Weekly Roundup 110: A Curated Linkfest For The Smartest People On The Web

Here we go again…pt 2 of the weekly links

If you like this roundup or plan on linking to it (or from it) kindly include a reference to SimoleonSense Thanks.

Must Read Articles

Archaeology Of Debt: To Have Is to Owe – via LongNow


What I Learned from My Father, the Grifter
via Mens Journal- When my dad went off to work, it was not to an office. It was to a pool hall. or craps table. He was a gambler and con man, and as such he had a unique sensibility about money. It still awes, confounds, and influences me to this day.

What Makes an Honest Smile Honest? – via SciAm- What is the telltale clue to a genuine smile? Recent research finds positive correlations with this honest show of emotion. Christie Nicholson reports

Google’s Body Browser is a Google Earth for Human Physiology – via PopSci- Google has mapped just about every traffic artery you could ever want to locate on Google Maps, but what if the thruway you’re looking for isn’t on any road atlas? To help you tell your axillary artery from your common carotid, Google has created a G-Maps-like search-able guide for the human body that lets you zoom, scroll, and search for every muscle, gland, nerve, bone, or organ in our common physiology.

Success: Talent, Intelligence or Beauty ? – via ULB – We analyze the Celebrity 100 annual list of the world’s most “powerful celebrities” compiled and published by Forbes Magazine. The lists provide an interesting collection of people, that includes their earnings, and the perception of citizens concerning the attributes that made them become celebrities. We analyze the relationship between their earnings and the perceptions on their intelligence, talent, beauty and other attributes, and show that though beauty plays a role, intelligence and talent are more important.

The Time Travelling Brain –
via Neuroskeptic- What’s the difference between walking down the street yesterday, and walking down the street tomorrow?

Behavioral Economics: Handbook MPRA- This article describes the emerging subfield known as behavioral economics, which borrows from psychology, empirically tests assumptions used elsewhere in economics, and provides theories that aim to be more realistic and closely tied to experimental and field data. Highlights from the experimental findings of behavioral economics are discussed. The article remarks critically on the role of empirical realism and continued use of as-if methodology in behavioral economics. Problems in normative behavioral economics are given special attention as debates arise concerning how to interpret empirical findings that contradict standard definitions of axiomatic rationality. Ecological rationality, methodological pluralism, and Simon’s notion of bounded rationality are considered.

Visualizing the Proliferation of Pictures in Magazines – via Good – Over at the Software Studies Initiative, William Huber, Tara Zepel, and Lev Manovich have analyzed the changing layouts of the magazines Science and Popular Science.

Where does the data go when the host dies? – via LongNow- In the wake of the crumbling Yahoo! behemoth and the clamor of mass Delicious data dumps, it’s worthwhile to stop and ask ourselves just how “archived” is the data that we create and share in these free hosting sites? What kind of promises do these sites make to preserve our information and to care about the hundreds of hours we spend uploading, tagging, and arranging it? In the case of Yahoo! and all of its affiliate sites, none whatsoever.

You only live once: Our flawed understanding of risk helps drive financial market instability – via PhysOrg- Our flawed understanding of how decisions in the present restrict our options in the future means that we may underestimate the risk associated with investment decisions, according to new research by Dr Ole Peters from Imperial College London. The research, published today in the journal Quantitative Finance, suggests how policy makers might reshape financial risk controls to reduce market instability and the risk of market collapse.

Anatomy of a shopping spree: Pretty things make us buy more – via PhysOrg- With the holidays fast approaching and consumers in full shopping mode, new research shows that a seemingly innocent luxury item purchase can lead to an unintended, budget-busting spending spree.

As Pleasure Unfolds: Hedonic Responses to Tempting Food – via Sagepub – Why do chronic dieters often violate their dieting goals? One possibility is that they experience stronger hedonic responses to tempting food than normal eaters do. We scrutinized hedonic processing in dieters and normal eaters (a) by manipulating food preexposure and (b) by assessing both immediate and delayed hedonic responses to tempting food with an adapted affect-misattribution procedure. Without food preexposure, dieters showed less positive hedonic responses than normal eaters (Study 1). When preexposed to tempting-food stimuli, however, dieters exhibited more positive delayed hedonic responses than normal eaters (Studies 1 and 2). Furthermore, delayed hedonic responding was meaningfully related to self-reported power of food and state cravings (Study 2). These findings suggest that dieters experience difficulties in down-regulating hedonic affect when in a “hot” state and that self-regulation research may benefit from a greater emphasis on temporal dynamics rather than static differences.

