Favorite Links of the Week
How economists have misunderstood inequality: An interview with James Galbraith – via The Washington Post – Yet there’s still plenty about economic inequality that’s not well understood. What’s actually driving the gap between the richest and poorest? Does it hurt economic growth, or is it largely benign? Should it be reversed? Can it be reversed? Surprisingly, there’s little consensus on how to answer these questions — in part because good data on the topic is hard to come by.
Joseph Stiglitz: The 99 Percent Wakes Up – via The Daily Beast – There are times in history when people all over the world seem to rise up, to say that something is wrong and to ask for change. This was true of the tumultuous years of 1848 and 1968. It was certainly true in 2011. In many countries there was anger and unhappiness about joblessness, income distribution, and inequality and a feeling that the system is unfair and even broken.
1 One mile on a bike is a $.42 economic gain to society, one mile driving is a $.20 loss – via therearefreelunches.blogspot.com – “When all these factors are added together the net social gain is DKK 1.22 per cycled kilometer. For purposes of comparison there is a net social loss of DKK 0.69 per kilometer driven by car.” 1.22 Danish crowns is about 25 cents and a kilometer is 6/10 of a mile, so we are talking about a net economic gain to society of 42 cents for every bicycle mile traveled. That’s a good number to have in your back pocket.
Leaving Wall Street – via nplusonemag.com – When you are wealthy and successful, you have a choice. You can believe your success stems from luck and privilege, or you can believe it stems from hard work. Very few people like to view their success as a matter of luck. And so, perhaps understandably, most people on Wall Street believe they have earned their jobs, and the money that follows.
Romney’s Former Bain Partner Makes a Case for Inequality – via NYTimes.com – Ever since the financial crisis started, we’ve heard plenty from the 1 percent. We’ve heard them giving defensive testimony in Congressional hearings or issuing anodyne statements flanked by lawyers and image consultants. They typically repeat platitudes about investment, risk-taking and job creation with the veiled contempt that the nation doesn’t understand their contribution. You get the sense that they’re afraid to say what they really believe. What do the superrich say when the cameras aren’t there?
Michael Norton: How to buy happiness – via Video on TED.com – At TEDxCambridge, Michael Norton shares fascinating research on how money can, indeed buy happiness — when you don’t spend it on yourself. Listen for surprising data on the many ways pro-social spending can benefit you, your work, and (of course) other people.Through clever studies, Michael Norton studies how we feel about what we buy and spend.
MIT is teaming up with Khan Academy (whose founder went to MIT and will deliver MIT’s commencement speech this spring), and together they will produce ”short videos teaching basic concepts in science and engineering” for K-12 students. The videos will be produced by MIT’s ever-so-creative students themselves and then be made available through a dedicated MIT website and YouTube channel. You can click the links to start watching the first batch of videos, or watch an example above, The Physics of Unicycling
Dreamers and Storytellers: E. O. Wilson on Art and Reconciling Science and the Humanities – via Brain Pickings – This month, the celebrated Harvard sociobiologist E. O. Wilson — who once famously said that “the elegance, we can fairly say the beauty, of any particular scientific generalization is measured by its simplicity relative to the number of phenomena it can explain” — penned a terrific Harvard Magazine piece on the origin of the arts. One of Wilson’s most urgent points is something we’ve already seen articulated by C. P. Snow, who in 1959 lamented a dangerous cultural dichotomy
Harvard and MIT Create EDX to Offer Free Online Courses Worldwide – via Open Culture – Now comes the latest news. MIT has teamed up with its Cambridge neighbor, Harvard, to create a new non profit venture, EDX. To date, Harvard has barely dabbled in open education. But it’s now throwing $30 million behind EDX (M.I.T. will do the same), and together they will offer free digital courses worldwide, with students receiving the obligatory certificate of mastery at the end. The EDX platform will be open source, meaning it will be open to other universities. Whether EDX will replace MITx, or sit uncomfortably beside it, we’re not entirely sure (though it looks like it’s the former).
Rory Sutherland: Perspective is everything – via Video on TED.com – The circumstances of our lives may matter less than how we see them, says Rory Sutherland. At TEDxAthens, he makes a compelling case for how reframing is the key to happiness.Rory Sutherland stands at the center of an advertising revolution in brand identities, designing cutting-edge, interactive campaigns that blur the line between ad and entertainment
The Wilson Quarterly: The Call of the Future by Tom Vanderbilt – via www.wilsonquarterly.com – Still, there are signs of an ongoing cultural shift. Even as the number of wireless connections increased from 286 million in 2009 to 303 million in 2010, voice usage on those phones decreased. And our calls are getting shorter. While in 2003 the average local mobile phone call lasted a leisurely three minutes, by 2010 it had been trimmed to a terse one minute and 47 seconds.
