Saturday, June 29, 2013
When determining the greatest invention in human history, one would usually consider the wheel, the Internet or even sliced bread. But one academic, an expert in the study of DNA, has found it was something far simpler - a humble bowl of porridge.
Alistair Moffat, who has studied the development of early humans through his research into DNA markers, has argued the move of hunter-gatherer societies into farming was pivotal to the building of nations.
Speaking at the Chalke Valley History Festival, he said the "greatest revolution in our history" came from the development of farming, which in turn brought porridge.
Before porridge, he claimed, women were compelled to breast feed their children until the age of four or five years, because fragile milk teeth could not cope with the meat and vegetation enjoyed by hunter-gatherers.
The action of breast feeding, a natural contraceptive, as well as the necessity of carrying babies around as they moved, meant women often had long intervals between giving birth.
Mr Moffat, whose next book is entitled "The British: A Genetic Journey", claimed feeding children porridge left women free to have more children, who then went on to populate the Earth.
Speaking at the Chalke Valley Festival this week, he told an audience: "This is true.
"The greatest revolution of our history wasn't the invention of the iPad, it wasn't the invention of the steam engine, it wasn't all the things you might might lay your mind to.
"The great invention, the greatest revolution in our history was the invention of farming. Farming changed the world because of the invention of porridge."
Mr Moffat, whose company Britain's DNA recently found Prince William had Indian ancestry, added: "Hunter-gatherer bands were mobile, they had to be because they ended to move between ranges.
"And they could not carry infants - more than one infant - around with them at a time. Imagine North American Indians with a papoose.
"It couldn't be the case that hunter-gatherer bands had lots of children at the one time.
"They ensured that this could not be the case in one particular manner; nursing. Breast-feeding makes it very difficult for a woman to conceive.
"In hunter-gatherer societies, infants were breast fed for much much longer until the age or four or five years old. The reason for that is that mother's milk was their sole source of class one protein, because of the softness of their teeth.
"Their teeth simply could not cope with the roots, fruits and berries and so on that we're the staple of the hunter-gatherer diet.
"When farming was invented and cereals were grown, charred, ripened and mashed into a pulp - porridge - it could be spooned into the mouths of infants and was extremely nourishing. And it allowed women to stop breast feeding after one or two years and so the birth interval halved and the population rocketed.
"Farming also involved not mobility but stability; the ability to nurture land and make it production, to look after your domesticated animals and so on. And as populations expanded they had to move. All of these surplus children had to move.
"And you watch a particular chromosome marker rippling across Europe at this time."
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
UK mum Fran Bunce sells all her belonging to raise money for deposit on home
JUST how far would go to get a leg up on the property ladder? One determined young mum is living in an empty shell after selling everything she owned to scrape together a home deposit.
Industrious Fran Bunce wasn’t going to let lack of funds lock her out of home ownership, so the 28 year old embraced the "whatever-it-takes" approach to raise enough money for a $7000 deposit she needed to get off the rental roundabout.
The software engineer used websites and classified ads to flog all her worldly goods.
Items sold by the mother-of-one included a motorbike, sofa, bed, mirrors, fridge-freezer, light fittings, dining room table, cushions and dishwasher.
She even parted with many of her prized possessions, including precious jewellery and ornaments, and sold most of her vast collection of shoes - while her nine-year-old daughter Summer sold her toys and games, the Daily Mail reports.
To supplement her fundraising, Miss Bunce, who lives in Bath in England, also retrained as a beautician so she could work evenings and weekends.
She told the Daily Mail she was thrilled to own a house but is now living in an empty space after selling everything.
"I have sold whatever there is you can sell, you wouldn’t believe it. I had friends messaging me asking if I was selling my whole life," Ms Bunce said.
"I’m over the moon to have finally done it, but I’ve been left in a bit of an empty shell now. I’ve got a mattress on the floor and my daughter has got her bed and that’s about it."
Miss Bunce decided to sell her possessions after she worked out she could halve her monthly outgoings if she bought a house.
She sold many of her items to strangers and managed to negotiate prices with fellow tenants for white goods like her fridge and dishwasher.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Are you a precariat, new affluent worker or elite? Study reveals there are now SEVEN social classes in the new jargon-filled British class system
- Study comes five decades after hit Frost Report sketch on three classes featuring John Cleese and the Two Ronnies
- Elite people make up six per cent and have savings of more than £140,000 and top university education
- The 'Precariat' group sits at bottom of the classes and make up 15 per cent of Britain and earn £8,000 after tax
- More than 160,000 people have taken part in BBC's Great British Class Survey
PUBLISHED: 10:33 GMT, 3 April 2013 | UPDATED: 07:16 GMT, 4 April 2013
There was a time when the British class system was quite simple.
