An article in ScienceDaily proclaims Success A Family Affair? Willingness To Take Risks And Trust Others Are Inherited, Study Suggests.
Actually, the study suggests
the opposite: C only that children have similar risk profiles to their parents. This indicates that risk-taking behavior isn’t inherited, but learned. I This study can’t show whether the trait was inherited, learned, or acquired through a combination of both. For example, if it was inherited, then it might be the case that sometimes kids would be riskier than their parents, and sometimes less risky — just like brunette parents sometimes have blond kids. The article itself makes this clear. But it still uses “inherited” (in quotes) to describe how kids learn from their parents. This careless use of terminology will likely serve only to confuse. That said, the study results are quite intriguing:
“With regard to willingness to take risks children are astonishingly similar to their parents,” is how the Bonn economist Professor Armin Falk sums up the results. “This is not only true for the overall estimate, but also for the different categories. There are people, for example, for whom no mogul piste is too steep when skiing, but who invest their money in secure government bonds. An identical risk profile can often be found with their children.”
And here’s another example of irresponsible journalism, from the San Francisco Chronicle:
THE bigger the brand, the bigger the brain wave.
That’s the thrust of new neurological research presented at the annual conference of the Radiological Society of North America on Tuesday.
Wow, that’s interesting! Who did the research? The article makes no indication, other than to say it was led by a “German Scientist.” But which one? Heisenberg? Trolling through the RSNA program, I think I managed to find the abstract of the study. Look! It has names! And even a title: “Brand Perception–Evaluation of Cortical Activation Using fMRI.”
But armed with an author name, Christine Born, I could do a Google search, and found many more articles — for example, this one from the Washington Post. Of course, I still want to know more about the study, which brings me to another pet peeve of mine: mainstream media reports on research that hasn’t yet been peer reviewed. This article doesn’t appear to have been published, just presented at a conference. We don’t know how the group defines “better-known” brands, or even what brands were used. We don’t even know if this research is actually publishable.
In other news:
- Nice NY Times article on the $100 computer, now available for $150. Despite the snark, I think this is a pretty good idea.
- Chris Chatham does a good job explaining how brain injuries can tell us about healthy brains
- From the previously-maligned ScienceDaily: How to make washing machines more user friendly. While you’re at it, engineers, how about a single machine that does both the washing and drying?