-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
In The Life and Death of Buildings: On Photography and Time Joel Smith writes:
Imagine making a picture using film so insensitive to light – so slow, in photographic parlance – that to burn an image onto it required an exposure of twenty-five centuries. Geologically speaking, the blink of an eye. The picture from that negative would reveal a world made of stone, and stone only. It would be a world where plants and people, seasons and civilizations, had come and gone, quite untouched, and unbothered, by mankind. And yet, here it is, a world, unmistakably shaped by human hands.
Perhaps one of humanity’s greatest weaknesses is that our power of imagination tends to be dwarfed by our power of transformation. Twenty-five centuries ago, Rome was little more than a small town; Confucius had just resigned from his government post; Olmec society had slid into decline; and none of the languages we speak today had yet evolved. Entire civilizations rise and fall within the blink of a geologic eye – and whether as cause or consequence, we ...
Three more cases of Alzheimer’s disease will have been diagnosed by the time you finish reading this article. More than 5 million people have Alzheimer’s in the United States alone (44 million worldwide), and the rate of new diagnosis is about one patient every minute, with no cure on the horizon. Now a new study adds evidence to the argument that fish oil supplementation could be one of the best preventives we have against the disease--at least for people not at genetic risk of developing it.
Researchers from Rhode Island Hospital studied three groups of older adults, ages 55-90, using neuropsychological tests and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) every six months. The group included 229 adults with no signs of the disease; 397 who were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment; and 193 with Alzheimer’s. All participants were part of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), which began in 2003 and ended in 2010.
Results showed that adults taking fish oil, who had not yet developed Alzheimer’s, experienced significantly less cognitive ...
Bad Statistics: Ignore or Call Out?
Questions about “Too Good to Be True”
I disagree with Alan Turing and Daniel Kahneman regarding the strength of statistical evidence
Why isn’t replication required before publication in top journals?
Confirmationist and falsificationist paradigms of science
How does inference for next year’s data differ from inference for unobserved data from the current year?
Likelihood from quantiles?
My talk with David Schiminovich this Wed noon: “The Birth of the Universe and the Fate of the Earth: One Trillion UV Photons Meet Stan”
Suspicious graph purporting to show “percentage of slaves or serfs in the world”
“It’s as if you went into a bathroom in a bar and saw a guy pissing on his shoes, and instead of thinking he has some problem with his aim, you suppose he has a positive utility for getting his shoes wet”
One-tailed or two-tailed
What is the purpose of a poem?
He just ordered a translation from Diederik Stapel
Six quotes from Kaiser Fung
More bad news for the buggy-whip manufacturers ...
Aunt Pythia is ginormously and ridonkulously excited to be here. She just got back from a nifty bike ride to the other side of the Hudson and took this picture of this amazing city on this amazing day:
OK, so full disclosure. Aunt Pythia kind of blew her load, so to speak, on the sex questions last week, so she’s making do with coyly answering nerdy questions. Because that’s what we got.
I hope you enjoy her efforts, and even if you despise them – especially if you despise them – don’t forget to:
please think of something to ask Aunt Pythia at the bottom of the page!
Hi Aunt Pythia,
I’m a math student at MIT, where you did a postdoc. I’m also into computers, and am ...
“The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will." -- William James
Science fiction has been part of creative literature for several centuries, with the genre having come into modern form in the early 19th century. Unbeknownst to the casual reader perhaps, the role of science fiction in society has changed to some extent over this period of time, with new styles, mediums and subgenres developing, each with differing goals and appeals.
Exploring possible future technologies and their implications is only one aspect of the science fiction genre, but in regards to this facet writer and futurist Dr. Thomas Lombardo has said that science fiction “speaks to the total person about the future”, believing that it “resonates with all the fundamental dimensions of the human mind and human experience”. While science fiction fans may immediately grasp this sentiment and concur, I think it begs the question: why, if it does indeed address human identity in a deep and holistic way, has the genre (in written form in particular) always been somewhat of a marginalized interest? I don’t believe there is an easy answer to this question ...
