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Don’t Sell Your Dog Short

In 1996, veteran dog trainer Jean Donaldson picked a fight with Walt Disney. Donaldson begins her book Culture Clash: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding the Relationship Between Humans and Dogs by explaining that people continue to buy into a made-up, Walt Disney version of dogs. According to Disney, the dog “is very intelligent, has morals, is capable of planning and executing revenge, solves complex problems, and understands the value of the artifacts in Walt’s home.” The Walt Disney portrayal of dogs, and animals in general, is often void of the rich animal behavior findings that have poured out since the 1930s. Pluto is not an exemplar dog, and lemmings don’t commit suicide (for the moment, let’s sidestep the discussion of whether Goofy is a dog).

Donaldson wrote Culture Clash just as the field of canine behavior and cognition research was taking off. Nowadays, animal behavior and cognition journals are awash with studies investigating domestic dogs and their wild counterparts. I joke that the academic journal Animal Cognition should be renamed Dog Cognition because of the large number of dog studies it publishes (I understand that joke isn’t that funny, so here are some knock knock jokes).

But why does the domestic dog continue to be oversimplified, even in the face of new findings about dog behavior, cognition, learning and effective training techniques? This is the question I posed last week at Academia Film Olomouc in the Czech Republic, a six-day international program mixing science communication and science films. In my talk, I cautioned the audience that the media’s spin on dog research doesn’t always follow from the research itself. Here is an example:

In 2013, Lisa Horn and her colleagues at the Clever Dog Lab in Vienna investigated a specific part of the dog-human relationship that is commonly referred to as the secure base effect, a concept initially studied in the mid-1900s between human infants and their mothers. Child psychologists found that in the presence of a figure of attachment (i.e., the mother), infants are more likely to explore, investigate and interact with a novel environment. This was a big-deal finding, and renowned child psychologist Mary Ainsworth suggested that “the secure base effect was the most important component of the attachment system because it is crucial for balancing the maturing infants’ exploration of the world with maintaining proximity to the caregiver” (Horn et al. 2013).

Last year, the Vienna researchers investigated the secure base effect in dogs. They found that, like children, dogs show more exploratory behavior and were more likely to manipulate a toy when in the presence of their owner, thus supporting the idea that owners can provide a ‘secure base’ for dogs.

Researchers’ and dog lovers’ ears should perk up when a study like this comes along. My colleagues and I need to consider that the presence or absence of an owner during our studies can affect dog behavior and owners can even influence dog motivation and ultimately test outcomes. And if dog owners look, they’ll find evidence of the secure base effect playing out. For example, imagine a dog waiting for someone to come out of a store. Many dogs are simply not interested in interacting with anyone or anything while in ‘waiting mode’; even a squirrel could go completely unnoticed (sometimes).

When I see a dog outside a store waiting for a person who has stepped inside, I also go into waiting mode. I know that the chances of that dog being interested in me are slim while their owner is out of view and inside the store. But, when the person returns, and after the dog has had a chance to say, “Hello! Great to have you back!” then the dog is more apt to explore the environment, which might include me! Yes, I consider the secure base effect when weighing whether a dog will gallop over and say, in his own special way, “Hello!!! Who are you!?! Can I sniff your crotch!?!?”

Media outlets had a different take on this study. The Christian Science Monitor begins their coverage, “Treating our dogs like our babies might, it turns out, be somewhat reasonable.” But Horn et al. (2013) did not investigate how we should “treat” our dogs–an entirely separate and complicated question that other studies have tackled. In fact, it’s the other way around; the study investigated how dogs “treat” owners. The Christian Science Monitor’s assessment does not follow from Horn’s research, and to some degree undermines the research and research process in general. The newspaper took an interesting and nuanced topic—differences in dog behavior when in the presence or absence of an owner—and boiled it down to an inaccurate soundbite that dogs = children. And just like that, we’re back to the “oversimplified dog” that Jean Donaldson was talking about in 1996.

What’s the point of research if at the end of the day it’s going to be mis-sold? The field of canine science offers an exceedingly complex view of dogs that at times may question what we thought to be true. Other times, findings may confirm what we assumed. Either way, scientific inquiry is about learning as we go. It’s a shame when the media sells dogs (and us) short by reverting to oversimplifications.


Image: Pluto doing meet-and-greet outside of The Star Trader, Loren Javier Flickr Creative Commons

Horn L., Huber L., Range F. & Dornhaus A. (2013). The Importance of the Secure Base Effect for Domestic Dogs – Evidence from a Manipulative Problem-Solving Task, PLoS ONE, 8 (5) e65296. DOI:

Gardening Tips

The Quest: $84,000 Miracle Cure Costs Less Than $150 to Make

Credit: CDC/Debora Cartagena

What are the likely manufacturing costs for sofosbuvir (Brand name: Sovaldi), the newly approved miracle drug that cures hepatitis C at a cost of $84,000 for the full 12-week course of treatment? Anywhere from $68 to $136 for the full course, according to an analysis that was published in Clinical Infectious Disease (CID) in January—which was about a month after Gilead announced how much it was planning to charge for the drug.

No wonder the pharmaceutical company has just broken the record for “sales of a drug in its first full quarter on the market,” according to Andrew Pollack of the New York Times.  Indeed, Pollack calculated that the $2.3 billion first quarter sofosbuvir sales also broke the record for the first full year of any drug. (For the record, the previous record was $1.56 billion for another hepatitis C drug, telaprevir, brand name: Incivek.)