Often the subject of satire – most notably in the Frost Report sketch of the 1960s – it basically came down to Upper, Middle and Lower.
Half a century on, however, the BBC and academics claim that is outdated and we now fall into seven social groups.
Scroll down for video and to take the test yourself
Top dogs: There is an 'elite' - just 6 per cent of people - who have savings of more than £140,000, many social contacts and education at top universities, according to the BBC's Great British Class Survey
At the bottom: The 'precariat' group is 'marked by the lack of any significant amount of economic, cultural or social capital', said Professor Mike Savage, of the London School of Economics and Political Science
Wealthy: The average age of this group is 46 and they tend to work in management or traditional professions and mainly come from middle class backgrounds
For instance, if you’re a van driver on less than £160 a week who doesn’t like jazz, you must be a member of the Precariat.
- Vile product of Welfare UK: Man who bred 17 babies by five women to milk benefits system is guilty of killing six of them
- Our great posh pretence: One in five people change their accent to sound more posh to get a job or chat someone up, survey finds
- Rural life WAS grim (although in a lot of ways it was richer): MAX HASTINGS backs producers for avoiding glossy TV costume drama version of The Village for honest one
On the other hand, if your income is over £89,000 a year, you have a comfortable private pension, and you go to dinner parties with lawyers and dentists, you belong to the Elite.
The new social scale, backed by the BBC and called the Great British Class Survey Experiment, tries to take into account the music we listen to, the people we mix with, and the likelihood that we use social networks, to determine where we stand.
More than 160,000 people took part in the poll via the BBC website.
New class: Only six per cent of people are classed as Technical Middle Class. People in this group tend to mix with people similar to themselves and enjoy highbrow culture and tend to live in the suburbs
Bang in the middle: The New Affluent Workers are youthful and are sit in the middle in terms of wealth. Many of the group tend to live in former manufacturing areas in the Midlands and North West
On the decline: A much smaller percentage than may have been expected are in the Traditional Working Class group, which has the oldest average age at 66
Financially insecure: The 19 per cent of Britain that are classed as an Emergent Service Worker tend to be young and have low scores for saving and house value but spend time enjoying emerging culture and socialising
Freshly-identified classes include a Technical Middle Class, which contains aircraft pilots, radiographers and social researchers, and New Affluent Workers, children of the old working class who went to new universities, many of them people working in sales.
Call centre workers and chefs fall into an ‘Emergent Service Sector’ of educated young people in insecure jobs who are well versed in popular music, sport and social networks.
The Precariat – a word coined from
precarious and the Marxist jargon proletariat – make up nearly one in
six of the population.
The survey said they have tiny incomes, no savings, rent their homes, have the least cultural interests of any social class, and are ‘the most deprived’.
A high concentration of the Precariat,
the survey claims, can be found in Stoke-on-Trent.
One of the academics
who drew up the new scale, Manchester University sociology professor
Fiona Devine, said it presented a ‘more sophisticated, nuanced picture
of what class is like now’.
She added: ‘It is what is in the middle which is really interesting and exciting, there is a much more fuzzy area between the traditional working class and traditional middle class.’
But author and social commentator Jill
Kirby said: ‘This survey has kept sociologists busy, but it is a
doubtful use of BBC resources. It does show how difficult it is to
'But it also shows there is plenty of social mobility – even the Precariat can escape more easily than the working class of 50 years ago.’
The BBC scale, produced with the help of the state-run Economic and Social Research Council and academics from six universities, follows the 1980s teachings of French philosopher Pierre Bourdieu, who said class depended on culture, taste and who you mix with as well as the kind of job you have.
The report said: ‘We have been able to
discern a distinctive elite, whose sheer economic advantage sets it
apart from other classes.
'The fact this elite group is also shown to have the most privileged backgrounds is an important demonstration of the accentuation of social advantage at the top of British society.’
It said fewer than four out of ten people are counted as part of traditional working or middle classes.
The Frost Report sketch from 1966 made fun of the British class system but was acclaimed for its simplicity.
