Weekly Roundup 191: A Curated Linkfest For The Smartest People On The Web!

P.S. Next Weeks Roundup Will Be Released Monday Nov 12th.

Handpicked to satisfy your intellectual curiosity!

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Weekly Cartoon(s):

The Weekly Roundup:

Why vote?via www.interfluidity.com – I’m a great fan of Kindred Winecoff, especially when I disagree with him, which is often. Today Winecoff joins forces with Phil Arena expressing disdain for the notion that there might be any virtue or utility to voting other than whatever consumption value voters enjoy for pre-rational, subjective reasons. There are lots of interesting arguments in the two pieces, but the core case is simple: The probability that any voter will cast the “decisive vote” is negligible, effectively zero; Even if a voter does cast the “decisive vote”, the net social gain associated with that act is roughly zero because different people have stakes in opposing outcomes. Once you subtract the costs to people on the losing side from the gains to winners, you find that there is little net benefit to either side prevailing over the other.

Infographic: 2012 political donations mapped over timevia flowingdata.com – This video of the Boston metropolitan area reveals the geographic distribution of political donations made by individuals throughout 2012. We identify two types of temporal bursts of campaign contributions. We call both “moneybombs” because they reveal a temporal clustering. The first type occurs when many small donations are given on the same day to a candidate. We call this a grassroots moneyb omb. The second are bursts of extremely large donations, that take advantage of campaign finance laws and allow individuals to donate more than the traditional $5,000 limit. We call this the Joint Committee moneybomb.

Big Sugar’s Sweet Little Liesvia Mother Jones – Precisely how did the sugar industry engineer its turnaround? The answer is found in more than 1,500 pages of internal memos, letters, and company board reports we discovered buried in the archives of now-defunct sugar companies as well as in the recently released papers of deceased researchers and consultants who played key roles in the industry’s strategy. They show how Big Sugar used Big Tobacco-style tactics to ensure that government agencies would dismiss troubling health claims against their products. Compared to the tobacco companies, which knew for a fact that their wares were deadly and spent billions of dollars trying to cover up that reality, the sugar industry had a relatively easy task. With the jury still out on sugar’s health effects, producers simply needed to make sure that the uncertainty lingered. But the goal was the same: to safeguard sales by creating a body of evidence companies could deploy to counter any unfavorable research.

The Definition of Abuse widensvia www.thepsychologist.org.uk – The new definition of ‘domestic violence and abuse’, coming into effect from March next year, now includes: ‘Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.’

Benoit Mandelbrot, the Father of Fractal Geometry, Pens a Disturbing New Memoir - via www.tabletmag.com – “Nearly all common patterns in nature are rough,” writes the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot at the beginning of The Fractalist: Memoir of a Scientific Maverick published posthumously this month by Pantheon. “They have aspects that are exquisitely irregular and fragmented—not merely more elaborate than the marvelous ancient geometry of Euclid but of massively greater complexity.”

Getting Lost: An Infographic Essay on the Meaning of Lifevia information aesthetics – New media artist Marco Bagni’s project “Getting Lost” is described as an “infographic essay on the meaning of life.”Or one could also describe it as a visually intriguing, infographically-stylized, animated but nonsensical movie that forms a joy for the eye. Popping bubble graphs, exploding radar charts, flowing streamgraphs, series of small multiples, it is all there.

How Do You Raise a Prodigy?via NYTimes.com – Prodigies are able to function at an advanced adult level in some domain before age 12. “Prodigy” derives from the Latin “prodigium,” a monster that violates the natural order. These children have differences so evident as to resemble a birth defect, and it was in that context that I came to investigate them. Having spent 10 years researching a book about children whose experiences differ radically from those of their parents and the world around them, I found that stigmatized differences — having Down syndrome, autism or deafness; being a dwarf or being transgender — are often clouds with silver linings. Families grappling with these apparent problems may find profound meaning, even beauty, in them. Prodigiousness, conversely, looks from a distance like silver, but it comes with banks of clouds; genius can be as bewildering and hazardous as a disability. Despite the past century’s breakthroughs in psychology and neuroscience, prodigiousness and genius are as little understood as autism. “Genius is an abnormality, and can signal other abnormalities,” says Veda Kaplinsky of Juilliard, perhaps the world’s pre-eminent teacher of young pianists. “Many gifted kids have A.D.D. or O.C.D. or Asperger’s. When the parents are confronted with two sides of a kid, they’re so quick to acknowledge the positive, the talented, the exceptional; they are often in denial over everything else.”

