Discovered: Few people experience information overload; signing forms at top deters liars; mysterious disease detected in Missouri farmers; mite poop causes rosacea.
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Information overload is over-exaggerated. It seems like every other day some columnist or pundit is decrying our modern wired world, feeling overwhelmed by tidal waves of digital data. But a new study from Northwestern University finds that most people are handling this brave new online world calmly. "Little research has focused on information overload and media consumption, yet it’s a concept used in public discussions to describe today’s 24/7 media environment," says lead researcher Eszter Hargittai. She conducted seven focus groups with people she found vacationing in Las Vegas. Seventy-seven people participated, all told, and only a few said they felt truly overloaded with information. Most respondents had only positive things to say about the way they consume news today. "There’s definitely some frustration with the quality of some of the information available," says Hargittai. "But these frustrations were accompanied by enthusiasm and excitement on a more general level about overall media choices." [Northwestern University]
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The scary new 'Heartland Virus.' There have never been many reasons to like ticks, and now we have another reason to avoid the little buggers. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have discovered a new tick-borne virus in two Missouri farmers. Both men discovered with it are fine now, but they had to be confined to hospitals for weeks with symptoms including fever, fatigue, nausea, low blood platelet counts and headache. So far they're the only one's who've been infected, but CDC officials are planning to find more. Dr. William Nicholson of the CDC tells NPR, "We expect this thing may be wider in geographic distribution than we currently know." [NPR]
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Rosacea caused by mite poop. Rosacea is a dermatological disease that causes skin to become red, coarse and inflamed. It mostly appears in middle-aged people, disproportionately affecting Celtic people and women, and scientists estimate that about 16 million Americans suffer from it. Now, thanks to Kevin Kavanagh from the National University of Ireland in Maynooth, we think we know where it comes from. Little bugs called mites live in the pores of everyone's faces, but their feces may be causing rosacea in some people who carry an abundant number of mites in their facial pores. "Their abdomen just gets bigger and bigger, and when they die and decompose they release their feces all at once in the pore," says Kavanagh, who believes that the bacteria in mite feces is the underlying cause of rosacea. [New Scientist]
Signing at the top encourages honesty. Researchers believe that simply reordering the paperwork process can affect how honestly we fill out forms. Northwestern University psychologist Lisa Shu lead a study that shows people are more likely to complete car insurance paperwork honestly when asked to sign at the top rather than the bottom of a form, which is often standard on government and other official documents. "Signing before reporting promoted honesty, whereas signing afterward was the same as not signing at all," the researchers state. Shu hopes this research won't only be applied to insurance customers, though. "On the institutional side, this could be effective as well, reminding financial advisors of their fiduciary duty and doctors of their Hippocratic oaths," she says. [Wired]