Plant Blindness and You

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Can you tell the difference between a big leaf maple and a Japanese maple tree? If not, then you may suffer from plant blindness. Hopefully you can tell them apart when looking at them though. The concept of plant blindness is not so much being able to name every species as it is to appreciate the variety of species that exist. It’s also very easy to cure – just go look at plants.

One key to reducing plant blindness is increasing the frequency and variety of ways we see plants. This should start early – as Schussler, who is a professor of biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, puts it, “before students start saying they are bored with plants”. One citizen science project aiming to help with this is TreeVersity, which asks ordinary people to help classify images of plants from Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum.
Everyday interactions with plants is the best strategy, says Schussler. She lists talking about conservation of plants in local parks and gardening.

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Get Off the Internet and Onto Your Life

Stop reading this post and get out outside. I mean it, put down your mobile or walk away from your computer. The weather isn’t good? Doesn’t matter. Go, get away from this techno surveillance society that is always tracking you. Go be with yourself – it isn’t scary. I believe in you!

Odell finds the focus on getting people to put down their screens or log off from social media limiting; fixating on changing an individual’s behaviors ignores what can be done collectively. She sees this new kind of consciousness-raising as a vehicle for political action. As she writes in How to Do Nothing, “I am less interested in a mass exodus from Facebook and Twitter than I am in a mass movement of attention: what happens when people regain control over their attention and begin to direct it again, together.”
Odell is not a technophobe. She uses the iNaturalist app on her phone during hikes to identify plants, and in her research-heavy writing, the internet is an indispensable resource. Without it she wouldn’t be able to go down rabbit holes on subjects like the “free” watches advertised on Instagram, a journey into the world of dropshipping that reveals cascading levels of capitalism based on dishonesty and shoddy information.

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Learning Junk Food Marketing Manipulates, Teens Consume Less

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Healthy eating can be a challenge when millions of dollars are spent everyday trying to convince us to eat junk food. It turns out that telling the truth to teens may help them eat healthier. Informing teens about the financing and exploitation that goes into big food gets them to think critically about the marketing and rebel against it. Plus, starting healthy eating practice in the teenage years sets them up for a lifetime of health.

In the study, “A Values-Alignment Intervention Protects Adolescents from the Effects of Food Marketing,” published today in Nature Human Behaviour, Chicago Booth’s Christopher J. Bryan, University of Texas at Austin’s David S. Yeager, and Booth PhD candidate Cintia P. Hinojosa find that reframing how students view food-marketing campaigns can spur adolescents, particularly boys, to make healthier daily dietary choices for an extended period of time. The method works in part by tapping into teens’ natural desire to rebel against authority.

Among the two biggest findings in the experiment: The intervention produced an enduring change in both boys’ and girls’ immediate, gut-level, emotional reactions to junk food marketing messages. And teenage boys, a notoriously difficult group to convince when it comes to giving up junk food, started making healthier food and drink choices in their school cafeteria.
“One of the most exciting things is that we got kids to have a more negative immediate gut reaction to junk food and junk food marketing, and a more positive immediate gut reaction to healthy foods,” said Bryan.

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Yogic Breathing Looks Gross but can be Good

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Breathing is naturally good for you and you’re hopefully doing it right now. Interestingly there are different levels of breathing with different effects on our health. Most of us who site around all day at computers are likely breathing too shallowly and not getting complete breaths. Those of you who’ve been to yoga might know the importance of deep breathing. That is taking long, deep, breaths using the diaphragm for a serious amount of time. Early research is examining what positive effects this type of deep breathing can have on our health.

Q: What made you examine this technique through a cellular biology lens?
A: In 2005, I noticed while I was practicing pranayama, I was producing so much saliva that I was almost drooling. I wondered why and what the overall impact of that was. This led me and my team to study whether increased saliva production was a common response to the practice, and we found that it was.
Q: Most people wouldn’t think much of getting spitty when they focus on breathing and relaxing. But your 2016 study in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed this bump in salivation seems to matter. Why?

A: Saliva has numerous antibodies and proteins that do everything from suppressing tumors to regenerating the liver. For example, it contains immunoglobulin, which are antibodies that bind to germs, as well as DMBT1, a tumor suppressor that blocks the conversion of normal cells to cancer cells.

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One Easy Method to Stop Hate: Don’t be “Edgy”

Filter bubbles are real and impact our world in the most serious of ways. The recent massacre in New Zealand has shown this all too well. You’re probably wondering if there’s anything you can do stop the spread of online hate and the growth of “right wing” violence. Thankfully there is. The video above explores how stopping the spread of entry-level “edgy” jokes can stop people from descending into the internet hate machine.

Via MeFi

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