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Think you’re not biased? Think again

Science News for Students is an award-winning, free online magazine that reports daily on research and new developments across scientific disciplines to inquiring minds of every age — from middle school on up.


diverse teens

Think you’re not biased? Think again

All people harbor general biases — beliefs and attitudes about groups of people that are based on race or ethnicity, gender, body weight or other traits. Most biases “develop over the course of one’s lifetime through exposure to messages,” notes Cheryl Staats of Ohio State University in Columbus. Those messages may come from hearing a sexist comment during a family dinner or banter from TV shows, movies or other media. People may not even be aware that such implicit biases influence their decisions. Yet they will. The good news is that people can learn to recognize implicit biases by taking simple online tests. And there are steps we all can take to overcome such unfounded attitudes. — Alison Pearce Stevens

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Beware the tap of the narwhal’s tusk

A new video shows narwhals exhibiting a behavior never seen before. They tap fish with their tusks before gobbling the fish up. “It’s clear the whales are immobilizing fish before eating them,” says Martin Nweeia of Harvard University. Less clear is how they do it, this narwhal expert observes. He suspects that the whales stun the fish with sound waves. Only some 177,000 narwhals exist. With little known about them, “every little discovery is important,” says Marianne Marcoux, a Canadian government scientist. — Sharon Oosthoek

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methane plumes

Ancient Arctic ‘gas’ melt triggered enormous seafloor explosions

More than 100 craters, each up to a half-mile wide, pockmark the Barents Sea bottom. As domes of frozen methane destabilized within this seabed some 12,000 years ago, they blasted holes into bedrock. Triggered by the waning of the last Ice Age, these events are truly ancient history. But some newer methane domes in the area are now leaking methane like crazy. They could blow at any time, researchers worry. All it will take, they say, is a bit more warming. — Beth Geiger

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