Are left-handed people more liberal? 52 years of data says maybe

by ARKANSAS DIGITAL NEWS

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On the other hand

It is maybe the most politically insightful psychology study published in the past 60 years. And it is maybe not.

The study in question is “State resident handedness, ideology, and political party preference: U.S. presidential election outcomes over the past 60 years“.

Its author, Stewart J. H. McCann, professor emeritus of psychology at Cape Breton University, Canada, pored over data about US (rather than Canadian) voters during the years 1964 to 2016. He found, he says, a striking pattern: “Higher state levels of left-handedness were associated significantly with liberal ideology.”

What does this mean? McCann distils the answer into a 46-word sentence that grows more meaningful each dozen times you read it. Or less meaningful.

That sentence is: “It is speculated that such relations are grounded in hypothesized but poorly understood genetic links between handedness, personality, and political beliefs and attitudes, and, that a foundational genetic predisposition to left-handedness in a population may have much greater impact on correlates than overt levels of left-handedness.”

Feedback notes that in those 46 words, and in the entire paper, much is left to the imagination.

In solitary splendour

One’s personality can shine forth when one is alone rather than with companions.

That is the big reveal in a study called “Temperament behaviours in individually tested sheep are not related to behaviours expressed in the presence of conspecifics“.

In particular, say the researchers at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and the University of Edinburgh, UK: “Vocalisations were rarely performed when other sheep were present, suggesting that this behaviour is a response to being alone.”

When nothing is good

James Hodges writes: “In response to your segment on doctors waiting for patients to get better by themselves: it is absolutely totally a part of our job.

“I am a paediatrician. We take doing nothing very seriously. ‘Cat-like observation and masterful inactivity’ is a firmly held mantra in our world. We often admit patients for viral illnesses for which there is no treatment. We watch, we support, and the child gets better.

“There are times when doing nothing is positively the best treatment. When you have an unstable child who is pretty sick they will deteriorate if they get agitated. We will often prescribe ‘minimal handling’, which is an assertive way of saying leave the kid alone. Let them sleep, hopefully in with a parent, and don’t bother them too much. Definitely don’t go forcing needles or medicines on them. Experienced paediatric nurses are absolutely brilliant at this (very much art of medicine).

“This is not just in acutely unwell children. Colicky babies will not become colicky adolescents (mostly). There are an absolute myriad of paediatric conditions we don’t treat – idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura is a great example. There is plenty where we do treat, but the evidence that we change anything with that is pretty minimal.

“Children’s physiology is truly awesome and I often feel like a passenger, watching them fix themselves, and occasionally adding some reassurance and distraction. It’s a pretty great job.”

(Feedback notes that – this letter being an exception – nearly all the responses we have received about this question have been from doctors who are retired.)

As fresh as onions

Dimple Devi and her colleagues have devised a way to use onions to prolong the freshness of milk.

The researchers, based at the Central Institute of Technology Kokrajhar, India, discuss it in a report called “Onion peel extract as milk freshness indicator in biopolymer-based intelligent packaging films“, published in the journal Food and Humanity. If the milk goes bad, the onionified packaging film changes from light pink to colourless to brown.

Utilised this way, the researchers say, onion does almost no end of good things: “The addition of onion peel extract in the biopolymers reduced moisture content, water solubility, swelling index, and transparency, and significantly increased antioxidant activity, and total phenolic content.” It also “utilized a common and abundantly generated agricultural / food processing waste”.

The report doesn’t address the question of how consumers might react to the idea of milk protected by – though not flavoured with! – onion.

Carry on carrying

Perusing Feedback’s growing list of trivial superpowers, Ken Taylor poses a question about his own ability: “Here’s a trivial superpower I only just realised I had… the ability to carry lots of glass containers. As a teenager, I delivered milk and could manage six full pint bottles of milk and 10 empties. As an adult, I could impress friends by carrying four full pints of beer (the ones without handles) by splaying my fingers wide and curling them round the rims. Looks very cool, unless you drop them. Does this rate as a superpower? Your call.”

Ken’s calm persistence in carrying containers exemplifies the tradition of “carry on”.

Marc Abrahams created the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony and co-founded the magazine Annals of Improbable Research. Earlier, he worked on unusual ways to use computers. His website is improbable.com.

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