Neuroscience and Social Sciences

Even with the hot-button topic of abortion, there is one thing that all people can agree upon: It is preferable to have as few abortions as possible. And recent data from the CDC indicates good news. The abortion rate in America has fallen by about 20% from 2004 to 2013.

The CDC does not require states to provide it with data on abortions. Most do so voluntarily, but a few, such as California and New Hampshire, do not. While incomplete data obviously lowers the total number of reported abortions, it should not (in theory) influence the calculated rate of abortion if we assume that abortion rates in the non-reporting states are similar to those in the 45 states that do report data. (More on that below.) 

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Teachers have a lot to put up with at the moment in terms of workload and stress. But what may come as a surprise to some is that, just like in the playground, bullying can be a big problem in the teaching world.

Research shows that when a teacher is being bullied, the bully is often (but not always) the head teacher – who is increasingly stressed and can sometimes take out their worries about Ofsted inspections on their staff.

And with this in mind, Dr Pat Bricheno and I recently studied the experiences of 39 bullied teachers in the...

In the study of human behavior, it's basically accepted that when left to their own devices individuals gravitate towards things that are familiar to them. Commonality in class, education, race and skin color, and income all influence many of the decisions that we make and those we choose to be with.

That idea also extends to the realm of facial recognition. And a new study indicates that those who observe and come into contact with a wider range of different faces are more prone to instantly "like" (accept) an unknown person based solely by their facial features.

More specifically, the wider your exposure to many different types and shapes of faces -- which, in turn, defines a person's idea of an "average" human face -- the greater the chances that "you like faces that...

The statement, "Statistics isn't science," is about as banal as, "The sky is blue," or, "Puppies are cute." Anyone remotely familiar with the scientific method understands that, just like a ruler or a telescope, statistics is a tool. Scientists use the tool primarily for one purpose: To answer the question, "Is my data meaningful?" Properly used, statistics is one of the most powerful tools in a scientists' tool belt. 

But improperly used, statistics can be highly misleading. If an astronomer only points his telescope at the sun, he won't be able to see the Milky Way behind it. Worse, he will arrive at a very twisted understanding of the universe; he will conclude that everything beyond Earth is orange and fiery. Similarly, if a statistician plugs the wrong numbers into an...

Nate Silver, statistician and election forecaster, said on ABC News that election forecasts that give Hillary Clinton a 99% of chance of winning don't "pass a common sense test." That is certainly true. What he leaves unsaid, possibly because it wouldn't be good for his career, is that all election forecasts that provide a "chance of winning" don't pass the science test.

Earlier, we published an article explaining why there is no such thing as a scientific poll. In a nutshell, because...

Ideology is a double-edged sword. Dedication to a set of beliefs can be admirable, but when it leads to inflexibility and obstinance in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, it is a dangerous thing. Such ideological rigidity -- often found among the adherents of various philosophical, religious, and political doctrines -- can lead to the rejection of evidence-based inquiry, which serves as the bedrock of modern science.

Recently, we published an article on how postmodernism, a philosophical movement that embraces relativism and views reason with suspicion, is completely at odds with a scientific worldview. Now, in an excellent...

Every four years, Americans become obsessed with The Polls. What do the polls say? Have the polls shifted? Which presidential candidate is up, and which is down? Entire careers have been built (and destroyed) by analyzing The Sacred Polls.

Savvy politicos know that not just any poll will do. Online polls, in which anybody can vote, are not legitimate. The reason is because they do not accurately reflect the voting public. Imagine, for instance, a poll on Starbucks' website asking readers if they like to drink coffee every day. In this hypothetical poll, it would not be a surprise if nearly 100% of respondents said "yes," even though only 64% of Americans drink coffee...

Homelessness has surged in some U.S. cities. According to the Wall Street Journal, from 2010 to 2015, homelessness increased 42% in New York City and 12% in Seattle.

A November 2015 report (PDF) by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) ranked the top 10 large cities and top 10 small cities by their homeless populations. These counts were conducted on a single night in January.

As shown, the top three large cities (or geographic areas) with the biggest...

Imagine you receive a phone call from a pollster. When you answer, the person on the other end asks, "For whom do you plan to vote in November: The honest and trustworthy Mr. Smith, or his lying, cheating, and disgusting opponent Mr. Jones?" Quite obviously, the pollster is trying to elicit a particular response.

This is a technique called "push polling," and it's actually far more of an advertising campaign than an attempt to discern the will of the voters. Nobody would take the results of such a poll seriously.

Gallup, a well-respected pollster, recently released the results of a poll on race relations that also asked African-Americans a loaded question: Can you think...

In that important oral monograph "Ten Rounds With José Cuervo", the musical scholar Tracy Byrd discusses that in the first experiment of a 10 test study, a band which was un-listenable when he entered the lab sounded much better after a shot of tequila, and after two they sounded pretty darn good.

This was in line with the long-standing hypothesis that alcohol in moderation makes a lot of things better to the vast majority of people.  Yet a new psychology paper turns that on its bottle cap and finds that instead it may have been the music that led to shots three through 10. Music may have made...