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Ever heard (no pun intended) of echolocation? It's the ability of some animals, most famously dolphins and bats, to emit sound waves to determine the location and size of objects around them, which helps them "see." Scientists have long known that some blind humans shared this skill and were able to also emit clicking sounds to "see" with their ears. But a recent study published in Psychological Science confirmed just how powerful human echolocation is — ironically, by showing how those who use it fall prey to the same "size-weight illusion" as people who can see.

Gavin Buckingham, a psychological scientist at Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University, conducted an experiment with the cooperation of six blind people, three of whom could use echolocation and three who could not, and four sighted people. They were presented with three boxes of different sizes but of similar weight. While blind non-echolocators correctly found that the three boxes weighed the same, sighted people and echolocators thought that the bigger boxes weighed more than the smaller ones, a phenomenon known as the Charpentier illusion.

Echolocators "also got it wrong," a delighted Gavin Buckingham told Le Monde. "Though they were not as bad as the sighted people, because their perception is more precise and blind people can generally better appreciate the weight of objects. But the difference between those can echolocate and those who can't is still an important one. Echolocation is indeed an alternative vision that is built and capable of influencing other senses," he explained.

See how echolocation works with Daniel Kish, president of the non-profit organization World Access for the Blind whose nickname is "the real life batman."


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Geopolitics

AMLO Power Grab: Mexico's Electoral Reform Would Make Machiavelli Proud

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aka AMLO, says his plans to reform the electoral system are a way to save taxpayer money. A closer look tells a different story.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico votes

Luis Rubio

OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — For supporters of Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) the goal is clear: to keep power beyond the 2024 general election, at any price. Finally, the engineers of the much-touted Fourth Transformation, ALMO's 2018 campaign promise to do away with the privileged abuses that have plagued Mexican politics for decades, are showing their colors.

Current electoral laws date back to the 1990s, when unending electoral disputes were a constant of every voting round and impeded effective governance in numerous states and districts. The National Electoral Institute (INE) and its predecessor, the IFE, were created to solve once and for all those endemic disputes.

Their promoters hoped Mexico could expect a more honest future, with the electoral question resolved. The 2006 presidential elections, which included AMLO as a recalcitrant loser, showed this was hoping for too much. That election is also, remotely, at the source of the president's new electoral initiative.

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