A moment in U.S. history as seen in the pages of The Outlook magazine.
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The cliche about majoring in humanities is that it’s a lovely way to spend four years of college and poor way to land a lucrative job. To some extent, that cliche may be true. On the whole, humanities grads earn less than students who study disciplines like business or engineering. So sayeth the statistics.
But the Association of American Colleges and Universities would like you to know that getting a degree in English or History, while perhaps not the most financially rewarding choice, doesn’t require an oath of poverty either. Over a lifetime, they note, typical humanities and social science majors earn similarly to graduates who study practical, pre-professional fields such as education or nursing.
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Are you rich? That’s great. But bad news: You’re probably an awful cheater. Science says.
"The increased want associated with greater wealth and status can promote wrongdoing,” Paul Piff of the University of California, Berkeley wrote in a widely-cited paper showing that the “upper-class” was more likely to lie, cheat, violate driving laws, and even take candy from children.
It’s not just having money that makes us dishonest. Even thinking about it—lustrous gold coins, money trees, year-end bonuses—makes us us more likely to behave unethically. A new study this week both indicts the immoral intoxication of money and offers a simple solution: When you make people think about time rather than money, they become self-reflective and less likely to do the wrong thing.
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My money’s on Hobby Lobby—not because it’s a corporation, not because it’s Christian, but because its owners are rich.
The specific issue in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores is whether a for-profit corporation may refuse to comply with mandatory employee insurance coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act, on the grounds that its employees may use their insurance for purposes the company’s owners find distasteful on religious grounds.
Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft stores, and Mardel, a chain of Christian supply stores, are owned by the Green family of Oklahoma. The Greens are conservative Christians who object to any form of contraception that can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus. The Act requires that employee insurance policies cover all forms of FDA-approved contraception. This requirement, the company argues, is a “substantial burden” on its corporate right to “the free exercise of religion,” and thus violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Food, clothes, and housing account for more than 60 percent of all spending among the poor.
Yes, I know. That headline. It looks like the most egregious form of causal inference. Americans don’t save money because of … our grammar? How utterly absurd. But bear with me.
In the 1930s, linguists proposed that the way we read, write, and talk helped to determine the way we see the world. Speakers of languages that had the same word for orange and yellow had a harder time actually distinguishing the colors. Speakers of the Kook Thaayorre language, which has no words for left and right, must orient themselves by north, south, east, and west at all time, which enhances their awareness of geographical and astronomical markers.
Last year, economist Keith Chen released a working paper (now published) suggesting speakers of languages without strong future tenses tended to be more responsible about planning for the future. Quick example. In English, we say “I will go to the play tomorrow.” That’s strong future tense. In Mandarin or Finnish, which have weaker future tenses, it might be more appropriate to say, “I go to the play tomorrow.”
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Forty-two years after President Nixon signed the National Cancer Act and declared the “war on cancer,” it’s virtually impossible to separate cancer from money—walks, bike rides and pink ribbons entice people to donate more and more. To question the need for more funding to help cancer patients seems almost sacrilege.
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I have some rather, well, deflating news for you. If your plan for getting a raise at work is getting lucky at home, you need a new plan. More sex won’t mean more money — unless you’re getting paid for it — no matter what an economist (or your partner) tells you. Sorry.
Now, it’s a simple — and tantalizing — enough idea. Healthy people tend to earn more, and people who have more sex tend to be healthier. So could having more sex make you earn more? Well, as Lydia DePillis of Wonkblog points out, that’s the question Nick Drydakis, a senior lecturer in economics at Anglia Ruskin University, tried to answer by looking at Greek survey data from 2008.
But that answer isn’t much of an answer. Now, the study did find a positive, and statistically significant, relationship between how much sex people between the ages of 26 and 50 say they have, and how much they say they make. And it control for things like age, health, education, marital status, sexual orientation, ethnicity, industry, and personality type. But even controlling for these things, a correlation between sex and wages doesn’t tell us anything. It’s just a correlation. We don’t know which way — if at all — the causation runs. It might be that having more sex really does make people make more. Or it might be that making more makes people less stressed — and that makes them have more sex. Or it might be that something we aren’t observing is causing both.
In other words, we need to figure out if this is just a casual relationship or something more.
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