It featured Ronnie Barker saying to a tall John Cleese: ‘I look up to him because he is upper-class.’ He then added to small Ronnie Corbett: ‘But I look down on him, because he is lower-class. I am middle-class.’
Now click here or scroll down to take the test.
Experts: Professor Mike Savage (left), of the London School of Economics and Political Science, carried out the research with Professor Fiona Devine (right), of the University of Manchester
Friday, June 21, 2013
(Mac was Head of the Dept. of Psychology during my time at UQ -- JR)
Don McElwain was one of the foundation members of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies and was a member of its interim Council from 1962 to 1964 and Council from 1964 to 1974. He was the Chairman of the Psychology, later Education and Psychology, Panel from 1973 to 1978. The Institute was to occupy much of his commitment and interest. He had deep respect for the vision of the Hon. WC Wentworth and the founding members who contributed so much to ensure the secure foundation. The initial work was to salvage at-risk languages but the focus quickly broadened to include the widest coverage of all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life. McElwain gained great satisfaction from the progress of the Institute with its broad compass of academic and social contribution. In an interview (15 February 1969) recorded by the then Director of the Queensland Art Gallery, Laurie Thomas (1976:248-52), he said, `In general I am in agreement with the policies of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I think the policy of land ownership by Aboriginals has important psychological implications in that a person owning land has, in part, freed himself from the overwhelming feelings of dependency that many Aboriginals have'.
He spent many long hours late at night or on early foggy mornings at Canberra airport as the sole Queensland member travelling to Council and committee meetings in the early days of the Institute. He had great admiration for the steady and careful direction of Fred McCarthy, the founding Principal. He quickly recognised the important contribution of the members of the early Council. With the appointment of Dr Peter Ucko he saw changes which brought rapid expansion that created a university-like structure which profoundly advanced the growth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies in Australia. The growth, and particularly the controversies, in archaeological and linguistic scholarship brought him much excitement and pleasure.
His interest in cross-cultural psychology goes back to childhood in New Zealand where the Depression influenced the community. He was conscious of the prevailing narrow attitude towards Maori and was concerned at the failure of many to appreciate the richness and complexity of their culture and heritage.
Donald McElwain was born in Wanganui in the North Island of New Zealand on 8 May 1915. He was educated at Wanganui Technical College where he won a scholarship to Victoria University College in Wellington. The Depression was still pressing on the rural communities and the University of New Zealand permitted students to complete first-year university at selected high schools before transferring to Wellington, so his first-year studies were done concurrently with his last year of secondary studies.
He took his BA in 1933 in Education and Philosophy, and his MA with First Class Honours in Education in 1934. While at the university he was a resident of Weir House. Catherine Webb, later to become the wife and life-long partner and collaborator of Ron Berndt, was a student at the same time. He was awarded the New Zealand Postgraduate Overseas Scholarship to undertake post-graduate studies at University College London. On completion of the degree in 1937, Dr McElwain returned to Wellington where he was appointed as a statistician with the Social Science Research Bureau of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.
In 1939 he was appointed as Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Western Australia where Hugh Fowler was Head of Department. In 1940 both he and Fowler were members of the Davidson expedition (Fowler 1940), working with Aboriginal groups from the Gasgoyne area of northwestern Australia.
In June 1942, following the appointment of Fowler to the position of Director of Psychology in the newly established section of the Adjutant General's Branch, he was called up by the Australian Military Forces and appointed Assistant Director and Officer in charge of the Research Unit of the Australian Army Psychology Service. He remained a consultant to the Australian Army for more than 40 years and was the Colonel Commandant of the Australian Army Psychology Corps from 1976 to 1980. He served as a member of the interim Council of the Royal Military College, Duntroon.
While serving with the Army during the war he was involved in a large number of research projects concerned with the selection and psychological adjustment of serving soldiers. Later he was to advise the Australian Army about selection procedures for a locally raised military force in Papua and New Guinea. This was a difficult task, given the large number of languages in that country. This ruled out the use of traditional group assessment procedures. Very few of those tests which claimed to be culture-free lived up to their title, so new techniques and instruments had to be developed. The resultant work was a milestone in that a psychological instrument was developed which could be used with very remote populations and at the same time had high validity when used with standard Australian populations and special populations such as the deaf (Kearney and McElwain 1970).