Here’s my Q&A column from the WSJ this week — and if you have any questions for me, you can tweet them to @danariely with the hashtag #askariely, post a comment on my Ask Ariely Facebook page, or email them to AskAriely@wsj.com.
Ah yes—the perils of success. Promotions usually sound good, but once we get them, we realize that they come with extra demands and annoyances. We also don’t seem to remember this lesson from promotion to promotion, so every time, we’re surprised when we discover those extra obligations.
Independently and almost single-handedly, husband and wife Uta and Chris Frith have transformed the way we view autism and schizophrenia.
Chris Frith sits at the kitchen table in his northwest London home, cutting slices of smoked salmon into irregularly-shaped pieces and then placing them in a meticulous tiling pattern onto pieces of buttered brown bread. It is, according to his wife Uta, the kind of obsessive, repetitive behaviour that is characteristic of children with autism.
There are people with perfectly normal personality variants who behave in an autistic-like way, says Uta, hovering behind him as she prepares a pot of tea. There was a time when autism was under-diagnosed and we wanted to raise awareness of it. Now, it has gone the other way these people are diagnosing themselves, and Im worried about over-extension of the diagnosis.Continue reading...
There will be a Michigan rationalist/LW/SSC meetup at my house, halfway between Detroit and Ann Arbor, on Sunday, September 7th at 2 PM. You can find my address and directions here. If you’re reading this, you’re invited.
Topic will be “We Should Really Get Formal Topics For These Things One Of These Days”
Our special guest will be Miranda (Swimmer963 on LW), sometime CFAR coordinator and generally cool person.
Neurology journal Neurocase has an interesting study of a women who started compulsively writing poetry after having brief epileptic amnesia treated with the anti-seizure drug lamotrigine.
A 76-year-old woman reported having a poor memory and short periods of disorientation and was eventually diagnosed with transient epileptic amnesia – brief recurrent seizures that lead to short periods where affected people can’t lay down new memories.
Several months after starting lamotrigine [a common and widely used anti-seizure drug], the patient suddenly began to write original verse. Whereas poetry had never previously been among her pastimes, she now produced copious short poems (around 10–15 each day) on quotidian topics such as housework or about the act of versifying itself and sometimes expressing her opinions or regret about past events. These poems often had a wistful or pessimistic nature but did not have a moral or religious focus. Her husband characterized them as “doggerel” because they were generally rhyming and often featured puns and other wordplay.
My poems roams,
They has no homes
Yours’, also, tours,
And never ...
Cognition computing and cognition as a service is here. Read more about it while watching an inspirational video.
“In the fight against cancer, Watson helped identify new target proteins in a matter of weeks, not years, to accelerate the discovery of new treatments. In other industries as well–finance, retail, government, manufacturing, energy, education–Watson is forging new partnerships between humans and computers to enhance, scale and accelerate human expertise. For years, cognitive computing represented the potential for surprising new discoveries. Suddenly, with Watson, it’s the reality. Learn more at ibmwatson.com. Join the conversation at #IBMWatson.”
“Discovery Advisor accelerates your research and unlocks patterns across all types of data so your organization can discover with precision.”
Discovery Advisor marries both your proprietary and external research data within your domain so that your research draws from the most relevant material.
Once your data has been integrated, it’s time for Watson to learn. Work with IBM to train Watson Discovery Advisor in cycles. Watson also ingests new information ...
I enjoy creating a few simple rules to live by that take away some of the overwhelming decision making we need to make every day.
Pre-think these decisions, formulate them into rules, and then just follow them, freeing your brain for more important decisions.
Why should we need to give so much thought to what we’ll wear and eat, how we’ll exercise and handle email, when these are things we do every single day?
So I’ve been crafting a few rules that keep my life simple, so I don’t need to think about the little things so much.
These rules change, depending on my life circumstances — what I’m working on, where I am, what else is going on, etc.