Trying to determine manufacturing costs is becoming something of a habit for me whenever a new drug is launched. I found the CID article after a quick search on the PubMed.gov website. I typed “sofosbuvir” into the search box and “cost.”

(It’s good practice to use a medication’s generic name rather than its brand name when doing any drug-related search on a medical database because that’s how most scientists will refer to it and therefore that’s what will give you the most information.)

The search returned 10 articles, including one (published in Drug Healthcare and Patient Safety) that pointed out an $84,000 price tag seems reasonable when compared with the $270,000 costs of living with chronic liver disease for 10 years or $577,100, which was “the estimated US average of billed charges per liver transplant in 2011.”

The CID article, by contrast, took a page from the successful price reduction of HIV drugs in the poorest parts of the world—where volume pricing allows manufacturers to make some money in areas where neither the population nor the health system could ever afford to pay full fare. Co-infection with hepatitis C affects between 5 percent and 15 percent of the 33 million HIV-positive individuals around the world—leading to more severe health problems, according to the World Health Organization.

The authors assumed a minimum of 1 million patients per year and a 40% margin for formulation to conclude that sofosbuvir probably costs $68 to $136 to manufacture for a 12-week supply and that large-scale manufacture would be feasible with minimum target prices of $100 to $250 per treatment course in the next fifteen years.

Previous posts in The Quest series:

How To Get A Medical Librarian to Do Your Search for Free

Practical Advice for Online Searches

Gardening Tips

Lecture theatre’s recording studio past explored during live music event

23 April 2014

  • Cabaret Voltaire member performs in unique gig at the lecture theatre site of the band’s former recording studio
  • The University of Sheffield’s John Pemberton Lecture Theatres stand at the site of Western Works
  • Evening of live music will celebrate the building’s past and present

A member of former Sheffield band Cabaret Voltaire will perform as part of a unique ‘super group’ at the site of the band’s legendary recording studio – now a University of Sheffield lecture theatre.

The John Pemberton Lecture Theatres in the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) are as close as it is possible to get to site of the former Western Works, where Cabaret Voltaire and countless other pioneering Sheffield industrial and post-punk bands made their mark on the music scene.Cabaret Voltaire

From 1978, Cabaret Voltaire rented rooms on the top floor of Western Works, which stood at the corner of Regent Street and Portobello. Having private recording and rehearsal space was unusual for bands of that era, which led to the building becoming a magnet for like-minded groups including Clock DVA, New Order and Lydia Lunch.

But the building was demolished in 1993 and now has a very different use as the home to ScHARR and the University’s Department of Computer Science.

Cabaret Voltaire vocalist Stephen Mallinder will return to the same space for No Lectures from Western Works – an evening celebrating what the building was and what it is now.

He will perform with members of Clock DVA and In The Nursery as part of new band IBBERSON. The name is a throwback to a sign which hung outside the former Western Works recording studio.

Stephen Mallinder said: “I don’t think we ever considered the notion of heritage at the time, Western Works was simply our home, workplace, hangout, and often a convenient location when the pubs closed.

“But I think we were aware of how much of the music from friends, like-minded outsiders and ourselves we’d managed to capture.

“We always appreciated how hard it was for people to get some recording done in the early days unless you had a record deal and Sheffield didn’t really have commercial studios back then. We also didn’t have many rules, so if we weren’t busy bands came round and we recorded them.

“We didn’t have facilities so you had to go to the sandwich shop on West Street, but there was free use of the kettle. So in fact it was a very Sheffield studio – a repurposed industrial hulk, few frills but a good vibe.

“It will really good to reconvene with some old friends for the night. I will just have to close my eyes and remember the two rooms of the studio.”

During a night of live music from bands including Blood Sport, Juxtavoices and BHS, contemporary musicians will draw on the material recorded at the studio while writers and academics will discuss some of the ideas that travel associated with the site then and now – including art and Sheffield, music and technology and health and disease.

Dr Matthew Cheeseman, of the University of Sheffield’s School of English, said: “This is not a celebration of the past, but an investigation of the echoes and ripples that occupy and represent a working space.”

The event at the John Pemberton Lecture Theatres on Friday 16 May is part of In the City – a series of events across May and June, organised by the University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, celebrating and exploring urban existence, heritage, forgotten places, activism, musical heritage and personal narratives.

For more information visit www.sheffield.ac.uk/artsenterprise/inthecity

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 25,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

In 2011 it was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline and Siemens, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

For further information, please visit www.sheffield.ac.uk


For further information please contact:

Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 2221046


Delve into 450 years of literature inspired by the English country house

23 April 2014

A revolutionary digital course launched today (Wednesday 23 April 2014) by the University of Sheffield will give people from across the world a unique glimpse into the extraordinary life, culture, drama and literature of the traditional English country house.

Dr Jim Fitzmaurice and Professor Susan FitzmauriceFans of Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice will be able to delve into 450 years of literature inspired and set in some of the country’s most magnificent buildings such as Chatsworth House – home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire which has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family and has one of Europe’s most significant art collections.

The Literature of the English Country House is the second FutureLearn Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) hosted by the University which is transforming education and making learning free and accessible to all.

The eight week course is ideal for literature lovers and costume drama enthusiasts who would like to discover the secrets behind the exquisite English country houses which are steeped in history, romance and sometimes scandal.

Dr Jim Fitzmaurice, Director of Distance Learning from the University of Sheffield, said: “On this course we will be introducing learners to literature as it derives from 450 years of the English country house and we will be seeing how that literature shapes our understanding of the country house.