In 1995 he joined with Dr Alex Sinclair, a consultant psychiatrist from Melbourne and Col. EF Campbell, the Director of Australian Army Psychology, to conduct the first survey into the mental health of Papuan and New Guineans (Sinclair 1957). When the University of Papua and New Guinea was established, there was an attempt to encourage him to apply for the vice-chancellorship, but he steadfastly refused, arguing that it was essential to have a Papua New Guinean in that position.
In 1946 he had been seconded to the University of Melbourne to establish the Department of Psychology until the professor-designate, Oscar Oeser, was able to be released to take up duty. McElwain was appointed the Senior Lecturer in Melbourne and, in 1952, Associate Professor in that Department.
In November 1955 he was appointed foundation Professor and Head of Department at the University of Queensland where he remained until his retirement in 1983. The university had rejected efforts to introduce the teaching of anthropology and there seemed to be little likelihood of the establishment of the discipline in Queensland. By his initiative he was responsible for the formation of anthropological teaching in Queensland. The demand for psychology was strong and when a new lectureship was established the job description required an appointee to have breadth in social theory. This led to the appointment of Dr Donald Tugby who held dual qualifications in anthropology and psychology. Subjects were introduced in anthropology. From this initial appointment the demand for further teaching grew until an independent Department of Anthropology and Sociology was established in 1964.
Over the years McElwain became a recognised leader in the field of cross-cultural psychology. The University of Queensland was the first Australian university to offer courses in cross-cultural psychology. He also introduced a subject, The Psychology of Art', in which Aboriginal art had a predominant place.
In 1949-50 he was a Nuffield Fellow in the Social Sciences at the Institute of Psychiatry, London. In 1963 he was invited to be a Senior Technical Expert of the United Nations Technical Assistant Board (International Labour Office), attached to the Government of India. In 1971 he was appointed Visiting Professor at the School of Education, University of the South Pacific.
He became an Associate of the British Psychological Society in 1944 and was elected a Fellow in 1948. He was a member of the Australian Association of Philosophy and Psychology, and, in 1946, was its President. In 1944 he was one of the seven Fellows and Associates of the British Psychological Society who signed a petition requesting the formation of an Australian Overseas Branch. He was Chairman of the Australian Branch for 1958-59 and was Editor of the Australian Journal of Psychology from 1949 to 1960. During this time he produced the AJP's first twelve volumes and journal's two monograph supplements. He was a foundation member of the Society and served on its Council and a number of committees. In 1973 the Society conferred on him the rare honour of Honorary Fellowship (Anon. 1974). There is a limit of 15 Honorary Fellows in a membership that currently stands at over 12,000.
Much of his most influential writing was in the form of submissions to governments and others. In the early 1960s he found that the Vice-Chancellor, Sir Fred Schonell, had nominated him to prepare the University of Queensland submission on child welfare legislation. With John Keats they examined the Aboriginal legislation to see how it would be affected by the changes. The result was that they petitioned the Attorney-General and brought about major change in, not one, but two pieces of Queensland legislation.
Through his professional life of over 40 years, Professor McElwain was a devoted and accomplished teacher. His clear lucid style matched with his academic integrity and scholarship made him one of psychology's greatest exponents. He was equally committed to promoting Aboriginal and cross-cultural studies. Thomis (1985:396), in highlighting the achievement of the University of Queensland, reported that `McElwain and Sheehan in psychology, have ... reached new heights in their respective fields and brought distinction to the university through their achievements'. He was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday list 1981 for services to psychology.
Donald McElwain married Marie LeRoy in Perth in 1939. She was a distinguished artist and they had a son, Sean, and a daughter, Suzanne. Marie died in 1983. In 1986 he married a fellow psychologist, Dr Madge Horan, who survives him.
He was an imposing man but of gentle disposition and never possessive or territorial. He was impressive. In a recollection of the early period of the Australian Council for Educational Research, Moore (2000:18) describes a perceived demarcation dispute: `Beneath him (the psychiatrist Ashburner) the psychologists initiate radical selection methods under Captain McElwain. At ACER the Major is referred to as the "office boy", McElwain is referred to as "God".'
There will never be another psychologist quite like Don McElwain. Universities have changed and no longer value the great generalists and integrators. The place of great teachers and scholars is not recognised unless they are also great publishers. During his academic career the climate was receptive to new ideas and he unselfishly devoted himself to the values of a university life that rejoiced in the success of colleagues and students.
