Planet Rationalist

January 31, 2015

The Righteous Mind

Liberals are WEIRDer than Conservatives

Guest post by Thomas Talhelm (on a recent publication with Haidt, mentioned by Tom Edsall in NYT)

A few years ago, psychologists looked at all of the psychological studies of people in different cultures and concluded that Westerners are WEIRD. That’s an acronym, not an insult. People from Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic countries are consistent psychological outliers compared to the other 85% of the world’s population.

On psychological tests, Westerners tend to view scenes, explain behavior, and categorize objects analytically. But the vast majority of people around the world more often think intuitively—what psychologists call “holistic thought.”

Five years ago, I had just arrived at the University of Virginia, and I had a thought flash: Aren’t most of these WEIRD elements even more true of liberal culture within the United States? Liberalism thrives in universities (Education), cities (Industrialized), the wealthy East and West coasts (Rich), and ultra-pluralistic groups like Occupy Wall Street and Unitarian churches (Democratic). So if Westerners think WEIRDly, maybe liberals think even WEIRDer. I went to talk ...

by Jonathan Haidt at Sat, 31 Jan 2015 07:48 Instapaperify

Kurzweil AI

New fibers can deliver optogenetic signals and drugs directly into the brain while allowing simultaneous electrical readout

SEM image of a probe incorporating nine tin (Sn) electrodes with within (poly(etherimide) (PEI) cladding, surrounding a hollow channel (shown filled to enable photography). The inset shows exposed electrodes after plasma etching of the poly(phenylsulfone) (PPSU) cladding. (Credit: Andres Canales et al./Nature Biotechnology)

MIT scientists have developed a new method of coping with the complexity of studying the brain.

They created probes containing biocompatible multipurpose fibers about 85 micrometers in width (about the width of a human hair).

The new fibers can deliver optogenetic signals and drugs directly into the brain, while allowing simultaneous electrical readout to continuously monitor the effects of the various inputs from freely moving mice.

The new fibers are made of polymers that closely resemble the characteristics of neural tissues — they are “soft and flexible and look more like natural nerves,” according to MIT assistant professor of materials science and engineering Polina Anikeeva — allowing them to stay in the body much longer without harming the delicate tissues around them.

Devices currently used for neural recording and stimulation, she ...

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 03:45 Instapaperify

January 30, 2015 - Program Feed

Peter Manseau

Peter Manseau
Every American high school student learns about the Puritans and their "city upon a hill," an iconic metaphor for how our country was founded on distinctly Christian religious ideals. However, this understanding overlooks the complex spiritual history of the United States, from its very origins. One Nation, Under Gods: A New American History shows how the nation was shaped by multiple religious traditions, a rich interplay of beliefs making up the fabric of American life. Manseau provides countless examples of how the country diverged from a standard, monotheistic Christian mantel. Covering five centuries of history, he reexamines familiar events through the lens of broader religious understanding. From Thomas Jefferson's assertion that religion should be protected whether it be "twenty gods or no god," a foundational argument for tolerance, to the complex social origins of the Salem witch trials, One Nation demonstrates again and again how our country was shaped by an incredibly wide spectrum of beliefs.
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2015 02:00:00 -0800
Location: Washington, DC, Sixth & I, Sixth and ...

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 23:45 Instapaperify

Uploads by Singularity University

Global Impact Competition

For more information or to apply now, visit We are also looking for organizations (corporations, NGOs, foundations and educational institutions) that are passionate...
Views: 37
1 ratings
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by Singularity University at Fri, 30 Jan 2015 22:25 Instapaperify


The Best Work Cultures Use the #1 Problem-Solving Technique: Candor

By Les Éclaireurs, Elizabeth Laferrière, and Sarah Ouellet

By Les Éclaireurs, Elizabeth Laferrière, and Sarah Ouellet

Whether you work at an agency, startup, traditional corporate company, or for yourself, one essential value to cultivate in your work environment is candor.

Former SquareSpace COO Jesse Hertzberg credits professional candor, in other words a culture centered around speaking the truth, with the nourishment of courage and risk-taking in employees as well as the crucial enlightenment of decision makers about their risks and opportunities. Candor surfaces valuable ideas that might not be expressed in a less open environment, and asks hard questions so every important choice is fully informed. Candor builds “reservoirs of trust” among teammates and clients, and between managers and employees, that fuel maximum performance.