“We will be travelling together on an historical journey through literature visiting notable country houses around Yorkshire and Derbyshire. You will gain an insight into the life of these country houses and learn about some common misconceptions.”

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Learners will explore the magnificent 17th century wall paintings of Bolsover Castle often hailed to be the best of their kind in the country and visit Haddon Hall, frozen in the time of William Shakespeare and a great inspiration for the great gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe 200 years later.

Dr Fitzmaurice will use a wide range of texts spanning the history of literature from Thomas More’s Utopia to Oscar Wilde’s Canterville Ghost, plays from Shakespeare, poetry from Margaret Cavendish and brief passages from Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

Throughout the course participants will learn techniques to analyse literature and make their own connections with the English country house.

Professor Susan Fitzmaurice, Head of the School of English at the University of Sheffield, who is running the course said: “It is rare to encounter literary texts in such close proximity to the contexts, buildings and landscapes that inspired, informed and provoked them.

Dr Jim Fitzmaurice filming at Nostell Priory“This MOOC illuminates poems, plays and prose texts vividly by connecting them to those contexts, buildings and landscapes through a historical lens.

“Leading experts who are passionate about their subject introduce fresh ways of approaching this literature by walking the learner through the world of the English country house.

“If you think historical English literature is crusty and boring, we’re hoping that our MOOC will change that and teach you how to engage with more confidence.”

There are no prerequisites for registering for this or any other MOOC hosted by the University. Education or academic background is not important – budding learners from around the world simply need an internet connection.

The online platform, by which the course is delivered, gives people of all ages the opportunity to take part in a unique, high quality, flexible and innovative learning experience – something which will be of great interest to fans of period dramas such as Downton Abbey which attracts more than 10 million viewers in America alone.

Registration for the course is open today and learning will begin on 2 June 2014. The online lecturers will not only take learners on a literary journey but give them the unique opportunity to go through the key hole of six of Yorkshire and Derbyshire’s most famous addresses.

The Literature of the English Country House follows the success of the University’s first FutureLearn MOOC, Discover Dentistry, which ran earlier this year. More than 4,000 people signed up to the innovative course which delved into the intriguing world of dentistry from molars to canines.

Marie Kinsey, Academic Lead for MOOCs, said: “Many people have visited an English country house or know about them through things they’ve read.

“This course breaks new ground because it brings together the life and culture of the English country house over 400 years with books, poems and drama set in that world. Leading experts from the School of English will help you learn more about the English country house, and how to dig more deeply into texts that feature aspects of country house life.”

Additional information

The Literature of the English Country House
For more information please visit www.futurelearn.com/courses/country-house-literature

School of English
To find out more about the University of Sheffield’s School of English please visit https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/english

Futurelearn.com is the first UK-led multi-institutional provider of free, open, online higher education courses. It will offer courses for people to access and enjoy wherever they are in the world on multiple devices.

The FutureLearn course experience centres on social interaction, whereby people learn actively by engaging in conversations around the learning material. The website has also been designed to work on smartphones and tablets, as well as desktop computers, so that learners can enjoy the same high quality user experience, regardless of their screen size. FutureLearn is wholly owned by The Open University. The website combines the best elements of the social web with The Open University’s 44 years of expertise in distance and open learning.

Courses will be created by the Universities of Auckland, Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Leicester, Liverpool, Loughborough, King’s College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Monash, Newcastle, Nottingham, The Open University, Queen’s Belfast, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton, Strathclyde, Trinity College Dublin and Warwick. In addition, the British Council, British Library and the British Museum have all agreed to partner with FutureLearn to share content and their expertise and collaborate in the development of courses through futurelearn.com.

University of Sheffield
With almost 25,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.
A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.
In 2011 it was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.
Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.
Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline and Siemens, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


Long time coming: African-American Civil Rights Organizations embrace Environmentalism

When I started blogging 8 years ago, the blogosphere like a lonely place. I hadn’t yet met another Black Science blogger (and I wouldn’t come across another one for 2.5 years), so when I rolled out the Green Carpet for Earth Day, I felt my voice was puny.

This wasn’t a revelation. I seemed to be that only nagging long-suffering voice at my local Urban League Young Professionals meeting insisting that we recycle our beverage containers. I was one of very few who would ask the affiliate leadership about how and where does environmental issues fit into the 5 point agenda that involved addressing economic, education, and health disparities. However, the answer I often got was that the environment wasn’t a ‘Black issue’.  There were higher priority issues, all social and civic justice matters, and environment would have to get in queue.  Despite being seen as tangential, the environment (and lack of environmental education, agency and stewardship) was at the very heart of all of the high priority Black Community Issues.

It’s not that Black communities lacked concern or interests or even leadership in the environmental and conservation movements, collectively regarded as the Green Movement. No, it’s that the popular perception of blacks being disinterested persisted. And frankly, I place the bulk of that blame to the so-called Black Agenda power players from organizations like the National Urban League, NAACP, National Action Network, Congressional Black Caucus, and various African-American Christian churches.  The leaders, all representing the Baby Boomer Generation, seemed completely oblivious to their own mortality (and dying influence on everyday African-Americans). My generation, Generation X, was largely left out of conversations about next steps in the Black Agenda – as if there was no mantle to pass on or no one was ready and willing to take up the cause – and power players in African-American Environmental Activism came to fore by paths and support mostly outside of the civil rights organizations that inspired and nurtured them.

