Calculating the Cost of an Escape Van vs. Car/Hotel on a Summer Roadtrip

vanI am a committed lifelong cheapskate. But the realities of family travel make it tricky to car camp on BLM land with oatmeal for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly for lunch and hotdogs for dinner. So this summer with a carefully guarded month to spend on a hiking- and climbing-focused family road trip, my wife and I looked to split the difference between abject dirtbagging and luxurious hotel life.

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Calculate Odds of Surviving Your Child’s Last Few Weeks of School

SurviveSchool

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last few weeks of school are a time of joy in which your child caps the previous year’s achievements while wringing every last drop of education from the remaining precious minutes of instruction. And then you wake up in a cold sweat, realizing you have slept through your alarm and your child is shaking you awake with the news that school starts in 20 minutes and he/she needs a costume for the language class performance, which you are required to attend at 10:30 AM. Sure, it is expected that kids will coast a bit in the last few weeks. But if your family is anything like mine, that “coasting” is more like “careening.” I picture it a bit like Indiana Jones in the mine car attempting to escape the Temple of Doom while bullets fly past his head and the integrity of the track ahead is questionable at best.

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Math Anxiety…And What to Do About It

Evolve

Image: Flickr/Keoni Carbal

Your mouth is dry. Your armpits are wet. Your brain is neither dry nor wet, but seems to be leaking out your ears. You feel your vision closing to a pinprick around a jumble of symbols that might as well be Cyrillic or hieroglyphic. Yes, it’s a math test. And you know that your math anxiety means you’re almost certain to fail…which makes you even more anxious and more likely to fail. You’re not alone: According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a third of 15-year-olds report feeling helpless when solving math problems. Unfortunately, not only do these students feel helpless, but kids with math anxiety are more likely to be helpless – the higher the anxiety, the lower the scores.

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Study Shows Creativity and Madness are the Same Genetic Disease

Van.GoghFrom van Gogh to Robin Williams to Charlie Chaplin to Lord Byron and more, our intuition pairs creativity with madness. Science agrees. Studies show that people with a touch of schizophrenia are more likely to be creative and vice versa. We’ve even known that an area of the brain overactive in people with schizophrenia is also active during creative tasks. Now a study in Nature Neuroscience gives us a reason why: creativity and madness may share the same genetic underpinnings.

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Rewarding a Child’s Good Behavior Can Lead to… Bad Behavior

SharingAs every parent knows, positive reinforcement creates more of a good behavior. A dollar for cleaning your room, a milkshake for getting good grades, extra screen time for being nice to a sibling — these rewards are a way to shape how your kids act and even feel.

Unfortunately, a study in the journal Child Development also shows that our intuition about positive reinforcement can be exactly wrong. In this study, rewarding a child’s sharing resulted in the child choosing to share less.

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Insight Strikes! But Can You Trust It?

Image: Flickr/Jochen Spalding

Image: Flickr/Jochen Spalding

You’re standing in the shower when you suddenly remember who wrote that song you heard in the car last night. Or you’re lying there half asleep after hitting the snooze button and a perfect caption for last week’s New Yorker cartoon contest pops into your brain. Or you suddenly realize what’s in the picture that heads this article. This is insight. It’s sudden. It’s often unexpected. And it seems so certain.

However, in the wise words of Arthur Weasley, “Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.” In the case of insight, you can’t “see” the “brain” that produces it – it arrives from the depths of your subconscious, largely unbidden. Without really knowing where an insight solution comes from, can you trust it?

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How To Stop the Flow of Trickle-Down Unfairness

Image: Flickr/Found Animals Foundation

Image: Flickr/Found Animals Foundation

Once upon a time, my wife backed out of a parking space at a big box store…directly into the passenger-side door of a car behind her. She stepped out to fess up and apologize, and was met by a frothing tirade as the other driver demanded that she immediately pay $1,000 in cash for damages. Kristi cowered and cajoled and somehow managed to give her insurance information and drive home…at which point she nearly killed me for feeding the kids a frozen pizza that she was saving for later and for not making sure the kids got baths. All I saw was that my lovely wife had gone temporarily bat-guano crazy. But it wasn’t my fault and it wasn’t hers either. We were the unwitting victims of trickle-down unfairness.

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What Kind of Person is Best Friends With a Narcissist?

Besties

A narcissist may be the only person who can tolerate a narcissist. Image: Flickr/Arol Lightfoot

Picture a narcissist. Who comes to mind? Is it your narcissistic boss, the mean girls from high school, the parent preening in yoga pants at drop-off, a political candidate, a frenemy on the outside of your circle, or one of your child’s classmates? When you get the image in mind, you can’t help but think, gosh, who would be friends with this person? That’s the question of a paper in the March issue of the journal Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin. Really, who is besties with a narcissist?

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Study Shows Surprising Skill That Underlies Math and Reading

BirdsDo you remember second grade reading groups? They had nifty names like redbirds, bluebirds, and goldfinches to keep us from discovering who was in a “high” group and who was in a “low” group. But it took about four seconds to realize that the redbirds in reading were the same kids as the redbirds in math, solving the easy mystery of the bird groups. And this points to a great, unfair truth in education: Smart kids tend to be smart across the board, whereas kids who struggle in reading tend to also struggle in math. Why is that? These skills seem so distinct! Is it general intelligence that boosts both? Study skills? Tiger parenting?

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Census Bureau Paper: Immigration Boosts Wages

Diversity

Image: flickr/Jon Rawlinson cc license

As we have all seen recently, immigration threatens the dark part of the human brain that evolved to protect our ancestors from other groups. Though we no longer beat our chests and use stone-tipped spears to threaten away strangers (or maybe we still do…), the conversation about immigration influences the psychological underpinnings of our culture, society and government. Do immigrants steal jobs? Does immigration clog businesses and schools? Does it dilute the United State’s intellectual advantage over the rest of the world?

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