Planet Rationalist

July 28, 2015

NeuroLogica Blog

Anecdotes and Cannabis Oil

An article making the rounds has this claim in the headline: This Man Was Given 18 Months To Live. Here’s How He Illegally Cured His Cancer. The article further explains that he “cured” his cancer with cannabis oil. This is highly misleading for multiple reasons.

This and other articles tell the story of David Hibbit, a 32 year old man who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012. First, let me say that of course I wish nothing but the best for Mr. Hibbit. I hope his cancer is completely gone and he lives a long life with his family. Cancer is a serious and scary disease. It has touched my family, and I am sure statistically it has touched most people reading this.

That, in fact, is why we have to be so careful when relating stories about cancer. Patients have serious and high-stakes decisions to make about how they are going to treat their cancer. Luring them to bad decisions with false promises and misleading but highly emotional stories is irresponsible.

The ...

by Steven Novella at Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:59 Instapaperify

BPS Research Digest

Why words get stuck on the tip of your tongue, and how to stop it recurring

Someone in a tip-of-the-tongue state will invariably writhe about as if in some physical discomfort. "I know it, I know it, hang on ..." they will say. Finger snapping and glances to the ceiling might follow, before a final grunt of frustrated submission – "No, it's gone".

Psychologists studying this phenomenon say it occurs when there is a disconnect between a word's concept and it's lexical representation. A successful utterance requires these two steps are bridged, but in the tip-of-the-tongue state, only the concept is activated (and possibly a letter or two) while the complete translation into letters and sounds fails. What's more, new research shows the very act of being in this state makes it more likely that it will recur.

Maria D'Angelo and Karin Humphreys provoked their participants into experiencing tip-of-the-tongue states by presenting them with the definitions for rare words (e.g. "What do you call an instrument for performing calculations by sliding beads along rods or grooves?"). Sometimes the students knew the word straight-off, other times they said ...

by Research Digest at Tue, 28 Jul 2015 09:03 Instapaperify

Cal Newport » Blog

Tim Ferriss in a Toga: The Ancient Greeks on Labor and the Good Life


The Wondrous Water Wheel

Writing in the first century B.C., Anitpater of Thessalonica made one of the first known references to the water wheel:

“Cease from grinding, ye women who toil at the mill; sleep late even if the crowing cocks announce the dawn. For Demeter has ordered the Nymphs to perform the work of your hands, and they, leaping down on the top of the wheel, turn its axle….we taste again the joys of the primitive life, learning to feast on the products of Demeter without labor.”

I recently encountered this quote in Lewis Mumford’s seminal 1934 book, Technics & Civilization As Mumford points out (drawing some on Marx), the striking thing about Anitpater’s reference to the water wheel is how its beneficiaries responded: This tool reduced their labor, so they reinvested that time in non-labor activities (“sleep late even if the crowing cocks announce dawn”).

This is a point that Mumford makes elsewhere in the book: in many times and cultures (and especially in ancient Greece), there was a notion ...

by Study Hacks at Tue, 28 Jul 2015 01:08 Instapaperify


Worrisome Politics

Following the elevated and philosophical tone of our previous posting about our variable human HORIZONS of inclusion, worry and hope...

... this next new one may seem a melting pot of rants!  Still, it adds up.  First:

What's this?  What's this?  Talk of actually enforcing anti-trust and anti-collusion and competitiveness laws?  The Justice Department has sent subpoenas to several major airlines as part of an investigation into "possible unlawful coordination" to limit capacity increases, and thereby keeping ticket prices high. Huh.  How very 20th Century!  Even Rooseveltean!

== The manifesto of the (next) front runner ==

Remember 2012, when each week featured a different Republican surging to the front of the pack, only to fade when folks got a closer look?  Well, as of this writing, that GOP poll leader is Donald Trump.  But you can count on that fad to fade -- the Republican Party establishment has it in for him, and you can depend on his braggadocio to send him blundering into one trap or another. (Still, I'll post about Mr. Trump soon, with ...

by David Brin at Tue, 28 Jul 2015 00:26 Instapaperify

July 27, 2015

World of Psychology

4 Ways to Deal with Job Search Rejection

job-search-rejectionThe resume that goes off into the online application ether.

