Today in Research: Big Tobacco Is Worse Than You Thought; More

Today in research: a big day for scientist humor, Big Tobacco remains the bad guy, an arctic ice shelf oversight, and a brain-numbing task.

  • Big Tobacco: still very much the bad guy. "Tobacco companies knew for decades that cigarette smoke was radioactive and potentially carcinogenic but kept that information from the public, according to a new study," USA Today reports. That is both outrageous and sadly unsurprising. The UCLA researchers behind the study were somehow able to analyze "previously unexamined industry documents" and found that Polonium-210 (radioactive particles) had been identified by the industry since the early '60s. When asked about the findings by ABC News, a Philip Morris spokesperson dismissed them by seeming to suggest they were old news. [USA Today, ABC News]
  • MMNMM. What's the middle letter? Now do it again. The findings of this brain research study from a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science confirms a truism that you knew already: people who want to learn from their mistakes do better. That's good, but what we found interesting about the study was how the researchers came to this conclusion. They had participants do a mind-numbingly easy task of  identifying "the middle letter of a five-letter series like 'MMMMM' or 'NNMNN'" over and over and tracked their brains electrical activity when they made a mistake -- a task that looks bit headache-inducing. [Association for Psychological Science]

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