Planet Rationalist

September 30, 2014

Kurzweil AI

Do neurons see what we tell them to see?

Which U.S. president do you see in this merged image? (Credit: Q. Quiroga et al./Neuron)

Neurons programmed to fire at specific faces may have more affect on conscious recognition of faces than the  images themselves, neuroscientists have found.

Subjects presented with a blended face, such as an amalgamation of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, had significantly more firing of such face-specific neurons when they recognized the blended or morphed face as one person or the other.

Results of the study led by Christof Koch at the Allen Institute for Brain Science were published (open access) online in the journal Neuron.

Some neurons in the region of the brain known as the medial temporal lobe are observed to be extremely selective in the stimuli they respond to. A cell may only fire in response to different pictures of a particular person who is very familiar to the subject (such as loved one or a celebrity, as in the famous “Jennifer Aniston neuron“), the person’s written or spoken name, or recalling the person ...

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 16:17 Instapaperify

Uploads by The RSA

RSA Spotlight: Yuval Noah Harari on Imagined Realities

Introducing RSA Spotlights – taking you straight to the heart of the event, highlighting our favourite moments and key talking points. In this excerpt from the event, A Brief History of...
From: The RSA
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by The RSA at Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:27 Instapaperify

PsyBlog

Lund University Cognitive Science

Multimodal research in focus in Hong Kong


Jana Holsanova has delivered a plenary talk entitled Reception of Multimodality: Applying eye-tracking methodology in multimodal research at the 7th International Conference on Multimodality organised by the English Department, Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Abstract

The aim of most producers and designers is to create an aesthetically appealing, effective and user-friendly multimodal text design that makes it easy for the user to find, process and understand information (Holsanova & Nord 2010). However, design is not only a product of the design process, an organized arrangement of one or more elements that has been created in order to serve a certain purpose. It can also be conceived of as a starting point for interpretation processes since it invites the user to a certain interaction (Holsanova 2010). Thus, multimodality can be studied from both a production and a reception perspective. Whereas the production aspect focuses on how information in multimodal messages is presented by the sign-maker or designer, the reception aspect emphasizes how multimodal messages are perceived by the users (Holsanova 2012). In my presentation, I will focus on ...

by jana at Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:00 Instapaperify

NeuroLogica Blog

Dr. Oz, Autism, and GMOs

It is no longer news that Dr. Oz has long ago abandoned any pretense to scientific rigor and is simply another scaremongering hawker of snake oil and nonsense. Still, it’s hard not to marvel when he sinks to a new low.

On a recent show Oz’s target was genetically modified organisms (GMO). This is not new for Oz, he has hosted anti-GMO activists in the past, warning his audience about non-existent health risks.

This time around Oz and his guest are claiming that pesticides used with certain GMO varieties may cause autism. Why is it always autism? It’s likely at least partly due to the fact that awareness of autism has been increasing in the last 2 decades, creating the false impression that autism itself is increasing. This leads to numerous false correlations (most famously with vaccines) and the assumption of cause and effect (often to support a preexisting bias). As you can see from the graph, however, the rise in autism diagnoses tightly correlates with increased organic food sales – but I ...

by Steven Novella at Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:34 Instapaperify

mathbabe

People hate me, I must be doing something right

Not sure if you’ve seen this recent New York Times article entitled Learning to Love Criticism, but go ahead and read it if you haven’t. The key figures:

…76 percent of the negative feedback given to women included some kind of personality criticism, such as comments that the woman was “abrasive,” “judgmental” or “strident.” Only 2 percent of men’s critical reviews included negative personality comments.

This is so true! I re-re-learned this recently (again) when I started podcasting on Slate and the iTunes reviews of the show included attacks on me personally. For example: “Felix is great but Cathy is just annoying… and is not very interesting on anything” as well as “The only problem seems to be Cathy O’Neill who doesn’t have anything to contribute to the conversation…”

By contrast the men on the show, Jordan and Felix, are never personally attacked, although Felix is sometimes criticized for interrupting people, mostly me. In other words, I have some fans too. I am divisive.

So, what’s going on here ...

by Cathy O'Neil, mathbabe at Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:33 Instapaperify

Portfolio Investing Blog: Portfolioist » Behavioral Finance

Is My Portfolio at the Right Risk Level?

This is the fifth installment in our series on how individual investors can assess their financial health.