The call for a second interview that never comes.

The rejection letter from your dream job that hits you like a ton of bricks.

No matter what stage you are at in the job search process, it’s likely that rejection has reared its ugly head in your direction. Being turned down for a role you really want is never fun, and it sure can tank your confidence.

And when you’re down in the dumps and vulnerable, disappointment can quickly spiral into a full-blown pity party. I often see clients who dwell on receiving a “no” from a prospective employer, beating themselves up and categorically slotting themselves as a failure all around. But the truth is, thinking that rejection has ruined you not only feels miserable, it also holds you back from any future chance at success.

A better way to handle rejection? Operating with a resilient mindset. Resiliency involves meeting challenges or setbacks with a constructive approach and focusing on the opportunities created ...

Mon, 27 Jul 2015 21:55 Instapaperify - Program Feed

Wild Seas, Secret Shores: Whale Sharks and Mudskippers

Wild Seas, Secret Shores: Whale Sharks and Mudskippers
Unbeknownst to many, the Middle East is home to some of the world's most remarkable marine ecosystems. But amid photographing juvenile whale sharks and fantastical mudskippers, National Geographic photographer Thomas Peschak comes across a devastating shark-meat trade.
Date: Mon, 27 Jul 2015 03:00:00 -0700
Location: , , National Geographic Live
Program and discussion:

Mon, 27 Jul 2015 19:32 Instapaperify

Wild Seas, Secret Shores: Jellyfish and Salmon

Wild Seas, Secret Shores: Jellyfish and Salmon
National Geographic photographer Thomas Peschak dives into freezing waters to photograph the stunning biodiversity of the Great Bear Rainforest, including black bears on the hunt for salmon and singing whales.
Date: Mon, 27 Jul 2015 03:00:00 -0700
Location: , , National Geographic Live
Program and discussion:

Mon, 27 Jul 2015 19:24 Instapaperify

4 Things to Know about the Euro Area's Economy

4 Things to Know about the Euro Area's Economy
The IMF says that although the euro area recovery is strengthening, a stronger collective push is needed on four key areas: increasing demand, cleaning up bank balance sheets, stepping up reforms, and strengthening governance.
Date: Mon, 27 Jul 2015 03:00:00 -0700
Location: , , International Monetary Fund
Program and discussion:

Mon, 27 Jul 2015 19:06 Instapaperify


Introducing Bulletproof Bullet Points: Your Biohacking News Flash

Here at Bulletproof we frequently share cool new studies and articles with each other and revel in the amazingness of science and biohacking. Someone often brings up the question: “Is this worthy of a blog post?” Far too often, the answer is “Yes, but I don’t have time.” Other times the study is interesting but […]

The post Introducing Bulletproof Bullet Points: Your Biohacking News Flash appeared first on Bulletproof.

by Bulletproof Staff at Mon, 27 Jul 2015 16:00 Instapaperify

zen habits

The Gods of This Day

By Leo Babauta

This morning my son Seth woke up, gave me my morning hug, and then I told him that he and I are gods.

We’re the Gods of This Day, and we have the power to make today one of the most amazing days ever.

We don’t have unlimited power, but we have great influence. To make today amazing, we need to:

  1. Choose activities we love, or turn ordinary things into amazing activities.
  2. Really pay attention to each activity, and really appreciate its amazingness.

Or, we could just let today be ordinary and not care. We chose to care.

So we spent about 20 minutes thinking out what we could do today to make it incredible, and we came up with:

  • Breakfast: Pancakes (Noelle is going to make them)
  • Read Harry Potter together
  • The Gods & House-elves Great Cleaning Race (we are supposed to clean house a bit, so we’re turning it into a game)
  • Lunch: Home-made pizza (I’ll make the dough, Seth makes the toppings)
  • Ride bikes
  • Play in ...

by zenhabits at Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:09 Instapaperify



Academic publishing versus retraction, or: how much Twitter knows about the market

Papers have mistakes all the time. If they’re smallish mistakes that don’t threaten the main work, often times the author is told to write an erratum, which the academic journal publishes in a subsequent volume. Other times the problems are more substantial, and might deserve the paper to be retracted altogether.

