Mason in the News

Posted: August 1, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national and international news coverage Mason recently received.

Thursday, July 24, Economist

Do Economists Need Brains?

“In the late 1990s a generation of academic economists had their eyes opened by studies of the brain using recently developed techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showing that different bits of the old grey matter are associated with different sorts of emotional and decision-making activity. A standard MRI identifies activity in too large a section of the brain to support much more than loose correlations. ‘Blood flow is an indirect measure of what goes on in the head, a blunt instrument,’ concedes Kevin McCabe, a neuroeconomist at George Mason University. Increasingly, neuroscientists are looking for clearer answers by analyzing individual neurons, which is possible only with invasive techniques – such as sticking a needle into the brain. For economists, this ‘involves risks that clearly outweigh the benefits,’ admits Mr. McCabe.”

Thursday, July 24, Washington Post

Nonprofit Joins Jail for Job Training

“The Fairfax County jail is partnering with a local nonprofit group to open an expanded job resource center inside the facility next week. The collaboration will be the first of its kind in Virginia, although several localities across the country have experimented with the idea. The center will offer employment and job-training services to offenders about to return to the community from an institution that, on any given night, has a population of about 1,300 inmates, the most of any jurisdiction in the state. Local officials said the program is geared toward reducing recidivism rates. An ongoing study of the jail by George Mason University found that of 250 inmates followed after their release in 2003, about 40 percent were rearrested within one year. June Tangney, a professor of psychology who led the study, said inmates who participated in the jail’s programs were less likely to be rearrested after being released.”

Friday, July 25, Fox News

As Obama Trip Winds Down, McCain Faces Tactical Choice

“Whether Barack Obama, upon his return, is viewed as more internationally savvy remains to be seen. But the presumptive nominee’s visit clearly succeeded in capturing the media spotlight, here and abroad, for the past week. ‘The Republicans have often had better pictures than Democrats,’ said Jeremy Mayer, public policy professor at George Mason University. ‘But if you look at the pictures this week, McCain is speaking at a German restaurant in Ohio, and Obama is speaking before 200,000 Germans in Berlin.’ Obama also may have gotten a boost when Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki voiced support for a troop withdrawal plan similar to Obama’s proposal. Mayer said the European trip was not a game-changer. But he said McCain needs to ‘shake up’ the race. ‘I think their vice presidential choice becomes much more important.'”

Friday, July 25, MSNBC

Body Language: What McCain, Obama Reveal

“Body movement analysts say that John McCain represents stability in how he stands firmly and holds onto the sides of a podium. By contrast, Barack Obama has a forward-looking gaze and strolls about in a relaxed fashion during public appearances. Yet both men share an introspective quality that could make them strong leaders, each in his way. ‘It’s a tool for looking at human movement,’ said Karen Studd, a professor at George Mason University in [Fairfax, Va.] and media consultant. Studd can analyze a person’s movements by going down a list of categories that include body, effort, space and shape, or they can start with the overall impression that anyone might have of a candidate. ‘My approach has been to get an overall take rather than look in that [systematic] way,’ Studd told LiveScience. ‘I look through my own eyes and use [Laban] language and tools to clarify what I’m seeing.'”

Friday, July 25, Salt Lake Tribune

Former Salt Lake Mayor Urges Bush Impeachment

“Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson told Congress there’s a ‘compelling case’ for the impeachment of President Bush, but that short of that, it should appoint a special commission to investigate egregious abuses of power. The former mayor, who now heads a human rights group based in Utah, testified that the Bush administration misled the country about security threats, illegally intercepted private, domestic communications and violated treaties and moral standing to torture detainees. Jeremy A. Rabkin, a constitutional law professor at George Mason University, said the crowd – which cheered and applauded any impeachment talk – was ‘extremely bitter’ and that the cause was likely the politically divided nation. ‘In a situation like that, tempers flare, people get overwrought,’ he said. He added that the frustration aired at the hearing was ‘slightly demented.’ ‘You should all remind yourselves that not everybody is in this same bubble,’ he said.”

Monday, July 29, New York Times

Calculating Economics of an Eye for an Eye

“In a working paper published last month, Naci H. Mocan, an economist at Louisiana State University, gathered information on 89,000 people in 53 countries to draw a map of vengefulness. What he found was that among the most vengeful are women, older people, the poor and residents of high-crime areas. ‘I think this is really important research,’ said Daniel Houser, a professor at George Mason University specializing in experimental economics and emotion. ‘I’m not aware of any work in economics that tries to capture individual differences in vengeful feelings.’ In the last couple of decades a lot of work has shown how important trust and reciprocity are in developing efficient markets, Mr. Houser explained, and what helps to create trust is punishment. ‘How do you calibrate the proper level of punishment to promote effective market relations?’ Mr. Houser asked. It may turn out, he said, that ‘how much you want to punish is connected to the likelihood of creating a more formal market economy.'”

Wednesday, July 30, National Post (Canada)

Portrayal of Bush has Internet Buzzing

“George W. Bush gulping booze from a funnel. Sauntering into jail wearing a Yale sweatshirt. Dancing on a bar with a curvy blonde. Driving onto a lawn with a lit cigarette in one hand and crashing into a garbage can on the way. Berated by his father, and the two men nearly coming to blows. This is the U.S. President Oliver Stone wants you to know. A trailer for “W.,” a movie about how a young ruffian became leader of the free world, is now in circulation on the Internet and attracting the attention of moviegoers, political observers and film critics alike. The film is scheduled to be released in mid-October. ‘I tend to see Stone as a very good propagandist, in a way, a very accomplished dramatist who uses real historical periods and figures to create oftentimes riveting films,’ said Mark Rozell, a political scientist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. ‘But I think for most Americans, it’s entertainment.'”

Wednesday, July 30, Boston Globe

Campaigns Try to Get Timing Right on VP Choices

“The guessing game about vice presidential selection normally revolves around one question: Who will it be? Historically, the candidate who has the later convention gets the later ‘bounce’ in the polls. As a result, some political analysts and commentators say it would not make sense for McCain to give away the vice presidential bounce by announcing his pick before Obama. ‘Why surrender that shot of presumably favorable coverage when you are running close, or in some polls, ahead?’ asked presidential historian Richard Norton Smith, a scholar-in-residence at George Mason University. ‘And let’s face it, why is anyone going to pay any attention to the Republican convention otherwise?’ Smith said it would make more sense for McCain to wait and see what the landscape looks like after the Democratic convention and Obama’s running mate selection.”

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