My Favorite Bit this week was about coming up with the “next Bechdel Test” to evaluate representation of women in movies. The Bechdel-Wallace test assesses whether a film includes named women who are given a personality beyond their romantic relationship with men, but there are many more aspects to accurately representing women on film and behind the camera. Women from Hollywood proposed additional “tests” to judge diversity in movies that provide more nuanced view of representations of women and minority in films.
From Hollywood to the world of Dating the role of women is continuing to change. The increased earning power and independence of women is shifting what women look for in a partner; instead of a “primeval urge to hang on to wealthy men to provide for their children”, new evidence shows that in societies where women are more equal to men they prefer partners that are young and attractive – just like men. Changing sexual norms are also highlighted in this week’s Photo collection of portraits of rubber masters, rope mistresses and other kinksters.
There is an unfortunate anti-Science movement in parts of the Western world that leads to the rejection of sound science like climate change and vaccine safety harming the planet and costing lives. This movement has more recently come out against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) making claims about a non-existent public health threat while ignoring the positive impact higher yielding and more nutritious crops have when feeding the world’s poor.
Other researchers have found evidence that a person’s eyes provide a window to their mind; one study looks at how quickly infants learn to follow eyes instead of heads when tracking another person’s attention.
Coyotes are incredibly adaptable as a species when it comes to living in a new environment and have developed a way to grow a group’s population size in times of external distress. Coyote groups take a nightly census by howling and listening for responses; when females hear fewer howls the size of their litters increase to help boost the population size. Techniques like this help coyotes to be successful in a lot of different climates and biomes; this helpful graphic shows how biomes are distributed around each hemisphere.
The Political system in the United States is greatly broken; the story of a congressional aide turned lobbyist turned “talking head” shows how both political parties are complicit in a system that is designed to serve moneyed interests rather than the general public. It is this system that creates terrible bills like the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” which consists of huge tax cuts driven by disproven supply-side economic rationale combined with tax incentives that serve few coherent policy goals. Some of the few rational policy changes were the removal of tax incentives for homeownership and federal subsidization of state income taxes; however, these burdens fall disproportionately on a subset of states that traditionally support Democrats which makes the attack seems political despite the sound policy implications. One way to even the burden of the new tax bill would be to create a carbon tax, which would disproportionately be borne by Republican-leaning states while incentivizing fewer carbon emissions.
Finishing off your week in review are Hodgepodge of articles that take a look at the data sources marketers use to make assumptions about us, the month in 1940 when Britain almost merged with France, how researchers used smartphone step data to identify activity inequality and walkable cities, and new evidence that show how your personality changes throughout your life.
Have a great rest of your week!