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And now for a few snapshots from the world of obvious science, an occasional topic on these pages, starting first and foremost with the idea that, if you let just anyone buy a handgun, there will be more murders with handguns.

“Missouri’s 2007 repeal of its permit-to-purchase handgun law, which required all handgun purchasers to obtain a licence verifying that they have passed a background check, contributed to a 16 per cent increase in Missouri’s murder rate, according to a new study from researchers with the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research,” says a release from Johns Hopkins University. “The study, to be published in a forthcoming issue of Journal of Urban Health, finds that the law’s repeal was associated with an additional 55 to 63 murders per year in Missouri between 2008 and 2012. State-level murder data for the time period 1999-2012 were collected and analyzed from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting system. The analyses controlled for changes in policing, incarceration, burglaries, unemployment, poverty, and other state laws adopted during the study period that could affect violent crime.”

In other obvious news, it appears fire-safe cigarettes mean fewer cigarette-caused fires.

“A six-year-old Massachusetts law requiring that only ‘fire-safe’ cigarettes be sold in the state appears to decrease the likelihood of unintentional residential fires caused by cigarettes by 28 per cent, according to a new study by Harvard School of Public Health researchers,” according to a Harvard news release.

And then there’s this, based on the chemical analysis of dried liquids found on shards of historic pottery: apparently, people like to drink alcohol.

“From northwest Denmark, circa 1500-1300 BC, to the Swedish island of Gotland as late as the first century AD, Nordic peoples were imbibing an alcoholic ‘grog’ or extreme hybrid beverage rich in local ingredients, including honey, bog cranberry, lingonberry, bog myrtle, yarrow, juniper, birch tree resin, and cereals including wheat, barley and/or rye — and sometimes, grape wine imported from southern or central Europe,” says a study from the University of Pennsylvania.

How about the idea that air pollution from industry can be as dangerous as air pollution from cigarettes?

“Breathing the air outside their homes may be just as toxic to pregnant women  — if not more so — as breathing in cigarette smoke, increasing a mom-to-be’s risk of developing deadly complications such as preeclampsia, according to findings from a new University of Florida study.” That’s from a news release issued by the University of Florida.

In yet another example of obvious research, a scientific study shows that people like scientists, even when those same people know little about science.

“According to the survey, more than 90 per cent of Americans think scientists are ‘helping to solve challenging problems’ and are ‘dedicated people who work for the good of humanity,’” says research from Michigan State University. “Unfortunately, Americans still have a tough time answering some basic science questions. Out of a total of nine questions that covered the physical and biological sciences, the average score was 6.5 correct answers. For example, only 74 per cent of those queried knew that the Earth revolved around the sun, while fewer than half (48 per cent) knew that human beings developed from earlier species of animals.” Sigh. So much for the obvious.

Organizations: Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy, Johns Hopkins University, Urban Health Federal Bureau of Investigation Harvard School of Public Health Harvard Nordic University of Pennsylvania.How University of Florida University of Florida.In Michigan State University

Geographic location: Missouri, Massachusetts, Denmark Swedish island Gotland Europe

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