi-tech cross-trainers and barefoot, and the gait and forces involved measured. In a paper in Nature, Lieberman reveals that there were noticeable differences from the outset. Whereas barefoot runners landed more often on the ball or flat of the foot, shod runners landed predominantly on their heels, this reduced the flexibility of the running action and increased the shock to the body from half their bodyweight to twice it. "I always assumed it was painful and crazy to run barefoot," said Lieberman, adding that going barefoot can reduce the likelihood of impact induced injuries, like shin splints and plantar fasciitis (Science).

Late Extra: In two separate letters to tomorrow's edition of the science journal Nature, teams from the University of Cambridge in England and Imperial Colege London have identified a genetic mutation that is strongly linked to the most severe cases of obesity. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) had only identified a number of weakly linked variations that accounted for just a small fraction of the observed heritability. The mutation, a deletion of nearly 600 thousand base-pairs was also associated with cognitive problems, including autism, and insulin resistance (Nature).
     Posted By: Dumbfounded - Wed Feb 03, 2010
     Category: Babies | Cosmetics | Exercise and Fitness | Politics | Science | Anthropology | Experiments | Psychology | Sexuality | Divorce | Obesity

Oh heteropaternal-superfecundation,
Even just the sound of it is sure to bring elation,
Because of infidelity it’s sure-fire confirmation.
Yes, heteropaternal-superfecundation!


Oh my two sons were twins who once together played,
But I started to suspect that perhaps my wife had strayed.
Heteropaternal-superfecundation proved I had been betrayed,
Now one is in the orphanage while the other with me stayed!

Oh heteropaternal-superfecundation,
Even just the sound of it is sure to bring elation,
Because of infidelity it’s sure-fire confirmation.
Yes, heteropaternal-superfecundation!
Posted by Dumbfounded on 02/03/10 at 02:21 PM
poetic editorialization, very clever sweetie!

women eat less when with men. 🐛 really? who would have guessed it? just amazing!

tall men short women thing is not really a suprise.

the french probably found the g-spot when looking for someplace to hide after surrendering.

twins- sad really because of the way it was resolved.

barefoot- depends on the running surface too don't cha think?

genes are responsible for our entire make up. someday we will know what genes are responsible for each and every fiber of our being. it's what gets done with that knowledge that worries me.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 02/03/10 at 05:50 PM
The mutation, a deletion of nearly 600 thousand base-pairs was also associated with cognitive problems... so they've linked obesity with mental function. Finally, I know what's wrong with me.

**Excellent song, Dumbfounded 😊
Posted by Nethie on 02/03/10 at 07:43 PM
Hubris: Siting a study that shows less than 2% variance!

My new biz cards are going to read "EXPERT". Common sense will get you within 5% on damned near any subject.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 02/03/10 at 11:30 PM
steel toe work boots work best.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 02/04/10 at 07:46 AM
Yes but they don't go so well with my wife's Vittorio Rosato dresses. 😊
Posted by Dumbfounded on 02/04/10 at 09:59 AM
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