Me with Majora Carter

It’s taken longer than I or any other African-American Environmental Activists would have desired, but it seems that tide has turned, and with gusto. And by tide, I mean African-American civil rights organizations and media are giving environmental issues their due on the docket. Just as the star and influence of Van Jones and Majora Carter began to rise, Black Agenda power players began to include topics related to the environment to their education, economic, political, and health civil rights and social justice agendas. (Yes! about time, Top 10 environmental issues affecting urban America from the Grio April 22, 201)

And with the negative impacts of Climate Change looming ever nearer, the message has finally been heeded.  Urban communities are especially vulnerable to the climate change impacts. (Are African-Americans More Vulnerable to Climate Change? from EBONY February 11, 2013)

I’m especially happy the attentions of the Hip Hop Caucus have focused on environmental issues lately.

Communities of color suffer significantly higher rates of cancer, asthma, and other heart- and lung-related diseases due to environmental pollution being concentrated in our communities. It is not well understood by our communities that many of our health issues are tied to pollution. This pollution is the same pollution that is causing climate change, which is increasing extreme weather patterns resulting in natural disasters like Super Storm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, as well as extreme heat waves and droughts worldwide. It is our communities who are being hurt the most by climate change and pollution.

They get it and as a result they have completely embedded environmental issues and environmental justice into their entire platform -  political action, service, and addressing human and civil rights. In fact there is an entire plank on Environmental Justice and Climate Change.

The Hip Hop Caucus is wrapping up a Climate Change Tour visiting several HBCU* and MSI** universities on the east coast and mid-west.  I’m looking forward to the amazing energy and environmental activism they inspire in this Millennial Generation.

Happy Earth Day!

* HBCU: Historically Black College or Univerisity
** MSI: Minority Serving Institution

Gardening Tips

Oldest Footprints Outside Africa

Archaeologists working on the eastern coast of England have found a series of footprints that were made by human ancestors sometime between one million and 780,000 years ago. Pressed into estuary mudflats now hard with age, these prints are the oldest ones known outside of Africa, where humanity arose.

Scientists discovered the prints in early May 2013, at a seaside site in Happisburgh. High seas had eroded the beach sand to reveal the mudflats underneath. The team had to act quickly to record the tracks before they, too, eroded. The researchers used a technique called multi-image photogrammetry and laser scanning to capture the prints in three dimensions.

In a paper published this past February in PLOS ONE, Nick Ashton of the British Museum and his colleagues reported that analysis of the footprints—which show impressions of the arch, ball, heel and toes of several individuals—suggests they were left by a party of five as they walked south along a large river. Based on the apparent foot lengths, they ranged in height from 0.93 to 1.73 meters, evidence that the group was composed of both adults and youngsters. The researchers estimated the body mass of the adults at 48 to 53 kilograms.

Exactly which species of early human left the trails is unknown because no human remains have turned up at the site. Yet judging from the antiquity of the prints, a likely candidate is Homo antecessor, a species known from the site of Atapuerca in Spain that had body dimensions similar to those reconstructed for the largest Happisburgh footprint makers.

Happisburgh is the oldest known site of human occupation in northern Europe. Previous excavations there have turned up dozens of flint tools that these ancient people may have used to butcher animals or process their skins. Where had the track makers come from, and where were they going? Perhaps continuing erosion of the coastline will reveal more clues to the lives they lived.

Gardening Tips

SciAm & Read Science! Chat with Neil Shubin

I am very pleased to announce that Neil Shubin, author of “Your Inner Fish” and host of a PBS program by the same name, currently airing over the past several weeks, will be joining myself and co-host Jeff Shaumeyer for a chat in another SciAm/Read Science! collaboration. Additionally, Kalliopi Monoyios, a member of SciAm’s blogging community on her team blog, Symbiartic , and Neil’s illustrator, will also be joining us!

I hope, if you haven’t read his amazing book, you at least have been keeping up with the program.

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Please join us April 22, noon EDT, 11 CDT right here at this post for our Google Hangout on Air or at the Google Plus event page.

Gardening Tips

How Does IQ Relate to Personality?

Personality and IQ have traditionally been viewed as distinct domains of human functioning. However, research over the past three decades suggests that IQ is a personality trait. In an excellent book chapter, personality neuroscientist Colin DeYoung points out that many personality traits involve cognitive processes and abilities. It’s just that IQ is primarily measured with ability tests, whereas personality tests are primarily measured with questionnaires. But this is more a reflection of a lack of ingenuity on the part of psychologists than a real difference in domain of human functioning.

It’s theoretically possible to measure personality traits through ability tests. For instance, agreeableness could be measured through tests of perspective taking, conscientiousness could be measured through tests of self-control, and neuroticism could be measured through measures of emotional self-regulation. Viewing IQ as a personality trait is helpful because it puts IQ in perspective. We can take a birds eye view of all the many fascinating ways we differ from one another in cognitive processing, emotion, and motivation, while seeing where IQ fits into that bigger picture.

To help us see that picture, I analyzed data from the Eugene-Springfield community sample, which consisted of 478 mostly White participants from Eugene and Springfield, Oregon. Participants ranged in age from 20 to 85 years, and spanned all levels of educational attainment. The sample consisted of 200 males and 281 females. While the sample isn’t ethnically diverse, it does have a pretty good range of IQ and personality, so we can get some sense of how IQ relates to personality in the general population. The IQ test that participants took consisted of 15 multiple-choice items that measured knowledge and abstract reasoning. The personality test measured 45 dimensions of human personality.

