Edward Willett

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Circadian desynchrony and the blue light special

[podcast]http://edwardwillett.com/wp-content/uploads//2012/12/Circadian-Deosynchrony-and-the-Blue-Light-Special.mp3[/podcast] We’re coming up on the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere: at the latitude I live at, in Regina, Saskatchewan, that means that today the sun rose at 8:49 a.m. and will set at 4:54 p.m. We’ll lose a few more minutes yet before the winter solstice. That’s not a lot of daylight: we spend two-thirds of our day in darkness this time of the year, and of course further north it’s even worse, until you get to the Arctic and twenty-four hours of sunlessness. Thank goodness for artificial light! It means we can live pretty much as we want without being a slave to the natural ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 15:09, December 10th, 2012 under Blog, Columns, Science Columns |

Are cognitive shortcuts making us fat?

[podcast]http://edwardwillett.com/wp-content/upLoads//2009/06/Cognitive-Shortcuts-to-Obesity.mp3[/podcast] When we think about how we make decisions, we tend to imagine that we consider the facts of a situation carefully and logically, in a straightforward, step-by-step manner. But that process is, indeed, imaginary. The truth is that our brains prefer to do as little actual thinking as possible. They like shortcuts—and sometimes those shortcuts can get us into trouble. Take, for instance, what psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania call "Unit Bias," which, they say, “causes people to ignore vital, obvious information in their decision-making process, points to a fundamental flaw in the modern, evolved mind, and may also play a role in the American population's 30 years of weight gain.” The researchers conducted several studies with college-age participants. In one, the ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 20:50, June 17th, 2009 under Blog, Columns, Science Columns |

Weight control

Here's a topic I have far too much experience with: trying to control one's personal mass. Let me lay out my own history... December, 1979. After two years of university, eating far too many pizzas and far too much vending-machine food, I return to Canada weighing 265 pounds. Nobody calls me "Slim." July, 1981. After a year and a half of eating Mom's cooking instead of fast food, I've dropped 30 pounds. June, 1987. Following several gruelling months of serious dieting and exercise, I've reached the incredible (for me) weight of 190 pounds...my weight for the rest of my life, I figure. October, 1988. ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 16:03, March 6th, 1997 under Blog, Columns, Science Columns |