Discovered: Nice baboons outlive mean ones; teens still drinking, but more responsibly; undecided voters 20 percent less likely to vote for Obama due to race; toddlers and the scientific method.
Teenage drunk driving in decline. Trend pieces about reckless, alcohol-crazed teens continue to come out like clockwork. "Butt-chugging," anyone? But new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that while underage drinking remains widespread, the number of teens drunk driving has fallen by more than half in the last twenty years. Dredging the annual Youth Risk Behavior Surveys from 1991 onwards, they noted a 54 percent reduction in teenage drunk driving. "We are moving in the right direction. But we must keep up the momentum," says CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. Still, binge drinking remains prevalent and one in every 10 high schoolers admitted to drinking and driving every month. That means that a full 1 million teens drove drunk last year. [NBC News]
Nice baboons live long, friendly lives. It's true that nice guys finish last, if by "guys" you mean "baboons" and by last "finish" you mean "die." Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Arizona State University studied the lifespans of wild baboons in the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana and found that the friendliest female baboons tended to live the longest. The ones who spent more time hanging out with and grooming each other had lower stress hormone levels, and gave birth to more healthy offspring. Social hierarchies between alpha and beta baboons can determine lifespan for males, but which rung they occupied in the social ladder didn't matter as much as friendliness for female baboons. As in humans, strong social networks contributed to better long-term health, whereas increasing isolation corresponded with earlier death. "This is a highly innovative study, says Sarah Hrdy of UC Davis, commenting on the study. "It uses behavioral measures that are meaningful to the baboons themselves to probe the relationship between fitness and personality style." [Wired]