For example, if a paper is found to have fraudulent data, retraction is called for. Even when the claims made are outlandish, implausible, and unreproducible, but the authors hadn’t been intentionally fraudulent, there still may be just cause to seriously question their claims and retract. On the other hand, if a paper that was once deemed cutting edge and new is, in retrospect, not very innovative at all, then typically no retraction is called for; the paper is simply ignored. When exactly retraction happens, and how, probably depends on the journal, and even the editor.

Today I want to tell you a story in which that process seems to have gone badly wrong.

Elsevier, the academic publishing giant owns a journal ...

by Cathy O'Neil, mathbabe at Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:11 Instapaperify

Scientific American Content: Mind Matters

What You Don't Understand about Suicide Attacks

Whether in Chattanooga or Afghanistan, the attacks are driven more by psychological problems than ideology—which hints at a solution

--

Mon, 27 Jul 2015 13:20 Instapaperify

Andrew Gelman

On deck this week

Mon: Ripped from the pages of a George Pelecanos novel

Tues: “We can keep debating this after 11 years, but I’m sure we all have much more pressing things to do (grants? papers? family time? attacking 11-year-old papers by former classmates? guitar practice?)”

Wed: What do I say when I don’t have much to say?

Thurs: “Women Respond to Nobel Laureate’s ‘Trouble With Girls’”

Fri: This sentence by Thomas Mallon would make Barry N. Malzberg spin in his grave, except that he’s still alive so it would just make him spin in his retirement

Sat: If you leave your datasets sitting out on the counter, they get moldy

Sun: Spam!

The post On deck this week appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.

Mon, 27 Jul 2015 13:00 Instapaperify

Beeminder Blog

Weasel Heart-To-Heart

Old painting of Russian Czar Mikhail Fyodorevitch Romanov

Chelsea Miller is Beeminder’s Support Czar, meaning she’s in charge of making sure the rest of us at the beehive stay on top of all the email you send to And in fact she answers a huge amount of it personally. Pretty much everything she writes to users puts a huge smile on my face. This blog post is no exception.

I recently-ish had my one-year anniversabee! I first stumbled upon Beeminder around March 2014, but I went back and forth with myself about whether I should sign up. Was I really the type of person who needed to pledge money to strangers to get things done? Isn’t that just sad? Couldn’t I develop some willpower instead? (Yes, sometimes; no, I don’t think so; and no, I could not.) Anyway, as you can tell, I signed up, and then I achieved all my goals immediately and lived happily ever after…

Just kidding. I’ve derailed plenty. In fact, I have paid Beeminder more than $300 for the ...

by Chelsea Miller at Mon, 27 Jul 2015 12:19 Instapaperify

NeuroLogica Blog

Artificially Selected Organisms

A new petition to demands mandatory labeling for all “artificially selected organisms.” The petition says:

ASO plants or animals have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs. Artificial selection (or selective breeding) involves the selection of traits that are beneficial to humans, not what helps the organism survive in nature.

And concludes:

80% of Americans support mandatory labels on food containing DNA.

That last bit is true. A survey performed by Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics found that 80.44% of Americans supported “mandatory labels on foods containing DNA.” That puts into perspective public support for mandatory labels on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The petition is obviously satire, and I think it represents the perfect use of satire – putting into sharp relief the illogic of a specific position or claim. This is a fight that happens almost every time a GMO supporter argues with a GMO critic. It goes something like this:

GMO Critic – GMOs are not natural. They are dangerous because they have been ...

by Steven Novella at Mon, 27 Jul 2015 12:15 Instapaperify


Do Fewer Things, More Often

By Michael Lester

By Michael Lester

Entrepreneur and VC Mark Suster lives by this rule: “Do Less. More.” In a time when you could fill an entire work day just staying apprised of what’s happening in the Twittersphere, or devote more time to cool conferences than to being at your desk getting things done, the key to productivity is doing less, better and more often.

