Video Gaming May Actually Help with Creativity

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Discovered: a reward for being ethical, a good thing about video gaming, a cautionary tale of scientific fraud, and the way the Vikings navigated through stormy weather.

  • See, research isn't all negative about video games. Usually, when gaming is assessed by researchers, it seems like best thing that can be said about playing them is that they don't help or hurt you. Today, there's a semi-counterintuitive finding: playing games tend to help with kids creative--and even writing--skills: "A study of nearly 500 12-year-olds found that the more kids played video games, the more creative they were in tasks such as drawing pictures and writing stories." The Michigan State researchers behind the study noted that the finding was particular to gaming: "use of cell phones, the Internet and computers (other than for video games) was unrelated to creativity." [Michigan State University]
  • In praise of living by-the-book. If you have never skirted a bus fare, taken a bribe or cheated on taxes, well, know this: the ethical have been linked with more satisfying lives. Miller-McCune reports on a study by a University of Missouri economist that gauged ethicalness by gleaning peoples responses to questions like whether or not you think skipping out on paying for public transportation is the right thing to do. And it did link "life satisfaction and low tolerance for unethical conduct." However, if you are now being smug about being ethical, that would probably diminish your ethicalness. [Miller-McCune]
  • How was it possible for Vikings to navigate their ships in heavy fog? This seems like a question that was pondered over for about a century, or five. The latest answer from journal, The Proceedings of the Royal Society A: they used glowing sun stones, just like the legends had suggested all along. This is how the crystal sun stone trick is actually feasible as The Guardian translates: "Vikings might have calibrated calcite crystal sunstones by scanning them across a clear sky and noting the sun's position when the crystal brightened. They could then repeat the trick to locate the sun when it was no longer visible." [The Guardian, Discovery News]
  • A cautionary tale about not believing everything research tells you.  Dutch psychologist Diederik Stapel was suspended from his position at Tilburg University in September for fabricating his research findings. However, as New Scientist relays, "the problems became known only on Monday, when the university released an interim report concluding that dozens of papers, as well as 14 out of the 21 PhD theses Stapel had supervised, contain fabricated data." What sort of studies was Stapel faking? Here's one example, which the Los Angeles Times reported on in April before the allegations surfaced, which looks convoluted even on first glance: "People in messy environments tend to compensate by categorizing people in their minds according to well-known stereotypes." [New Scientist, The Washington Post]

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