A cyber hack in July that released the names of thousands of users associated with Ashley Madison, a dating website designed to help its users find affair partners, may have long-term social impacts. The Toronto police are currently investigating an unconfirmed connection between two recent suicides and the data leak. The email addresses of both suicide victims may have been included in the leak.
The department is encouraging the public to come forward with any information about the hack and has set up a Twitter account, @AMCaseTPS, soliciting information about the case. Ashley Madison’s parent company, Avid Life Media, is offering a reward of $500,000 (Canadian dollars) to anyone with information that leads to the hackers’ identification.
Though the hack revealed that married celebrities such as Josh Duggar may have used the site, some evidence suggests that not all names associated with the leak were actual users. The site does not require users to validate their email addresses, so it is difficult to determine whether the owner of each email address actually created an account.Among the complainants are a father whose 12-year-old daughter’s email address was used to create an account and a woman who was on maternity leave when someone used her work email address to sign up for the adultery site.
So far, at least four potential class-action suits, seeking damages in excess of $500 million, have been filed against Ashley Madison.
Does Having a Hobby Increase Your Happiness?
Scientists have uncovered a link between pleasurable activities and cognitive function, but linking hobbies to happiness may be more challenging. Happiness can be challenging to define, and it is difficult to go beyond simple correlation to prove a causal connection between hobbies and happiness. Moreover, some hobbies can be taken to an extreme; exercise or watching television might be healthy or therapeutic in small doses, but exercise addiction and screen addiction can both undermine well-being.
Lea DeLaria Asks ‘What’s Not to Love?’ in Body-Positive Video
Lea DeLaria, who plays Boo on Orange is the New Black, originally gained fame as the first openly gay comic to appear on The Arsenio Hall Show and participate in the late-night comedy circuit. Now, she is encouraging people to embrace body positivity—regardless of size—with a new video. In the video, DeLaria strips down to her underwear while discussing body image and talking about her history with stand-up comedy.
Market Psychology: Smart People Make Dumb Mistakes
A week of stock market swings has led some psychologists to point out that high intelligence does not necessarily mean immunity to panic when the market shifts. Cognitive biases can play a role in poor decision-making. For instance, the inertia bias can trick people into believing that something falling will continue to do so, while something that rises will continue to go up. Market watchers may give into this bias and start to become anxious, convinced that the market will continue falling indefinitely.
Mixed Findings on Pot’s Effect on the Developing Brain
The debate about marijuana’s effects on the developing brain is continuous, and scientific studies do not point to a clear answer. In one recent study, researchers found that marijuana use likely did not affect the size of the amygdala, a brain region that helps process emotion and memory. A second study found that marijuana use in the teen years may increase one’s risk for developing schizophrenia if that individual already carries a high genetic risk for the mental condition.
People With Autistic Traits May Be More Creative, Study Suggests
A survey of 312 people who anonymously completed an online questionnaire about autism suggests that those who have more traits associated with autism are more likely to have greater creative problem-solving skills. Subjects did not have a diagnosis of autism; they simply had more autistic traits than average.
A creativity test required subjects to think of as many uses for a brick or paper clip as possible—a process known as divergent thinking. Even though subjects with higher levels of autistic traits produced fewer ideas than those with lower levels, researchers found that the quality of the ideas was generally more original and unusual in nature, causing researchers to hypothesize that people with more autistic traits may draw from more complex mental strategies first.
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