A History of Readingvia Brain Pickings – “A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic,” Carl Sagan poignantly observed. And while the writer-storyteller puts in place the pieces necessary for that magic to manifest, “the catalyst is the reader’s imagination.” But how, exactly, did we cultivate the skill of reading, which is so central to our intellectual identity? In A History of Reading (public library), Steven Roger Fischer traces how we went from the dawn of symbols to electronic text, and in the process deconstructs what it actually means to read.

Noam Chomsky on Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong via The Atlantic – There’s something to that. If you take a look at the progress of science, the sciences are kind of a continuum, but they’re broken up into fields. The greatest progress is in the sciences that study the simplest systems. So take, say physics — greatest progress there. But one of the reasons is that the physicists have an advantage that no other branch of sciences has. If something gets too complicated, they hand it to someone else.

Why We Can’t Solve Big Problems - via The Browser – The public has lost its appetite for high-risk, big-ticket projects. Governments have lost their nerve. Silicon Valley has “ceased to be the funder of the future, and instead become a funder of features, widgets, irrelevances”.

Astounding Experiments in UltraLearningvia Study Hacks – My friend Scott Young recently finished an astounding feat: he completed all 33 courses in MIT’s fabled computer science curriculum, from Linear Algebra to Theory of Computation, in less than one year. More importantly, he did it all on his own, watching the lectures online and evaluating himself using the actual exams. (See Scott’s FAQ page for the details of how he ran this challenge.)

Awe Expands People’s Perception of Time, Alters Decision Making, and Enhances Well Beingvia Sagepub- When do people feel as if they are rich in time? Not often, research and daily experience suggest. However, three experiments showed that participants who felt awe, relative to other emotions, felt they had more time available (Experiments 1 and 3) and were less impatient (Experiment 2). Participants who experienced awe also were more willing to volunteer their time to help other people (Experiment 2), more strongly preferred experiences over material products (Experiment 3), and experienced greater life satisfaction (Experiment 3). Mediation analyses revealed that these changes in decision making and well-being were due to awe’s ability to alter the subjective experience of time. Experiences of awe bring people into the present moment, and being in the present moment underlies awe’s capacity to adjust time perception, influence decisions, and make life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise.

Oxytocin: The Herding Hormonevia pss.sagepub.com – People often conform to others with whom they associate. Surprisingly, however, little is known about the possible hormonal mechanisms that may underlie in-group conformity. Here, we examined whether conformity toward one’s in-group is altered by oxytocin, a neuropeptide often implicated in social behavior. After administration of either oxytocin or a placebo, participants were asked to provide attractiveness ratings of unfamiliar visual stimuli. While viewing each stimulus, participants were shown ratings of that stimulus provided by both in-group and out-group members. Results demonstrated that on trials in which the ratings of the in-group and out-group were incongruent, the ratings of participants given oxytocin conformed to the ratings of their in-group but not of their out-group. Participants given a placebo did not show this in-group bias. These findings indicate that administration of oxytocin can influence subjective preferences, and they support the view that oxytocin’s effects on social behavior are context dependent.

Early life adversity, allostasis, and resilencevia Culture, Mind, and Brain: Emerging Concepts, Methods, Applications – Early life adver­sity (e.g., mal­treat­ment, neglect, divorce, poverty, chronic ill­ness, etc), whether in rodents, non-human pri­mates, or humans, fre­quently impacts devel­op­ment and func­tion of mul­ti­ple sys­tems across the life span. The sever­ity and direc­tion (i.e., neg­a­tive or pos­i­tive) of these effects is sen­si­tive to numer­ous fac­tors encom­pass­ing gen­der, devel­op­men­tal age, sen­si­tive peri­ods, gene poly­mor­phisms, level of social sup­port, and social con­text. Respond­ing to these insults acti­vates allo­sta­tic processes by which the organ­ism actively attempts to rereg­u­late key phys­i­o­log­i­cal sys­tems to main­tain sta­ble func­tion­ing within a bio­log­i­cally appro­pri­ate dynamic range. In humans, early life adver­sity ini­ti­ates the fol­low­ing cas­cade: (1) increases the phys­i­o­log­i­cal reac­tion to stress; (2) increases the degree to which one per­ceives events as stress­ful in ambigu­ous sit­u­a­tions; (3) poorer stress cop­ing skills due to reduced emo­tional con­trol and worse social skills. The cumu­la­tive cost, or allo­sta­tic load, of this process may lead to seri­ous patho­phys­i­ol­ogy. Depend­ing upon envi­ron­men­tal and other fac­tors, the end result can extend from changes in regional gene methy­la­tion, struc­tural changes in the brain, increased vul­ner­a­bil­ity to sym­pa­thetic ner­vous sys­tem and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) hyper-reactivity, immune sys­tem dys­func­tion, meta­bolic and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases, learn­ing and mem­ory deficits, to psy­chi­atric dis­ease. Alter­na­tively, in the pres­ence of cer­tain gene poly­mor­phisms that increase sen­si­tiv­ity to the envi­ron­ment and solid social sup­port, early life adver­sity gives rise to an appar­ent resilience. While researchers have yet to estab­lish why and how early adver­sity has such pro­found and long-lasting effects, any model attempt­ing to pre­dict and explain these obser­va­tions must encom­pass mol­e­c­u­lar, bio­log­i­cal, and social-cultural factors.

