People who are antagonistic, exploitative, and generally disagreeable are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories

Researchers found that people who possess personality traits known as the “Dark Tetrad” are more likely to believe Princess Diana’s death was orchestrated by the British royal family, that the moon landing was faked, and that alien spacecraft are being stored at Area 51, among other conspiracy theories.

The traits of the Dark Tetrad are Machiavellianism (manipulativeness and cynicism); narcissism (vanity and self-obsession); psychopathy (impulsivity and callousness); and sadism (cruelty and abusiveness). Most people have elements of some of these traits, says Cameron Kay, a doctoral candidate in the department of psychology at the University of Oregon.

“In plain terms, it seems like disagreeable people, who score high in these traits, are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories,” Kay says. “They are prone to odd beliefs. They don’t feel like they are in control of their lives. They are robbed of their agency and have an innate distrust of other people and organizations like the government.”

We know who you are…

Humans are the best at killing off trees!

Almost a third of the world’s tree species are at risk of extinction, while hundreds are on the brink of being wiped out, according to a new report.

The landmark study, published by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) on Wednesday, said some 17,500 tree species – or 30 percent of the total – are at risk of extinction, while 440 species have fewer than 50 specimens left in the wild.

Overall the number of threatened tree species is double the number of threatened mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles combined…

Trees help support the natural ecosystem and are considered vital for combating global warming and climate change. The extinction of a single tree species could prompt the loss of many others.

I wonder what would happen if scientists discovered that, watching television actually sterilized that portion of men’s brains that stimulates acts of sexual pleasure – thereby endangering the human species. Think we’d stop watching baseball or sitcoms? Monty Python reruns?

A milky sea of luminous bacteria

“The whole appearance of the ocean was like a plain covered with snow. There was scarce a cloud in the heavens, yet the sky … appeared as black as if a storm was raging. The scene was one of awful grandeur, the sea having turned to phosphorus, and the heavens being hung in blackness, and the stars going out, seemed to indicate that all nature was preparing for that last grand conflagration which we are taught to believe is to annihilate this material world.”
– Captain Kingman of the American clipper ship Shooting Star, offshore of Java, Indonesia, 1854

For centuries, sailors have been reporting strange encounters like the one above. These events are called milky seas. They are a rare nocturnal phenomenon in which the ocean’s surface emits a steady bright glow. They can cover thousands of square miles and, thanks to the colorful accounts of 19th-century mariners like Capt. Kingman, milky seas are a well-known part of maritime folklore. But because of their remote and elusive nature, they are extremely difficult to study and so remain more a part of that folklore than of science…

Via a state-of-the-art generation of satellites, my colleagues and I have developed a new way to detect milky seas. Using this technique, we aim to learn about these luminous waters remotely and guide research vessels to them so that we can begin to reconcile the surreal tales with scientific understanding.

An article by Professor Steven D. Miller, Colorado State University, filled with wonder and knowledge.