RiskAt every stage of investing, you should periodically ask yourself how much risk you can realistically tolerate. The primary way to measure the risk level of your portfolio is to look at its allocation of stocks vs. bonds.  Although some stock and bond ETFs  are riskier than others, your first decision has to be how much of your investments to put in stocks and how much in bonds.

One standard rule of thumb that’s a good place to start is the “age in bonds” axiom. According to this guideline, you invest a percentage of assets equal to your age in a broad bond index, and the balance of your portfolio in a diversified stock portfolio.  The idea here is that your portfolio should become more conservative as you get older. This makes sense for two reasons:

  1. You tend to get wealthier as you age, so any given percentage loss from your portfolio represents an increasingly larger dollar ...

by Geoff Considine at Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:33 Instapaperify

Matt Ridley - Blog RSS

How we got to now

My review of Steven Johnson's book How We Got To Now appeared in the Times:

 

The meteorologist Edward Lorenz famously asked, in the title of a lecture in 1972: “does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”, and the phrase “the butterfly effect” entered the language. If Steven Johnson’s book How We Got to Nowcatches on — and it deserves to — then the “humming bird effect” will also become common parlance.

Humming birds exist because flowers needed to find a way to spread pollen over long distances, and they invented nectar to attract insects. Birds were not part of the deal at all until much later. That the evolutionary emergence of flowers would lead to a radical redesign of the anatomy of some birds could not have been foreseen.

Likewise, the history of human innovation is riddled with examples of unexpected consequences of new technologies. As Johnson tells it, Gutenberg made printed books cheap, which triggered a rise in literacy, which created a market for ...

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:12 Instapaperify

99U

When Is Something “Good Enough” to Ship?

Envelope by Ana María Lora Macias from The Noun Project

Envelope by Ana María Lora Macias from The Noun Project

No one really cares that you’re an overachiever. As creative professionals, we’re seldom satisfied with our output because it’s seldom perfect. But more often than not, good enough is perfect. Head of Creative & Design at HubSpot, Keith Frankel, shared a simple guide to recognizing when a deliverable can be considered “good enough.”

  1. It successfully solves the problem, addresses the need, or conveys the message intended.
  2. It is clearly and distinctly on brand.
  3. The quality of work is consistent with or above the level of previous work.
  4. It has been thoroughly yet objectively scrutinized by other qualified individuals.
  5. The final decision of preference had been left in the hands of the creator.

According to Ayelet Gneezy, Associate Professor at the University of California in San Diego’s Rady School of Management, “You really, really want to keep a promise, and anything beyond that is marginal, if anything…Don’t kill yourself trying to over deliver.”

[via] 

by Hamza Khan at Tue, 30 Sep 2014 11:00 Instapaperify

Scientific American Content: Mind Matters

Steven Pinker’s Sense of Style

The Harvard psychologist offers a writing guide based on how the mind works

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 11:00 Instapaperify

Uploads by Adam Ford

Peter Singer - Suffering & Progress in Ethics (Past & Future)

Suffering is bad - Peter Singer (who is a Hedonistic Utilitarian), and most Effective Altruists would agree with this. Though in addressing the need for suffering today Peter acknowledges...
From: Adam Ford
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by Adam Ford at Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:48 Instapaperify

Science-Based Medicine

K2: The Vitamin, Not the Mountain

Science is complicated. Simple concepts that appear at first to be obviously true or untrue usually turn out to be more nuanced than we thought.  Newtonian physics was taken as “the truth” until we learned in the 20th century that it didn’t apply on cosmological or subatomic scales. Medicine and human physiology are more complicated than most people realize or want to believe. A case in point is the recent realization that vitamin K is not a single chemical compound, but a whole family of them, and that vitamin K2 has unique properties that vitamin K1 lacks.

Recently, there has been some interesting preclinical research on K2 that warrants further study to tease out its implications for human health, diet, and supplementation. There has also been a lot of hype that warrants taking its claims not with a grain but with a large bolus of salt. According to Canadian naturopath Kate Rhéaume-Bleue, author of Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox,

Typical example of a Vitamin K supplement.

Typical example of a Vitamin K supplement.

  • It could save your life
  • It ...

by Harriet Hall at Tue, 30 Sep 2014 07:00 Instapaperify

Fallacy Files

Wink-Wink, Nudge-Nudge

Steven Poole, author of "Unspeak", has an excellent article--I almost wish I'd written it!--about cognitive biases and the idea of "nudging" people using them. Read the whole thing: it's rather long but worth it. I have a few reservations, together with some supplementary points that I think are worth making....

