Hidden Gems: UsefulScience

BreakingModern – Welcome back to Hidden Gems, a column devoted to disrupting your browsing rut. My mission? To scour the Internet and find entertaining websites that inspire you to get off Facebook and look at something fresh. This week: UsefulScience.

UsefulScience makes science cool. And it does so in an easy-to-digest manner. Single sentence summaries of new studies are linked on the homepage. And clicking on the summary takes you directly to the study.

usefulscienceThat’s right. UsefulScience doesn’t waste your time with click-bait sources that cite other click-bait sources. There’s real information here.

In addition, the site’s summaries are uncannily accurate and concise. There’s no sensational or hyperbolic trickery going on.

This is not to say that each and every study is 100 percent accurate. Even rigorous scientific analysis misses the mark sometimes. My point is this: UsefulScience doesn’t attempt to hook you with a bait-and-switch strategy that leaves you feeling duped …

Okay, I confess: the site’s name might be slightly inaccurate. After all, do we really need to know how slippery a banana peel really is? Probably not. That being said, however, a lot of the data is fascinating. And, best of all, much of it can be used in our daily lives.

Here are a few real gems of information from UsefulScience.


Don’t Trust All Compliments

“ Even when people were aware that the compliment they received was insincere, for example, by a marketing agent with ulterior motives, they liked and trusted the giver of the compliment.”

This analysis by the Journal of Marketing Research confirms what many of us already know: humans are largely narcissistic attention hogs. Still, it’s cool to have some confirmation. I recommend reading the whole piece. It’s definitely worth a look.


Rewards Don’t Always Make People Happier

“A stressful situation (immersing a hand in ice water) made people want a pleasurable reward (the smell of chocolate) but did not make them enjoy it more.”

The Journal of Experimental Psychology conducted this mildly depressing but nonetheless interesting examination, which says a lot about the way we often find it difficult to be content with what we have. It’s a really detailed and well-done ten-page insight into the human condition.


Art Appreciation Reduces Pain

“Looking at aesthetically pleasing art caused changes in the way people processed pain and decreased the level of pain they reported.”

This University of Bari study is absolutely fascinating. Art is often considered to be a healing, transformative platform, but it’s rare that this assertion is actually looked into. Could this potentially lead to a more widespread understanding of the importance of all art forms? Probably not, but it’s a nice thought.

For BMod, I’m .

Featured Image: Smiling Sculpture. Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Pinwheels. Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Mural by Joan Miró. Wikimedia Commons

Jordan Wold

Author: Jordan Wold

Jordan Wold is a pop culture obsessive writer from the Midwest. He plans on attending Boston's Emerson College in the fall of 2015 as a Visual & Media Arts major. He is also far too proud of his own tweets. Follow him @JordanWold1.

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