Consistent with prior research, IQ was most strongly related to openness to experience. Out of 9 dimensions of openness to experience, 8 out of 9 were positively related to IQ: intellectual engagement, intellectual creativity, mental quickness, intellectual competence, introspection, ingenuity, intellectual depth, and imagination. Interestingly, IQ was much more strongly related to intellectual engagement and mental quickness than imagination, ingenuity, or intellectual depth, and IQ was not related to sensitivity to beauty.

Out of 45 dimensions of personality, 23 dimensions were not related to IQ. This included gregariousness, friendliness, assertiveness, poise, talkativeness, social understanding, warmth, pleasantness, empathy, cooperation, sympathy, conscientiousness, efficiency, dutifulness, purposefulness, cautiousness, rationality, perfectionism, calmness, impulse control, imperturbability, cool-headedness, and tranquility. These qualities were not directly relevant to IQ.

8 dimensions of personality outside the openness to experience domain were positively related to IQ, including organization, toughness, provocativeness, leadership, self-disclosure, emotional stability, moderation, and happiness– although the correlations were much smaller than with intellectual engagement and mental quickness. IQ was negatively related to orderliness, morality, nurturance, tenderness, and sociability, but again, the negative correlations were much smaller than the relationships among IQ, intellectual engagement, and mental quickness.

Given this data, where does IQ fit into the personality puzzle? While this is just a single dataset, it is consistent with other studies suggesting that the most relevant personality domain is openness to experience, particularly the dimensions that reflect the ability and drive for conscious exploration of inner mental experience. This is certainly an important slice of personality, but at the same time these findings illustrate that there are many more ways we differ from each other in cognition, emotion, and motivation that are not well measured by IQ tests.

© 2014 Scott Barry Kaufman, All Rights Reserved.

image credit: istockphoto

Note: Thanks to Colin DeYoung for providing me with the Eugene-Springfield dataset. For more correlations between IQ and personality, see the supplementary data [1, 2] for the paper “From madness to genius: The openness/intellect trait domains as a paradoxical simplex“, authored by Colin DeYoung, Rachael Grazioplene, and Jordan Peterson.

If you’re interested in the finer details of my analysis, see below. Correlations with IQ in parentheses. * = p < .05; ** = p < .01. Note that I changed some of the IPIP AB5C facet names to better reflect the content of the items.


+ keyed Am the life of the party.
Talk to a lot of different people at parties.
Start conversations.
Love large parties.
– keyed Don’t talk a lot.
Keep in the background.
Am quiet around strangers.
Don’t like to draw attention to myself.
Bottle up my feelings.
Keep my thoughts to myself.

+ keyed Make friends easily.
Am open about my feelings.
Act comfortably with others.
Radiate joy.
Warm up quickly to others.
– keyed Am hard to get to know.
Am a very private person.
Avoid contacts with others.
Keep others at a distance.
Reveal little about myself.

+ keyed Automatically take charge.
Can easily push myself forward.
Try to lead others.
Turn plans into actions.
Stick up for myself.
Am always busy.
Come up with a solution right away.
Do a lot in my spare time.
Know what I want.
– keyed Let myself be pushed around.
Am not highly motivated to succeed.
Need a lot of time to do things.
POISE (.052) 

+ keyed Feel comfortable around people.
Am comfortable in unfamiliar situations.
Have a lot of fun.
Am not embarrassed easily.
Love life.
– keyed Often feel uncomfortable around others.
Find it difficult to approach others.
Retreat from others.
Give up easily.
Only feel comfortable with friends.

+ keyed Take charge.
Know how to captivate people.
Express myself easily.
Am the first to act.
Never at a loss for words.
– keyed Have little to say.
Have difficulty expressing my feelings.
Wait for others to lead the way.
Am afraid to draw attention to myself.
Let others make the decisions.

+ keyed Dare to say anything.
Am not afraid of providing criticism.
Boast about my virtues.
[Know no limits.]
[Know how to get around the rules.]
[Can take strong measures.]
[Don't mind being the center of attention.]
[Make demands on others.]
– keyed Can’t stand confrontations.
Wait for my turn.
[Hate to seem pushy.]

+ keyed Act wild and crazy.
Am open about myself to others.
Let myself go.
Disclose my intimate thoughts.
Laugh my way through life.
Express childlike joy.
Joke around a lot.
Like to amuse others.
– keyed Seldom joke around.
Prefer to deal with strangers in a formal manner.

+ keyed Do most of the talking.
Talk too much.
Speak loudly.
Make myself the center of attention.
Like to attract attention.
Never stop talking.
Make a lot of noise.
Demand to be the center of interest.
– keyed Speak softly.
Dislike talking about myself.

+ keyed Can’t do without the company of others.
[Enjoy being part of a loud crowd.]
[Enjoy being on the go.]
– keyed Like to be alone.
Seek quiet.
Enjoy silence.
[Don't like crowded events.]
[Dislike neighbors living too close.]
[Amuse myself easily.]
[Go my own way.]

+ keyed Sympathize with others’ feelings.
Respect others’ feelings.
Take others’ interests into account.
Like to be of service to others.
Appreciate the viewpoints of others.
– keyed Feel little concern for others.
Am not interested in other people’s problems.
Am indifferent to the feelings of others.
Take no time for others.
Can’t be bothered with other’s needs.
WARMTH (-.042) 

+ keyed Am interested in people.
Make people feel at ease.
Know how to comfort others.
Inquire about others’ well-being.
Take time out for others.
Make people feel welcome.
Show my gratitude.
Make others feel good.
Feel others’ emotions.
– keyed Am not really interested in others.
Rarely smile.
MORALITY (-.131**) 

+ keyed Would never cheat on my taxes.
Respect the privacy of others.
Like harmony in my life.
[Try to follow the rules.]
[Respect authority.]
– keyed Don’t care about rules.
Turn my back on others.
Only talk about my own interests.
Overestimate my achievements.
Scheme against others.
[Act at the expense of others.]
[Break rules.]

