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Researchers find oddities in high-profile gender studies

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Enlarge / Nicolas Guéguen may have something to say about Audrey Hepburn's dress in Funny Face, but is his research on solid ground? Two fellow researchers question that. (credit: Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Psychologist Nicolas Guéguen publishes studies that create irresistible headlines. His research investigating the effects of wearing high heels made it into Time: "Science Proves It: Men Really Do Find High Heels Sexier." The Atlantic has cited his finding that men consider women wearing red to be more attractive. Even The New York Times has covered his work.

Guéguen's large body of research is the kind of social psychology that demonstrates, and likely fuels, the Mars vs. Venus model of gender interactions. But it seems that at least some of his conclusions are resting on shaky ground. Since 2015, a pair of scientists, James Heathers and Nick Brown, has been looking closely at the results in Guéguen's work. What they've found raises a litany of questions about statistical and ethical problems. In some cases, the data is too perfectly regular or full of oddities, making it difficult to understand how it could have been generated by the experiment described by Guéguen.

Heathers and Brown have contacted the French Psychological Society (SFP) with the details of their concerns. After nearly two years of receiving unsatisfactory responses from Guéguen, the SFP stepped away from the problem, saying that there was nothing more it could do.

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satadru
117 days ago
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Ugh.
New York, NY
superiphi
111 days ago
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Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
steingart
145 days ago
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Princeton, NJ
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‘The World’s Biggest Terrorist Has a Pikachu Bedspread’

di
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She’s not an ideological combatant like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. She’s much more like you or me.
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superiphi
111 days ago
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Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
wreichard
118 days ago
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Earth
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Area man uses telephone to fight back against sleazy debt collectors

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When Andrew Therrien told off a sleazy debt collector for calling about a debt he didn’t owe, the collector called back to threaten violence to Therrien and his wife. Therrien got mad and reached for the most potent weapon in his arsenal: the telephone. Over the course of the next two years, he charmed and bullied his way into the debt collection world in order to learn how it worked and how to take it down.

When the scammers started to hound Therrien, he hounded them right back. Obsessed with payback, he spent hundreds of hours investigating the dirty side of debt. By day he was still promoting ice cream brands and hiring models for liquor store tastings. But in his spare time, he was living out a revenge fantasy. He befriended loan sharks and blackmailed crooked collectors, getting them to divulge their suppliers, and then their suppliers above them. In method, Therrien was like a prosecutor flipping gangster underlings to get to lieutenants and then the boss. In spirit, he was a bit like Liam Neeson’s vigilante character in the movie Taken — using unflagging aggression to obtain scraps of information and reverse-engineer a criminal syndicate. Therrien didn’t punch anyone in the head, of course. He was simply unstoppable over the phone.

Great story…read the whole thing. This is perhaps not your takeaway from it, but reading this, I wonder how much different my life would be if I knew how to talk on the telephone 1/10th as effectively as someone like Therrien.

Tags: Andrew Therrien   telephony
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satadru
112 days ago
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Hero.
New York, NY
superiphi
111 days ago
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Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
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Prank SWAT Call May Have Led to Wichita Police Killing a Random Man on His Own Doorstep

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Finch familyThursday night, Wichita, Kansas, Police sent out a SWAT team to respond to a 911 call that a man shot his father and was holding his family hostage in their home.

The telephone call was a lie. There was no hostage situation—but nevertheless a man at the home ended up dead, shot and killed by a police officer at his own front door.

Police right now are being tight-lipped about what actually happened at the home of the dead man, identified by relatives as Andrew Finch, 28, as the circumstances are still under investigation. Police did say they don't believe Finch fired on police officers before they shot him, according to the Wichita Eagle. His family says he was not armed.

It seems likely that this was the outcome of a "swatting" prank that has finally reached its inevitable awful conclusion. "Swatting" is a nasty prank where somebody calls 911 and tells police a violent crime or hostage situation is happening at somebody else's home. Police then show up with weapons to bear and end up terrifying an innocent party who is not doing anything at all. Often times the swatters use tech tools to conceal or change their number so that it appears to be local and credible.

Swatting pranks often have ties to the video gaming community, and that may well be the case here. Though, again, it's still too soon to say for sure, the Eagle reports that the prank may have originated as part of a dispute between Call of Duty gamers. Based on a Twitter fight, it appears one gamer may have given another gamer a false address, that of Finch's family, and that's where the police were sent. Finch's relatives told the Eagle that he didn't play video games, so if these facts are true, he wasn't even a party to this dispute.

Finch's family told the media this afternoon that Finch was not armed and that he had gone to the door to see what was going on yesterday when he saw all the flashing lights. Apparently the family had no idea they were the raid's target. Lisa Finch, Andrew's mother, told the Eagle the police then raided the house after shooting her son. They were all handcuffed and taken to the police station for interviews.

