Friday Faves April 4, 2014

Variable schedules of reinforcement are powerful, and keep us crushing candy

I can't decide if I love or hate Candy Crush, but I am definitely hooked. Here's why: intermittent and unexpected rewards lead to a bigger dopamine rush (when the reward center of your brain is activated). It also doesn't hurt that the images are of candy. Read more here.

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Why are there so many crows in Berkeley?

I love crows. When I'm collecting data with the campus squirrels, there are usually plenty of crows hanging out. I watch them goose the squirrels, trying to steal their caches; they send out alarm calls before any of US see dogs coming; they snatch up peanuts, holding them  with their feet while they perch, and tapping the nut with their beak to open it.

The crow population in Berkeley (and other urban areas) is growing, in part due to their amazing adaptability, and also because cities provide warmth and food.

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Bad call?

It's baseball season and my fantasy baseball team is not doing well. That aside, it's fascinating to see what types of errors umpires consistently make. A new study (reported in the NY Times) suggests that when the game is on the line, their calls are worse! Their calls are biased by the current pitch count, the "status" (All Star or not) of the batter and possibly even the race of the batter.

I've always said I'd make a horrible ump, but maybe umps do too!

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What type of dog walker are you?

Are you proud to pick up poop or are you disengaged, leaving your dog waste for someone like me to step in? Scientists have identified five "types" of poop-scoopers (is there a Buzzfeed quiz coming?), learn more here.

Don't like to scoop the poop? Maybe you should hire Poop911, a service that will clean up after you?!?! Yes, this really exists.

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