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Popular Elsewhere

14:55 UK time, Tuesday, 15 November 2011

A look at the stories ranking highly on various news sites.

The Times' most read article is an intrepid investigation of a masked ball for married people looking for affairs. Although the setting is a Soho champagne bar it is described both as like a Blackpool hen party and a school disco. It's set up by a website for married people looking to have affairs which, the article points out, provides the kind of data sociologists would dream of. Data like where there is demand for extra-marital affairs across the country. London has a low membership, unlike Manchester and Devon. Reading is described as a hotbed.

Secrecy is also in the mix for New York Time's most read article. It says Google has a "clandestine lab" so secret that many employees don't even know it exists. Well, not anymore. Given the nature of the article, there is little concrete being said about what is produced in this mysterious lab - just a hint of a liking for robotics, similar to the driverless car created two years ago. Other products suggested are objects that are connected to the web - things like lightbulbs or water planters that can be operated from far away.

Researchers use what you put on Facebook in surprising ways, according to a popular Time article. The investigations using Facebook ranges from public health researchers targeting people who put up excessive boozy pictures to police researching neo-Nazis.
In, what the article describes as a twist, it says recent research has shown that those who combine their online Nazi activism with off-line activism are "more reasonable, more democratic and less violent than those who just remain behind the computer screen". But, the warning goes, just because people write something on Facebook doesn't mean they are telling the truth.

Stories on why and how we make decisions make a regular appearance on magazines' most read lists. And the New Scientist popular article admits it's a subject which should have been all sewn up as long ago as the 17th Century. The problem is, we're not rational but, as the article puts it, just "rather clever apes with a brain shaped by natural selection to see us through this messy world". That's not the only reason why so-called decision theory doesn't add up. Throw in our emotions and sway towards conformity and it all starts to get a bit messier.

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