Old and Wise: Why Do Smarter People Live Longer? – via SciAm- Bees help to explain the link between intelligence and long life

Miguel’s Favorites

The truth we’ll doubt: Does the “decline effect” mean that all science is “truthy”? – via SciAm- s an old hippy I still get a kick out of anarchy, mayhem and challenges to authority. As a father, teacher, journalist and all-around pillar of the community, however, I’ve come to see the upside of the status quo more than I did in my carefree youth. So part of me thrills at WikiLeaks’s assaults on government secrecy, whereas another part frets that forced transparency may subvert benign as well as malignant government actions.

What Diseases Get Researched? – via Neuroskeptic- She took 35 “neurodevelopmental” disorders, ranging from rare genetic syndromes like Rett’s, up to autism, ADHD and specific language impairment (SLI), and compared their prevalence stated in a textbook, to the number of scientific papers published about them over the past 15 years.

The Science of “Disestimation”: The Shortcomings of Opinion Polls – via SciAm- At the end of September the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a survey that seemed to show that nonbelievers knew more about religion than the faithful. Some media outlets crowed about the results (“Atheists Know More about Religion Than Believers,” Time magazine declared), whereas others turned to comforting the faithful (“We Didn’t Flunk the Religion Test,” FoxNews.com insisted). Few seemed to realize that the polls were far from immaculate. In fact, the episode was a good example of what I call disestimation: the act of taking fuzzy numbers way too seriously.

The creation of internet communities: A brief history of on-line distribution of working papers through NEP via MPRA – This paper adds to the growing literature on the formation of online communities from an historical perspective by telling of the emergence and development of a service for speedy, online distribution of recent additions to the broad literatures on economics and related areas called NEP: New Economics Papers as well as the online community that grew around it. We provide details of the social and technological challenges for its construction as well as the evolution of its governance. The development of NEP provides an illustrative example for the kind of new business models that have emerged as the Internet has been used by creative minds to provide existing services in a new way.

Video: WikiRebels: New Documentary Tells the WikiLeaks‎ Story – via OpenCulture

The Global Financial Crisis of 2007-08: Is it Unprecedented? – via Nber – This paper compares the recent global crisis and recession to earlier international financial crises and recessions. Based on existing chronologies of banking, currency and debt crises we identify clusters of crises. We use an identification of extreme events and a weighting scheme based on real GDP relative to the U.S. to identify global financial crises since 1880. For banking crises we identify five global ones since 1880: 1890-91, 1907-08, 1913-14, 1931-32, 2007-2008. In terms of global incidence the recent crisis is fourth in ranking and comparable to 1907-08. We also calculate output losses during the recessions associated with global financial crises and again the recent crisis is similar in severity to 1907-08 and is fourth in ranking. On both dimensions the recent crisis is a pale shadow of the Great depression. The relatively mild experience of the recent crisis may reflect institutional and policy learning.

Housing, Inequality and the Role of Population Mobility – via Policy Pointers- This 72-page Australian study aims to bring the role of population mobility into contemporary academic understandings of socio-spatial polarisation

Salt Crystals, Stevia, and the SunChips Bag: An Interview with PepsiCo’s Product Packaging Designer Derek Yach – via Good – As a result, you can read a Q&A with Paola Antonelli, the Senior Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, in which she talks about the impossibility of designing new pasta shapes, as well as the need for partnerships between artists and scientists; watch Marije Vogelzang explain her concept of “eating design;” and hear what PepsiCo’s Senior Vice President of Global Health and Agriculture Policy, Derek Yach, has to say about agricultural subsidies, corporate R&D, and the infamous SunChips bag, before speaking your own mind about what sort of food R&D we should be doing in future, and who we want to be doing it.

University of Utah: No. 1 for startups
– via Eurkea Alert- The University of Utah overtook MIT to become America’s No. 1 research institution when it comes to creating startup companies based on university technology, and it achieved the top ranking with a fraction of the research budget of other major universities.

When Giving Feels Good:The Intrinsic Benefits of Sacrifice in Romantic Relationships for the Communally Motivated – via Sagepub – Who benefits most from making sacrifices for others? The current study provides one answer to this question by demonstrating the intrinsic benefits of sacrifice for people who are highly motivated to respond to a specific romantic partner’s needs noncontingently, a phenomenon termed communal strength. In a 14-day daily-experience study of 69 romantic couples, communal strength was positively associated with positive emotions during the sacrifice itself, with feeling appreciated by the partner for the sacrifice, and with feelings of relationship satisfaction on the day of the sacrifice. Furthermore, feelings of authenticity for the sacrifice mediated these associations. Several alternative hypotheses were ruled out: The effects were not due to individuals higher in communal strength making qualitatively different kinds of sacrifices, being more positive in general, or being involved in happier relationships. Implications for research and theory on communal relationships and positive emotions are discussed.

