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Christine B. Whelan :
214 article(s)

Dr. Christine B. Whelan is an author, professor and speaker. She and her husband, Peter, and their dictator cats, Chairman Meow and Evita Purron, live in Pittsburgh. Her book "Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women" is available in stores or at the Halo Store.
January 21st, 2011

I was predisposed to like this piece in Scientific American based on its title alone:
When Ideas Have Sex: How free exchange between people increases prosperity and trust
But it’s not just a provocative title. The parallel between the benefits of intermixing genes to create new life and the benefits of sharing ideas to create prosperity makes a lot of sense.
Writes Michael Shermer:
the free exchange between people of goods, services and especially ideas leads to trust between strangers and prosperity for more people. Think of it as ideas having sex. That is what zoologist and science writer Matt Ridley calls it in his book The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves… (HarperCollins, 2010). Ridley is

January 20th, 2011
Readers respond to the Church's definition of "single as a vocation"

Is being single a vocation within the Catholic Church? Can one be called to a single life — not the Sacrament of Marriage, not the Sacrament of Holy Orders — as a vocation in and of itself? Last month I wrote a piece asking and answering these questions, and Busted Halo readers had a lot to say.
Click here to read the original piece, but in short, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, being single is a state in life, not a vocation. Being single can be support for your vocation to follow God’s call to you to help others, to do good works, etc., but it is not a vocation in and of itself.
That blunt answer stung a lot of singles, and perhaps rightly so.

January 19th, 2011

If you’re reading this in the midst of a stressful day at the office, here’s some good news: When you go home to do what I know you’ll probably do — drink, smoke, use drugs and binge eat — you are actually triggering a biological response in your body that helps prevent depression. Hello Oreos and Ativan.
According to an article published in a recent 2010 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, …University of Michigan social scientist James S. Jackson and colleagues argue that
“People engage in bad habits for functional reasons, not because of weak character or ignorance,” says Jackson, director of the U-M Institute for Social Research.
But before you grab the

January 14th, 2011

Guys, just an FYI: Next time a simulated image of a woman asks you to make a moral or ethical choice about sexual infidelity, know that your decisions might be impacted by whether she’s real-looking or not.
Yep, welcome to cutting-edge social science. According to a study by researchers at the Indiana University School of Informatics at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, men — but not women–are more likely to think that infidelity is wrong when the computerized chick outlining the scenario looks like a real (presumably hot) woman.
Explains study co-author Karl F. MacDorman, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Program at the School of…

January 12th, 2011

Ever wondered why, after you give a small gift to a charity, you get a request for another gift almost immediately? Or how all these charities find you — even though you’ve just moved a few weeks earlier?
Writes Ann Kadet in the Weekend Journal…
When your favorite nonprofit isn’t busy saving the whales, chances are it’s making a serious behind-the-scenes effort to know you better — using increasingly sophisticated technology. It can survey your salary history, scan your LinkedIn connections or use satellite images to eyeball the size of your swimming pool. If it’s really on the ball, the charity can even get an email alert when your stock holdings double.
But when your hospital

January 7th, 2011

In the buzz around Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court last year, New York Times… columnist David Brooks likened her to the Organization Kids he researched at Princeton back in early 2001: He wrote
She seems to be smart, impressive and honest — and in her willingness to suppress so much of her mind for the sake of her career, kind of disturbing.
My sister-in-law emailed me about the op-ed, and gave me a link to the 2001 Atlantic piece in which David Brooks coined the term, “the organization kid.” Since she was still in college in 2001, this is the first time she’d seen the 22-page treatise against a group of uber-motivated, focused, optimistic and elite kids who didn’t

January 5th, 2011

Out recently from Gallup:
Americans are three times more likely to describe the current state of moral values in the United States as “poor” than as “excellent” or “good.” Americans’ assessment of U.S. morality has never been positive, but the current ratings rank among the worst Gallup has measured over the past nine years.
The vast majority of Americans think that our morals are slipping, and in open-ended questions, respondents told Gallup it was because people were increasingly disrespectful of others, that parents weren’t raising their children with proper values or spending enough time taking care of them, corruption and dishonesty among business…