+ keyed Am easy to satisfy.
Have a good word for everyone.
Am on good terms with nearly everyone.
Trust others.
Respect others.
Trust what people say.
– keyed Am hard to satisfy.
Am quick to judge others.
Insult people.
Find it hard to forgive others.
Contradict others.
Criticize others’ shortcomings.
EMPATHY (.087) 

+ keyed Anticipate the needs of others.
Sense others’ wishes.
[Love to reflect on things.]
[Try to stay in touch with myself.]
[Work on improving myself.]
– keyed Pretend to be concerned for others.
[Don't have a soft side.]
[Treat people as inferiors.]
[Am not in touch with my feelings.]

+ keyed Value cooperation over competition.
Listen to my conscience.
– keyed Impose my will on others.
Love a good fight.
Seek conflict.
Think too highly of myself.
Tell tall stories about myself.
Play tricks on others.
Enjoy crude jokes.
[Comment loudly about others.]
[Enjoy being reckless.]
[Do dangerous things.]
SYMPATHY (-.071) 

+ keyed Am concerned about others.
Am deeply moved by others’ misfortunes.
Feel sympathy for those who are worse off than myself.
[Take an interest in other people's lives.]
[Like to do things for others.]
[Reassure others.]
– keyed Demand a lot from others.
Don’t fall for sob-stories.
Listen to my brain rather than my heart.
Tend to dislike soft-hearted people.
Try not to think about the needy.
Look down on any weakness.
Believe people should fend for themselves.
TENDERNESS (-.166**) 

+ keyed Suffer from others’ sorrows.
Listen to my heart rather than my brain.
Love children’s movies.
Want to please others.
Remember my friends’ birthdays.
Cherish mementos.
Want to mean something to others.
[Believe crying helps me feel better.]
[Show my feelings.]
– keyed Don’t understand people who get emotional.
[Don't get excited about things.]
[Don't call people just to talk.]
[Don't care about dressing nicely.]
NURTURANCE (-.193**) 

+ keyed Have a soft heart.
Go out of my way for others.
Think of others first.
Will do anything for others.
Like to please others.
Wouldn’t harm a fly.
– keyed Make enemies.
Oppose authority.
Believe that I am better than others.
Seek danger.
Put people under pressure.
Try to outdo others.
Believe only in myself.

+ keyed Accomplish my work on time.
Do things according to a plan.
Am careful to avoid making mistakes.
Keep my checkbook balanced.
Like to plan ahead.
Return borrowed items.
– keyed Often forget to put things back in their proper place.
Neglect my duties.
Take tasks too lightly.
Leave my work undone.
Do not plan ahead.
Put off unpleasant tasks.
Am often late to work.

+ keyed Am exacting in my work.
Make plans and stick to them.
Get chores done right away.
Follow through with my plans.
Finish what I start.
– keyed Waste my time.
Find it difficult to get down to work.
Postpone decisions.
Have difficulty starting tasks.
Need a push to get started.
Frequently forget to do things.

+ keyed Follow directions.
Keep myself well-groomed.
Check over my work.
Behave properly.
[Stick to the rules.]
[Appreciate good manners.]
– keyed Do improper things.
Disregard rules.
Do the opposite of what is asked.
Pay no attention to my appearance.
[Don't think laws apply to me.]
[Make rash decisions.]
[Say inappropriate things.]

+ keyed Am always prepared.
Carry out my plans.
Get to work at once.
Am not easily distracted.
Handle tasks smoothly.
– keyed Make a mess of things.
Am easily distracted.
Mess things up.
Shirk my duties.
Don’t see things through.
Do things at the last minute.
Can’t make up my mind.

+ keyed Pay attention to details.
Complete tasks successfully.
Have an eye for detail.
Demand quality.
Set high standards for myself and others.
Make well-considered decisions.
Follow through on my commitments.
Detect mistakes.
Think ahead.
– keyed Seldom notice details.
Put little time and effort into my work.
Don’t pay attention.

+ keyed Purchase only practical things.
Tend to dislike impulsive people.
Take precautions.
[Never splurge.]
[Never spend more than I can afford.]
– keyed Do crazy things.
Often make last-minute plans.
Am easily talked into doing silly things.
Laugh at the slightest provocation.
Like to laugh out loud.
[Like to act on a whim.]
[Jump into things without thinking.]

+ keyed Do things in a logical order.
Come straight to the point.
Believe in a logical answer for everything.
Get a head start on others.
Dislike imperfect work.
Believe in an eye for an eye.
[Have no sympathy for criminals.]
[Reason logically.]
– keyed Sympathize with the homeless.
Am not as strict as I should be.
Let people pull my leg.
[Do things in a half-way manner.]
[Let my attention wander off.]
[Believe that criminals should receive help rather than punishment.]

+ keyed Continue until everything is perfect.
Want every detail taken care of.
Want everything to be “just right.”
Want things to proceed according to plan.
Demand perfection in others.
Keep a sharp eye on others’ work.
Expect dedicated work from others.
– keyed Am not bothered by messy people.
Am not bothered by disorder.
ORDERLINESS (-.180**) 

+ keyed Like order.
Follow a schedule.
Work according to a routine.
Like to tidy up.
Do things by the book.
Take good care of my belongings.
See that rules are observed.
– keyed Leave my belongings around.
Leave a mess in my room.
Dislike routine.

