Weekly Roundup 185: A Curated Linkfest For The Smartest People On The Web!
Handpicked to satisfy your intellectual curiosity!
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A fantastic list of fact-checking websites – via Marketplace.org – It’s U.S. election time, which means there is enough rhetoric, inflammatory speech, and incendiary advertising to make a voter want to scream. Luckily, there are a few fact-checking websites out there that are ready and armed to debunk lies and expose the truth. Here’s a small sampling:
Tyranny of Merit – via The American Conservative – “Elite” wasn’t always a dirty word. Before the 19th century, the term described someone chosen for office. Because this typically occurred in the church, the word possessed distinctly ecclesiastical connotations. The pre-Victorians transformed a word imputing religious status to individual persons into a collective noun with class implications. By the 1830s, “elite” referred to the highest ranks of the nobility.
Atul Gawande – A Marriage Of Data And Caregivers – via The Browser – Interview with Atul Gawande, surgeon, writer, health-care diagnostician. Interesting throughout. On hot spotting, predictive analytics, networked transparency, health data, feedback loops — and old-fashioned human shortcomings
Lecture – The Birth of the Global Mind – via The Long Now – What keeps driving it is the generosity and joy we take in creating and sharing. The global mind is built on the gift culture of every medium of connectedness since the invention of language. You gain status by what you give away, by the value you create, not the value you take.
Lecture – Money’s Situational Effects – via thesituationist.wordpress.com – Money changes people’s motivations — increasing their sense of self sufficiency and even making them keep a greater physical distance from others. After focusing on money, individuals work longer before asking for help, are less helpful to others, and prefer to play and work alone. Kathleen D. Vohs presented at the “Small Steps, Big Leaps: The Science of Getting People to Do the Right Thing” research briefing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, co-sponsored by the Center for Social Innovation.
How Moral Decoupling Enables Consumers to Admire & Admonish – via www.jstor.org – What reasoning processes do consumers use to support public figures who act immorally? Existing research emphasizes moral rationalization, whereby people reconstrue improper behavior in order to maintain support for a transgressor. In contrast, the current research proposes that people also engage in moral decoupling, a previously unstudied moral reasoning process by which judgments of performance are separated from judgments of morality. By separating these judgments, moral decoupling allows consumers to support a transgressor’s performance while simultaneously condemning his or her transgressions. Five laboratory studies demonstrate that moral decoupling exists and is psychologically distinct from moral rationalization. Moreover, because moral decoupling does not involve condoning immoral behavior, it is easier to justify than moral rationalization. Finally, a field study suggests that in discussions involving public figures’ transgressions, moral decoupling may be more predictive of consumer support (and opposition) than moral rationalization.
How the Wealth Gap Damages Democracy – via www.psmag.com – Two new books explain the rise of economic inequality, and suggestthe rich are different than you or me: they have more political influence.
Reporting Poverty – via Guernica – Following three years of research in an Indian slum, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist discusses what language can’t express, her view that nobody is representative, and the ethical dilemmas of writing about the poor.
The Relationship Between Promises & Commitments? – via ideas.repec.org – We implement a trust game in which the trustee can write a free-form pre-play message for the trustor. The main twist in our design is that there is a 50% probability that the message is delivered to the trustor and a 50% probability that the message is replaced by an empty sheet. We find that even when messages are not delivered trustees who make a promise are significantly more likely to act trustworthy than those who do not make a promise. This suggests that a promise has a commitment value which is independent of its impact on the trustor. Interestingly, we also find that both trustees who make a promise and those who do not make a promise are more likely to be trustworthy if their message is delivered to the trustor. This means that communication increases trustworthiness irrespective of the content of messages.
Prison Polling Matters – via WSJ – “We’re missing 1% of the population,” said Becky Pettit, a University of Washington sociologist and author of the book, “Invisible Men.” “People might say, ‘That’s not a big deal.’ “But it is for some groups, she writes — particularly young black men. And for young black men, especially those without a high-school diploma, official statistics paint a rosier picture than reality on factors such as employment and voter turnout.
Beliefs and truth – via telling: A laboratory experiment – We conduct a laboratory experiment with a constant-sum sender-receiver game to investigate the impact of individuals’ first- and second-order beliefs on truth-telling. While senders are more likely to lie if they expect the receiver to trust their message, they are more likely to tell the truth if they belief the receiver expects them to tell the truth. Our results therefore indicate that second-order beliefs are an important component of the motives for individuals in strategic information transmission.