When he died in the early hours of Monday 26 June at the age of 85, a chapter closed in the history of academic and professional psychology in Australia.
Anon. 1974 Honorary Fellowship, Australian Psychologist 9, 81-2.
Fowler, H.L. 1940 Report on Psychological Tests on the Natives in the North of Western Australia, Australian Journal of Science 2, 124-7.
Kearney, G.E. and D.W. McElwain 1970 The Queensland Test Manual: A Manual for Use with Assessment of General Cognitive Capacity under Conditions of Reduced Communication, Australian Council for Educational Research, Melbourne.
Moore, D. 2000 Memoirs of Psychology 1943-6, A Continuation of Memoirs 1939-1943, The ACER, InPsych 22(4), 8-20.
Sinclair, A. 1957 Field and Clinical Survey Report of the Mental Health of the Idigenes of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, Government Printer, Port Moresby.
Thomas, L. 1976 The Most Noble Art of Them All: The Selected Writings of Laurie Thomas, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane.
Thomis, M.I. 1986 A Place of Light Liberty and Learning: The University of Queensland's First Seventy-Five Years, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane.
BIBLIOGRAPHY OF D.W. MCELWAIN
McElwain, D.W. 1944 The Scope of Mental Testing, Medical Journal of Australia 126, 573-5.
-- 1944 Some Considerations in Selecting the Army Test Battery, Bulletin of Industrial Psychology and Personnel Practice 2, 1.
-- 1945 Psychology: Wartime Lessons for Post-war Industry, Institute of Industrial Management, Melbourne (28pp).
-- 1949 The Use of Films in Teaching Psychology. In N.H. Rosenthal (ed.), Films in Instruction, Robertson & Mullens, Melbourne, 44-8.
-- 1949 The Establishment of Norms for Heights and Weights of Infant and Pre-school Children in the City of Melbourne, Melbourne City Council, Melbourne (48pp).
-- 1949 The Application of Psychological Methods in the Armed Forces of Australia. In F. Baumgarten (ed.), Progres de la Psychotechnique 1939-1945, A. Francke, Berne, 72-83.
-- 1950 A Review of Psychology in Australia, Journal of Occupational Psychology 24, 141.
McElwain, D.W. and A. Lubin 1950 A Note on the Notion of Psychological Significance, Australian Journal of Psychology 2, 43-51.
McElwain, D.W. 1951 A Suggested Method of Combining Criterion Groups, Australian Journal of Psychology 3, 47-54.
-- 1955 A Near Century of Psychology in Melbourne, unpublished ms (Psychology Part III Final Lecture 1955), Department of Psychology, University of Melbourne, October (39pp).
McElwain, D.W. and D.M. Griffiths 1957 Report on the Possibility of Using Psychological Procedures as an Aid to Recruitment in the Pacific Island Regiment, unpublished report for Department of Army, Headquarters Northern Command, Brisbane.
McElwain, D.W. 1960 The Psychological Imperative, Australian Journal of Psychology 12, 40-57.
-- 1963 Report to the Government of India on an Aptitude Programme for the Selection of Trainees for Industrial Training Institutions, International Labour Office, Geneva.
Oeser, O.A. and D.W. McElwain 1963 Notes on Psychological Research. In W.E.H. Stanner and H. Shells (eds), Australian Aboriginal Studies: A Symposium of Papers Presented at the 1961 Research Conference (Canberra, ACT), Oxford University Press, Melbourne (for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies), 346-52.
McElwain, D.W. 1966 Transcript of Talk ... to the Executive Committee of the Australian Pre-school Association, May 1966, Special Schools Bulletin 3(4), 12-15.
-- 1966 The Cognitive Abilities of Aborigines, University of Queensland, unpublished paper delivered to second general meeting of AIAS (42pp).
-- 1967 Cognitive Factors in Counselling and Selection, Report SPC/TMS/T16, South Pacific Commission: Technical meeting on the selection and assessment of pupils for promotion or vocational guidance, Goroko, 1967.
-- 1967 Studies of Some Aspects of the Cognitive Ability of Aboriginal Children, unpublished paper delivered to research seminar on education for Aborigines, Monash University, Centre for Research into Aboriginal Affairs, (18 leaves).
Kearney, G.E. and D.W. McElwain 1967 The Queensland Test Manual: A Manual for Use with Assessment of General Cognitive Capacity under Conditions of Reduced Communication, unpublished ms, Department of Psychology, University of Queensland.
