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The Salmon Effect

The LFHCfS Women-of-the-Year honorees were the Bobrow sisters: Johanna, staff biologist at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory; Laurel, an MIT student majoring in brain and cognitive science, and engineer Elisabeth. "Between them, the three Bobrow sisters have more than seven feet of hair," Abrahams reported in a release that officially ushered the winners into the ranks of "Outstanding Heads of Science."

Abrahams said the LFHCfS was inspired by his wife's dream -- and by star psychologist Steven Pinker of Harvard, whose formidable follicles produce curly hair in wild abundance.

_____Unconventional Wisdom_____
Stay in School (And Out of the Maternity Ward) (The Washington Post, Dec 5, 2004)
Dramatic Influences (The Washington Post, Oct 24, 2004)
Voters: Take a Chill Pill (The Washington Post, Oct 10, 2004)
Previous Columns
E-mail Rich Morin at morinr@washpost.com.

"My wife, Robin, who is a psychology professor, had a dream that she would be editing a special issue of a psychology journal, and that the one editorial rule she was given was that every article had to mention Steven Pinker's luxuriant, flowing hair. Robin told me about that dream, and thus was born the LFHCfS," Abrahams said in an e-mail. "Pinker in fact became the first member."

Changing Their Minds, Down Under

It's hard enough for pollsters in the United States to predict with accuracy the U.S. presidential election. Think about what it must be like to do political surveys in New Zealand, where one out of six voters changes his or her mind on Election Day, according to a Canadian political scientist.

Andre Blais of the Universite de Montreal reports in the journal PS that 30 percent of all New Zealanders typically change their minds about their choice for prime minister in the last 30 days of the national campaign and 16 percent switch preferences on the day they vote.

In contrast, on average, only 4 percent of all voters in the United States and 7 percent in Great Britain change their voting preference on Election Day, according to his cross-country analysis of voting patterns in 27 election surveys conducted between 1952 and 2001 in New Zealand, Great Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States.

Why are New Zealanders more fickle? Blais doesn't hazard a guess. Sounds like a good topic for another survey.


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