Revisiting the Marshmallow Test


Josie Garner

When kids “pass” the marshmallow test, are they simply better at self-control or is something else going on? A new UC San Diego study revisits the classic psychology experiment and reports that part of what may be at work is that children care more deeply than previously known what authority figures think of them.

In the marshmallow test, young children are given one marshmallow and told they can eat it right away or, if they wait a while, while nobody is watching, they can have two marshmallows instead. The half-century-old test is quite well-known. It’s entered everyday speech, and you may have chuckled at an online video or two in which children struggle adorably on hidden camera with the temptation of an immediate treat…

But the real reason the test is famous (and infamous) is because researchers have shown that the ability to wait – to delay gratification in order to get a bigger reward later – is associated with a range of positive life outcomes far down the line, including better stress tolerance and higher SAT scores…”Our new research suggests that in addition to measuring self-control, the task may also be measuring another important skill: awareness of what other people value.”

Interesting read. Understanding children and their changing values is useful stuff.

I guess.

Help children respond to the pandemic affecting their lives

For parents, helping children cope during the COVID-19 pandemic may be as simple as listening, Steven Marans argues.

Children are struggling with difficult issues, says Marans, a child and adult psychoanalyst at Yale University Medicine and chief of the Trauma Section at the Child Study Center…

In a year marked by COVID-19, discussions around racial justice, a crashing economy, and a divisive presidential election, he says parents need to first acknowledge their own emotions and stress reactions in order to be most attentive to their child’s responses to recent events.

“Then, if children are having ‘big feelings’—or showing signs of their distress—it’s an opportunity to hit the pause button and help them recognize and reflect on those feelings,” Marans says.

Not solutions to everything; but, a lot to offer about individual questions children will be asking themselves and the adults important to their lives.

NPR Special: “Save The Whales. Save The Tigers. Save The Tapeworms?”

They’re wiggly and slimy and live inside the flesh of other animals. Now, scientists are making a new case for why they should be saved.

Parasites play crucial roles in ecosystems around the world, making up around 40% of animal species. As wildlife faces the growing threats of climate change and habitat loss, scientists warn that parasites are equally vulnerable.

That’s why a team of scientists has released a “global parasite conservation plan.”

“Parasites have a major public relations problem,” says Chelsea Wood, assistant professor at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “Most people don’t really like thinking about them, but the fact is they’re really important in ecosystems.”

And that’s the good news!

Celebrate mediocrity: 66% of Americans will vaccinate against COVID-19

When a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, 66% of adults say they will likely get it, and have their children vaccinated too, according to a new nationwide survey…

The likelihood of receiving the vaccination is below 60% in 10 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Wyoming. It is greater than 70% in 11 other states: Arizona, California, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington, as well as in the District of Columbia…

The survey also shows that only 58% of those without a high school diploma say they plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 78% of those with at least a bachelor’s degree. Of people who earn less than $25,000, 59% anticipate vaccinating, compared to 78% of those who earn more than $100,000.

Someday – not in what’s left of my lifetime – we may reach a level of education, an understanding of science over superstition in the general population, when and where we need’t be concerned about sufficient vaccination for reasonable effectiveness.

Literacy means nothing if you only read crap. Or worse – you rely on the other great sources of American information: network TV, car radio disc jockeys and incumbent politicians.

Ghosting in the land of surveillance


Using makeup as camouflage

Public opinion about the use and spread of drones is still up in the air, but burgeoning drone use has sparked numerous efforts to curtail drones. These responses range from public policies exerting community control over local airspace, to the development of sophisticated jamming equipment and tactics for knocking drones out of the sky…Anti-drone measures range from simple blunt force, 10-gauge shotguns, to the poetic: well-trained hawks.

The article develops analysis and then suggests techniques to disguise yourself…which is truly worthy and affordable. And fun.

The…most practical, thing you can do to protect yourself from drone surveillance is to get a disguise. The growth of mass surveillance has led to an explosion in creative experiments meant to mask one’s identity. But some of the smartest ideas are decidedly old-school and low-tech. Clothing is the first choice, because hats, glasses, masks and scarves go a long way toward scrambling drone-based facial-recognition software…

Artists and scientists have taken these approaches a step further, developing a hoodie wrap that’s intended to shield the owner’s heat signature and to scramble facial recognition software, and glasses intended to foil facial recognition systems.

And, not so incidentally, driving spooks from the FBI and your local Red Squad crazy is fun.