Hertzberg’s seven principles for furnishing candor in business include:

Admit What You Don’t Know. If you don’t know, say so. There is no crime in missing a deadline, screwing up, or being wrong on an educated assumption. The only sin is not admitting what you don’t know and trying to fudge your way through it ...

by Allison Stadd at Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:30 Instapaperify


Bulletproof Radio Q&A – #192

On this episode of Bulletproof Radio, we have carefully selected the best questions from Facebook, Twitter, and the Bulletproof® Forums for another awesome Q&A! This episode is part two of a two-part Q&A (episode #191), but it can be listened to independently as well. On the show Dave and Zak discuss water filtration systems, kombucha, […]

by Dave Asprey at Fri, 30 Jan 2015 19:33 Instapaperify


Chicks Might Map Numbers From Left To Right – Just Like Us!

Chicks Might Map Numbers From Left To Right – Just Like Us!

When you think of the numbers 1–10, you probably envision them running along a line, with 1 on the left and 10 on the right. Scientists have long debated whether this tendency is hardwired or culturally instilled. This week, the hardwired camp scored a major point. Young chickens, it seems, also map numbers from left to right.


by Robbie Gonzalez at Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:40 Instapaperify

Matt Ridley - Blog RSS

Move the bats, eliminate the rats

My recent column in The Times is on wildlife conservation:

On the day last week that the House of Commons was debating a private member’s bill dealing with bats in churches, conservationists were starting to eliminate rats from the island of South Georgia by dropping poisoned bait from helicopters. Two very different facets of wildlife conservation: the bats stand for preservation of pristine nature from human interference; the rats for active intervention to manage nature in the interests of other wildlife. Which is better value for money?

Bats love roosting in churches, but those who love bats and those who love churches are increasingly at loggerheads. Bat pee has damaged many of the brasses in British churches, and stained or eroded precious medieval monuments and paintings. Expensive restoration work is often undone in a matter of months by micturating bats.

Vicars and church wardens are tearing their hair out, but there is little legally they can do. Excluding bats from a church, or even disturbing them, is forbidden, and building a bespoke bat roost ...

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:39 Instapaperify

Ulterior Motives

Why Do Movies Move?

If you spend time watching movies or TV, you have probably know that you see a moving image on the screen, but that the sense of motion is created by your brain from a series of static images. Typical movies, for example, flash 24 frames per second. Somehow, the brain takes the changes from one frame to the next and gives you the illusion of fluid movement.

by Art Markman Ph.D. at Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:45 Instapaperify


Mind Hacks

Hard Problem defeats legendary playwright

I’ve written a review of legendary playwright Tom Stoppard’s new play The Hard Problem at the National Theatre, where he tackles neuroscience and consciousness – or at least thinks he does.

The review is in The Psychologist and covers the themes running through Stoppard’s new work and how they combine with the subtly misfiring conceptualisation of cognitive science:

This is a typical and often pedantic criticism of plays about technical subjects but in Stoppard’s case, the work is primarily about what defines us as human, in light of the science of human nature, and because of this, the material often comes off as clunky. It’s not that the descriptions are inaccurate – allusions to optogenetics, Gödel and the computability of consciousness, game theory, and cortisol studies of risk in poker players, are all in context – but Stoppard doesn’t really understand what implications these concept have for either each other or for his main contention. Questions about mind and body, consciousness and morality, are confused at times, and it’s not clear ...

by vaughanbell at Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:47 Instapaperify

NeuroLogica Blog

The Gap Between Public and Scientific Opinion

A recently published poll from the Pew Research center finds that there is a huge gap between public opinion and the opinion of scientists on many important scientific issues of the day. This is disappointing, but not surprising, for a variety of reasons.

Generally speaking, if the majority of scientists have the same opinion about a scientific question (especially relevant experts), then it is a good idea to take that majority opinion seriously. It does not have to be correct, but if you were playing the odds I would go with the experts. If public opinion differs from the opinion of scientists on a scientific question, it is a safe bet that the public is wrong, probably because of interfering cultural, social, political, ideological, psychological, or religious beliefs. (Scientists have those too, which may explain the minority opinion in some cases.)

This attitude is often portrayed as elitism – usually by those who disagree with the scientific majority. Those relatively new to concepts of critical thinking, or trying to sound as if they are critical thinkers ...

by Steven Novella at Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:08 Instapaperify


Write Down Things You're Grateful For to Build Your Own Happiness

Write Down Things You're Grateful For to Build Your Own Happiness

Gratitude isn't a trait that society pushes us to nurture too much. But if you're finding a general negative attitude too pervasive in your life, try starting a gratitude journal. Even if you don't feel like it.


by Eric Ravenscraft at Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:30 Instapaperify

The Antidote: Self-Help for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking

The Antidote: Self-Help for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking

Everyone wants to be happy. But despite our goal to be happy, many of us still go through life unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and stressed out. Oliver Burkeman's The Antidote won't bring you instant happiness, but it does share some extremely helpful guidance on how to weather life's hardships.


by Herbert Lui at Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:00 Instapaperify

Uploads by The RSA

RSA Spotlight - Steve Punt and Seven Serious Jokes About Climate Change

RSA Spotlights – taking you straight to the heart of the event, highlighting our favourite moments and key talking points. Climate change is no laughing matter, but when all else fails,...
From: The RSA
Views: 259
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by The RSA at Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:50 Instapaperify

RSA Spotlight - Marcus Brigstocke and Seven Serious Jokes About Climate Change

RSA Spotlights – taking you straight to the heart of the event, highlighting our favourite moments and key talking points. Climate change is no laughing matter, but when all else fails,...
From: The RSA
Views: 2
0 ratings
Time: 10:27 More in Education

by The RSA at Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:47 Instapaperify

Science-Based Medicine

Hot-Zone Schools and Children at Risk: Shedding light on outbreak-prone schools

The subject of parental vaccine refusal and the impact that has on disease outbreaks has been covered many times on SBM and elsewhere. I apologize to our readers who are growing tired of the subject, but there is perhaps no subject more deserving of focus and repetition. There’s also an important angle to the discussion that I’ve written on previously and which deserves more attention, and that is the importance of the pro-vaccine parent voice, and the need for that voice to be heard.

It never ceases to amaze me how few of the parents I know think about the risk to their own children from vaccine-exempt children in their schools and communities. Even parents who do think about this rarely seem concerned enough to speak up or even discuss it with others, let alone become active in doing something about it. With the rise in vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, including the current high-profile Disneyland measles outbreak, and the ...

by John Snyder at Fri, 30 Jan 2015 08:30 Instapaperify - Program Feed

The New West with Will Hearst: Stewart Brand

The New West with Will Hearst: Stewart Brand
Stewart Brand, founder of the Long Now Foundation, sits down with Will Hearst to talk about the Revive and Restore project, a genetic rescue for endangered and extinct species.
Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:00:00 -0800
Location: San Francisco, CA, Studios, Studios
Program and discussion:

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 02:09 Instapaperify

January 29, 2015


Find Out If You're Ready to Move to a New Place with a Simple Equation

Find Out If You're Ready to Move to a New Place with a Simple Equation

Moving can be a huge pain , especially if you're indecisive about whether you really want to move at all. Using a simple formula—or adapting it to your liking—can help you logically determine if it's time to uproot your life or not.


by Patrick Allan at Thu, 29 Jan 2015 22:30 Instapaperify - Program Feed

Panel: Solutions in the Fight Against Tax Fraud

Panel: Solutions in the Fight Against Tax Fraud
Diana Leyden Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Tax Clinic, University of Connecticut School of Law Dean Silverman Former Senior Advisor to the Commissioner, Internal Revenue Service United States Department of the Treasury Paul Weinstein Director, Graduate Program in Public Management The Johns Hopkins University Moderator: Mary Louise Kelly
Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 06:30:00 -0800
Location: Washington, D.C., Newseum, Atlantic
Program and discussion:

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 22:11 Instapaperify

Senator Amy Klobuchar: How to STOP Identity Theft

Senator Amy Klobuchar: How to STOP Identity Theft
The Honorable Amy Klobuchar Senator (D-MN) United States Senate
Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 06:15:00 -0800
Location: Washington, DC, Newseum, Atlantic
Program and discussion:

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 22:10 Instapaperify

Senator Mike Enzi: The Next Step for Income Tax Reform

Senator Mike Enzi: The Next Step for Income Tax Reform
Headline Remarks: The Honorable Mike Enzi Senator (R-WY) United States Senate
Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 06:07:00 -0800
Location: Washington, DC, Newseum, Atlantic
Program and discussion:

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 22:09 Instapaperify

The Fight Against Fraud: Welcome Remarks by Brad Smith

The Fight Against Fraud: Welcome Remarks by Brad Smith
Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit
Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:55:00 -0800
Location: Washington, D.C., Newseum, Atlantic
Program and discussion:

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 22:08 Instapaperify


Prioritize Better by Asking the Focusing Question

By Stefano Marra

By Stefano Marra

Making things happen requires focus, especially when you’re a creative professional. But in a world of increasing distractions and multiple competing priorities, achieving focus is often easier said that done. Being overwhelmed paralyzes our productivity.

In The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, Gary Keller says that you only need to ask one question in order to move in the right direction. The Focusing Question “helps you keep your first step from being a misstep,” writes Keller. Ask yourself:

What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

The Focusing Question requires you to identify a single action, and helps you to see how it helps to advance a larger project. It’s important to know what you must focus on, and what your next action needs to be. What’s your one thing?

by Hamza Khan at Thu, 29 Jan 2015 21:00 Instapaperify

Marginal Revolution: Science

The robot culture that is Japanese markets in everything

A hotel with robot staff and face recognition instead of room keys will open this summer in Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki Prefecture, the operator of the theme park said Tuesday.

The two-story Henn na Hotel is scheduled to open July 17. It will be promoted with the slogan “A Commitment for Evolution,” Huis Ten Bosch Co. said.

The name reflects how the hotel will “change with cutting-edge technology,” a company official said. This is a play on words: “Henn” is also part of the Japanese word for change.

Robots will provide porter service, room cleaning, front desk and other services to reduce costs and to ensure comfort.

There will be facial recognition technology so guests can enter their rooms without a key.

At least for now, the facial recognition bit means you cannot send your robot to stay there…

The story is here, alas I have forgotten whom I should thank for this pointer.

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:25 Instapaperify

zen habits

A Gradual Approach to Healthy Eating

By Leo Babauta

A lot of us have tried various diets over the years, with little success. I remember trying about half a dozen different diets when I was trying to lose weight, and none of them stuck for more than a few weeks.

Why is that? A few reasons:

  1. You’re trying to change a lot of things at once — from learning new recipes to strategies for social situations to what to eat when you go out to what you should do when you’re craving a snack and much more. Making that many changes at once is a sure recipe for failure.
  2. You’re making huge changes all of a sudden. If you shift from unhealthy eating to healthy eating in one day, it will seem like a drastic change, and you won’t be used to it at all. This is very difficult, and if you’re struggling with something difficult, you’re probably not going to last more than a few weeks.
  3. You don’t really like your life with this ...

by zenhabits at Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:13 Instapaperify


Got Junk In Your Trunk? It May Be A Good Thing

Healthy fat is making a comeback.  New research out this month provides yet another reason healthy fat is such an important building block for your body. A new book out by Professor Will Lassek MD out of Pittsburgh University, “Why Women Need Fat,” provides another reason women should not strive to be too lean… Dr. […]

by Dave Asprey at Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:00 Instapaperify

Scott H Young

Should You Do Intense, Short-Term Projects, or Build Long-Term Habits?

Let’s say you have a goal to reach: getting in shape, starting a business, writing a book, advancing your career. What’s the best way to pursue it?

Some people argue that you need to put all your energy into it. Throw yourself into the project. Read dozens of books on the topic. Aggressively seek out mentors and coaches. Publicize your ambitions and work your ass off. Start-ups famously use this philosophy to build billion dollar companies in just a few years.

Other people instead argue that this mindset is misguided. You’re motivated now, but what about three months from now when the enthusiasm has worn off? The better strategy is to go for small gains, but deliberately increasing over time. Do less than you possibly can, but move up steadily. I’ll call this the habitual approach.

The two approaches aren’t mutually exclusive, but their motivating philosophies certainly contradict: push hard now or start slow. Which works better?

Which is Better: Habits or Intensity?

I’ve had a hard time picking ...

by Scott Young at Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:14 Instapaperify


What Should I Charge? How to Justify Your Freelance Rates

When I first started freelancing, I thought I knew how to price myself. I charged $50 an hour because, well, it’s what my equivalent hourly rate was before I went out on my own. It was easy to justify — I could point to any number of other rate sheets, pricing calculators, and other resources to make it clear why I should be paid what I was asking. It was the “market rate” of somebody like me. 

But almost 10 years later, I now charge upwards of $20,000 a week. This is nowhere near market rates, and I haven’t come across any freelancing pricing calculator saying that this is what I should be charging. But I can justify it. My clients know they’re getting a deal, even though they’re paying me exponentially more than the other guy or gal. The key to getting a killer rate is to quantify the value you bring to the table, and how you can use this value to price or anchor your rate. How ...

by behanceteam at Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:09 Instapaperify

Science-Based Medicine

Lies, fraud, conflicts of interest, and bogus science: The real Dr. Oz effect



I thought I’d written my final post on the Dr. Oz-fueled green coffee bean extract (GCBE) diet supplement fad. But now there’s another appalling chapter, one that documents just how much contempt The Dr. Oz Show seems to show for its audience, and how little Dr. Oz seems to care about providing advice based on good science. This week it was revealed that the “naturopath” that Dr. Oz originally featured in his GCBE segment, Lindsey Duncan, didn’t disclose a direct conflict of interest when he spoke. After inaccurately describing the supplement’s effectiveness, he directed consumers, using keywords, to web sites that he owned or operated. The infamous “Dr. Oz Effect” worked, with Duncan selling $50 million in GCBE supplements in the following months and years. This week it was announced that Duncan and his companies have been fined $9 million by the Federal Trade Commission. The documentation released by the FTC [PDF] gives remarkable insight into how a scam to make millions was launched, and how the Dr. Oz Show is ...

by Scott Gavura at Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:45 Instapaperify

Friendly Atheist» Pseudoscience

Snake Oil Alert: Why Gwyneth Paltrow Gets Her Vagina Steam-Cleaned, and Why You Probably Shouldn’t

If you have a vagina, and it could break into a monologue (thank you, Eve Ensler), it would probably ask you to keep it away from vagina steam baths.

And that’s despite what actress Gwyneth Paltrow tells you to do.

Ms. Paltrow loves to get a V-steam. In her lifestyle newsletter GOOP, she swoons:

“You sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al. It is an energetic releasenot just a steam douche — that balances female hormone levels. If you’re in L.A., you have to do it.”

(Of course: L.A., the lala-land of butthole bleaching. Big surprise. I remember being there years ago and seeing ads for something called “laser vaginal rejuvenation.” But I digress.)

From Laura Hooper Beck at Fast Company, we learn that

Tikkun Holistic Spa in Santa Monica offers the V-steam in many forms to cure whatever ails your aching vag. Suffering from postpartum depression? TIKKUN POST PARTUM V STEAM™. Want to get pregnant? TIKKUN INFERTILITY ...

by Terry Firma at Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:00 Instapaperify


Uploads by The RSA

RSA Replay - Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

Modern society is in a state of data deluge, and our brains are struggling to keep up with the demands of the digital age. In 2011, we took in five times as much information every day as we...
From: The RSA
Views: 2018
14 ratings
Time: 54:52 More in Education

by The RSA at Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:07 Instapaperify

NeuroLogica Blog

Anti-Vaccine Tropes Stirring

The Disneyland measles outbreak has the anti-vaccine movement on the ropes a bit. As I and pretty much all of my colleagues at Science-Based Medicine have predicted for years, once previously contained infectious illnesses start to seriously return, public opinion will shift against the anti-vaxxers.

We are seeing more mainstream stories like this one, Mom: Family that refused vaccination put my baby in quarantine, from CNN, and this one, Vaccine deniers stick together. And now they’re ruining things for everyone, from the Washington Post. As I mentioned in my earlier post, The Onion also nailed it with this satire, I Don’t Vaccinate My Child Because It’s My Right To Decide What Eliminated Diseases Come Roaring Back.

Of course, the cranks are unmoved. Their position is not based on a rational assessment of the evidence, and therefore evidence will not move them from their perch. What they have been doing is repeating tired anti-vaccine tropes. Unfortunately they are getting some exposure from residual false balance in the media.

