Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Thursday, 24 January 2013

University of Toronto study shows toddlers can lie -

University of Toronto study shows toddlers can lie - 

What comes out of the mouths of babes isn’t always the unvarnished truth.

Indeed, toddlers can start lying before they’re out of diapers, a new University of Toronto study shows.

“We were very surprised that so many kids lied and lied so early,” says Kang Lee, a senior child psychologist at the school’s Institute of Child Study.

Lee’s paper, published in the January edition of the American Psychological Association journal Developmental Psychology, pushes the onset of lying back some 18 months from the age previous research has suggested it would begin.

For the study, Lee enlisted 41 two-year-olds and 24 three year olds.

His team placed three toys behind the children’s backs and asked them to guess what they were by the sounds they made.

“Let’s say the first was a car and it made an engine sound and the child said ‘oh, it’s a car’,” he says.

The second might be a toy dog, which barked and was also easy to guess.

“Then we said there was a third toy and if you guess that right you get a prize,” Lee says.

“But the third toy, lets say it was a Barney, but we played music that had nothing to do with Barney so there was no way they could guess correctly what it was.”

The researchers would then leave the room, telling the children they could not turn to peek — which the majority of them were caught on hidden cameras doing within seconds.

And upon their return, Lee’s team asked the kids if they’d looked while they’d been left alone.

“What we found was about 25 per cent of the two year olds would lie to us,” Lees says.

What his team found as well was that those puny prevaricators were also more cognitively advanced than their truthful peers.

In particular, Lee says, the little liars had better developed “executive functioning” — the higher thinking skills that emerge as we learn.

They also had a more acute “theory of mind”, which allows humans to reasonably guess what other people are thinking.

“If, I were to lie to you, the reason I lie to you is because I know you do not know what I know,” he says.

“So that requires me to read your mind.”

This does not mean, however, that early lying is a sign that the kids who do it are innately smarter than their truthful counterparts, Lee says.

“They’re not going turn into (geniuses),” he says.

Nor are they liable to become chronic liars as they mature, Lee says.

Indeed, by the time children reach the age of seven, almost 100 per cent of them will lie to cover mistakes or transgressions.

Lee’s past research has helped to push the onset of lying back from school aged children to three year olds.

“Going back 30 years ago people thought that kids simply do not lie until they get to elementary school years or even later,” Lee says.

“But in the last 10 to 15 years we have been looking at kids from three and above and we found half of three year olds would tell lies.”


15,000 crocodiles reportedly escape from farm in South Africa -

15,000 crocodiles reportedly escape from farm in South Africa - 

A crocodile farm in South Africa is a little emptier Thursday after 15,000 of the farm's reptiles managed to escape following heavy rain, the Telegraph reports.
The thousands of crocodiles flew the coop after the owners of the Rakwena Crocodile Farm reportedly were forced to open the gates to prevent a storm surge from the rising waters of the nearby Limpopo River.
According to the Telegraph, about half of the crocodiles have been recaptured, while the other half have sprawled out across the region -- including in a rugby field 75 miles away from the farm.
"We've been recapturing them as, and when, the local farmers phone us to tell us that there are crocodiles on their property," said Zane Langman, the son-in-law of the farm's owner.
Most of the recapturing reportedly has taken place at night because crocodiles' eyes shine red in the dark, making them easier to spot, according to the Telegraph.

Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/southafrica/9823009/15000-crocodiles-escape-from-South-African-farm.html

NYPD testing device to secretly scan New Yorkers for guns -

NYPD testing device to secretly scan New Yorkers for guns - 

Get ready for scan-and-frisk.

The NYPD will soon deploy new technology allowing police to detect guns carried by criminals without using the typical pat-down procedure, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Wednesday.

The department just received a machine that reads terahertz — the natural energy emitted by people and inanimate objects — and allows police to view concealed weapons from a distance.

“If something is obstructing the flow of that radiation, for example a weapon, the device will highlight that object,” Kelly said.


More than $114 billion exited the biggest U.S. banks this month, and nobody’s quite sure why -

More than $114 billion exited the biggest U.S. banks this month, and nobody’s quite sure why - 

The Federal Reserve releases data on the assets and liabilities of commercial banks every Friday. The most current figures, covering the first full week of 2013, show the largest one-week withdrawals since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Even when seasonally adjusted, the level drops to $52.8 billion—still the third-highest amount on record, and one for which bank experts and analysts were reluctant to give a definitive explanation.

The most obvious culprit is the expiration of the Transaction Account Guarantee program, the extraordinary federal effort to shore up the country’s non-gigantic banks during the 2008 financial crisis. Big banks were considered “too big to fail,” while smaller ones were vulnerable to runs. The TAG program backstopped their deposit bases by temporarily offering unlimited insurance on money kept in non-interest-bearing accounts. That guarantee ended on Dec. 31, so a decrease in deposits would be expected first thing in January.

But hold on: The Fed data show $114 billion leaving the 25 biggest banks—about 2 percent of their deposit base. Only $26.9 billion left all the others, equivalent to 0.9 percent of their deposit base. Experts had predicted that the end of TAG would hurt the nation’s small banks because the big ones are still considered too big to fail. “I think [customers] are going to go back to the mega banks,” the head of a regional bank in Bethesda, Md., told The Washington Post in December. “They’ve been assured by the government that mega banks are too big to fail. It’s a horrible, bad, poorly-thought-out situation.” Small banks fearfully lobbied the Senate to extend TAG, with analysts telling the New York Times that they expected $200 million to $300 million—yes, with an m—to move from affected accounts into money market funds or elsewhere.


Brazil lets inmates take vacation, but some don't return -

Brazil lets inmates take vacation, but some don't return - 

Brazil’s holiday season gift to its inmates turned into a bag of coal for jail administrators after thousands of prisoners granted a temporary leave to visit their families for Christmas and New Years failed to return to their cells. 
Over 2,400 Brazilian inmates, or 5 percent of total inmates released, still remain at large after the government  gave them leave during the holidays.
What's surprising: Some 45,000 inmates sent free in December are willingly back behind bars, according to a survey taken by Brazilian newspaper O Globo.
Not every inmate in Brazil was sent home. Those who committed major crimes, like murderers, rapists and major drug traffickers, remained incarcerated. Only prisoners in minimum security prisons with a record of good behavior were given the chance to go home.
The crooks also had to have served at least of one-sixth of their sentences and a judge had to approve the leave request before springing them loose for Christmas.
“As the festive period escapees were housed in low-security prisons, it is unlikely many of them belonged to such feared criminal organizations,” wrote James Bargent of the Latin American security website Insight Crime.  “However there have been cases of inmates offending while on temporary release, and the sheer number of escapees suggests a serious issue.”
The state of São Paulo, home to the country’s largest city of the same name, led the way in escapees, with 1,473 inmates still at large, despite the fact that the state uses electronic monitoring devices on their inmates.
“This could be curbed by the increased use of electronic tagging devices -- a nascent technology in the Brazilian penal system,” Bargent said.
The state of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco and Rondônia are now expanding their use of electronic monitoring for prisoners allowed home for the holidays.