1) This got published because it used a formal methodology that's accepted in psychology. Conditions were counterbalanced, statistics were properly done, and the effects show up in both by-subjects and by-item analyses. There's no quackery here at all. To address an issue that other people have raised, I agree that there are legitimate complaints to be made about the validity of self-assessed preference ratings, but scientists often have to use imperfect measurements to estimate underlying processes. For example, fMRI studies use blood flow in the brain to approximate neural activity.
2) Looking at the actual paper, the authors tested 819 different people. 30 is just the minimum number of people who read each of the 3 versions of each of the 12 stories that were used across the experiments. The articles linked to in the summary did not make this as clear as they could have.
3) Having seen the stimuli myself, the spoilers were exactly that: spoilers. They really did tell the readers who the killer was, etc.
For what it's worth, I don't think the authors would disagree with you that some people like spoilers and some people don't. Importantly, they're not trying to say anything about any particular person, and they'd probably be the first to agree that you know what you like better than they do. What their research shows, though, is that - at least for the kinds of people they tested and the kinds of materials they used - people tend to like stories more when they're spoiled.
(I agree with you about the trailers, by the way.)
Put a different way, the privilege protects the "expression of the contents of an individual's mind."
I thought this was the most interesting quote from TFA because it raises the question of what exactly constitutes an individual's mind. I once read a philosophy paper promoting a school of thought called Active Externalism that says that the interaction between a user and an object or interface can constitute a kind of distributed cognitive system. From the open-access Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
[A]ctive externalism asserts that the environment can play an active role in constituting and driving cognitive processes. Hutchins (1995) argues that the successful completion of a typical commercial flight requires complex interaction between the pilots and the instruments in the cockpit. He claims that an adequate analysis of the task would need to treat the whole distributed system as a cognitive system with memories, representations, and cognitive processes that extend outside the pilots' heads. Clark and Chalmers (1998) is a widely-discussed defense of active externalism. In one argument, they introduce a thought experiment where someone with Alzheimer's disease has to rely on a notebook to retain information and find his way about. Clark and Chalmers argue that because the notebook plays an active role in the cognitive life of the patient, its contents actually constitute some of that person's non-occurrent beliefs, and so these belief contents are “not in the head”.
Given the extent to which we rely on our laptops - calendars to help us remember where to be, photos to help us remember the past, etc. - I wonder if a laptop wouldn meet this qualification. If so, maybe the contents of the laptop actually constitute the individual's mind in the first place!
(I'm not saying I really believe this is true or that there's any chance a court would ever buy it, just that it's an interesting thought experiment.)
My initial reaction to these numbers was to wonder what percentage of e-mail is spam. The article says it's a whoppingly high 90.4%, which I think makes the false-alarm rate more than acceptable, as (by my calculations) only one out of every 229 e-mails flagged as spam will be a real e-mail. In contrast, if, say, only 1% of e-mails were spam (in which case we probably wouldn't need a spam detector at all, but still), 3 out of every 10 e-mails flagged as spam would actually be real e-mails.
Of course, this is just a long-winded way of noting that hit rates and false alarm rates aren't terribly useful without taking the base rate into account.
You're the perfect person to ask then: a french teacher once told me that bilingual people develop memory problems in old age sooner than others. I'm not sure if he specifically mentioned Alzheimer's or not. Have you heard of this, and do you know of anything to back it up or refute it?
I have good news and bad news for you.
The good news is that, when it comes to Alzheimer's, being bilingual appears to be beneficial. A researcher by the name of Ellen Bialystok has looked into this question; in a recently published paper, she and her coauthors concluded that among people who have regularly used two languages for most of their lives, the onset of dementia is delayed by an average of four years. (By "dementia", I'm referring to severe age-related declines in mental functions, of which Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form. The Bialystok et al. paper specifically states that their conclusions hold true for Alzheimer's as well.) Note that they don't make any claims about whether this conclusion applies to people who learned to speak multiple languages as children but only use one in later life, or people who learned a second language as an adult and use multiple languages daily: those populations might benefit from a similar delay, but they weren't tested for this paper.
On the memory front, I don't know about age of onset, but bilinguals behave differently than monolinguals on memory tasks throughout their lives. Here, there's both (more) good news and bad news. (I'm going to be cribbing some of this from another one of Bialystok's papers, which, as with the paper referenced below, you'll probably need to access at a university to read more than the summary.) Someone who grows up multilingual, while having the obvious advantage of being able to speak multiple languages, tends to be less proficient in each of those languages than monolinguals - that's one of the consequences of splitting your speaking and listening time between several languages. As a result, bilinguals tend to have smaller vocabularies (within each language) and perform worse on word retrieval tasks than monolinguals throughout their lives. So, bilinguals are worse than monolinguals at memory tasks that rely on verbal recall (e.g., "Memorize this list of words and then, in a little while, I'll ask you to tell me what they were.")
At the same time, there's some evidence that being bilingual actually helps you on other kinds of cognitive tasks. Bilinguals perform better at some tasks that place big demands on short-term memory, and, more controversially, on some tasks that require what we call "conflict resolution", situations where you have to choose between two or more possible responses (the Stroop effect is the most famous example). They're better at conflict resolution tasks, so the theory goes, because they've spent their whole lives choosing between multiple competing representations (one per language) for each word. The result of these advantages is that bilinguals tend to be better than monolinguals at nonverbal memory tasks (for instance, recalling an ordered sequence of blocks).
As for how these findings are affected by aging, I think that the relative deficits and advantages present in young adults should carry over into later life. For example, another researcher, Tamar Gollan, showed that bilinguals' naming deficits persist with age. If that's true, then while I don't know about age of onset, I would expect older bilinguals to have worse verbal memory, and better non-verbal memory, than their monolingual counterparts.
I can't remember which papers support that statement, but a Google search reveals (at least) one paper claiming that bilinguals curse more often in their dominant languages (and while I haven't read it, I expect they controlled for frequency of use). If one of the purposes of swearing is to relieve emotional tension, that conclusion would make the most sense if swearing in your dominant language provided a greater emotional release. It wouldn't surprise me too much if the same thing was true for pain.