I use Google Reader to gather my news feeds and searches, but I'd never clicked the page called "Trends" until this morning. There, lined up in neat lists, were the names of the feeds whose stories I most often click through to read, mark with a star, or share in Deliberations' "In The News" section.
On another day or for a different blogger, this might have been a creepy Big Brother moment. But my feeds are pretty tame (The Onion marks the outer edge), and the "winning" feeds surprised me. Whatever it is I think I'm reading, the feeds I use most are two sites that distribute press releases on new scientific research, Science Daily and Eureka Alert.
It wasn't close. Hands down, my most frequently read, starred, and shared stories are from Science Daily and Eureka Alert. That's partly because they're the most frequently received; I get on average 36.8 stories a day from Science Daily, reports my Trends page. But it's also because the stories that deal with social science are often directly relevant to jurors and juries. Recent examples:
- "The Science Of Collective Decision-making," a story on "the first empirical investigation" of something called "the doctrinal paradox." This occurs, the press release explains, "when judges, say a hiring committee or a jury, must evaluate several factors about a candidate, (e.g. a possible employee or a defendant in a trial) and come to a majority decision. When different opinions arise, the way they conduct the majority vote can be more important than the opinions themselves." That is, if a crime has several elements, the outcome may turn on whether the group votes on each one separately or holds one vote on whether all the elements are met.
- "Why Few People Are Devoid Of Racial Bias," on a study suggesting that the unbiased people (at least the few the researchers were able to find) were slower to form new negative associations of any kind than biased people. The press release suggests that if we're to fight prejudice, we can't just ask people to be fair; we have to show them why they should leave their bias behind. (The press release actually phrases it as "such change may require reconditioning of the negative associations that people hold," but that was my take.)
You can limit your Science Daily stories to a single category, like "Mind & Brain," but I get the entire feed, and it's great. In a single day I can see stories like "Two Giant Steps In Advancement Of Quantum Computing Achieved," "Early Humans Walked, But Couldn't Run," and "Whale And Dolphin Sonar Evolution Studied." It only takes a second to scroll through these on Google Reader, a small price to momentarily expand a lawyer's world.
(Photo by Emily at http://www.flickr.com/photos/19908525@N00/367598336/; license details there.)