How Your Birth Order Can Influence Who You Are

These results are in line with the notion that, presumably due to a differential treatment by their parents during early childhood, firstborns prefer self-referenced standards to evaluate their competence. That is, they approach tasks with the desire to develop knowledge, skills, and task mastery. On the other hand, secondborns tend to evaluate their competence in terms of other-referenced standards. They are more strongly inclined to approach tasks with the desire to demonstrate competence relative to others.
Firstborns consistently rank higher on intelligence tests. The going theory is that they get more attention and resources from parents. Indeed, Robert Zajonc says that firstborn children are almost exclusively exposed to adult language, whereas laterborn children experience the less mature, childish speech of their older siblings.
Studies have also shown that sexual orientation correlates with a man’s number of older brothers. And in fact, each additional older brother increases the odds of homosexuality by about 33%. The going theory is that mothers become increasingly immune to certain antibodies with each subsequent pregnancy. Accordingly, the anti H-Y antibodies produced by the mother during a pregnancy pass through the placental barrier to the fetus, which in turn affects various aspects of sexual orientation in the fetal brain.
Also, children with older siblings are more likely to experience respiratory symptoms at four years of age. One possible explanation is that children with older siblings have more exposure to respiratory infections at an early age than oldest or only children.
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Romania: What the hell happened?? « Anthony Bourdain

Predictably, a lot of people either hated–or were deeply offended by–the Romania show. Most, I gather, are either Romanian or have traveled to Romania and had a better time there than I did. Quite understandably, no one wants to see the host of a travel show having a bad time of it in their country, griping miserably about how things went wrong–and how utterly fucked up things were.
Even WITHOUT cameras, looking just for a relaxed meal, we’d often enter a near empty restaurant, ask if a table was available–and have the waiter tell us “No” in the surliest of terms. WITH cameras–asking if we could shoot was an invitation to either an instinctive “NO” or an invitation to gouging. As waiters and hosts it seems, work on salary–rather than tips, no one really seemed to care about more business, promoting their business or even making more money
But to describe Romania as particularly friendly? Not really. I’ve been all over the world. Over 50 countries. On the friendly scale? Romania not exactly in the top 40. The food–on camera, off camera? Didn’t matter. It was mostly pretty primitive. Soups may taste good–but they don’t make interesting television. I could lie. But I ain’t gonna.

Sursa: Romania: What the hell happened?? « Anthony Bourdain

The women who took radium from savior to killer

When Marie Curie discovered radium, and word got out that it emitted a special type of energy, people began snapping it up. This was at at time when the entire world had begun craving more energy, whether it was electricity or gas. But radium started really making news when doctors noticed that exposure to radium was shrinking tumors. It was put in everything from cocktails to make-up, but its two main uses were health tonics and watch dials.
A millionaire, feeling tired, had been prescribed a tonic by his doctor. He wasn’t aware that it had radium in it, but following his doctor’s advice enthusiastically, he drank thousands of bottles over the course of a few years. By the time he died, he had wasted down to 90 pounds. The same photographic test, performed on his bones, left so many bright dots that they formed an exact outline of his vertebrae.

The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science

“A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.”
If I don’t want to believe that my spouse is being unfaithful, or that my child is a bully, I can go to great lengths to explain away behavior that seems obvious to everybody else—everybody who isn’t too emotionally invested to accept it, anyway.
“People who have a dislike of some policy—for example, abortion—if they’re unsophisticated they can just reject it out of hand,” says Lodge. “But if they’re sophisticated, they can go one step further and start coming up with counterarguments.” These individuals are just as emotionally driven and biased as the rest of us, but they’re able to generate more and better reasons to explain why they’re right—and so their minds become harder to change.
If you want someone to accept new evidence, make sure to present it to them in a context that doesn’t trigger a defensive, emotional reaction.
In other words, paradoxically, you don’t lead with the facts in order to convince. You lead with the values—so as to give the facts a fighting chance.

China’s corpse brides

Chinese tradition demands that husbands and wives always share a grave. Sometimes, when a man died unmarried, his parents would procure the body of a woman, hold a “wedding” and bury the couple together.
A black market has sprung up to supply corpse brides. Marriage brokers—usually respectable folk who find brides for village men—account for most of the middlemen. At the bottom of the supply chain come hospital mortuaries, funeral parlours, body snatchers—and now murderers.
A top-quality piece of “wet” (recently deceased) merchandise that the newspaper said would have sold for a few thousand yuan four years ago now goes for 30,000-40,000 yuan ($4,000-5,300). In contrast, “dry goods” (long buried) fetch just 300-500 yuan down the Shanxi coal mines.

Africa’s Genital-Stealing Crime Wave Hits the Countryside

Reports of genital theft have spread like an epidemic across West and Central Africa over the past two decades, in tandem with what appears to be a general resurgence of witchcraft on the continent. Anthropologists have explained this rise as a response to an increasingly mystifying and capricious global economy. Which is to say that when the workings of capital are as genuinely obscure as they are in today’s Africa, proceeding behind a veil of complexity and corruption, rumors of “occult economies”—often involving a trade in human organs—offer a less mystifying explanation for the radical disparities in wealth on display.
In Africa today, scholars who study penis snatching understand it mainly as an urban phenomenon—an extreme expression of the anxieties that pervade a city when villagers become urbanites en masse, living among throngs of unfamiliar people.
Penis snatching, they said, was a means of supplying an illicit and lucrative trade in organs. Cameroonians and Nigerians—people from places “where they have multistory buildings”—were seen as particularly well versed in the business. “You see how advanced Cameroon is?” someone said. “It’s because they are so strong in commerce of all kinds, including in genitals and scalps.” The stolen organs, my companions said, are sold to occult healers for use in ceremonies, or else they are quickly fenced back to victims of penis snatching for a price. But the real money was to be made in Europe. One man who had spent some time living in Cameroon said he had heard of a woman there who was nabbed by airport security while trying to smuggle several penises to the Continent inside a baguette.