The Loom

All I want for Christmas is a lying frog and a bubble-sniffing mole.

For those who want to head for the original papers, check out:

1. “Why Animals Lie: How Dishonesty and Belief Can Coexist in a Signaling System” (free full text)

2. “Underwater ‘sniffing’ by semi-aquatic mammals”

Happy Holidays!

UPDATE 12/26: Forgot to mention yesterday that I also talk about the dishonesty article on this week’s edition of the Times Science podcast.


  1. #1 Mike
    December 26, 2006

    Unrelated, but your friend Toxoplasma gondii pops up again at,23599,20975555-1702,00.html

    A COMMON parasite can increase a women’s attractiveness to the opposite sex but also make men more stupid, an Australian researcher says.

    “Interestingly, the effect of infection is different between men and women,” Dr Boulter writes in the latest issue of Australasian Science magazine.

    “Infected men have lower IQs, achieve a lower level of education and have shorter attention spans. They are also more likely to break rules and take risks, be more independent, more anti-social, suspicious, jealous and morose, and are deemed less attractive to women.

    “On the other hand, infected women tend to be more outgoing, friendly, more promiscuous, and are considered more attractive to men compared with non-infected controls.

    “In short, it can make men behave like alley cats and women behave like sex kittens”.

    When will we see a male only cure?

  2. #2 charlie wagner
    December 26, 2006

    Carl wrote:

    ” ‘One of the things I would guess right off the bat is that there’s some sort of carefully controlled valve to keep it from inspiring water,’ Dr. Catania said. ‘The timing and the behavior is probably carefully controlled as well. But the evolution of these minor adaptations does not seem to be a huge leap.’ ”

    Minor adaptations?

    ROFLMAO!!!!! Once again, ideology trumps science.

    Is there no limit to the human mind’s ability to deceive itself?

  3. #3 Stan
    December 26, 2006

    Hey Carl – Happy New Year!
    Enjoyed the lying frog and it brought to mind my favorite deceptive bug, the Photuris firefly, which does the “mating blink” of a different genus of firefly in order to attract and then eat the males.

  4. #4 Ken C.
    December 26, 2006

    The article is interesting, but I’m put off by the gratuitous political swipe in the illustration (not that Carl necessarily had anything to do with it). Is putting Clinton in with Nixon supposed to be some kind of “balance”? Sorry, Clinton is not in the same world of deception as Nixon, Iago, Machiavelli, or Clifford Irving. Unlike Nixon, or Bush for that matter, his lies weren’t in the service of killing people.

  5. #5 Ken C.
    December 26, 2006

    Sorry, to be clear: I mean the first article, as it appeared in print.

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