Why you like me

I think I’ve found a new favorite website: Miller-McCune.  I’ve come across the stray article before, but I didn’t realize that they basically take social science findings and turn them into well-written and smart journalism.  There’s some really cool articles I plan to blog on soon.  For now, this one caught my attention:

Why are we drawn to one person and not another? Physical attractiveness is one obvious ingredient, but researchers have identified another, quite different factor that heightens one’s personal appeal.

It seems we enjoy socializing with people who have found meaning in their lives…

“Meaning is a powerful and independent predictor of interpersonal appeal,” reports a study titled “Meaning as Magnetic Force,” just published in the journalSocial Psychological and Personality Science. “People seek interpersonal connections with those who have found meaning in life.”

The idea that the search for meaning in life is a basic human drive was famously articulated by psychologist Viktor Frankl in 1946, not long after he was liberated from a Nazi concentration camp. According to team behind this new research, “a natural extension” of this idea “is that people will seek to affiliate with those who have a strong sense of meaning.”

In other words, people searching for a purpose in life — whether or not they are consciously aware of this deep-seated desire — will likely be attracted to others who have arrived at an answer.

I certainly feel I’ve found meaning in my life.  That must be why you like me.

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Quote of the day

From Dahlia Lithwick’s evisceration of the legal opinions of Virginia Attorney General (and absolute embarrassment) Ken Cucinelli:

It must be convenient to have every last one of your formal legal opinions conform to your fondest personal hopes and dreams.

Pretty much sums it up.  Cucinelli is basically ignoring existing law, common sense, and plain-old logic, in attempt to single-handedly remake Virginia policies according to his personal ideological views.  It’s really quite disturbing.

When the Gold Standard is Gilded

Really interesting follow-up story today on the travesty that is the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations.  Like most major crime labs, the NC SBI has been certified by a national organization, ASCLD-LAB, that accredits crime labs as meeting basic standards.  Given the huge flaws at the SBI found in a recent investigation, just what does this say about the ASCLD-LAB accreditation?  Probably not worth the paper its printed on.  And how, you ask, does ASCLD-LAB go about accrediting labs?

Every five years, a team of forensic scientists from crime labs in other states come to the SBI lab to inspect its work. They study policy manuals, double check first-aid kits and review the layout of the lab. They check each criterion they meet and note shortcomings they expect to be fixed.

For each unit, inspectors examine five cases for each analyst. They allow lab supervisors to select the cases.

“They can cherry pick,” said Randall Robbins, a retired lab official from the Illinois Police crime lab who performed audits for ASCLD-LAB. “They also can sanitize the files. Any lab across the country can dress it up and make it look as pretty as it wants.”

Robbins, who now lives in Johnston County, said he asked for additional cases to review for his inspections but said not all auditors do that.

Grubb, ASCLD-LAB chairman, said pulling cases at random is more time-consuming.

This is just breathtakingly irresponsible.  Accrediting a lab only on cases it selects.  Hmmm, I wonder how that will work out.  Gee, we wouldn’t want to do something “time consuming” like select cases that haven’t been hand-picked for approval.  ASCLD-LAB is simply a disgrace.  This calls into question the credentials and standards of crime labs all across the nation.  I’m all for catching criminals– the right ones!

Chart of the day

From here:

Assistant Professor Openings in Political Science

2009-10 445
2008-9 617
2007-8 716
2006-7 730
2005-6 685
2004-5 661

Yikes, that’s one tough job market!  Sure glad I was looking for jobs in the early 00’s and not now.

American conservatives: Al Qaeda’s best helpers

Was only a matter of time until we saw a story like this.  Moderate Muslims– the key to defeating the forces of extremism– keep trying to say that America does not hate Islam, but then we go and keep trying to prove them wrong.  Via NPR:

Experts worry the controversy surrounding an Islamic center near ground zero in Lower Manhattan is playing right into the hands of radical extremists.

The supercharged debate over the proposed center has attracted the attention of a quiet, underground audience — young Muslims who drift in and out of jihadi chat rooms and frequent radical Islamic sites on the Web. It has become the No. 1 topic of discussion in recent days and proof positive, according to some of the posted messages, that America is indeed at war with Islam.

“This, unfortunately, is playing right into their hands,” said Evan F. Kohlmann, who tracks these kinds of websites and chat rooms for Flashpoint Global partners, a New York-based security firm. “Extremists are encouraging all this, with glee.

“It is their sense that by doing this that Americans are going to alienate American Muslims to the point where even relatively moderate Muslims are going to be pushed into joining extremist movements like al-Qaida. They couldn’t be happier.”…

All this controversy and vitriol are not only encouraged; they’re welcomed. Extremists and radical clerics posted a stream of “I told you so” messages: After years of telling followers that Islam was under attack by the West, the harsh reaction to a simple community center seemed to prove it.

That message, transmitted in a multitude of chat rooms and websites, has law enforcement worried. There have been a record number of homegrown terrorist plots in this country since late last year, and the conventional wisdom has been that the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have moved some young Muslims — many of whom came of age watching U.S. forces fighting in two wars on television — to join the fight.

Fox News, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich: working every day to help create more terrorists.

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