The funniest rejection letter ever written?

“We have read your manuscript with boundless delight. If we were to publish your paper, it would be impossible for us to publish any work of lower standard. And as it is unthinkable that in the next thousand years we shall see its equal, we are, to our regret, compelled to return your divine composition, and to beg you a thousand times to overlook our short sight and timidity.”

I did not have the honour of receiving that communication, by the way. It is mentioned on p.128 of R.A. Day’s “How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper”, and reportedly comes from a Chinese Economics journal…

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Suicide for sale in Oregon: a “valuable service”?

Oregon is currently the scene of a controversy about the sale of so-called “suicide kits” or “helium hoods” (see here and here). These kits are sold by mail by a two-person company called The Gladd Group; one of its owners is reported to be a 91-year-old San Diego County woman who has been selling the kits for four years. The device is now receiving increased media attention following the suicide, with the help of the helium hood kit, of 29-year old Nick Klonoski, who had health-related issues that had brought him into depression, but was not terminally ill. His tragic death has now sparked a movement to outlaw the sale of those kits in Oregon. However, the woman selling the kits protests that she is providing a valuable service, and is quoted as saying that “[i]t is not my intention to hurt anybody, but to offer people comfort when they die”. Is the sale of those suicide kits a legitimate form of business, or should it be banned?

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Beauty, brains, and the halo effect

Satoshi Kanazawa is currently in the news – see e.g. these articles in the Daily MailThe Australian andPsychology Today. An evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, Kanazawa has just published a new article in the journal Intelligence (Kanazawa 2011) in which he argues, in continuity with his previous research, that beautiful people tend to be more intelligent than plainer ones (especially if they are men). Only now he is arguing that this correlation may be much stronger than we previously thought. His conclusion is based on data from two studies, conducted respectively in the UK and the US, which tested the intelligence of children and young teenagers but also rated their level of physical attractiveness. In the British study, attractive respondents had a mean IQ about 13 points higher than unattractive ones, and the beauty-intelligence correlation turned out to be of a similar magnitude to that between intelligence and education.

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