+ keyed Seldom get mad.
Am not easily bothered by things.
Am not easily frustrated.
Seldom take offense.
Keep my cool.
– keyed Get stressed out easily.
Get upset easily.
Am easily disturbed.
Change my mood a lot.
Get caught up in my problems.
HAPPINESS (.116*) 

+ keyed Seldom feel blue.
Feel comfortable with myself.
Adapt easily to new situations.
Look at the bright side of life.
Am sure of my ground.
– keyed Often feel blue.
Worry about things.
Feel threatened easily.
Dislike myself.
Am filled with doubts about things.
CALMNESS (.034) 

+ keyed Rarely get irritated.
Am not easily annoyed.
Take things as they come.
Accept people as they are.
– keyed Get angry easily.
Am often in a bad mood.
Get furious.
Snap at people.
Lose my temper.
Have days when I’m mad at the world.

+ keyed Remain calm under pressure.
Easily resist temptations.
Rarely overindulge.
Am able to control my cravings.
– keyed Am guided by my moods.
Am not sure where my life is going.
Don’t know why I do some of the things I do.
Get out of control.
Can’t concentrate.
Do things I later regret.
TOUGHNESS (.200**) 

+ keyed Am calm even in tense situations.
Don’t lose my head.
Know how to cope.
Can stand criticism.
– keyed Take offense easily.
Panic easily.
Am easily hurt.
Am easily offended.
Feel crushed by setbacks.
Become overwhelmed by events.
Am easily frightened.
Am easily confused.

+ keyed Keep my emotions under control.
Let others finish what they are saying.
– keyed Demand attention.
React intensely.
Talk even when I know I shouldn’t.
Often make a fuss.
Shoot my mouth off.
Am easily excited.
Blurt out whatever comes into my mind.
Barge in on conversations.
Like to gossip.

+ keyed Seldom get emotional.
Am not easily affected by my emotions.
– keyed Get overwhelmed by emotions.
Cry easily.
Burst into tears.
Am easily moved to tears.
Cry during movies.
Wear my heart on my sleeve.
Have crying fits.

+ keyed (No positive items.)
– keyed Want everything to add up perfectly.
Demand obedience.
Keep up an appearance.
[Love order and regularity.]
[Am attached to conventional ways.]
[Want things done my way.]
[Am a creature of habit.]
[Try to impress others.]
[Can't stand being contradicted.]
[Want to be told I am right.]

+ keyed Experience very few emotional highs and lows.
Tend to feel the same every day.
Am always in the same mood.
Rarely notice my emotional reactions.
[Am relaxed most of the time.]
[Am not easily stirred.]
[Am not disturbed by events.]
– keyed Experience my emotions intensely.
[Have frequent mood swings.]
[Am swayed by my emotions.]
[Can be stirred up easily.]

+ keyed Have a rich vocabulary.
Use difficult words.
Make insightful remarks.
Show a mastery of language.
Enjoy thinking about things.
Try to understand myself.
– keyed Am not interested in abstract ideas.
Will not probe deeply into a subject.
Have a poor vocabulary.
Dislike learning.
Skip difficult words while reading.
INGENUITY (.200**) 

+ keyed Am full of ideas.
Have excellent ideas.
Carry the conversation to a higher level.
Come up with bold plans.
Quickly think up new ideas.
Am good at many things.
– keyed Do not have a good imagination.
Have difficulty imagining things.
Can’t come up with new ideas.

+ keyed See beauty in things that others might not notice.
Take time to reflect on things.
Make beautiful things.
Enjoy the beauty of nature.
Enjoy discussing movies and books with others.
[Like music.]
[Love flowers.]
[Love beautiful things.]
– keyed Do not like concerts.
[Do not enjoy watching dance performances.]

+ keyed Learn quickly.
Use my brain.
Excel in what I do.
Look at the facts.
Meet challenges.
Seek explanations of things.
Need things explained only once.
[Know how to apply my knowledge.]
– keyed (No negative items.)

+ keyed Can handle complex problems.
Am quick to understand things.
Catch on to things quickly.
Love to read challenging material.
Am able to find out things by myself.
Can handle a lot of information.
Quickly get the idea of things.
– keyed Avoid difficult reading material.
Try to avoid complex people.
Don’t understand things.

+ keyed Spend time reflecting on things.
Enjoy spending time by myself.
Live in a world of my own.
Enjoy my privacy.
Don’t mind eating alone.
Do things at my own pace.
[Enjoy contemplation.]
[Prefer to be alone.]
[Have a point of view all my own.]
[Want to be left alone.]
– keyed Can’t stand being alone.
Don’t like to ponder over things.

+ keyed Like to solve complex problems.
Ask questions that nobody else does.
Know the answers to many questions.
Challenge others’ points of view.
Can easily link facts together.
– keyed Have difficulty understanding abstract ideas.
Avoid philosophical discussions.
Am not interested in theoretical discussions.
Consider myself an average person.
Am not interested in speculating about things.

+ keyed Have a vivid imagination.
Prefer variety to routine.
Believe in the importance of art.
Enjoy wild flights of fantasy.
Need a creative outlet.
– keyed Do not like art.
Do not enjoy going to art museums.
Do not like poetry.
Seldom get lost in thought.
Seldom daydream.

