How search engines influence the vote

The Google search engine (or whatever they end up calling it after yesterday’s announcement) can color the way we see the world in all kinds of troubling ways.

A clever study {washington post} recently found that search results can even influence for whom we vote:

The experiment was simple: Take a diverse group of undecided voters, let them research the candidates on a Google-esque search engine, then tally their votes — never mentioning that the search was rigged, giving top link placement to stories supporting a selected candidate.

The researchers expected the bias would sway voters, but they were shocked by just how much: Some voters became 20 percent more likely to support the favored candidate.

Via {tech redef}.

Also in election news: this great Fresh Air interview with Ari Berman, author of a new book that chronicles the history of the recently defunct Voting Rights Act.

Recreating lost memories

A super-interesting, albeit super-technical, conversation about a new study that might help people who suffer from different kinds of memory loss, such as Alzheimer’s {talk of the nation/science friday}.

A recent study has pinpointed key molecules involved in the formation of long-term memories. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania studied patterns of gene expression in mice to determine how the brain stores information that can be recalled months or even years later.

And the results of the study […] are part of a growing body of research that looks at how so-called epigenetic mechanisms where the body’s way of regulating genes may influence our ability to form memories.