Obama's Golden Ear
Thinking about language

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Who says you can't judge a book by its cover?  Writing in the Minneapolis Post, Susan Perry reports that people can tell whether another person is a Republican or a Democrat by simply looking at that person’s headshot.  She says a recent study found they can do it with remarkable accuracy (more than by chance guessing) by relying on stereotypes. Republicans, apparently, look “powerful” in our minds, and Democrats appear “warm.”  The story is here and the full study is here.

Roger Martin (no relation) over at the Harvard Business Review thinks President Obama has "an integrative brain," which he believe is the hallmark of successful executives and not so common.  The full positing is here.  Personally, I'm happy to have a president with any kind of brain.

It seems that mating affects people's decisions about spending and giving. A recent study says that mating increases men's conspicuous consumption and women's conspicuous charity.  Both sets of behaviors seem to be signaling behavior designed to attract the most suitable mates. Now I know why I broke my budget during my dating years.  Of course, it also helps explain why my wife agreed to marry me -- it was an act of charity.  A report on the study is here.

Add this to the pharmaceutical industry's woes -- placebos (sugar pills) seem to be getting more effective.  Or at least they're beating the industry's newest drugs in late-stage trials at an increasingly alarming rate.  Wired has the story here.  In response, the industry has launched a massive effort to better understand how placebos unleash the brain's healing mechanisms.


I would also add that you can tell a Republican in a cocktail party conversation. He or she always begins with "I have nothing against...,but..."

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