Here’s what that actually means:

Do less. And do the things that you ARE doing better and with higher quality. Have a shorter to-do list with more things that are in the “done” category. Do fewer business development deals but make the ones you do have more impact…. You don’t need to be hot. You need to be successful and those are two different things. Success often comes from doing a few things extraordinarily well and noticeably better than the competition.

You can’t do everything, or be everything, all the time. For accomplished creatives, that could be a difficult truth to swallow. There are projects that may never make ...

by Allison at Mon, 27 Jul 2015 11:00 Instapaperify

Friendly Atheist» Pseudoscience

Indian Witch Doctors, Visiting New Zealand on Temporary Visas, Are Conning Locals Out of Their Money

Apparently, Indian witch doctors are visiting New Zealand on “tourist or temporary work visas,” setting up shop, and conning locals out of a lot of money by pretending to have special powers. Even more, they’re offering 100% guarantees that their magic will protect people from things like money and marriage problems.

Pratima Nand, a resident who is rallying attention against these frauds, went undercover with a local news station to show how they work:

Ms Nand tells [the witch doctor] a false story of wanting to reunite with her husband after 17 years. She’s told 15 prayers will cost her $420.

Ms Nand says she was given a small container and told to take it to the bank and put the money in it.

“He said all the black magic will get trapped into this and then I give back to him with the money.”

Six days later at her next visit, the healer tells her the black magic has grown so strong she’s told he must pray another nine times — but ...

by Hemant Mehta at Mon, 27 Jul 2015 10:00 Instapaperify

Fallacy Files

New Book: "Spurious Correlations"

Have I mentioned recently that correlation is not the same thing as causation? Well, it isn't! Not only that, but Tyler Vigen has written a whole book to prove it. That book is titled "Spurious Correlations", naturally enough. According to "Scientific American"'s brief review, Vigen is a law school student, but he used to be an intelligence analyst for the military, which must have given him a lot of experience with spurious correlations. Just kidding!...

Mon, 27 Jul 2015 03:00 Instapaperify

Life by Experimentation

Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Motivation to Learn

CBT is a powerful tool in psychology for changing behavior. Best of all, it was designed to be something you can do on your own.

Sometimes it is possible to take research from one field of science and apply it to another. In the Great Courses Series on “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” the lecturer encourages us to do exactly that. So, let’s take a look at CBT and see if there’s a way to apply it to motivation and learning.

Motivation to learn is a topic I’ve covered from a few different angles in the past. CBT has something different to offer, though. It is a system for conditioning (or reconditioning) yourself. For changing behaviors.

CBT has been the focus of so much attention because of the multiple studies which show that it is just as effective as drug-based (pharmacological) treatments. It’s appealing to think that there’s a simple “talk-based” approach to fixing a problem, instead of popping a pill. CBT was originally developed to treat depression but has been successfully ...

by Zane Claes at Mon, 27 Jul 2015 00:00 Instapaperify

July 26, 2015

the blog

Speed matters

The obvious benefit to working quickly is that you’ll finish more stuff per unit time. But there’s more to it than that. If you work quickly, the cost of doing something new will seem lower in your mind. So you’ll be inclined to do more.

The converse is true, too. If every time you write a blog post it takes you six months, and you’re sitting around your apartment on a Sunday afternoon thinking of stuff to do, you’re probably not going to think of starting a blog post, because it’ll feel too expensive.

What’s worse, because you blog slowly, you’re liable to continue blogging slowly—simply because the only way to learn to do something fast is by doing it lots of times.

This is true of any to-do list that gets worked off too slowly. A malaise creeps into it. You keep adding items that you never cross off. If that happens enough, you might one day stop putting stuff onto the list.

* * *

I’ve ...

by James Somers at Sun, 26 Jul 2015 22:16 Instapaperify

Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking #139 - Eric Schwitzgebel on "Moral hypocrisy: why doesn't knowing about ethics make people more ethical?"

If you expect that professional ethicists would behave more ethically than other people you'd be wrong. Philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel and Julia discuss why the answer is no and explore questions like how do you decide how moral you're going to try to be?

by NYC Skeptics at Sun, 26 Jul 2015 15:00 Instapaperify


Andrew Gelman

The 3 Stages of Busy

Last week I ran into a younger colleague who said he had a conference deadline that week and could we get together next week, maybe? So I contacted him on the weekend and asked if he was free. He responded:

This week quickly got booked after last week’s NIPS deadline.

So we’re meeting in another week. That’s busy for you: after one week off the grid, he had a week’s worth of pent-up meetings! I thought I was busy, but it’s nothing like that.

And this made me formulate my idea of the 3 Stages of Busy. It goes like this:

Stage 1 (early career): Not busy, at least not with external commitments. You can do what you want.

Stage 2 (mid career; my friend described above): Busy, overwhelmed with obligations.

Stage 3 (late career; me): So busy that it’s pointless to schedule anything, so you can do what you want (including writing blogs two months in advance!).

The post The 3 Stages of Busy appeared first on Statistical ...

Sun, 26 Jul 2015 13:06 Instapaperify

Friendly Atheist» Pseudoscience

Virginia Psychic Indicted on Fraud Charges; She Never Saw It Coming

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: A “psychic” bilked her customers out of a hell of a lot of money and then wasn’t prepared when authorities came after her.

That’s what happened with Sandra Marks (known as “Catherine Marks”):

Marks operated a business that “offered services such as palm readings, candle readings, tarot card readings, astrological readings and spiritual readings,” according to the indictment.

According to the indictment, Marks would tell her clients that she had spoken to spirits and learned that the client and their family were suffering from a “curse” and a “dark cloud.”

To be rid of this “curse,” Marks told her clients they would need to make a “sacrifice” by providing Marks with large amounts of money and valuables, because “money was the root of all evil.”

She was charged with 31 counts of wire fraud after she allegedly received more than $2.1 million from five victims in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and Colorado.

Unlike other psychics, though, this wasn’t merely entertainment. Marks ran ...

by Hemant Mehta at Sun, 26 Jul 2015 13:00 Instapaperify

Mind Hacks

Spike activity 24-07-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news:

Why does the concept of ‘schizophrenia’ still persist? Great post from Psychodiagnosticator.

Nature reviews two new movies on notorious psychology experiments: the Stanford Prison Experiment and Milgram’s conformity experiments.

Can the thought of money make people more conservative? Another social priming effect bites the dust Neuroskeptic with a great analysis.

The Psychologist has a transcript of a recent ‘teenagers debunked’ talk at the Latitude Festival.

Oliver Sack’s excellent biography On The Move serialised on BBC Radio 4. Streaming only, online for a month only, but definitely worth it.

Science reports a new study finding that the ‘rise in autism’ is likely due to diagnostic substitution as intellectual disability diagnoses have fallen by the same amount.

Great piece in the New England Journal of Medicine on placebo effects in medicine.

The New York Times has an op-ed on ‘Psychiatry’s Identity Crisis’.

Brain Crash is an innovative online documentary from the BBC where you have to piece together a car crash and brain ...

by vaughanbell at Sun, 26 Jul 2015 09:36 Instapaperify

Marginal Revolution: Science

Your smart phone can predict your grades

Interesting but worrying too:

The SmartGPA study uses passive sensing data and self-reports from students’ smartphones to understand individual behavioral differences between high and low performers during a single 10-week term. We propose new methods for better understanding study (e.g., study duration) and social (e.g., partying) behavior of a group of undergraduates. We show that there are a number of important behavioral factors automatically inferred from smartphones that significantly correlate with term and cumulative GPA, including time series analysis of activity, conversational interaction, mobility, class attendance, studying, and partying. We propose a simple model based on linear regression with lasso regularization that can accurately predict cumulative GPA. The predicted GPA strongly correlates with the ground truth from students’ transcripts…Our results open the way for novel interventions to improve academic performance.

That is from a new paper by Rui Wang, Gabriella Harariy, Peilin Hao, Xia Zhou, and Andrew T. Campbell (pdf).  Class attendance, by the way, does not predict grades very well.

For the pointers I thank Eric Barker and Dan Gould.

Sun, 26 Jul 2015 02:59 Instapaperify

rationalist filter - Stack Exchange

How does an animal learn what a predator is? –

A while ago I heard the following anecdote: "On some tropical island, explorers infested the island with rats that wrecked the native ecosystem. To get rid of rats, people introduced cats ...

by Alex Stone at Sun, 26 Jul 2015 01:29 Instapaperify

ChangingMinds Blog

July 25, 2015

Friendly Atheist» Pseudoscience

Former CEO Accused of Sending $510,000 of Company Money to Psychics

Who do you call for health care advice if you’re a CEO who allegedly embezzled Medicaid funds? If you’re Erv Brinker (below), perhaps you call a psychic palm reader.

Earlier this year, Brinker was fired as CEO of Summit Pointe, a mental health care facility in Michigan, after an internal investigation turned up evidence of extensive financial malfeasance. The allegations in Summit Pointe’s criminal case against Brinker say that he offered a health care consulting contract worth over half a million dollars to Julie Davis and her husband Tommy Eli, circumventing Summit Pointe’s Board the entire time. When the company looked into Davis and Eli earlier this year, they didn’t exactly find their health care credentials…

In a press release after Brinker was arraigned Wednesday on two counts of Medicaid fraud conspiracy and one count of embezzlement by a public official, [Michigan Attorney General Bill] Schuette said his Health Care Fraud Division’s investigation revealed that “Brinker allegedly sent the $510,000 to a Key West psychic palm reader and ...

by Sarah Rasher at Sat, 25 Jul 2015 20:00 Instapaperify


Altruistic Horizons: Our tribal natures, the 'fear effect' and the end of ideologies

Okay, this is one of my big ones... a major posting about some fundamentals of human nature and history.  I sometimes blog these before posting them as full essays, then chapters in a forthcoming book.  So cinch up your  saddle for a serious ride as we explore some basic drivers of our unique civilization!


Social thinkers long yearned for the kind of predictive power offered by universal laws of Galileo, Newton and Einstein -- reductionist rules that changed our relationship with the material world, from helplessness to manipulative skill.

If only similar patterns and laws were found for human nature! Might we construct an ideal society suited to decent living by all? 

Or else... might technologized sociology anchor in the tyranny that almost all our ancestors knew? Tyrannies that were amateurish, by comparison to the coming All-State.

Deep thinkers about human nature start with assumptions. Freud focused on sexual trauma and repression, Marx on the notion that humans combine rational self-interest with inter-class predation. Machiavelli offered scenarios about power relationships. Ayn Rand postulates that the ...

by David Brin at Sat, 25 Jul 2015 17:50 Instapaperify



The Flagship Bulletproof Coffee Shop Opens Doors In Santa Monica!

Ever wish you could grab a perfectly made Bulletproof Coffee on your way in to work? Now you can! We are beyond stoked to announce today’s grand opening of Bulletproof Coffee, the world’s first high-performance coffee shop and cafe, in the heart of Santa Monica, California!! It’s time to show you the fruits – er, […]

The post The Flagship Bulletproof Coffee Shop Opens Doors In Santa Monica! appeared first on Bulletproof.

by Dave Asprey at Sat, 25 Jul 2015 12:00 Instapaperify


Aunt Pythia’s advice

Dear readers,

Do you ever wake up not knowing what you want to do when you grow up? And then you realize you’re far too old to feel that way? Well, that’s the way Aunt Pythia feels this morning. She’s in no position to give anyone advice.

And yet. And yet, it’s fun to give people advice! So here goes. Afterwards she’s planning to whip up a batch of delicious “Identity Crisis Crepes” to cheer herself up a bit. They’re going to look like this:

Identity Crisis Crepes have extra nutella.

Identity Crisis Crepes have extra nutella.

Are you addicted to carbs like Aunt Pythia? Do you wish to demonstrate solidarity to the cause? If so, before you go,

ask Aunt Pythia any question at all at the bottom of the page!

By the way, if you don’t know what the hell Aunt Pythia is talking about, go here for past advice columns and here for an explanation of the name Pythia.


