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Engines, a Source of Learning
Science Daily --
engine use is not just part of our daily routines; it is also
becoming part of our learning process, according to Penn State
The researchers sought to discover the cognitive processes
underlying searching. They examined the search habits of 72
participants while conducting a total of 426 searching tasks. They
found that search engines are primarily used for fact checking
users' own internal knowledge, meaning that they are part of the
learning process rather than simply a source for information. They
also found that people's learning styles can affect how they use
"Our results suggest the view of Web searchers having simple
information needs may be incorrect," said Jim Jansen, associate
professor of information sciences and technology at Rutgers.
"Instead, we discovered that users applied simple searching
expressions to support their higher-level information needs."
Jansen said the results of this study provide useful information
about how search engine use has evolved over the past decade and
clues about how to design better search engines to address users'
learning needs in the future. He and Brian Smith, associate
professor information sciences and technology and Danielle Booth,
former Penn State student, published their findings in the November
Information Processing and Management.
"If we can incorporate cognitive, affective and situational aspects
of a person, there is the potential to really move search
performance forward," Jansen said. "At its core, we are getting to
the motivational elements of search."
National Science Foundation and the
Air Force Office of Scientific Research funded this research.
Aliens 'Already Exist on Earth,'
Bulgarian Scientists Claim
from London’s Telegraph --
from outer space are already among us on earth, say Bulgarian
government scientists who claim they are already in contact with
extraterrestrial life. "Aliens are currently
all around us, and are watching us all the time," Mr Filipov told
Work on deciphering a complex set of symbols sent to them is
underway, scientists from the country's Space Research Institute
said. They claim aliens are currently answering 30 questions posed
Lachezar Filipov, deputy director of the Space Research Institute of
the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, confirmed the research. He said
the centre's researchers were analysing 150 crop circles from around
the world, which they believe answer the questions.
"Aliens are currently all around us, and are watching us all the
time," Mr Filipov told Bulgarian media. "They are not hostile
towards us, rather, they want to help us but we have not grown
enough in order to establish direct contact with them."
Mr. Filipov said that humans were not going to be able to establish
contact with the extraterrestrials through radio waves but through
the power of thought.
"The human race was certainly going to have direct contact with the
aliens in the next 10 to 15 years," he said. "Extraterrestrials are
critical of the people's amoral behavior referring to the humans'
interference in nature's processes."
The publication of the BAS researchers report concerning
communicating with aliens comes in the midst of a controversy over
the role, feasibility, and reform of the Bulgarian Academy of
Last week it lead to a heated debate between Bulgaria's Finance
Minister, Simeon Djankov, and President Georgi Parvanov.
Is Belief in God Hurting
to a new study, prosperity is highest in countries that practice
religion the least. From Dostoyevsky to right-wing commentator Ann
Coulter we are warned of the perils of godlessness. "If there is no
God," Dostoyevsky wrote, "everything is permitted." Coulter
routinely attributes our nation's most intractable troubles to the
moral vacuum of atheism.
But a growing body of research in what one sociologist describes as
the "emerging field of secularity" is challenging long-held
assumptions about the relationship of religion and effective
paper posted on the online journal
Gregory S. Paul reports a strong correlation within First World
democracies between socioeconomic well-being and secularity. In
short, prosperity is highest in societies where religion is
Using existing data, Paul combined 25 indicators of societal and
economic stability — things like crime, suicide, drug use,
incarceration, unemployment, income, abortion and public corruption
— to score each country using what he calls the "successful
societies scale." He also scored countries on their degree of
religiosity, as determined by such measures as church attendance,
belief in a creator deity and acceptance of Bible literalism.
Comparing the two scores, he found, with little exception, that the
least religious countries enjoyed the most prosperity. Of particular
note, the U.S. holds the distinction of most religious and
least prosperous among the 17 countries included in the
study, ranking last in 14 of the 25 socioeconomic measures.
"Popular religion," Paul proposes, "is a coping mechanism for the
anxieties of a dysfunctional social and economic environment."
In Historic Shift,
Sees Value in Marijuana
an historic shift, the country's largest physician group, the
American Medical Association (AMA), has reversed its
long-held position that marijuana has no medical value. The group
instead adopted a
new policy position on medical marijuana, calling for a review
of marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical
use under the federal
Controlled Substances Act. The AMA had previously
recommended that marijuana be retained in Schedule I.
The AMA adopted a report drafted by the AMA Council on
Science and Public Health (CSAPH) entitled, "Use of Cannabis for
Medicinal Purposes," which affirmed the therapeutic benefits of
marijuana and called for further research. "Short term controlled
trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain,
improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with
reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients
with multiple sclerosis," the CSAPH report found.
"The AMA urges that marijuana's status as a federal Schedule
I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the
conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based
medicines, and alternate delivery methods," the new policy says.
"This shift, coming from what has historically been America's most
cautious and conservative major medical organization, is historic,"
said Aaron Houston, director of government relations for the
Marijuana Policy Project, who attended the AMA meeting.
"Marijuana's Schedule I status is not just scientifically untenable,
given the wealth of recent data showing it to be both safe and
effective for chronic pain and other conditions, but it's been a
major obstacle to needed research."
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