How Chicago house got its groove back – via Chicago Reader – House music has belonged to the world as a whole for most of its history. But like everything else in club life, Chicago-purist house has its vogues of popularity and wider cultural relevance. The mid-to-late 90s was such a time—just as right now is. The original sound of Chicago house music labels Trax and DJ International has been reintegrated into clubland’s matrix with increasing frequency. A number of producers have made back-to-’87-style tracks. Vintage-Chicago-house 12-inches pop up on mixes by under-25 DJs such as Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka (their XLR8R Mix, from March, pivots halfway through on Armando’s “Downfall,” first released on Trax in 1988).
The Unknown Inventor Whose Work Is Saving The Developing World – via uvealblues.blogspot.com – Ashok Gadgil is a professor at UC Berkeley. But in his spare time, he’s come up with solutions for water, cooking, and energy quandaries, improving lives from the Sudan to India. How does he do it? He just likes a good puzzle.
Two Hundred Years of Surgery - via www.nejm.org – Surgery is a profession defined by its authority to cure by means of bodily invasion. The brutality and risks of opening a living person’s body have long been apparent, the benefits only slowly and haltingly worked out. Nonetheless, over the past two centuries, surgery has become radically more effective, and its violence substantially reduced — changes that have proved central to the development of mankind’s abilities to heal the sick.
The Perfect Milk Machine: How Big Data Transformed the Dairy Industry – via The Atlantic – Dairy scientists are the Gregor Mendels of the genomics age, developing new methods for understanding the link between genes and living things, all while quadrupling the average cow’s milk production since your parents were born.
How Much Choice Would You Choose? – via thesituationist.wordpress.com – Undergraduates packed Science Center E on Monday to hear two of Harvard’s leading social scientists discuss the way that humans make decisions, and whether having more choices really makes us happier.
Testosterone On My Mind And In My Brain – via Edge – This is a hormone that has fascinated me. It’s a small molecule that seems to be doing remarkable things. The variation we see in this hormone comes from a number of different sources. One of those sources is genes; many different genes can influence how much testosterone each of us produces, and I just wanted to share with you my fascination with this hormone, because it’s helping us take the science of sex differences one step further, to try to understand not whether there are sex differences, but what are the roots of those sex differences? Where are they springing from? And along the way we’re also hoping that this is going to teach us something about those neuro-developmental conditions like autism, like delayed language development, which seem to disproportionately affect boys more than girls, and potentially help us understand the causes of those conditions.
How Critical Thinkers Lose Their Faith in God – via www.scientificamerican.com – Why are some people more religious than others? Answers to this question often focus on the role of culture or upbringing. While these influences are important, new research suggests that whether we believe may also have to do with how much we rely on intuition versus analytical thinking. In 2011 Amitai Shenhav, David Rand and Joshua Greene of Harvard University published a paper showing that people who have a tendency to rely on their intuition are more likely to believe in God. They also showed that encouraging people to think intuitively increased people’s belief in God. Building on these findings, in a recent paper published in Science, Will Gervais and Ara Norenzayan of the University of British Columbia found that encouraging people to think analytically reduced their tendency to believe in God. Together these findings suggest that belief may at least partly stem from our thinking styles.
Psychology of Fraud: Why Good People Do Bad Things – via Longform – The story of one man’s descent into lies and illegal activity — and why it could so easily happen to any of us.
The Pursuit of Well Being – via jimdew.wordpress.com – With all the emphasis on income and consumption inequality, it’s timely that an economist reminds us that these are not the only measure of well being. There is declining inequality in mortality rates and growing inequality in leisure time, although the distribution of leisure time is probably inversely related to to the distribution of income. After all, if you want one of those high income jobs, you’d better be prepared for a 70 hour work week!
The Yale Environment Review wants to brief you on the latest in environmental research – via Plugged In, Scientific American Blog Network – I’m excited to share with y’all the Yale Environment Review, fresh out of the Yale School of School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. The Review is a super refined weekly web publication curated by subject matter experts from Yale who summarize important research articles from leading natural and social science journals with the hope that people can make more informed decisions using latest research results.
Moving beyond ‘the tipping point of climate change’ – via ihrrblog.org – During the discussion I couldn’t help but think that each person views climate change through her or his own reality tunnel, that the ‘facts’ are often construed one way or another to suit their relative belief systems, although I know climate change is certainly something real and more than likely people have something to do with it based on scientific data available. We know that discussions surrounding climate change have moved far beyond the science and that it is not simply about ‘getting the science right’ and the rest will follow.
The Man Who Hacked Hollywood – via Longform – How a lonely, self-taught hacker found his way into the private emails of movie stars — and into the underworld of the celebrity-skin business.
The Illusion of Choice – via Chart Porn – This has been making the rounds lately. I find it as interesting to look at the minimalist design inherent in modern logos as the ownership concentrations.