McElwain, D.W. 1968 Some Aspects of the Cognitive Ability of Aboriginal Children, Special Schools Bulletin 5(1), 1-14.
-- 1970 Problems of Aboriginal Education. In In-service Conference on the Education of Aborigines ... Report, 13-20.
-- 1970 Report, Professorial Board, Committee Appointed to Investigate Examining Procedures (rev. ed.), University of Queensland, St Lucia (iv, 132pp).
Kearney, G.E. and D.W. McElwain 1970 Queensland Test Handbook: A Test of General Cognitive Ability Designed for Use under Conditions of Reduced Communication, Australian Council for Educational Research, Hawthorn (181pp).
-- 1970 The Queensland Test: A TV Training Videotape (two versions), University of Queensland Television Unit, Brisbane.
McElwain, D.W. 1973 Remarks on Testing in the Pacific. In L.J. Cronbach and P.J.D. Drenth (eds), Mental Tests and Cultural Adaptation. Papers Presented at a Conference held in Istanbul on July 19-23, 1971 under the Sponsorship of the NATO Advisory Group on Human Factors and the Turkish Scientific and Technical Research Council, Mouton, The Hague, 211-15.
McElwain, D.W. and G.E. Kearney 1973 Report to the Public Service Board on the Selection of Non-standard Populations for the Australian Public Service, unpublished report.
Bianchi, G.N., D.W. McElwain and J. Cawte 1973 The Dispensary Syndrome: Origins of Bodily Preoccupation and Sick Role Behaviour. In G.E. Kearney, P.R. deLacey and G.R. Davidson (eds), The Psychology of Aboriginal Australians, John Wiley & Sons, Sydney, 341-51 [originally published as `The Dispensary Syndrome in Australian Aborigines: Origins of Their Bodily Preoccupation and Sick Role Behaviour' in British Journal of Medical Psychology 43, 375-82 (1970)].
McElwain, D.W. and G.E. Kearney. 1973 Intellectual Development. In G.E. Kearney, P.R. deLacey and G.R. Davidson (eds), The Psychology of Aboriginal Australians, John Wiley & Sons, Sydney, 43-56.
Kearney, G.E. and D.W. McElwain 1975 Psychological Research in Aboriginal Australia [Review of Australian psychological studies], Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Newsletter 4, 27-55 (also as a separate publication).
-- 1975 Survey of Psychological Research in Aboriginal Australia: for the Psychology Panel [the Psychology Advisory Committee], Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (49 leaves).
McElwain, D.W. 1976 Problems of Problem Solving. In Kearney and McElwain (eds), Aboriginal Cognition: Retrospect and Prospect, 133-41.
Kearney, G.E. and D.W. McElwain (eds) 1976 Aboriginal Cognition: Retrospect and Prospect, Proceedings of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Conference on Cognition, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra, and Humanities Press, New Jersey.
Kearney, G.E. and D.W. McElwain 1976 Introduction. In Kearney and McElwain (eds), Aboriginal Cognition, 1-15.
Callan, V.J. and D.W. McElwain 1980 General Considerations in the Research with Ethnic Minorities, Australian Psychologist 15, 181-7.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
The name you choose for your baby gives away your political affiliation, new research has revealed.
Conservatives tend to choose more masculine-sounding names for their children with lots of K’s and B’s. They are also fond of choosing names with lots of D’s and T’s because they sound tough.
The study showed that people with more left wing views do the opposite and tend to include a lot of feminine words. These include L sounds and soft-A endings such as Sophia.
The findings may give a clue into how the likes of David Cameron really think - he chose Nancy, Florence, Arthur and Ivan for his kids suggesting that he is really more liberal than conservative.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has two sons, called Daniel and Samuel, who seem more in keeping with his left-of-centre political beliefs.
The US researchers looked at birth records from 545,018 babies born in California in 2004, representing 52,589 different names.
They then compared the names to voting returns in each neighbourhood and used these as an indication of their parents’ political inclination.
The study found that ‘soft’ sounds, like the L in ‘Lola’, the A in ‘Ella’ or the Y in ‘Carly’ were more likely to be found in areas which voted on the left.
Examples of this include ‘Julian’ or ‘Liam’ for a boy or a girl’s name like ‘Malia’ - one of US President Barack Obama’s daughters.