Banking crises and the international monetary system in the Great Depression and now via BIS – We compare the banking crises in 2008-09 and in the Great Depression, and analyse differences in the policy response to the two crises in light of the prevailing international monetary systems. The scale of the 2008-09 banking crisis, as measured by falls in international short-term indebtedness and total bank deposits, was smaller than that of 1931. However, central bank liquidity provision was larger in 2008-09 than in 1931, when it had been constrained in many countries by the gold standard. Liquidity shortages destroyed the international monetary system in 1931. By contrast, central bank liquidity could be, and was, provided much more freely in the flexible exchange rate environment of 2008-9. The amount of liquidity provided was 5 ½ – 7 ½ times as much as in 1931. This forestalled a general loss of confidence in the banking system. Drawing on historical experience, central banks, led by the Federal Reserve, established swap facilities quickly and flexibly to provide international liquidity, in some cases setting no upper limit to the amount that could be borrowed.


Perils of being on the wrong side of asymmetric two-sided market
– via Iterative Path – eBay, Craigslist, dating sites and GroupOn have one thing in common – these are two-sided markets that need two sides (producer-consumer, men-women, stores-deal seekers) to be present to succeed. Buyers flock to such a market like eBay if they believe there is a wider selection of sellers and vice versa. Two sided markets succeed when there is net new value creation that all three (the two sides and the market maker) get to share in it.


The year in nonsense
– via Bad Science – It’s been a marvellous year for bullshit. We saw quantitative evidence showing that drug adverts aimed at doctors are routinely factually inaccurate, while pharmaceutical company ghostwriters were the secret hands behind letters to the Times, and a whole series of academic papers. We saw more drug companies and even regulators withholding evidence from doctors and patients that a drug was dangerous – the most important and neglected ethical issue in modern medicine — and that whistleblowers have a rubbish life.

Larry Summers says US wages can rise only for those in “inherently local” activities – via RealityBase – If our college graduates or our high school graduates find themselves embedded in an individualistic competition with workers from around the world, or if they develop skills for which the demand is going to fall due to possible replacement by technology, their wages are not going to rise. A necessary strategy for increasing wages is that we develop areas of unique strength that are less subject to international competition. That means the vast range of activities described in my speech where the market is inherently local. That also means maintaining the capacity for innovation so that our production is producing things that are not in what business strategists call commoditized businesses where that competition is going to be much more brutal.

Academic Papers


Whither Corruption? A Quantitative Survey of the Literature on Corruption and Growth
– via IZA – Does corruption grease or sand the wheels of economic growth? This paper uses metaanalysis techniques to systematically evaluate the evidence addressing this question. It uses a data set comprising 460 estimates of the effect of corruption on growth from 41 empirical studies. The main factors explaining the variation in these estimates are whether the model accounts for institutions and trade openness (both are found to deflate the negative effect of corruption), authors’ affiliation (academics systematically report less negative impacts), and use of fixed-effects. We also find that publication bias, albeit somewhat acute, does not eliminate the genuine negative effect of corruption on economic growth.

Perception of Animacy Irresistibly Influences Interactive Behavior – via Sagepub – Imagine a pack of predators stalking their prey. The predators may not always move directly toward their target (e.g., when circling around it), but they may be consistently facing toward it. The human visual system appears to be extremely sensitive to such situations, even in displays involving simple shapes. We demonstrate this by introducing the wolfpack effect, which is found when several randomly moving, oriented shapes (darts, or discs with “eyes”) consistently point toward a moving disc. Despite the randomness of the shapes’ movement, they seem to interact with the disc—as if they are collectively pursuing it. This impairs performance in interactive tasks (including detection of actual pursuit), and observers selectively avoid such shapes when moving a disc through the display themselves. These and other results reveal that the wolfpack effect is a novel “social” cue to perceived animacy. And, whereas previous work has focused on the causes of perceived animacy, these results demonstrate its effects, showing how it irresistibly and implicitly shapes visual performance and interactive behavior.

How Interoception Shapes Emotion Experience and Intuitive Decision Making – via Sagepub – Theories proposing that how one thinks and feels is influenced by feedback from the body remain controversial. A central but untested prediction of many of these proposals is that how well individuals can perceive subtle bodily changes (interoception) determines the strength of the relationship between bodily reactions and cognitive-affective processing. In Study 1, we demonstrated that the more accurately participants could track their heartbeat, the stronger the observed link between their heart rate reactions and their subjective arousal (but not valence) ratings of emotional images. In Study 2, we found that increasing interoception ability either helped or hindered adaptive intuitive decision making, depending on whether the anticipatory bodily signals generated favored advantageous or disadvantageous choices. These findings identify both the generation and the perception of bodily responses as pivotal sources of variability in emotion experience and intuition, and offer strong supporting evidence for bodily feedback theories, suggesting that cognitive-affective processing does in significant part relate to “following the heart.

Oh yeah another surprise part 3 is tomorrow!

About Miguel Barbosa

I run this site.

20. December 2004 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Weekly Roundups | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *