Brian MacGillivray and Nick Pidgeon write:
Daniel Gilbert maintains that people generally make bad decisions on risk issues, and suggests that communication strategies and education programmes would help (Nature 474, 275–277; 2011). This version of the deficit model pervades policy-making and branches of the social sciences.
In this model, conflicts between expert and public perceptions of risk are put down to the difficulties that laypeople have in reasoning in the face of uncertainties rather than to deficits in knowledge per se.
Indeed, this is the “Nudge” story we hear a lot: the idea is that our well-known cognitive biases are messing us up, and policymakers should be accounting for this.
But MacGillivray and Pidgeon take a more Gigerenzian view:
There are three problems with this stance.
First, it relies on a selective reading of the literature. . . .
Second, it rests on some bold extrapolations. For example, it is not clear how the biases Gilbert identifies in the classic ‘trolley’ experiment play out in the real world. Many such reasoning ‘errors’ are mutually contradictory — for example ...
You might have heard about Sidewalk Labs, which is backed by Google and plans to repurpose phone booths all over New York City as wifi hubs. They are also planning to install large advertising screens on the sides of the phone booths to display dynamic advertising to passersby. A few comments and questions.
Outdoor Voices Tote ($40)
We’re all about making things happen, and this durable, recycled Baggu canvas tote couldn’t be a better helper. Outdoor Voices says their motto is “Doing things is better than not doing things,” which makes us feel like they just get us.
Sometimes it’s just better to scrap it and move on. This clever, and surprisingly sturdy, garbage bin by Canoe looks exactly like the failed memoirs and broken dreams we’ll be throwing into it.
Mogolo Laptop Lid ($37-39)
This foldable keyboard cover slips over your screen to prevent any spills or accidental key-presses. Though technically called the “Kid Lid,” it’s perfect for extra temporary desk space while traveling or ...
Creative blocks are an obvious foe to work; however, getting lost in creativity can be just as inefficient. Although we strive to reach those moments where we can get completely lost in our work, we also lose all sense of time. We usually don’t view this a problematic as we deem the time as productive. However, when we use our creativity as our profession and have multiple clients, losing track of time can be a huge pitfall. During the FITC Conference, director and illustrator Ash Thorp explains how he avoids getting trapped within his own creativity:
I set a timer, an alarm on my phone. I just sit there and tell Siri, ‘set an alarm for 8:30, set an alarm for 9:00, set an alarm for 11:30.’ Basically, every moment that I have to break a chapter. So at 11:00 if I have a call, I set an alarm on my phone. We’re creative people, so when I get in the mood of creating, time flies ...
I’ve been trying to more deeply study the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths lately, and because of that I constantly notice my cravings and aversions.
Who cares, you might ask?
Well, it turns out that as a result of these cravings and aversions, there are lots of little annoyances, anger, frustrations, stresses, worries, fears of missing out, distractions, procrastinations, disappointments and more that we all face in almost every moment. We don’t always notice they’re there, but they are there.
Try this: take a moment throughout today to notice when you’re completely happy and content in the moment, to just sit in the moment without thinking of anything but what’s in front of you, to not reach for some distraction. See if you’re not annoyed by something, worried about something, frustrated by something, rushed to go do something else.
If you can sample 10 moments throughout your day, and you don’t find more than one or two moments with those kind of “negative” states of ...
A new study has found quantifiable evidence that supports the common-sense idea that walking in nature could lower your risk of depression.
The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to participants who walked in a high-traffic urban setting (El Camino Real in Palo Alto, California, a noisy street with three to four lanes in both directions), showed decreased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a brain region active during rumination — repetitive thought focused on negative emotions.
“These results suggest that accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world,” said co-author Gretchen Daily, the Bing Professor in Environmental Science and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “Our findings can help inform the growing movement worldwide to make cities more livable, and to make nature more accessible to all who live in them.”
“This finding is exciting because it demonstrates the impact of nature experience on an aspect ...
The ongoing rash of police using deadly force against minority citizens has triggered a search for a universal cause—most commonly identified as racism. Such soul searching is understandable, especially in light of the racist e-mails uncovered in the Ferguson, Mo., police department by the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation into the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
To whatever extent prejudice still percolates in the minds of a few cops in a handful of pockets of American society (nothing like 50 years ago), it does not explain the many interactions between white police and minority citizens that unfold without incident every year or the thousands of cases of assaults on police that do not end in police deaths (49,851 in 2013, according to the FBI). What in the brains of cops or citizens leads either group to erupt in violence?
An answer may be found deep inside the brain, where a neural network stitches together three structures into what neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp calls the rage circuit: (1) the periaqueductal ...
Happy Independence Day! As far as holidays go, the Fourth of July is pretty great. In addition to celebrating American independence, tradition dictates that you spend a good portion of the day out in the sun, soaking up vitamin D and eating delicious burgers, hot dogs, and steaks – grass-fed and cooked right, of course. […]
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I have (self) published an ebook For argument’s sake: evidence that reason can change minds. It is the collection of two essays that were originally published on Contributoria and The Conversation. I have revised and expanded these, and added a guide to further reading on the topic. There are bespoke illustrations inspired by Goya (of owls), and I’ve added an introduction about why I think psychologists and journalists both love stories that we’re irrational creatures incapable of responding to reasoned argument. Here’s something from the book description:
Are we irrational creatures, swayed by emotion and entrenched biases? Modern psychology and neuroscience are often reported as showing that we can’t overcome our prejudices and selfish motivations. Challenging this view, cognitive scientist Tom Stafford looks at the actual evidence. Re-analysing classic experiments on persuasion, as well as summarising more recent research into how arguments change minds, he shows why persuasion by reason alone can be a powerful force.
All in, it’s close to 7000 words and available from Amazon now
The unexpected decisions depressed people make when regulating their emotions.
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Last Sunday I had the pleasure of meeting Anna Bernasek and Dan Mongan, who came to the Alt Banking group meeting to tell us about their book All You Can Pay: How Companies Use Our Data To Empty Our Wallets.
While they were discussing their book, the topic of online advertisement naturally came up. Dan and Anna made an interesting point in that discussion which I’ve been chewing on ever since. Namely, they provocatively suggested that we should never use the word “advertising” to describe the complicated and sophisticated process of tailored and targeted offers to an individual internet browser. Instead, we should call it a “negotiation.” Let me explain their reasoning.
They started by introducing the concept of a “consumer surplus.” This is the difference between what a given consumer would be willing to pay for a product versus what the price actually is for that product. If the difference is positive, the consumer buys the product and has a theoretical bit of “extra” money in their wallet, which corresponds to the happy ...
In a very good piece on the risk from asteroids the Washington Post quotes me going all crunchy-granola:
Tabarrok says his hope is that private efforts in space will one day soon focus on mining asteroids for valuable resources. If you have miners and private developers working with asteroids in space, that could inadvertently make it easier to defend the planet against an asteroid collision.
And of course, there is the option that people on Earth could somehow get the motivation to work together, and asteroid defense might ultimately be a reason for unifying the world, says Tabarrok.
“The idea that the whole planet is potentially under threat from an asteroid does make us think that the world is our home, and we’re all in this together – Spaceship Earth, to get a little crunchy granola. And that makes us think a little more about our fellow travelers, our fellow world residents, that we’re all in this together.”
I may have to turn in my hard-headed economist card.
A DOZEN YEARS OF ESCAPE DATA FROM NEW YORK STATE
The recent prison break in upstate New York got us wondering how long prison escapes tend to last. We found some data on prison escapes in New York State. See the dot plot above.
The upshot from both analyses is the same: if you escape from prison, you’re probably going to be re-captured within a day.
The post How long do prison escapees go before being caught? appeared first on Decision Science News.
Two weeks ago I blogged about a breakthrough in query complexity: namely, the refutation by Ambainis et al. of a whole slew of conjectures that had stood for decades (and that I mostly believed, and that had helped draw me into theoretical computer science as a teenager) about the largest possible gaps between various complexity measures for total Boolean functions. Specifically, Ambainis et al. built on a recent example of Göös, Pitassi, and Watson to construct bizarre Boolean functions f with, among other things, near-quadratic gaps between D(f) and R0(f) (where D is deterministic query complexity and R0 is zero-error randomized query complexity), near-1.5th-power gaps between R0(f) and R(f) (where R is bounded-error randomized query complexity), and near-4th-power gaps between D(f) and Q(f) (where Q is bounded-error quantum query complexity). See my previous post for more about the definitions of these concepts and the significance of the results (and note also that Mukhopadhyay and Sanyal independently obtained weaker results).
Because my ...
Dr. Julie Holland: Sex, Ecstasy & Antidepressants – #231 Click here to download PDF of this transcript Dave Asprey: Hey, everyone. It’s Dave Asprey with Bulletproof Radio. Today’s cool fact of the day is that when women who were unhappy or stressed were diagnosed with hysteria, a common treatment was for their physician to give […]
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Why you should listen – Dr. Julie Holland comes on Bulletproof Radio today to discuss hacking orgasms, medicinal ecstasy, getting off antidepressants, and why testosterone is important for women. Enjoy the show! Click here to download the mp3 of Dr. Julie Holland: Sex, Ecstasy & Antidepressants – #231 Julie Holland, M.D., is a psychiatrist who specializes in […]
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In 1845, a meter-long iron rod pierced the skull of Vermont railway worker Phineas Gage. The resulting changes to his personality forever changed our perception of the human brain. But what happened next to Gage is rarely covered in textbooks — a problematic oversight, say psychologists.
An easy way to appear more trustworthy to others, just using your facial expression.
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According to a report from BBC News the Pope ‘plans to chew coca leaves’ during his visit to Bolivia. Although portrayed as a radical encounter, this is really a return to cocaine use after a long period of abstinence in the papal office.
Although the leaves are a traditional, mild stimulant that have been used for thousands of years, they are controversial as they’re the raw material for synthesising powder cocaine.
The leaves themselves actually contain cocaine in its final form but only produce a mild stimulant effect because they have a low dose that is released relatively gently when chewed.
The lab process to produce the powder is largely concerned with concentrating and refining it which means it can be taken in a way to give the cocaine high.
The Pope is likely to be wanting to chew coca leaves to show support for the traditional uses of the plant, which, among other things, are used to help with altitude sickness but have become politicised due to the ‘war on drugs’.
Because of ...
Remember the hype about neuromarketing, the use of brain imaging and other technologies to directly measure consumer preference or the effect of advertisements on our unconscious? In The Guardian, Vaughan "Mind Hacks" Bell looks at the latest in neuromarketing and breaks it down into "advertising fluff, serious research, and applied neuroscience." From The Guardian:
First, it’s important to realise that the concept of neuroscience is used in different ways in marketing. Sometimes, it’s just an empty ploy aimed at consumers – the equivalent of putting a bikini-clad body next to your product for people who believe they’re above the bikini ploy. A recent Porsche advert (video above) apparently showed a neuroscience experiment suggesting that the brain reacts in a similar way to driving their car and flying a fighter jet, but it was all glitter and no gold. The images were computer-generated, the measurements impossible, and the scientist an actor.
In complete contrast, neuromarketing is also a serious research area. This is a scientifically sound, genuinely interesting field in cognitive science, where the ...
Bill Harris writes:
Mr. P is pretty impressive, but I’m not sure how far to push him in particular and MLM [multilevel modeling] in general.
Mr. P and MLM certainly seem to do well with problems such as eight schools, radon, or the Xbox survey. In those cases, one can make reasonable claims that the performance of the eight schools (or the houses or the interviewees, conditional on modeling) are in some sense related.
Then there are totally unrelated settings. Say you’re estimating the effect of silicone spray on enabling your car to get you to work: fixing a squeaky door hinge, covering a bad check you paid against the car loan, and fixing a bald tire. There’s only one case where I can imagine any sort of causal or even correlative connection, and I’d likely need persuading to even consider trying to model the relationship between silicone spray and keeping the car from being repossessed.
If those two cases ring true, where does one draw the line between them? For ...
So-called “whiffy wheat” was genetically modified to release a pheromone that repels aphids. The obvious purpose of this modification was to reduce pests without the need for insecticides, and thereby reduce insecticide use.
The trait worked well in the lab. The wheat released sufficient amounts of a warning pheromone that aphids release when attacked. The pheromone both warns aphids to stay away, and also attracts predators, such as a parasitic wasp. The pheromone was derived from the peppermint plant.
The laboratory success meant the wheat was ready for field trials where the GM crop is put to the test in close to real world conditions. The results of those field trials were just published, and unfortunately they showed that the new trait essentially didn’t work – the aphids were not significantly decreased compared to controls, nor was yield increased.
The scientists discuss a few possible reasons for the failure. One is that during the field trials, cold wet summers made for low baseline levels of aphids, below the threshold where fields would normally be sprayed ...