+ keyed Look for hidden meanings in things.
Like to get lost in thought.
Think deeply about things.
Need to understand my motives.
[Tend to analyze things.]
[Tend to think about something for hours.]
[Enjoy examining myself and my life.]
– keyed [Rarely look for a deeper meaning in things.]
[Never challenge things.]

Gardening Tips

Telescope Apps Help Amateurs Hunt for Exoplanets

Editor’s note: The following essay is reprinted with permission from The Conversation, an online publication covering the latest research.The Conversation

People around the world are being invited to learn how to hunt for planets, using two new online apps devised by scientists at the University of Texas at Austin and UC Santa Cruz.

The apps use data from the Automated Planet Finder (APF), Lick Observatory’s newest telescope. The APF is one of the first robotically operated telescopes monitoring stars throughout the entire sky. It is optimised for the detection of planets orbiting nearby stars – the so-called exoplanets.

Systemic is an app that collects observations from APF and other observatories and makes them available to the general public. Anyone can access a simplified interface and follow the steps that astronomers take to tease a planetary signal out of the tiny Doppler shifts collected by the telescope.

Students and amateurs can learn about the process of scientific discovery from their own web browsers, and even conduct their own analysis of the data to validate planet discoveries.

The second app, SuperPlanetCrash, is a simple but addictive game that animates the orbits of planetary systems as a “digital orrery”. Users can play for points and create their own planetary systems, which often end up teetering towards instabilities that eject planets away from their parent stars.

First catch
Despite only being in operation for a few months, APF has already been used to discover new planetary systems.

Night after night, the telescope autonomously selects a list of interesting target stars, based on their position in the sky and observing conditions. The telescope collects light from each target star. The light is then split into a rainbow of colours, called a spectrum. Superimposed on the spectrum is a pattern of dark features, called absorption lines, which is unique to the chemical makeup of the star.

When a planet orbits one of the target stars, its gravitational pull on the star causes the absorption lines to shift back and forth. Astronomers can then interpret the amplitude and periodicity of these shifts to indirectly work out the orbit and the mass of each planet.

This method of detecting exoplanets is dubbed the Doppler (or Radial Velocity) technique, named after the physical effect causing the shift of the absorption lines. The Doppler technique has been extremely productive over the past two decades, leading to the discovery of more than 400 planet candidates orbiting nearby stars – including the first exoplanet orbiting a star similar to our own Sun, 51 Pegasi. To conclusively detect a planetary candidate, each star has to be observed for long stretches of time (months to years) in order to rule out other possible explanations.

The APF has now found two new planetary systems surrounding the stars HD141399 and Gliese 687.

HD141399 hosts four giant, gaseous planets of comparable size to Jupiter. The orbits of the innermost three giant planets are dramatically more compact than the giant planets in our Solar System (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune).

Gliese 687 is a small, red star hosting a Neptune-mass planet orbiting very close to the star: it only takes about 40 days for the planet to complete a full revolution around the star.

Team leader Steve Vogt of the University of California, Santa Cruz has dubbed both of these almost “garden variety” planetary systems, and indeed, they are quite similar to some of the systems discovered over the last few years. However, what look like distinctly unglamorous planetary systems now can still pose a puzzle to scientists.

The new normal
The planetary systems discovered so far are typically very different from our own solar system. More than half of the nearby stars are thought to be accompanied by Neptune-mass or smaller planets, many orbiting closer than Mercury is to the Sun. In our solar system, on the other hand, there is a very clear demarcation between small, rocky planets close to the Sun (from Mercury to Mars) and giant planets far from the Sun (from Jupiter to Neptune). This perhaps suggests that planetary systems like the one we live in are an uncommon outcome of the process of planet formation.

Only further discoveries can clarify whether planetary systems architected like our own are as uncommon as they appear to be. These observations will need to span many years of careful collection of Doppler shifts. Since the APF facility is primarily dedicated to Doppler observations, it is expected to make key contributions to exoplanetary science.

The two apps produced by the APF team make amateur scientists part of the hunt. These applications join the nascent movement of “citizen science”, which enable the general public to understand and even contribute to scientific research, either by lending a hand in analyzing massive sets of scientific data or by flagging interesting datasets that warrant further collection of data.

Stefano Meschiari does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Gardening Tips

Broadcast TV Streamer Aereo Fights For Legal Life

60-Second Tech

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether Aereo can keep streaming live broadcast TV to mobile gadgets and other devices. Larry Greenemeier reports.
Apr 18, 2014
|By Larry Greenemeier


You don’t own a TV, yet you still want to watch The Good Wife and Dancing with the Stars live. Or you have a TV, but no cable and no antenna access to local channels. The solution could be the streaming video service from the company Aereo. It sends over-the-air channels to anything from your smartphone to your TV monitor.
Well, that’s if the broadcasters suing Aereo don’t put the company out of business by the end of the month.
Aereo’s existence hinges on an April 22 Supreme Court hearing, when the justices will decide whether the company’s service violates copyright law. Aereo argues it lets people watch and record broadcast TV via a cloud-based antenna and DVR for their own personal use. Broadcasters counter that Aereo is using their content without paying the retransmission fees that cable and satellite providers do.
Although Aereo operates in 13 U.S. cities, lower courts have shut the company out of several western states, including California. And whether you have Aereo or not, you still can’t watch the Supreme Court hearing—the justices still don’t allow their proceedings to be televised.
—Larry Greenemeier
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast]

Gardening Tips