Small Wonders: Sept. 10, 2010

In this week’s edition: slowed-down UFOs, invincible McDonald’s hamburgers, and abstinence-only education in China.

* The best thing I’ve read all week, by far, is Jeffrey Goldberg’s account of watching a dolphin show with Fidel Castro. Hilarious. (If you’re not interested in policy, just skip over the first few paragraphs to where the aquarium story begins.)

* Psychic’s “hunch” causes a mob to destroy a crocodile sanctuary in Belize.

* Why are the UFOs reported today traveling more slowly than those reported years ago?

* Painting an optical illusion of a child on the street slows drivers.

* Psychologists have finally tackled the question that keeps me up at night: Why is it so distracting to overhear a one-sided cell phone conversation? Plus, learn a new term! “Half-a-logue.”

* Can you pass the homeopathy exam?

* Our awesome cerebral cortex…comes from a worm?

* Like Twinkies, apparently McDonald’s hamburgers don’t decay.

* At Mind Hacks, there’s a discussion of patients who feel as though half their bodies have been invaded by someone else. Do I smell a movie? Invasion of the Half-Body Snatchers, perhaps?

* High fashion meets hospital gowns. Sort of. (They still look like hospital gowns to me.)

* We like flattery so much, we’ll happily receive it from a computer.

* What an overlooked Russian fox breeding experiment teaches us about dogs.

* Razib Khan adds nuance to the discussion of racism among liberals and conservatives.

* Two great posts from Neurophilosophy: one on bodily illusions and one on the secret history of psychedelic psychiatry.

* Turns out the Amazon might have been home to more civilizations than we thought.

* In the wake of Glenn Beck’s rally, the L.A. Times explains the science of crowd counting.

* Dolphins use conch shells to catch fish.

* NPR takes on the myths behind the new health care law.

* American evangelical groups teach Chinese officials how to run abstinence-only education programs. Maybe what doesn’t work in the U.S. will work in China?

* Deborah Blum has a beautiful post on carbon monoxide poisoning. Really. Beautiful.

* Gene Fredericks wants to convert urban warehouses into indoor farms.

* The New York Times has a fabulous interview with a doctor who stayed behind to help her patients during Hurricane Katrina.

* David Dobbs has an excellent take on the Marc Hauser scandal.

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