Why punish cheaters?

Cheating. Whether you’re playing a game via a ChatGPT prompt or using good old-fashioned scrawls on your arm during crucial exams, cheating is just as natural to school students as sticking gum under tables or bringing food to class. A recent scientific article by Sakura Arai, a corresponding author at Japan’s Brain Science Institute at Tamagawa University and researcher at UC Santa Barbara’s Center for Evolutionary Psychology, and her colleagues grants an in-depth look at the psychological intricacy of punishing cheaters. Primarily, the article examines two approaches to dealing with rulebreakers: standard heavy-handed punishment and softer, cooperative approaches. The study found that, overall, acting cooperatively rather than harshly with punishment begets more receptiveness from the defector in question. The authors emphasize greatly the relationship between implementing passive cooperation (using incentives) and outright punishment. Exploitation and hostility on the part of students against teachers is significantly lessened when passive cooperation is implemented rather than harsh disciplining. However, outright removal of punishment isn’t advisable either. The article summarizes its point by remarking that a balanced understanding works best to forge good relations between authority figures and groups while minimizing possibilities for exploitation or cheating; a union of passive withdrawal of cooperation and standard punishment is required. 

A new antibiotic 

Modern medicine has evolved a long way from leeches and plague doctors, yet the threat of bacterial infection very much remains. Recently, Douglas M. Heithoff, a scientist at UCSB operating in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, has, alongside his team, identified a compound displaying broad-spectrum antibacterial activity. Through a series of verified experiments, it was discovered that compound COE2-2hexyl did not activate usual microbial bacterial resistance when implemented into the test subjects. Furthermore, the compound proved itself harmless when tested on animal subjects (such as mice), dissuading the concern of toxicity with regard to antibiotics. The paper also explains in detail the advantages of COE2-2hexyl over its contenders, including affordability, a simplistic implementation process and the ability to provide insights into the world of microbial drug resistance against antibiotics, among many other advantages. Heithoff and his team are working to streamline this compound into modern medicine quickly and efficiently. Through consistent research initiatives combined with the constant isolation and utilization of the compound with ethical testing and research, the world may very soon witness an affordable breakthrough in the war against bacterial infection in the form of an antibiotic capable of entirely bypassing retaliation. 

Mindfulness and making good choices

 Recently, Wei Du and Hongbo Yu, two researchers at Peking University’s School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences in Beijing, have begun studying mindfulness and its effect on interpersonal relationships. The study entailed two groups — a training and control group — gathered together to periodically make moral decisions before and after an eight-week period. The training group underwent mindfulness training to make themselves more aware of the world around them, while the control group did not. After the allotted time, it became clear that the training group made the most morally sound decisions (for example, forsaking financial gain for themselves to avoid inflicting suffering on others) compared to the control group, proving that on some level, mindfulness training can have a positive impact on interpersonal relationships. Also mentioned and confronted within this study is the “moral slippery slope,” a trend seeming to occur naturally over time in which individuals lose their ethical compass or forget their lessons in favor of more selfish goals. As the authors have asserted, mindfulness training is geared toward reducing innate selfishness and influencing crucial cognitive processes in our mind to think for the benefit of others rather than just ourselves. The studies thereby inferred that the best means to counteract the slippery slope of moral decision making is through consistent mindfulness training meant to create or otherwise increase feelings of empathy and consideration. Through these programs, decision making and moral judgment can remain steadfast, as they were in the training group rather than be lost over time or outright ignored.