Day: September 25, 2019

Dear Kitten: Beginnings

In medieval England magic was a service industry used by rich and poor alike

Mostly Economics

Interesting article by Tabitha Stanmore of Univ of Bristol.

Magic is a universal phenomenon. Every society in every age has carried some system of belief and in every society there have been those who claim the ability to harness or manipulate the supernatural powers behind it. Even today, magic subtly pervades our lives – some of us have charms we wear to exams or interviews and others nod at lone magpies to ward off bad luck. Iceland has a government-recognised elf-whisperer, who claims the ability to see, speak to, and negotiate with the supernatural creatures still believed to live in Iceland’s landscape.

While today we might write this off as an overactive imagination or the stuff of fantasy, in the medieval period magic was widely accepted to be very real. A spell or charm could change a person’s life: sometimes for the worse, as with curses – but…

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Surprise! Cats are just as attached to their staff as are dogs and babies

Why Evolution Is True

There’s a new paper in Current Biology (click screenshot below, pdf here, and reference at bottom), which shows that, using standard methodology for measuring attachment to staff (“owners” in the vulgate), both kittens and adult cats are as attached to their staff as are human babies and d*gs. The paper is very short—two pages if you don’t read the supplementary material—and you can peruse it below. There’s also a good summary of the results in Ars Technica by Jennifer Oullette.


Initially, 70 kittens between 3 and 8 months old were tested for their degree of “security” using the Secure Base Effect test (SBT). As Jennifer notes, it’s done this way:

The felines spent two minutes in an unfamiliar room with their owner, who sat on an X in the middle of a circle marked on the floor and could only interact with their cat when the animal entered the…

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