Fallout from Ashley Madison Hack Continues, and Other News

Two hands typing on a keyboardA 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.

Since 2009, the Federal Trade Commission has fielded 59 complaints from users who say their information was used without their permission. 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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  • Tommy

    Tommy

    August 28th, 2015 at 10:38 AM

    I know that there were probably a few innocent people who have been hurt by this Ashley Madison hack, but for the most part it is time to simply own up to the mistakes if you created the account and put that information out there.

  • Madelyn

    Madelyn

    August 28th, 2015 at 1:03 PM

    TV watching a hobby? Don’t think so

  • Ronn

    Ronn

    August 29th, 2015 at 2:11 PM

    I think that as far as the pot studies go, the findings that come out are all going to depend on the entity that actually funds the research.

  • Pippa

    Pippa

    August 29th, 2015 at 5:28 PM

    Way to go Lea… that’s awesome!

  • Terrell

    Terrell

    August 30th, 2015 at 9:18 AM

    I am in no way taking sides, but i fail to see just who is benefiting from releasing the names and email addresses of those who have been caught up in the whole affair website debacle. I can understand that as a wife or husband you may want to know about your own spouse or significant other, but why would I ever release that information that could cause that same kind of hurt for other couples? Some people are just in it for the notoriety and to honestly just be mean.

  • Phil

    Phil

    August 31st, 2015 at 3:48 AM

    We all become prey to the fall of the stock market because it is hard for many of us to see that this has to be a long term game. We are too ready to make a quick fortune but not so ready to lose it just as quickly.
    But eh, so it goes with a volatile game like stocks.

  • Mackenzie

    Mackenzie

    August 31st, 2015 at 10:31 AM

    It is very easy for me to agree with what Lea DeLaria had to say… for other people… but then it is significantly harder for me to agree with it when I am thinking about myself and the way that I feel about my own body. I want others to have a positive body image no matter their size, but then that somehow all gets lost when I start thinking about what I want for me. I want to have that typical image of what we think of as a sleek and toned body, and if I didn’t work hard at having that, would I be so supportive of saying that other people should just accept their bodies as they are? Not sure.

  • Martha

    Martha

    August 31st, 2015 at 2:29 PM

    Not sure that I would say that my hobbies bring me happiness, but they do help me to relax when I knit, which is what I like to do in my spare time.

  • dakota

    dakota

    September 2nd, 2015 at 11:18 AM

    Given that there are so many differing opinions on the effect that marijuana has on the brain I am not sure that there will ever be a real consensus on what the long term effects of use will be.
    I think that just like anything else, there are going to be those who have no negative long term effects from continual use and then there will be others who very much struggle with abuse issues.
    The sad thing is that you never know for sure which category you may fall into.

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