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Young Men Who Smoke Have Lower IQs 561

Hugh Pickens writes "Science Daily reports on a study that has determined that young men who smoke are likely to have lower IQs than their non-smoking peers. In the study, conducted with 20,000 Israeli Army recruits and veterans, the average IQ for a non-smoker was about 101, while the smokers' average was more than seven IQ points lower at about 94, and the IQs of young men who smoked more than a pack a day were lower still, at about 90. (These IQs all fall within the normal range.) 'In the health profession, we've generally thought that smokers are most likely the kind of people to have grown up in difficult neighborhoods, or who've been given less education at good schools,' says Prof. Mark Weiser of Tel Aviv University's Department of Psychiatry, whose study was reported in a recent version of the journal Addiction. 'Because our study included subjects with diverse socio-economic backgrounds, we've been able to rule out socio-economics as a major factor. The government might want to rethink how it allocates its educational resources on smoking.' Prof. Weiser says that the study illuminates a general trend in epidemiological studies. 'People on the lower end of the average IQ tend to display poorer overall decision-making skills when it comes to their health,' says Weiser. 'Schoolchildren who have been found to have a lower IQ can be considered at risk to begin the habit, and can be targeted with special education and therapy to prevent them from starting or to break the habit after it sets in.'"

Another Study Attacks Violent Video Games, Claims To Be "Conclusive" 587

Killer Orca is one of many to tell us about a new study on the effects of violent video games on kids. The latest meta-study that analyzed research from 130 different reports claims to have "conclusively proven" that violent video games make more aggressive, less caring kids. "The team used meta-analytic procedures — the statistical methods used to analyze and combine results from previous, related literature -- to test the effects of violent video game play on the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings of the individuals, ranging from elementary school-aged children to college undergraduates. [...] Anderson says the new study may be his last meta-analysis on violent video games because of its definitive findings."

Heavy Internet Use Linked To Depression 360

An anonymous reader writes "People who spend a lot of time surfing the internet are more likely to show signs of depression, British scientists said on Wednesday. These 'internet addicts' spent proportionately more time browsing sexually gratifying websites, online gaming sites and online communities, Morrison said. They also had a higher incidence of moderate to severe depression than normal users."
Social Networks

Happiness May Be Catching 176

chrb writes "The NY Times Magazine has an interesting article about research, based on the long-running Framingham Heart Study, modeling real world social networks. It seems that tendencies to be happy, not to smoke, and not to become obese are passed between nodes in a directed graph in a way that suggests such concepts are 'contagious.' Well-connected nodes in the graph (i.e., people with more friends) are more likely to be happier than less-connected nodes, even when the edges represent more distant friendships. Individuals quitting smoking, or becoming obese, influence not only their immediately connected friends but also friends of friends, with the effect sometimes skipping the intermediary node. The contagion effect is most noticeable when a tendency is passed from one person to another of the same sex — friends of the opposite sex, including spouses, are not as influential."

Creativity Potentially Linked To Schizophrenia 215

mcgrew writes "New Scientist is reporting that creativity may be linked to schizophrenia via a common gene. Szabolcs Kéri, a researcher at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, carried a study of creative people. 'Kéri examined a gene involved in brain development called neuregulin 1, which previous studies have linked to a slightly increased risk of schizophrenia. Moreover, a single DNA letter mutation that affects how much of the neuregulin 1 protein is made in the brain has been linked to psychosis, poor memory and sensitivity to criticism. About 50 per cent of healthy Europeans have one copy of this mutation, while 15 per cent possess two copies. People with two copies of the neuregulin 1 mutation — about 12 per cent of the study participants — tended to score notably higher on these measures of creativity, compared with other volunteers with one or no copy of the mutation. Those with one copy were also judged to be more creative, on average, than volunteers without the mutation.' They hypothesize that people with this gene with high IQs are creative, while those with lower IQs are simply prone to the hallucinations that characterize the disease."

Study Finds Delinquent Behavior Among Boys Is "Contagious" Screenshot-sm 245

According to a new study, if everyone else was committing a crime, you would too, at least if you are a boy. The 20-year study showed what every grandmother could tell you; children from poor families, with inadequate supervision and bad friends were more likely to end up in juvenile court. What was more surprising is that exposure to the juvenile justice system seemed to increase the chance that the boy would engage in criminal activity as a young adult. "For boys who had been through the juvenile justice system, compared to boys with similar histories without judicial involvement, the odds of adult judicial interventions increased almost seven-fold," says study co-author Richard E. Tremblay.

Comets Probably Seeded Earth's Nitrogen Atmosphere 110

KentuckyFC writes "One of the biggest puzzles of astrobiology is the origin of the Earth's oceans and atmosphere. One favored theory is that our water is the leftovers from a bombardment of comets early in Earth's history. But the ratio of hydrogen and deuterium in the oceans doesn't match the ratio in the four comets measured so far (Halley's, Hyakutake, Hale-Bopp and C/2002 T7 LINEAR). Now a new analysis of the ratio of nitrogen-14 and 15 isotopes in these comets and on Earth places new limits on how much of our environment could have come from comets. On the one hand, the astronomers who did the work say that no more than a few percent of Earth's water could have come from comets. But on the other, they say that the ratio of nitrogen isotopes in these comets almost exactly matches the ratio in Earth's atmosphere. That suggests that while Earth's oceans must have come from somewhere else, Earth's early atmosphere was probably seeded by comets."

Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious animal on earth.