This is a separate problem ...

by Steven Novella at Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:05 Instapaperify


Here is Your Official Permission to Be a Copycat

By Neo Dhlamini

By Neo Dhlamini

On Aeon, Kat McGowan reveals research that suggests copying others’ work isn’t only undeserving of its reputation as a professional cardinal sin, it is essential to innovation:

Throughout human history, innovation – including the technological progress we cherish – has been fuelled and sustained by imitation. Copying is the mighty force that has allowed the human race to move from stone knives to remote-guided drones, from digging sticks to crops that manufacture their own pesticides. Plenty of animals can innovate, but no other species on earth can imitate with the skill and accuracy of a human being. We’re natural-born rip-off artists. To be human is to copy.

Of course, the imitative behavior in question does not include outright plagiarism, which is always wrong. Rather, the echo-like actions McGowan’s argument concerns comprise of taking cues from and building off of others’ innovative advances. Babies learn to walk by imitating adults. Writers learn to string sentences together by reading shelffuls of books. Entrepreneurs found game-changing companies by studying the successes of existing organizations ...

by Allison Stadd at Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:00 Instapaperify - Program Feed

The Curious Life of a Mars Rover

The Curious Life of a Mars Rover
Having helped design the Mars rovers Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity, NASA engineer Kobie Boykins reveals what these robots are telling us about the existence of life on the red planet.
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2014 03:00:00 -0700
Location: , , National Geographic Live
Program and discussion:

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 01:33 Instapaperify

January 28, 2015

Living For Improvement

You Should Remind Yourself of Your Mortality. Here’s What People Remind Themselves of Instead.

The truth is . . . once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.
—Morrie Schwartz

Ever since reading Tuesdays With Morrie, I’ve been quite taken with the idea that in order to live, you must learn how to die. In other words, in order to get the most out of life, you should live each day with the understanding that your time on this planet is limited.

The problem is, we’re not very good at remembering our mortality—especially while we’re young. As such, we end up binge-watching Netflix and overeating McDonalds far more often than we should.

Morrie isn’t the only one to recognize the power of keeping mortality in mind as often as possible. In his book Show Your Work!, artist Austin Kleon recommends reading the obituaries every day to inspire you to take action. It’s a good suggestion, but the idea of reading obituaries every day doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest.

The truth is . . . once you learn how to die, you learn how ...

by Jon Guerrera at Wed, 28 Jan 2015 23:05 Instapaperify


Take on the Tasks You Dread with a Concurrent Reward System

Take on the Tasks You Dread with a Concurrent Reward System

Rewards are a great way to get yourself to do the things you don't want to do. Some tasks are just too dreadful or boring, though, and you need something to make even starting them worthwhile. Concurrent rewards can help.


by Patrick Allan at Wed, 28 Jan 2015 23:00 Instapaperify

Blog of the Long Now » Futures

Edge Question 02015

dahlia640_0It’s been an annual tradition since 01998: with a new year comes a new Edge question.

Every January, John Brockman presents the members of his online salon with a question that elicits discussion about some of the biggest intellectual and scientific issues of our time. Previous iterations have included prompts such as “What should we be worried about?” or “What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?“ The essay responses – in excess of a hundred each year – offer a wealth of insight into the direction of today’s cultural forces, scientific innovations, and global trends.

This year, Brockman asks:

What do you think about machines that think?

In recent years, the 1980s-era philosophical discussions about artificial intelligence (AI) – whether computers can “really” think, refer, be conscious, and so on – have led to new conversations about how we should deal with the forms that many argue actually are implemented. These “AIs,” if they achieve “Superintelligence” (Nick Bostrom), could pose “existential risks” that lead to “Our Final Hour” (Martin Rees). And Stephen Hawking recently made ...

by Charlotte Hajer at Wed, 28 Jan 2015 22:28 Instapaperify

Superstitions and the Super Bowl

Put on your team jersey and don your special hat. Make sure you have the right chips and dips. Are your friends ready? Will everyone be in the correct seat on the couch drinking the exact right beverage? Your team is depending on you. You’ve got to help them win. If you get any of this wrong, your team will lose and it will be your fault.

by Ira.Hyman at Wed, 28 Jan 2015 22:02 Instapaperify