The Colgate Scene
March 2003

In the news
Colgate in the national and regional spotlight
In your face — how to spot a liar through facial expression

According to a Philadelphia Inquirer article in October, liars can be exposed simply by closely examining facial expressions and movements. The article reviewed the research of a small group of scientists and academics around the country who have become literate in the interpretation of the subtle muscle movements of the cheek, forehead and chin that make them "virtual human lie detectors." Associate Professor of Psychology Carrie Keating, a member of this exclusive club, has done extensive research on the features and facial expressions associated with leadership abilities as well as deception. In this article Keating reveals her discovery that even at the age of four, children can be effective liars. But, she contends, lying may not necessarily be an evil attribute. She suggests that lying may simply be a form of astute communication and that communication and manipulation are one and the same. "The big difference between telling the truth and telling lies," she said, "are the consequences."

A war for oil

In a November Commonweal magazine essay, Jay Mandle, W. Bradford Wiley Professor of economics, suggests that the potential war with Iraq is more about oil concerns than those of terror and mass destruction. Mandle chronicles both the evolution of the Bush administration's focus on Iraq and the increasingly fragile relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. He documents links between oil and terrorism, and terrorism and Saudi Arabia. Taking this reasoning a step further, he suggests that the Bush administration is seeking an alternate "swing producer" of oil to free the United States from its significant dependence on Saudi Arabia. He points at the lack of an energy policy focused on diversification and efficiency and attributes this reluctance to reduce our oil dependency to the Bush administration's close ties to the energy industry. In conclusion, he notes that this liaison prevents the creation of a different strategy, one that would limit the leverage adversaries currently have over the United States.

How the Democrats can become a national party again

Political science professor Michael Hayes outlines strategies the Democratic Party must adopt in order to reestablish itself as a truly national party, one that is competitive in all regions of the country. In a November Syracuse Post Standard opinion piece, Hayes emphasizes the need to recruit strong candidates, mount competitive races and reach out to the "other America" to form what he calls a bimodal national electorate. Democrats need to "mount some serious border raids" in districts that are secure for Republicans, he says. Hayes concludes by emphasizing that "America needs a competitive two-party system, and we need it everywhere. The nation's political health depends on how Democrats move forward from this moment."

Procrastinating can take the joy out of the holidays

In a November Newhouse News Service article reprinted in more than half a dozen newspapers across the country, procrastination was examined as the ultimate holiday spoiler. The travails of those afflicted -- from individuals who have faulty time management skills to those who work successfully only with the rush of a nearly missed deadline -- were chronicled. In seeking possible solutions for this malady, the writer tapped Associate Professor of Psychology Regina Conti, who suggested that procrastinators focus on either the intrinsic or extrinsic motivations for delayed tasks. Perhaps a host or hostess who delays food preparation for a holiday meal might focus on the enjoyment of the baking or cooking process to lure themselves into the activity. Likewise, focusing on the pleasure received when watching a close friend open a special gift might propel a foot-dragging shopper into the mall.

As student cheating increases, some colleges are turning to honor codes

With the advent of the Internet, defining plagiarism has become an even more confusing task for some students. The spectrum of resources available online tempts many students who are unclear as to exactly what qualifies as cheating. Recent scandals and expulsions at prominent institutions attest to the problem. A survey performed for the Center for Academic Integrity found that there was a "dulled sense" of academic integrity among students. In a November New York Times article, two universities, Colgate and Kansas State, are highlighted as schools that require orientation sessions on their new honor codes as part of an academic integrity education campaign. Several other studies referenced in this article have shown that schools without honor codes tend to have about twice as much cheating as those with them.

How to pay more for college

In recent years, many parents have received a consolation prize for paying high tuition bills: mileage points on their credit cards. But the use of credit cards for tuition payment has had a downside for universities and ultimately for those paying tuition. Every time a parent pays tuition via credit card, the institution to which the tuition is paid must pay a fee based on the amount charged. Credit card companies do not allow these fees to be passed on directly to the consumer. Many universities have opted for creative solutions including third-party credit providers that pass along the fees. Others have absorbed the expense into their operating budgets, effectively spreading the expense of credit card usage to all students, not just the ones who benefited. Colgate was cited as an institution that no longer accepts credit cards as a method of tuition payment in a recent New York Times Educational Life article on this issue.

The sinking city of Venice

Charles McClennen, professor of geology, and Albert Ammerman, senior classics research associate, have worked together for more than 10 years evaluating the threat of floods in Venice as well as possible solutions. Approaching the challenge from both a geologic and archaeological perspective, they have determined that Venice is sinking faster than commonly thought. A proposed solution, building massive gates to hold back the seawater, is doomed to failure, they say, yet this $4 billion solution has been embraced by the Italian government. The NOVA episode on PBS, "Sinking City of Venice," which aired in November, investigated the situation recently, interviewing both men extensively and highlighting their research. Over the years their work has been referenced in many national publications and programs. Most recently, The Christian Science Monitor, Smithsonian Magazine, U.S. News & World Report and National Public Radio have cited Ammerman's research on this topic.

Investigating the reasons behind a decline in domestic violence

Working with a fellow economist from the University of Arkansas, Jill Tiefenthaler, associate professor of economics, has discovered that the reduction in domestic violence observed over the last decade is due primarily to an aging population and the availability of legal services. Their findings, reported by the Associated Press and several daily newspapers around the country, counter a U.S. Department of Justice report. The government report pointed to services provided for abused women -- such as telephone hotlines, shelters, emergency transportation and children's programs -- as the primary reason for the decline. Tiefenthaler's research found that, because legal services offer women help with practical matters such as protective orders, custody and child support, they present women with real, long-term alternatives to their relationships. This study used the same data as the Justice Department along with other data from the National Directory of Domestic Violence Programs.

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