The Science of “Chunking,” Working Memory, and How Pattern Recognition Fuels Creativity – via Brain Pickings – he process of combining more primitive pieces of information to create something more meaningful is a crucial aspect both of learning and of consciousness and is one of the defining features of human experience. Once we have reached adulthood, we have decades of intensive learning behind us, where the discovery of thousands of useful combinations of features, as well as combinations of combinations and so on, has collectively generated an amazingly rich, hierarchical model of the world. Inside us is also written a multitude of mini strategies about how to direct our attention in order to maximize further learning. We can allow our attention to roam anywhere around us and glean interesting new clues about any facet of our local environment, to compare and potentially add to our extensive internal model.
The Great Transformation In The Global Labour Market – via The Browser – “The stark reality is that while the global labour market may contribute to the narrowing of some aspects of global inequality, it has contributed to widening inequalities within Britain and most other western economies”
Ted Video: The power of the informal economy – via TED.com – Robert Neuwirth spent four years among the chaotic stalls of street markets, talking to pushcart hawkers and gray marketers, to study the remarkable “System D,” the world’s unlicensed economic network. Responsible for some 1.8 billion jobs, it’s an economy of underappreciated power and scope.
Lunch With Tim Berners-Lee – via The Browser – After starring in Danny Boyle’s Olympics opening ceremony as a coder (“If you haven’t heard of him, we haven’t either,” said the NBC commentary), the inventor of the world wide web sits down to discuss technology and society
The Templeton Effect – via The Chronicle of Higher Education – “Philosophers don’t have that many sources of money to turn to,” says Brian Leiter, a philosopher at the University of Chicago’s law school and editor of the discipline’s leading gossip blog, Leiter Reports. For them, “Templeton has been a windfall.” No longer are philosophers stuck playing catch-up with the latest science; now, some of them have the resources to help shape it from the outset.
How Google Builds Its Maps—and What It Means for the Future of Everything – via The Atlantic – Behind every Google Map, there is a much more complex map that’s the key to your queries but hidden from your view. The deep map contains the logic of places: their no-left-turns and freeway on-ramps, speed limits and traffic conditions. This is the data that you’re drawing from when you ask Google to navigate you from point A to point B — and last week, Google showed me the internal map and demonstrated how it was built. It’s the first time the company has let anyone watch how the project it calls GT, or “Ground Truth,” actually works.
Does The Political Right twists facts?– via therearefreelunches.blogspot.com – Last week, the country convulsed with outrage over Missouri Republican Rep. Todd Akin’s false suggestion that women who are raped have a special bodily defense mechanism against getting pregnant. Akin’s claim stood out due to its highly offensive nature, but it’s reminiscent of any number of other parallel cases in which conservative Christians have cited dubious “facts” to help rationalize their moral convictions. Take the twin assertions that having an abortion causes breast cancer or mental disorders, for instance. Or the denial of human evolution. Or false claims that same-sex parenting hurts kids. Or that you can choose whether to be gay, and undergo therapy to reverse that choice. The ludicrous assertion that women who are raped have a physiological defense mechanism against pregnancy is just part of a long litany of other falsehoods in the Christian right’s moral and emotional war against science.
Information won’t set you free by itself – via www.overcomingbias.com – Information storage and communication increases our ability to discover and accumulate knowledge. And if Stephen Pinker is to be believed, humans have become more peaceful over time. However, the connection between better access to information and our softer world is dubious at best according to Adam Gopnik
Could the film Chasing Ice cause people to think differently about climate change? – via ihrrblog.org – An official trailer of the documentary Chasing Ice that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival early this year is now available. Chasing Ice could potentially get people thinking about climate change in new ways beyond modelling, charts and graphs and polarised debates about IPCC future climate projections and the existence of human-induced climate change itself. This film could be politicised on multiple scales, yet it seems smart enough to stand on its own above the political squabbling. But whether it will get large numbers of people to think about the Earth’s changing environments that we live in and the influence of climate change will be interesting to see.
Visualizing Mortality (1960-2010) – via Chart Porn – We covered a lot of this data back in June, but this is a nice presentation. The addition of the global data is useful, though trying to make comparisons by switching between the two isn’t easy – a static version would probably have worked better – so here are two screenshots to help you out.
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