News and Features

Awesome social science on the net – #TDOPicks of the Week

Editor’s Note: On Sundays we bring you #TDOPicks – our picks for the best social science features we’ve found on the Internet this week. We feature a variety of content aimed at both the layman and the social science professional. Tell us what you’re reading or watching by tweeting @TheDailyOpium with #TDOPicks or posting links on our Facebook page.

“Why babies in every country on Earth say ‘mama,'” Therese O’Neiil, Yahoo! She

The definitive study on “mama and papa” as universal terms was conducted by Russian linguist Roman Jakobson. He explained that the easiest vocalizations for a human to make are open-mouth vowel sounds…

So why do babies gravitate to the “m” sound instead of “p” or “b”? Because of breasts, of course! The “m” sound is the easiest for a baby mouth to make when wrapped around a warm delicious breast. Even as adults, we still associate “mmm” with something being yummy and good. So does your baby.

#TalkThursday: “Social trends in the 2013 elections”, Rappler

University of the Philippine Diliman sociology professor Nicole Curato talks about the role of election automation, social media and other trends in the 2013 elections:

“Study builds on Ig-Nobel-winning smelly-feet/malaria work,” Improbable.com

The IgNobel Prize, a parody of the Nobel Prize, is awarded to research findings deemed ridiculous and useless by its Prize Committee every year. But is “useless and ridiculous” research really useless and ridiculous? A scientific study whose findings could help us cure malaria builds on IgNobel-winning research that has found mosquitoes are equally attracted to stinky cheese and stinky feet.

“Why We Laugh at Things that are not Funny,” Joachim Vogt Isaksen, Popular Social Science

The reasons for why we laugh at funny things may be fairly obvious to us. But what about things that aren’t funny?

…it may be easier for males with higher social status to make women laugh. This means that social status and humor must be seen in relation to each other in that people in general laugh more of people with high social status.

“Social Networks as Evolutionary Game Theory,” Izabella Kaminska, Financial Times

Could social networks such as Facebook and Twitter actually be doing us a public good by collecting and monetizing data about us? According to game theory, it can:

Could it even be that Facebook (and equivalent platforms) are the ones that are performing the altruistic duty of pooling the data on behalf the system and drawing important — potentially survival-related — meaning from it, which therefore need to be repaid?