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Sociology

The Takeaway

Commercial breaks may be good for the brain

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Talk about turning a notion on its head. What if your coveted winter vacation—the time when you leave the bitter, snowy cold behind and head for a few days of palm trees—could actually add to your winter blues? New research in psychology shows that interruptions from things we dislike may make us detest them all the more, whereas interruptions from doing something we really adore say, watching an episode of Friday Night Lights may highlight our appreciation. Benedict Carey, a science reporter from the New York Times, joins The Takeaway to explain.

Read his story on the dreaded commercial break Liked the Show? Maybe It Was the Commercials in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

"8 Things I Wish I Didn't Know" (An internet craze from The Takeaway and BuzzFeed)

Monday, February 16, 2009

The 25 Random Things phenomenon that took over Facebook in early '09 is waning, in part because it's the nature of viral memes to slow down over time, in part because, well, it was getting a little irritating. To anyone who spends much time online, the 25 Random Things idea is as old as time, or at least as old as the heyday LiveJournal. We've all either received clueless email chain letter forwards from friends, or, let's be honest, forwarded them ourselves, and the idea that such a lame part of digital culture has morphed its way into the walled garden of Facebook is somehow galling. Earnestness tends to take a beating online, and 25 Random Things is nothing if not earnest. Earnest, and not particularly amusing, either.

But now that it's happened once, it's more likely to happen again. Already a host of similar chain notes have appear in the wake of 25 Random Things -- Google 8 Ball, Random iTunes Answers, One Word Answers -- that you can expect to be clogging up your News Feed for some time to come. They're variations on a theme: Numbered lists that give you a chance to reveal tidbits of yourself in a canned way, seemingly risk-free and somewhat pat, if also occasionally illuminating and even sweet. Plus, they tend to be kind of long and time-consuming to write (even, weirdly, the One Word Answers).

So let's try starting a new one, something shorter, easier, less earnest and possibly way more interesting. Feel free to grab the idea and post your own notes -- let's see if we can make this one take off.

8 Things I Wish I Didn't Know

Rules: Share 8 things you wish you'd never learned, heard, seen, tasted or smelled or otherwise came to know. Then tag 8 people whose 8 worst things you'd like to know, too.

1. Learned: Exactly how a hot dog gets created.

2. Seen: Al Pacino in "The Devil's Advocate."

3. Tasted: Swedish blood sausage.

4. Learned: How you get rid of an eye worm.

5. Smelled: The reek that comes with cleaning out a rat's nest.

6. Heard: The sound a human body makes when it hits the ground from a great height.

7. Seen: The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after midnight.

8. Heard: The failed campaign song "Hillary 4 U and Me" -- that's nothing against Hillary or her campaign, I just really wish I had never heard that song. Even writing this now, the tune just appeared in my head again.

OK, your turn!

Scott Lamb is a senior editor at BuzzFeed.
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The Takeaway

Facebook frenemies a bigger problem than predators

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A new study found that while the number of sexual predators using the Internet is significantly less than originally thought, cyberbullying through social networking sites is a bigger problem. In the age of Facebook, Myspace, and Lori Drew, how can parents protect their kids? Larry Magid is a blogger for CNET, but he's also the co-director of the non-profit organization Connect Safely and he sat on the Harvard panel behind this recent report. He joins Todd and Adaora to talk about how the answers to preventing internet bullying doesn't lie in science, but in parenting.

"This image of the 40-year old predator who is lurking the web searching for innocent children, I wouldn't say it's a complete myth, but it's statistically extremely unlikely."
— Larry Magid, co-director of the non-profit organization Connect Safely

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The Takeaway

The DSM gets a makeover

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Psychiatry's number one diagnostic manual is being re-written -- and it's making everyone crazy. Gender identification disorder may be in, while sleepwalking disorder is on the outs. By 2012, the American Psychiatric Association hopes to have published a new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) -- the diagnostic manual used to determine if a patient has a mental disorder. Proposed changes are already being challenged by patients, insurance companies, and the pharmaceutical industry. The New York Times science journalist Benedict Carey explains.

For more information, read Benedict Carey's article in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

What President-elect Obama needs to know about First Americans

Thursday, November 27, 2008

European Pilgrims and Native Americans breaking bread together is an easy image to conjure up on Thanksgiving, but it belies the struggle and marginalization that American Indians continue to face. During his campaign, President-elect Barack Obama received strong support from tribal nations — but can he deliver on his promise to improve life for members of America’s 562 Indian tribes? Former Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) joins us.
"The single most important thing right on the table is the re-authorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. It's overdue something like fourteen years, which basically puts Indian people in the position of getting health care that was 14 years old."
—Ben Nighthorse Campell on the lack of Indian representation in Washington

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The Takeaway

The social trendcasting site Edopter.com tries to forecast the next big thing

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Every year companies spend billions of dollars on market research trying to determine what makes you tick. Now, a new startup says you don't need a focus group to find out what's in -- all you need is a computer and a good pitch.

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The Takeaway

Hero Reports

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hero Reports: Submit your everyday act of courage Hero Reports, a new Web site by MIT doctoral candidate Alyssa Wright, is tracking stories of everyday acts of courage, mapping goodwill in the same way others map home values and crime rates. It was inspired by the New York subway's "See Something, Say Something" campaign, but seeks not to uncover acts of terrorism, but to tap a zeitgeist of good, promote a civic culture and reflect the communities we live in.


Read Hero Reports from New York City here. Or, if you've witnessed an everyday act of courage anywhere in the country, share your Hero Report with us here.


Wednesday June 25, 2008
» The Takeaway talks with Alyssa Wright, creator of Hero Reports, and the stories of hero reporters.
» John, joining the ranks of the hero reporters, tells the subway bag story


Wednesday July 3, 2008
» Faith unites Jews, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists in Iowa flood aftermath
» Your Hero Reports


Wednesday July 23, 2008
» A Hero Report on YouTube: The Hugging Saint


Thursday September 4, 2008
» Famed psychologist Dr. Philip Zimbardo looks at how heroism can be "democratized"


Monday September 15, 2008
» Ushahidi hopes to save lives by "crowdsourcing" crisis information

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The Takeaway

"The Measure of America" finds disparities in our standards of living

Friday, July 18, 2008

Which U.S. state has the lowest life expectancy? Which congressional district has the highest high school dropout rate? The surprising answers to these questions can be found in “The Measure of America,” a new report that measures the American standard of living. Sarah Burd-Sharps explains how we’ve missed the fundamentals in the search of the American dream.

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The Takeaway

Luck: What is it? And how can I get it?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

While the 21st century marks an era of technology and scientific innovation, the belief in luck and superstition still remains a vital force in many of our lives. But what is luck? And what can you do to bring more of it into your life?

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The Takeaway

Uday Hussein's cars and other examples of egregious looting

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

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The Takeaway

Your Hero Reports

Thursday, July 03, 2008

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The Takeaway

Hero Report: The Subway Bag

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

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The Takeaway

Hero Reports: Everyday acts of courage

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

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