Genesis One, an evening of readings inspired by the book of Genesis, on Feb. 1 at 5 p.m. at The Castle

Vol. IV No. 20   ·   26 January 2001 


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Americans may be more superstitious than they were a generation ago. As we abandon old superstitions such as fear of the number 13, we embrace new ones, such as the belief that furniture arrangement can somehow channel good luck into a room. A story in the January 14 Houston Chronicle takes a look at 21st-century superstitions and concludes that the expansion of technology may even promote superstitious beliefs. The reporter argues that technological changes have created a heightened sense of anxiety, which makes good luck charms and superstitions thrive. Stephen Grossberg, CAS professor and chairman of the cognitive and neural systems department, says in the article, "It's easy to see how superstitions can develop. Like Pavlov's dogs, humans look for cause and effect in everyday life, though sometimes the two are coincidental. Still, a man who aces a test every time he wears purple sneakers may think the shoes are like a charm, even though he knows that is irrational." He explains that some people adhere to superstitions even after they fail because those prone to superstitions have a way of rationalizing and making excuses about why they don't work anymore.

Can't seem to stay awake after lunch? The reasons for such afternoon lethargy range from the scientific to the obvious, from clinically diagnosed conditions to lack of sleep. And for whatever reason, the condition also seems more pronounced in the winter. SAR Professor William Anthony, director of the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation and coauthor of The Art of Napping at Work, says in the Los Angeles Time January 15: "Many of us can't make it through the afternoon without our work being affected because we're tired." He advocates combating mid-workday bouts of yawning by having employees take short 20-minute naps on the job -- a concept that is slowly catching on with businesses. "A lot of people don't see napping and productivity going hand in hand like they see coffee and energy going hand in hand. Your performance and mood improve after a nap," he says. "My feeling is that a nap is very different from just relaxing. A nap causes a difference in brain activity."

A story in the business section of the Boston Globe on January 17 reports that now that year-end statements from 2000 are filtering in, investors, buoyed by years of huge gains and positive markets, are accepting and internalizing annual losses for the first time in years. They are at an interesting crossroad: deciding whether or not to stay on the course that brought success in the 1990s, or to change strategies in light of the recent setback. Jeffrey Heisler, SMG assistant professor of finance, offers advice to investors: "You shouldn't be looking at what to do right now in terms of big strategy moves so much as you should be looking at what you really want to own right now, what stocks or funds you could buy now that you would expect to want to own for many, many years. You should decide what you really want to have in your portfolio in the long term, and not worry so much about the next six or eight months. The problem is that is easier said than done."

"In The News" is compiled by Mark Toth in the Office of Public Relations.


26 January 2001
Boston University
Office of University Relations