Conservatives by contrast went for ‘harder’ sounds such as Track, Trig, Bristol and Piper, names chosen by the family of former vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Lead researcher Eric Oliver, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, said that the difference could be to do with perceptions of names that are linked to wealth.
Traditionally masculinity has been linked to economic success, so by giving your child a more masculine name parents could in theory be hoping they will become wealthy too.
Professor Oliver said: ‘The fact that we would find any kind of systematic differences, much less the magnitude of differences that we found - I really did not anticipate that.
‘I think most of this happens unconsciously...underneath there is a lot of signalling going on’.
Another finding related to the kind of names that parents chose.
Liberal parents are more likely to choose an obscure name to denote status whilst conservatives usually opt for something more conventional, the study showed.
Left-wing mothers and fathers try to use obscure cultural references to inflate their social position and show how smart they are.
This could explain why many actors and actresses, who usually have left-wing views, choose odd names for their children such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who count Pax and Shiloh among their brood.
Conservatives by contrast tend to opt for traditional names like John, Richard, or Katherine because the elites in society have them and they want their children to be part of the club.
The findings have not yet been published but were presented at the 2013 Midwestern Political Science Association Annual Meeting in Chicago.
Friday, June 7, 2013
Although Britain drinks 165 million cups of tea a year, there is little agreement on how it should be served.
In a bid to settle the centuries old argument, scientists have now got together to formulate a step-by-step guide for the perfect cup of tea.
And whether you prefer to brew your English Breakfast in a mug or teapot, there is one area in which the experts unanimously agreed - for the best results steer clear of disposable cups.
Speaking on the chemistry of tea, Professor Andrea Sella from University College London said the perfect cuppa is about "patience, love and care '.
But he said the smooth surface of a china cup or mug made not only keeps the natural tannins in the tea from sticking to the side, but the sounds, such as the teaspoon clinking against its hard surface were "comforting '.
"You want a smooth, impervious surface, you don 't want cup to bind the tannins. And also from a psychological aspect, it provides a lovely association of things like drinking tea with your grandmother which foam cups do not. '
Using freshly drawn water in the kettle ensures the tea can express its full flavour, as repeated boiling reduces the oxygen content and makes the water harder, giving the brew a chalky film.
Simon Hill, tea buyer from Taylors of Harrogate said: "Always use freshly drawn water, as the longer it boils, the less oxygen it has and the less flavour the leaves impart.
And as for temperature, let the kettle come to the boil and click off. Then give it a few seconds before pouring. '
Controversially, although harder water -- common in the south and east of the country - results in a residue forming on the tea 's surface, for many connoisseurs it produces a better cup.
"Although it doesn 't look nice, you may get a bit more flavour and body from the minerals reacting with the tea, ' said Mr Hill.
Temperature also plays a crucial role, with the experts advising drinkers wait a few seconds before pouring the almost boiling water on the tea. For more delicate teas, such as green and white, waiting for the kettle to cool to 80c is essential to ensure the leaves are not damaged.
"When the water is even 10c hotter, it doubles the rate of chemical reactions. In coffee for example, water at 100c can cause a bitter taste. With black tea, the temperature is less of an issue, but in green teas, it can damage the flavour, ' Professor Sella.
It was the British that started first started drinking milk with their tea, and have never lost the habit.
Speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival (must keep), Mr Hill said: "When tea was first imported to the UK in the 18th Century lots of people couldn 't afford the fine bone china services.
The cups available couldn 't withstand the heat of the boiling water and would shatter, so milk was added first. It also helped to get rid of the bitter taste of some of the cheaper teas. '
Although brewing time in a mug is slightly reduced compared to a pot, scientists suggested three minutes allows the flavour to best develop.
The experts recommend around five per cent of milk in the cup -- and adding it first if pouring from a teapot -- which helps bind with the harsh tannins and make it a smoother, more enjoyable drink.
"The proteins in the milk clump together with the tannins, making a black tea much more easy to drink.
But adding milk to hot water causes it too "cook ' slightly, so the ideal would be to pour the tea into your milk and then enjoy, ' said Professor Sella.
"The ritual of tea making is also important. Making it in teapot and pouring it in porcelain cups invariably tastes better, even though from a chemical point of view it should be the same however you serve it. '
Finally, the secret is patience. Drinking your tea too hot just causes the mouth to burn. A wait of six minutes allows the brew to cool down to 60C, the perfect temperature for sipping.