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 04:00 Instapaperify

CONTRARY BRIN

"The Circle?" - Watching the Watchers of the Watchers

I will get to the recent, anti-transparency best-seller - The Circle - in a moment.  But first --

People think that because I am "moderate" that means I am tepid.  I am a MILITANT moderate! I do not need to blind government... civil servants must do their jobs.  But I am fierce in demanding they be supervised.  Mostly by open transparency but at very least by auditors they cannot control. 

 Fortunately there is good news. I have called it the most important civil liberties matter in our lifetimes -- certainly in thirty years -- even though it was hardly covered by the press. In 2013 both the U.S. courts and the Obama Administration declared it to be "settled law" that a citizen has the right to record his or her interactions with police in public places.

No single matter could have been more important because it established the most basic right of "sousveillance" or looking-back at power, that The Transparent Society is all about. It is also fundamental to freedom, for in altercations with authority, what other recourse can ...

by David Brin at Tue, 30 Sep 2014 00:51 Instapaperify

September 29, 2014

Lifehacker

Overcome TV Show Binge-Watching with a Lesson In Plot

Overcome TV Show Binge-Watching with a Lesson In Plot

If you can't seem to stop your TV show streaming marathon, learning about the plot lines that hook you in can help you break away and get some decent sleep .

Read more...

by Patrick Allan at Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:30 Instapaperify

FORA.tv - Program Feed

Panel Discussion: Fossil Fuels and the Future of Energy

Panel Discussion: Fossil Fuels and the Future of Energy
  • Dana Aunkst, Executive Deputy Secretary for Programs, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
  • Robert Eckle, Chairman, Pipeline and Market Development Committee, Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association
  • Moderated by: Katie Colaneri, Reporter, StateImpact Pennsylvania and WHYY

Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2014 06:10:00 -0700
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania, Atlantic
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2014/09/23/Panel_Discussion_Fossil_Fuels_and_the_Future_of_Energy







Mon, 29 Sep 2014 20:21 Instapaperify

Wrap Up

Wrap Up
(3:20 pm EDT)
  • Margaret Low Smith, Vice President, The Atlantic and President, AtlanticLIVE

Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:20:00 -0700
Location: Los Angeles, California, J.W. Marriott Los Angeles, Atlantic
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2014/09/29/wrap_up







Mon, 29 Sep 2014 20:18 Instapaperify

Local Food: Beyond Farm-to-Table

Local Food: Beyond Farm-to-Table
(2:55 pm EDT)
  • Dan Barber, Owner and Executive Chef, Blue Hill Farm

Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:55:00 -0700
Location: Los Angeles, California, J.W. Marriott Los Angeles, Atlantic
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2014/09/29/local_food_beyond_farm_to_table







Mon, 29 Sep 2014 20:10 Instapaperify

Governing the World's Most Complicated City

Governing the World's Most Complicated City
(2:35 pm EDT)
  • Nir Barkat, Mayor, Jerusalem
  • Interviewer: Jeffrey Golderberg, National Correspondent, The Atlantic

Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:35:00 -0700
Location: Los Angeles, California, J.W. Marriott Los Angeles, Atlantic
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2014/09/29/governing_the_worlds_most_complicated_city







Mon, 29 Sep 2014 20:01 Instapaperify

Narrowing the Gap: How Cities Can Fight Income Inequality

Narrowing the Gap: How Cities Can Fight Income Inequality
(2:00 pm EDT)
  • Alan Berube, Deputy Director, Metropolitan Policy Program, Brookings Institution
  • Bill Peduto, Mayor, Pittsburgh
  • Blair Taylor, Chief Community Officer, Starbucks
  • Moderator: Richard Florida, Co-Founder and Editor at Large, CityLab.com; Senior Editor, The Atlantic

Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:00:00 -0700
Location: Los Angeles, California, J.W. Marriott Los Angeles, Atlantic
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2014/09/29/narrowing_the_gap_how_cities_can_fight_income_inequality







Mon, 29 Sep 2014 19:51 Instapaperify

Wheels of Change: What's Driving the Future of Urban Mobility

Wheels of Change: What's Driving the Future of Urban Mobility
(1:20 pm EDT)
  • Janette Sadik-Khan, Principal, Bloomberg Associates
  • Donald Shoup, Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies, UCLA
  • John Zimmer, CEO, Lyft
  • Moderator: Steve Clemons, Washington Editor at Large, The Atlantic

Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2014 10:20:00 -0700
Location: Los Angeles, California, J.W. Marriott Los Angeles, Atlantic
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2014/09/29/wheels_of_change_whats_driving_the_future_of_urban_mobility







Mon, 29 Sep 2014 19:51 Instapaperify

Point of Inquiry

Austin Dacey

Josh Zepps is off, and since this week is the 5th International Blasphemy Rights Day, we're rebroadcasting this interview by Chris Mooney with Austin Dacey, CFI's former UN representative and an expert on the subject of blasphemy laws.

***

This week, our guest is a return one: Austin Dacey. He's a philosopher, a writer, a human rights activist, and the creator of the Impossible Music Sessions, which we featured in a past show.

Austin's books include The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life and, just out, The Future of Blasphemy: Speaking of the Sacred in an Age of Human Rights.

This show focused on Austin's new book on blasphemy. But he helped enhance the discussion with a few pieces of music that have been called blasphemous—which is why we wanted to distribute them as widely as possible.

Mon, 29 Sep 2014 19:43 Instapaperify

Marginal Revolution: Science

The true competition has arrived, just ask the Thai Delicious Committee

Hopscotching the globe as Thailand’s prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra repeatedly encountered a distressing problem: bad Thai food.

Too often, she found, the meals she sampled at Thai restaurants abroad were unworthy of the name, too bland to be called genuine Thai cooking. The problem bothered her enough to raise it at a cabinet meeting.

Her political party has since been thrown out of office, in a May military coup, but her initiative in culinary diplomacy lives on.

At a gala dinner at a ritzy Bangkok hotel on Tuesday the government will unveil its project to standardize the art of Thai food — with a robot.

Diplomats and dignitaries have been invited to witness the debut of a machine that its promoters say can scientifically evaluate Thai cuisine, telling the difference, for instance, between a properly prepared green curry with just the right mix of Thai basil, curry paste and fresh coconut cream, and a lame imitation.

Has there ever been a better committee name than this?:

The government-financed Thai Delicious Committee, which oversaw the development ...

Mon, 29 Sep 2014 19:29 Instapaperify

99U

James Victore’s Tricks and Treats for Getting Motivated

If you’re struggling to feel motivated, using tricks or treats may be all you need to get the momentum going again. Illustrator James Victore swears by the unique approach to getting unstuck:

The first step of getting motivated: identify the type of motivation problem you’re having. Are you not motivated by the work itself (such as it doesn’t excite you) or are you lacking internal motivation (like a lack of energy because you didn’t sleep well last night)?

Once you know the type of motivation problem you’re having, you can motivate yourself with tricks like forcing yourself to work for one hour by using a stop watch, or promising a co-worker or peer that you’ll get something done in the next 30 minutes. Anything that can “trick” you into getting started on the work.

Alternatively, the treats approach is just that — a literal treat. If you make progress on (or finish) the work, reward yourself with something you’ve been wanting for a long time.

[via]

by Tanner Christensen at Mon, 29 Sep 2014 19:00 Instapaperify

FORA.tv - Program Feed

Case Study: Rethinking Resilience in a Post-Sandy World

Case Study: Rethinking Resilience in a Post-Sandy World
(1:00 pm EDT)
  • Henk Ovink, Principal, Rebuild by Design and Senior Advisor of HUD; Special Advisor to Secretary Shaun Donovan of Housing and Urban Development
  • Interview: James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic

Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2014 10:00:00 -0700
Location: Los Angeles, California, J.W. Marriott Los Angeles, Atlantic
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2014/09/29/case_study_rethinking_resilience_in_a_post_sandy_world







Mon, 29 Sep 2014 18:52 Instapaperify

Reinventing City Hall

Reinventing City Hall
(12:40 pm EDT)
  • Eric Garcetti, Mayor, Los Angeles
  • Interviewer: Walter Isaacson, President, The Aspen Institute

Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2014 09:40:00 -0700
Location: Los Angeles, California, J.W. Marriott Los Angeles, Atlantic
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2014/09/29/reinventing_city_hall







Mon, 29 Sep 2014 18:49 Instapaperify

Bulletproof

Language Log » Psychology of language

Heart-mind

This is another one of those posts that I wanted to write long ago (actually almost a year ago), but it got lost in the shuffle until now, when I found it going through my old drafts.

It was prompted by an article that Christine Gross-Loh wrote for The Atlantic (October 8, 2013) titled "Why Are Hundreds of Harvard Students Studying Ancient Chinese Philosophy?  The professor who teaches Classical Chinese Ethical and Political Theory claims, 'This course will change your life.'"

Michael Puett, the professor who is featured in the article, is a friend of mine.  He is a mesmerizing speaker; audiences are glued to his every syllable and glance.  If his course is changing students' lives, how so?  For the better?  Has Michael Puett become a guru?  A missionary?  Something more than a mere college professor of ancient Chinese thought?  Is ancient Chinese thought, in and of itself, so powerful that it can transform people who are exposed to it?  Or does it have such a profound effect chiefly because of the skillful spin ...

by Victor Mair at Mon, 29 Sep 2014 18:33 Instapaperify

Friendly Atheist» Pseudoscience

Uri Geller: The iPhone 6 Bends Because of Your “Mind Powers”

We finally figured out why the iPhone 6 bends. It’s not Apple’s fault!

It’s the energy of our minds… says “psychic” Uri Geller, who finally figured out no one cares about his spoon trick anymore:

“There are two possible explanations,” Uri Geller, the psychic illusionist famous for bending spoons with his mind, told MarketWatch. “Either the phone is so seriously thin and flimsy that it is bendable with mere physical force, which I cannot believe given the extensive tests Apple would have done. Or — and this is far more plausible — somehow the energy and excitement of the 10 million people who purchased iPhones has awakened their mind powers and caused the phones to bend.

Yep. That’s gotta be it. Even though your mental powers won’t do anything unless your hands are also bending the phone at its edges…

Now’s a good time to point out that Geller is probably richer than any of us will ever be.

(Image via Hadrian / Shutterstock.com)

by Hemant Mehta at Mon, 29 Sep 2014 18:30 Instapaperify

FORA.tv - Program Feed

What's Mine is Yours? The New Dynamics of the Sharing City

What's Mine is Yours? The New Dynamics of the Sharing City
(12:00 pm EDT)
  • Brian Chesky, CEO and Founder, Airbnb
  • April Rinne, Chief Strategy Officer, Collaborative Lab
  • Arun Sundararajan, Professor of Information, Operations and Management Sciences, New York University
  • David Sheard, Council Leader, Kirklees Council
  • Moderator: James Bennet, Editor-in-Chief and Co-President, The Atlantic

Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2014 09:00:00 -0700
Location: Los Angeles, California, J.W. Marriott Los Angeles, Atlantic
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2014/09/29/whats_mine_is_yours_the_new_dynamics_of_the_sharing_city







Mon, 29 Sep 2014 18:30 Instapaperify

io9

Why Do Your Pupils Get Larger When You're On Drugs?

Why Do Your Pupils Get Larger When You're On Drugs?

Normally, our pupils dilate in response to changing light; as it gets darker, our pupils get larger. But they expand in size for other reasons as well, including when we're sexually aroused and when we're performing complex cognitive tasks. But it's also known that certain medications — including illicit drugs — can cause pupils to get larger. Here's why.

Read more...

by George Dvorsky at Mon, 29 Sep 2014 18:20 Instapaperify

FORA.tv - Program Feed

Welcome and Introductory Remarks with Michael Bloomberg

Welcome and Introductory Remarks with Michael Bloomberg
(11:45 am EDT)
  • James Bennet, Editor-in-Chief and Co-President, The Atlantic
  • Michael Bloomberg, Founder, Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies

Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2014 08:45:00 -0700
Location: Los Angeles, California, J.W. Marriott Los Angeles, Atlantic
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2014/09/29/welcome_and_introductory_remarksaWelcome_and_Introductory_Remarks_with_Michael_Bloomberg







Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:50 Instapaperify

Lifehacker

Form Better Habits by Making Them More Convenient

Managing our habits is one of the trickiest things to do. Gretchen Rubin uses the Strategy of Convenience to make it easier to stick to new habits.

Read more...

by Tori Reid at Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:30 Instapaperify

Scientific American Podcast: 60-Second Mind

Lots or Little Sleep Linked to Sick Days

Absence from work due to illness increased dramatically for those who slept less than six hours or more than nine hours per night. Christie Nicholson reports  

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:00 Instapaperify

zenhabits

The Productive Sprint

By Leo Babauta

In the past two weeks, I’ve written more than 45,000 words, including 10 posts for Zen Habits and Sea Change and 30 chapters in my new book.

That’s a lot of writing.

I don’t usually write that much — it’s an unusually high output for me, and I’m not usually that productive. The biggest motivator is that I’m going on a trip today for two weeks with Eva, and I needed to get my writing done before the trip.

I call this kind of high-powered output before a vacation my Productive Sprint, and I do it probably 4-5 times a year for various trips and other events. Other people do that kind of feverish churning out of work before major deadlines, which is similar but imposed by others. I prefer to create my own motivation.

Let me tell you about this most recent Productive Sprint, and then make some suggestions for doing your own.

My Recent Productive Sprint

These last two weeks have been some of ...

by zenhabits at Mon, 29 Sep 2014 16:21 Instapaperify

PsyBlog

Art Markman, PhD

Why are Experiences Often Better Purchases than Things?


I have written a few blog entries in the past on the observation from research by Tom Gilovich and Leaf Van Boven as well as by Elizabeth Dunn, Dan Gilbert, and Tim Wilson that people get more happiness out of purchases when those purchases are experiences than when they are material things.  So, a ski trip creates more happiness than a new stereo that cost about the same amount of money.

Even in the original research, though, the researchers realized that this distinction is not as clean-cut as it appears.  For example, if you buy an expensive car, that could serve as a physical possession. However, that car might also create a variety of driving experiences that lead to happiness.  

A paper in the February, 2013 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by Peter Caprariello and Harry Reis examines the role of sociality on the difference between experiences and things.  When you purchase an experience, chances are you are going to share that experience with at least one other person (and perhaps ...

by Art Markman at Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:25 Instapaperify

99U

The Most Important Skill for Great Leaders? Trustworthiness.

What makes a great leader? You are probably thinking it’s something buzzword-worthy like confidence.  Or maybe vision.  Or emotional intelligence—you hear about that one all the time.  For sure, those are all good qualities for a leader to have, but the answer is actually trustworthiness. Technically, it’s not just being trustworthy that is key, but being seen as trustworthy.

The question “Can I trust you?” is always on our minds whenever we interact with other people (particularly when we meet them for the first time) though we usually aren’t consciously aware of asking it. Studies suggest that in order to figure out whether or not someone is trustworthy, we analyze their words and deeds to find answers to two questions: “Do you have good intentions toward me—are you a friend or a foe?” and “Do you have what it takes to act on those intentions?”

So how do we find the answers? Decades of research show that we are all highly tuned-in to the warmth and competence of those ...

by behanceteam at Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:06 Instapaperify

mathbabe

Chameleon models

Here’s an interesting paper I’m reading this morning (hat tip Suresh Naidu) entitled Chameleons: The Misuse of Theoretical Models in Finance and Economics written by Paul Pfleiderer. The paper introduces the useful concept of chameleon models, defined in the following diagram:

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 8.46.46 AM

 

Pfleiderer provides some examples of chameleon models, and also takes on the Milton Friedman argument that we shouldn’t judge a model by its assumptions but rather by its predictions (personally I think this is largely dependent on the way a model is used; the larger the stakes, the more the assumptions matter).

I like the term, and I think I might use it. I also like the point he makes that it’s really about usage. Most models are harmless until they are used as political weapons. Even the value-added teacher model could be used to identify school systems that need support, although in the current climate of distorted data due to teaching to the test and cheating, I think the signal is probably very slight.


by Cathy O'Neil, mathbabe at Mon, 29 Sep 2014 13:03 Instapaperify

Matt Ridley - Blog RSS

English devolution

My Times column on English devolution following the Scottish independence referendum:

 

As part of the 1 per cent of England’s population that lives north of Hadrian’s Wall, I have found the past few weeks more than usually intriguing. It was fascinating to find that nearly everybody in the media seems to think the wall is the Scottish border; some news takes 1,500 years to reach the metropolis. And we northeasterners have been banging on for decades about the unfairness of the Barnett formula, which guarantees £1,600 extra in public spending per Scottish head per year, so it’s nice to see the rest of England waking up to that one, too.

Labour needs to be reminded of its biggest electoral defeat. Ten years ago, almost to the day, the northeast was asked by John Prescott if it wanted an assembly and it said “no” in the most emphatic way imaginable — by 78 per cent to 22 per cent in a referendum. That’s not a landslide, that’s an entombment.

Labour ...

Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:17 Instapaperify