The family is furious not just at the prankster who got Andrew killed but at the police as well:

"What gives the cops the right to open fire?" Finch asked. "Why didn't they give him the same warning they gave us? That cop murdered my son over a false report."

Finch and Hernandez-Caballero said they want to see the officer—identified only as a seven-year veteran of the department—and the person who made the false report held accountable.

No doubt there's going to be a lot of attention on the prank call that sent the SWAT team out to the Finch home, but we absolutely must not forget that it's the police who decided how to behave when they got there.

As far back as 2014 I was warning that the overmilitarization of our police departments helps makes pranks like this become dangerously violent mechanisms that can get out of hand. As I noted back then in response to another game-related swatting prank:

These reactions are exactly the kinds of things swatters are hoping for. Because the police have developed this reputation for violent, over-the-top reactions to everything, they are actually reinforcing the value of using swatting as a way to torment others.

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superiphi
111 days ago
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I hope they trace the idiots
Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
fxer
111 days ago
they already arrested the prank caller, a 25 year old male. the uncertainty is if there is much the legal system can do about a prank call since it wasn't a bomb threat (though this guy admits to doing those as well). maybe this will be the impetus for a new law.
kazriko
114 days ago
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Colorado Plateau
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2018 Is the Last Year of America's Public Domain Drought

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Happy Public Domain Day, every-some of you! In New Zealand and Canada, published works by artists who died in 1967—Rene Magritte, Dorothy Parker, John Coltrane, and many others—have entered the public domain; Kiwis and Canadians can now freely distribute, perform, and remix a wealth of painting, writing, and music. In Europe, work published by artists who died in 1947 are now public domain. In the United States, well, we get nothing for the 20th year in a row, with one more to go. Our public domain drought is nearly old enough to drink.

American copyrights now stretch for 95 years. Since 1998, we've been frozen with a public domain that only applies to works from before 1923 (and government works).

"Films are literally disintegrating because preservationists can’t legally digitize them"

Jennifer Jenkins is a clinical professor of law at Duke Law School, which hosts the Center for the Study of the Public Domain. In an email she explained what changed and why nothing has entered American public domain for two decades.

“Until 1978, the maximum copyright term was 56 years from the date of publication—an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years,” she wrote. “In 1998, Congress added 20 years to the copyright term, extending it to the author’s lifetime plus 70 years, or 95 years after publication for corporate 'works made for hire.'”

The extension wasn't just granted to copyrights made from then on. It also was applied retroactively to any existing old copyrights that were set to enter the public domain. We’re entering the last year of that in-between period. Next year works from 1923—songs by Irving Berlin, books and poems by Virginia Woolf and Aldous Huxley, and movies such as The Ten Commandments—will be public domain. Barring any new legislation, works will start entering every year with that 95 year lag.

You don't have to be a anti-copyright absolutist to see that this nigh-century of copyright is too long—not commercially helpful and actually harmful. For the vast majority of works, the copyright outlives their profitability. Before 1978, copyrights needed to be renewed after 28 years and 85 percent of authors didn't opt in for the second 28. Jenkins said that “a Congressional Research Service study indicated that “only 2 percent of works between 55 and 75 years old continue to retain commercial value. For the other 98 percent of works, no one is benefiting from the continued copyright during the last part of the term.”

But on the flip slide, there’s enormous harm,” Jenkins said. “Films are literally disintegrating because preservationists can’t legally digitize them. The works of historians and journalists are incomplete. Youth orchestras can’t afford to perform contemporary music. Creativity is hindered—instead of encouraged—because artists can’t build on their cultural heritage.”

While in New Zealand factories of unlicensed-but-legal t-shirts bearing Magritte’s “Not To Be Reproduced” are churning to life, their American counterparts will have to wait...until 2052.



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kazriko
111 days ago
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Yep. I'm surprised that Disney hasn't tried to extend it again.
Colorado Plateau
superiphi
111 days ago
I would think that 100 is an impassable limit, psychologically
kazriko
111 days ago
Some of the people in 1998 were arguing for an indefinite copyright on corporate materials, which was crazy.
expatpaul
111 days ago
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Belgium
superiphi
111 days ago
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Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
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Happy New Year! – Leysin Snowshoing

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I thought that it might be slightly difficult driving today with people going home and some fairly poor road conditions so I thought it would make a nice change to do something from the door of the chalet. Basically, just a snowshoe up through the forest cutting across the mountain and then dropping into nearby Le Sepey for a beer and the bus back to Leysin.

The snow’s a bit heavy in places so it was hard work in a couple of places but it’s a nice route and one I should do more often!

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superiphi
111 days ago
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Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
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