January 2nd, 2011
How to know if it's time to walk down the aisle or go your separate ways

Matt, 29, and his girlfriend, Kelly, 28, have been dating for four years and living together for two. They were both raised Catholic, attend Church occasionally, and joke about “living in sin” and being “semi-married.” Kelly told me she was OK moving in with Matt because she just assumed that this was a step in the right direction — toward real marriage. But in the last few months, each time she’s brought up the future in some oblique way, Matt has dodged the issue. “I talk to his parents all the time. We spend most holidays together,” she said. “But I’m just not sure where this is going right now, and I’m beginning to get worried.”

December 31st, 2010

How much does this statement describe you?
“I usually make decisions as soon as possible.”
Is that extremely or moderately characteristic of your behavior? Or extremely or moderately uncharacteristic of your behavior?
If you delay on making decisions, you’ll get points toward a higher procrastination score on the Lay Procrastination inventory (PDF). But according to a new study, procrastinating on a decision might not be such a bad thing… in certain circumstances.
According to a series of experiments recently published in Psychological Science…, when participants were given two choices-a default choice and an alternative-82% opted for the default when making the choice immediately,

December 29th, 2010

In a terrific post on one of my favorite sites, Sociological Images, we learn that our assumptions of American individualism aren’t really that accurate.
If you define individualism as “gives priority to personal liberty” then, Claude Fischer, at Made in America, concludes
“There is considerable evidence, ” he writes, “that Americans are not more individualistic – in fact, are less …individualistic – than other peoples.”
According to surveys conducted in America, Great Britian and several European nations, when it comes to questions like “Right or wrong should be a matter of personal conscience,” and “People should support their country even if the country is in the

December 23rd, 2010

Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men, Chicago’s only all-male charter school, graduated its first senior class this year–and sending every young man to a four-year college. NPR’s Allison Keyes interviewed Tim King, the founder and CEO of Urban Prep and told the inspirational story. For a school that draws its students via lottery from underprivileged communities, this is a major accomplishment: More than half of black male students drop out of Chicago Public Schools. At his academy, things are
different. Why? Says King,
People ask all the time, how do we do it? And I always go back to the point of creating a positive
school culture that is laser-focused on preparing our students to go to…

December 21st, 2010

Sometimes when I’m in the middle of a tough situation, I’ll delay taking a shower — so that when it’s resolved, I can shower and wash it all away. After a trying time, I’m more likely to open a fresh bottle of shampoo or a new razor. And I never really gave a lot of thought to why, except that it was a way of making a fresh start, a psychological reminder that I can be cleansed and move on.
Apparently, I’m not alone in my quirkiness — but I should probably take that shower or wash my hands before… making tough decisions, not afterward.
According to a study published recently in Science, the simple act of washing your hands can ease your mind — and help you second-guess your

December 20th, 2010
How sincere are you when winning friends and influencing people?

Is being polite honest? Young adults aren’t quite sure. And as Christmas and New Year’s parties abound this time of year, there are lots of opportunities to ponder this question as you smile and glad-hand your way through the holidays.
We young folks are a generation raised in the therapeutic culture, readily turning inward to analyze our emotions. But we are also a generation known for blunt communication styles and a lack of fidelity to social conventions. Indeed, for many of the college students I teach, being too polite or conscious of the feelings of others is a concerning sign that you are out of touch with your core self.
Case in point: Ask a college student to define honesty and the response invariably…