Dear Aunt Pythia,

A bit lazy to sugarcoat this. I’ve noticed ...

by Cathy O'Neil, mathbabe at Sat, 25 Jul 2015 11:49 Instapaperify

Dan Ariely

Ask Ariely: On Reading Labels, Regulating Risks, and Reproducing Compliments

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


Dear Dan,

Whenever I go to the pharmacy or the supermarket, I find myself veering almost uncontrollably toward products that say “All Natural” on the label. Why?


Some time ago, my Duke University colleagues and I carried out experiments on the appeal of natural medications. The results showed that when we see the word “natural,” we don’t necessarily think that the product works any better, but we do tend to believe that it works more harmoniously with our bodies, with fewer side effects. By contrast, when we tested this preference with other products (such as glasses, cars or desks made from natural materials), people clearly preferred the artificial versions. This suggests that our preference for the natural applies largely to things that go into our bodies, such ...

by mrtrower at Sat, 25 Jul 2015 11:00 Instapaperify - Program Feed

Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold
James Kirby Martin discusses the truths and legends of Benedict Arnold.
Date: Fri, 29 May 2015 09:00:00 -0700
Location: Washington, D.C., Anderson House, Society of the Cincinnati
Program and discussion:

Sat, 25 Jul 2015 00:12 Instapaperify

July 24, 2015

Bayesian Investor Blog

Being Mindful of Beeminder

I use Beeminder occasionally. The site’s emails normally suffice to bug me into accomplishing whatever I’ve committed to doing. But I only use it for a few tasks for which my motivation is marginal. Most of the times that I consider using Beeminder, I either figure out how to motivate myself properly, or (more often) decide that my goal isn’t important.

The real value of Beeminder is that if I want to compel future-me to do something, I can’t give up by using the excuse that future-me is lazy or unreliable. Instead, I find myself wondering why I’m unwilling to risk $X to make myself likely to complete the task. That typically causes me to notice legitimate doubts about how highly I value the result.

by Peter at Fri, 24 Jul 2015 23:00 Instapaperify

Decision Science News

How much damage did Carrie Underwood do to that guy’s truck in that song?



We travel a lot, rent a lot of cars, drive around in far flung corners of the USA, and correspondingly, hear a lot of country music.

One song we’ve heard quite a few times goes:

I dug my key into the side
Of his pretty little souped-up 4 wheel drive,
Carved my name into his leather seats.
I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights,
Slashed a hole in all four tires.
Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats.

It’s a Carrie Underwood song called “Before He Cheats” and is also featured in the movie Pitch Perfect 2.

Anyway, the last time we heard this song, we couldn’t help but think, “Darn, that’s a lot of damage she does to his car. But how much?”

Then we thought, “Estimation is a vital skill in decision science. We should really estimate this.”

Then we thought, “blog post.”

Let’s break it down

Lyric: “I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped-up 4 wheel drive ...

Fri, 24 Jul 2015 19:41 Instapaperify

The GiveWell Blog »

New deworming reanalyses and Cochrane review

On Wednesday, the International Journal of Epidemiology published two new reanalyses of Miguel and Kremer 2004, the most well-known randomized trial of deworming. Deworming is an intervention conducted by two of our top charities, so we’ve read the reanalyses and the simultaneously updated Cochrane review closely and are responding publicly. We still have a few remaining questions about the reanalyses, and have not had a chance to update much of the content on the rest of our website regarding these issues, but our current view is that these new papers do not change our overall assessment of the evidence on deworming, and we continue to recommend the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative and the Deworm the World Initiative.

Key points:

  • We’re very much in support of replicating and stress-testing important studies like this one. We did our own reanalysis of the study in question in 2012, and the replication released recently is more thorough and identifies errors that we did not.
  • We don’t think the two replications bear on the most important parts of ...

by Alexander at Fri, 24 Jul 2015 17:54 Instapaperify

No Regrets

What regrets do you have? Although I’ve heard that we should live with “No Regrets,” I suspect we all have a list of regrets. Regrets invade our thoughts, occupy our minds, and keep us thinking about the things we wish we had done differently. But there may be ways to barricade your mind and stop ruminating about your regrets.

by Ira Hyman Ph.D. at Fri, 24 Jul 2015 17:17 Instapaperify