And I don’t get mad at myself if I need to bend a rule now and then … but try to stick with them as a general principle.
So here are the rules that have been working for me lately:
Humanoid robots could help autistic children practice imitation behavior, according to USC Viterbi School of Engineering researchers, based on a new study.
They examined how children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) react to humanoid robots that provide “graded cueing” — an occupational therapy technique that shapes behavior by providing increasingly specific cues, or prompts, to help a person learn new or lost skills.
An imitation game
They divided a group of 12 high-functioning children with ASD into two groups, one experimental and one control. Each child then played an imitation game (“copycat”) with a Nao robot that asked the child to imitate 25 different arm poses.
“So if a child with autism is at recess with friends, and some kids are playing Red Light/Green Light, the child might look at the game and say ...
Northwestern Medicine researchers have discovered that using high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to indirectly stimulate the hippocampus portion of the brain (which is involved in forming memories) improves long-term memory.
The discovery opens up interesting new possibilities for treating memory impairments caused by conditions such as stroke, early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and cardiac arrest — along with the memory problems that occur in aging.
“We show for the first time that you can specifically change memory functions of the brain in adults without surgery or drugs, which have not proven effective,” said senior author Joel Voss, assistant professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This noninvasive stimulation improves the ability to learn new things. It has tremendous potential for treating memory disorders.”
The study was published today (August 29) in Science.
The study is also the first to demonstrate that remembering events requires a collection of many brain regions ...
An exciting new book by h+ Magazine author and contributor, David Roden.
We imagine posthumans as humans made superhumanly intelligent or resilient by future advances in nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science. Many argue that these enhanced people might live better lives; others fear that tinkering with our nature will undermine our sense of our own humanity. Whoever is right, it is assumed that our technological successor will be an upgraded or degraded version of us: Human 2.0.
Posthuman Life argues that the enhancement debate projects a human face onto an empty screen. We do not know what will happen and, not being posthuman, cannot anticipate how posthumans will assess the world. If a posthuman future will not necessarily be informed by our kind of subjectivity or morality the limits of our current knowledge must inform any ethical or political assessment of that future. Posthuman Life develops a critical metaphysics of posthuman succession and argues that only a truly speculative posthumanism can support an ethics that meets the challenge of the transformative potential ...
Regardless of where you fall on the “is coffee good or bad for you” debate, there will come a workday when you can barely keep your head up at your desk, and coffee is not an option. Maybe you’ve already had two or three cups with no real effect, or maybe you’ve been trying to quit but still haven’t found a good alternative yet.
As part of Fast Company‘s “Coffee Week” coverage, Lisa Evans offers a number (6 in all) of other options. Here’s a few of our favorites:
Green Tea: This beverage has become known as the healthiest coffee alternative thanks to its high concentration of antioxidants and its link to lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Green tea does contain caffeine, but a smaller amount than your regular cup of coffee, so you don’t end up with the same jittery side effects. Not only can green tea boost mental alertness, studies show it can also make ...
I track my deep work hours using a weekly tally, so I have a good sense of how my commitment to depth varies over time. A trend I’ve noticed is that my deep work rate hits a low point around this time of year.
The obvious explanation is that the start of the fall semester adds extra time constraints. But I don’t think that’s the whole story. My deep work tends to increase as the fall continues, even though my teaching commitments also increase during this period (i.e., once there are problem sets and exams to grade).
In thinking about this mystery I’ve begun to better understand a crucial but often ignored aspect of working deeply on important things: the necessity of clarity.
My Research Cycle
In my life as a distributed algorithm researcher, I experience a rapid-fire set of important research deadlines that begin in the late winter and end mid summer. If all goes well, this period clears out my research larder, leaving me, by mid-July ...
Despite deep cultural differences between nations, there is one attitude that makes all humans happy.
Any time I see an article about the evaluation system for teachers in New York State, I wince. People get it wrong so very often. Yesterday’s New York Times article written by Elizabeth Harris was even worse than usual.