December 17th, 2010

I’ve blogged about how it’s easier to lie via email than it is when writing an old-fashioned paper-and-pen note, so it’s probably not surprising that, when you want to attract a mate in online dating, people fudge a bit to make themselves look more appealing. But according to a new study, some 90% of people lie in their profiles. Man, I’m glad I’m married.
Men inflate their height, women deflate their weight. From this graph, (read the whole study here-PDF) though, you can see people aren’t lying by much. Just a hair poof here and a Spanx-suction there. The worst bit, of course, is that online dating makes these things really matter-i.e. a partner might use height or body type…

December 15th, 2010

The Great Recession has made young women thrifty, according to a telephone poll commissioned by Citi.
Young women are more likely than older women to have changed their spending habits: Nearly half of women aged 18-39 years old told pollsters they are increasing the amount of money they save or invest, compared to 29 percent of those over 40. And young men are less likely to be thrifty on big-ticket items than the ladies.
Reports The New York Post…:
The national telephone survey of 2,002 men and women, conducted in March by Hart Research Associates, also found that more than 40 percent of women ages 18-39 said that the economic downturn taught them to value “family, friends and quality of life over material goods.”

December 10th, 2010

Back in the spring, Nitin Nohria, 48, was named dean of the Harvard Business School. At a time when MBA has come to stand for “masters of the business apocalypse” this is an important show of support for an ethics-focused approach to capitalism. Nohria, a professor of business administration, has been a proponent of the MBA Oath, a voluntary pledge for graduating MBAs and business leaders to return to old-fashioned business ethics and core virtues like stewardship and responsibility.
It was also good timing for Max Anderson and Peter Escher, whose book, The MBA Oath: Setting a Higher Standard for Business Leaders, came out around then. But the messages of the MBA Oath are timeless:
Anderson and Escher…

December 8th, 2010

According to a new study, humans are pretty good lie-detectors when it comes to figuring out a fake smile from a real one. Yes, people are studying the good old smile. Turns out that holding a smile for at least 15 seconds-even when you feel down-can lift you mood considerably. Yes, we smile when we’re happy… but the reverse seems to be true as well: When we smile, we become happier.
But before there was any lab-tested proof of the power of a smile, the advice industry had grasped the power of this costless technique. A simple smile was among the top principles Dale Carnegie would teach the young men and women who came to his career and public speaking workshops in the 1930s. Even if you don’t feel like…

December 6th, 2010
Is there such thing as a vocation to be single in the Church?

Recently, Jill, 29, a long-time Busted Halo reader finishing up her medical school residency, emailed me to ask if there is such a thing as a vocation to be single in the Catholic Church. She’s open to a relationship — indeed, she longs to meet the right man and marry — but because she is busy with work, and struggles with her weight, she’s resigned to being single for a while. As she mused over her situation, she wondered whether God might actually be calling… her to be single. She writes:
I sorta-sincerely considered being a nun earlier in my life and felt that wasn’t right for me. I’ve never even remotely considered being single (I’ve considered the possibility I may find

December 3rd, 2010

People lie more via email than when using good old pen-and-paper, a new study finds. (Wait, people still write with paper and pen? Now we’re getting at the core of the real lie…)
OK, but it seems that lying increased by 50% between the pen-and-paper experimental condition and the email condition. So, why? It’s social disengagement theory in action: We’re more likely to feel OK about deviating from our usual ethical standards when we can tell ourselves that, in this situation, it’s not so bad, and when we’ve got some psychological distance from any bad consequences of our actions.
Writes PsyBlog:
Both of these are encouraged by three characteristics of email:

Less permanent:…

December 1st, 2010

For years, economists have found that richer, better-educated people live longer than poorer, less-educated people. Indeed, a 2008 Robert Wood Johnson report found that education and income of the single- or dual-parent household that a child is born into plays a larger role in determining that child’s future health than having (or not having) health insurance.
Poor diet, smoking and insufficient preventative medicine are among the prime causes of this disparity. For example, parents with lower incomes and educational levels are more likely than higher-paid, better-educated parents to have teenage children who smoke.
And out today is more proof that demographics continue to diverge when it comes…

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