First, her wording. She mentioned a severe drop in student reading and math proficiency rates statewide and attributed it to a change in the test to the Common Core, which she described as “more rigorous.”
The truth is closer to “students were tested on stuff that wasn’t in their curriculum.” And as you can imagine, if you are tested on stuff you didn’t learn, your score will go down (the Common Core has been plagued by a terrible roll-out, and the timing of this test is Exhibit A). Wording like this matters, because Harris is setting up her reader to attribute the falling scores to bad teachers.
Harris ends her piece with a reference to a teacher-tenure lawsuit: ‘In one of those cases, filed in Albany in July, court documents contrasted the high ...
A significant part of my job as a pediatric hospitalist involves caring for newborns. It is arguably the best thing that I get to do as a physician, even if I do at times prefer the increased intellectual stimulation of the ill hospitalized child. While seeing newborns, I am almost always surrounded by happy and appreciative parents, grandparents and whoever else is invited to meet and greet the new arrival because the babies are almost always healthy. In fact, and not that I really care (sniff, sniff), the parents of newborns are with rare exception the only caregivers that ever thank me at discharge.
Unfortunately, sometimes I am called upon to assist babies that are having difficulty transitioning into the outside world for a variety of reasons. These reasons can range from the fairly minor and transient to the catastrophic. And despite our advances in the understanding of neonatal pathophysiology and in medical technology, there remain newborn infants that cannot be saved or ...
I'm not sure what "another study" refers to in this case.
The mouseover title suggests a future research program in computational humanistic educational psychology:
I'd like to find a corpus of writing writing from children in a non-self-selected sample (e.g. handwritten letters to the president from everyone in the same teacher's 7th grade class every year)–and score the kids today versus the kids 20 years ago on various objective measures of writing quality. I've heard the idea that exposure to all this amateur peer practice is hurting us, but I'd bet on the generation that conducts the bulk of their social lives via the written word over the generation that occasionally wrote book reports and letters to grandma once a year, any day.
I suspect that children's letters to the president have always been heavily edited by adults. But modulo difficulties about selecting comparable samples across time, it might be possible to use the historical archive of ETS essays.
Some previous LLOG coverage of ...
Peter Singer on Effective Altruism & Cause Prioritization - this is a short from a longer interview I did recently with Peter Singer - the longer form is forthcoming! Effective altruism is...
From: Adam Ford
|Time: 04:39||More in Science & Technology|
Julia talks about how to use your biases to de-bias yourself. (Note: The specific applications I'm talking about in this video, of the commitment/consistency effects and social proof, haven't...
From: Julia Galef
|Time: 02:32||More in Education|
The latest episode from Mitchell Moffat and Gregory Brown of AsapSCIENCE is on the brain-boosting effects of coffee and the mechanisms of caffeine addiction. Plus, Moffatt and Brown take a crack at the age old question (no, not that one ): how much caffeine is too much?
I thought you might be interested in our paper [the paper is by Annie Franco, Neil Malhotra, and Gabor Simonovits, and the link is to a news article by Jeffrey Mervis], forthcoming in Science, about publication bias in the social sciences given your interest and work on research transparency.
Basic summary: We examined studies conducted as part of the Time-sharing Experiments in the Social Science (TESS) program, where: (1) we have a known population of conducted studies (some published, some unpublished); and (2) all studies exceed a quality threshold as they go through peer review. We found that having null results made experiments 40 percentage points less likely to be published and 60 percentage points less likely to even be written up.
Here’s a funny bit from the news article: “Stanford political economist Neil Malhotra and two of his graduate students . . .” You know you’ve hit the big time when you’re the only author who gets mentioned in the news story!
More seriously, this is great stuff. I would ...
Most people believe buying experiences instead of possessions will bring you more satisfaction in the long run. Well you should start planning now for an experience way down the road, because a recent study suggests that the longer you have to wait for it, the more you'll enjoy it.