Understanding The Mechanism of unconscious internal bias in our choicesvia mindblog.dericbownds.net – What’s actually happening when we make choices that do not seem to be justifiable on purely economic or logical grounds? Wimmer and Shohamy do some interesting work showing how the hippocampus can instill an unconscious bias in our valuations, whereby an object that is not highly valued on its own, increases in value when it becomes implicitly associated with a truly high-value object. As a consequence, we then end up preferring the associated object over a neutral object of equal objective value while not really knowing why.

Ted Talk:  Want to be happier? Stay in the momentvia Video on TED.com – When are humans most happy? To gather data on this question, Matt Killingsworth built an app, Track Your Happiness, that let people report their feelings in real time. Among the surprising results: We’re often happiest when we’re lost in the moment. And the flip side: The more our mind wanders, the less happy we can be.

The Island Where People Forget To Dievia uvealblues.blogspot.com – Ikaria, an island of 99 square miles and home to almost 10,000 Greek nationals, lies about 30 miles off the western coast of Turkey. Its jagged ridge of scrub-covered mountains rises steeply out of the Aegean Sea. Before the Christian era, the island was home to thick oak forests and productive vineyards. Its reputation as a health destination dates back 25 centuries, when Greeks traveled to the island to soak in the hot springs near Therma. In the 17th century, Joseph Georgirenes, the bishop of Ikaria, described its residents as proud people who slept on the ground. “The most commendable thing on this island,” he wrote, “is their air and water, both so healthful that people are very long-lived, it being an ordinary thing to see persons in it of 100 years of age.”

Fact-Checking At The New Yorker - via The Browser – “Our end of the bargain is to try to be intelligent and diplomatic. To make things work out. Not to obstruct publication, but to get things as right as they can be. This doesn’t always make us popular inside the magazine”

The Hour Of The Expert A History of Economic Expertisevia The Browser – A short history of modern economic expertise. Its status has been assured since the 18th century, but not so the kind of expertise required. This shifts, sometimes a lot, but the role of expert never goes unfilled

A quick lesson on making predictionsvia flowingdata.com -Political analyst and statistician Nate Silver has gotten some flack lately for consistently projecting a 70-plus percent chance of a Barack Obama win this election. But as Jeff Leek explains, the criticism doesn’t spawn from Silver being wrong. Rather, it comes from the critics’ misunderstanding of statistics. Leek provides a quick lesson on how Silver makes his predications and how the methods apply to other things, like the weather.

The  Physiological benefits of leadershipvia Importance of a sense of control – Studies on primates have shown complex relationships between social dominance, physiology, and health among primates…basal cortisol levels in nonhuman primates do not so much reflect social rank as the meaning of social rank in a particular species and social group. Similar studies in humans have been challenging, because humans belong to multiple hierarchies (for example, one can have both a low position in a corporation and also be a respected church leader), and typically the one in which they rank highest is valued most. Sherman et al. have studied a population of governmental and military leaders (with equal numbers of men and women) who had been sent to an executive training program. Subjects came from a range of midlevel ranks (e.g., officers up to the rank of colonel in the army); had been in leadership positions for an average of more than 3 y; and were presumably well-regarded, given their selection by their organization for this honor. As the key findings, compared with age, sex, and ethnicity-matched nonleader controls, and after controlling for lifestyle health factors (e.g., diet, level of exercise), leaders had substantially lower resting cortisol levels and lower levels of self-reported anxiety. Thus, within this example of hierarchical stratification, high rank carries physiological and psychological advantages.

Y Combinator’s Paul Graham: The Hardware Renaissancevia www.paulgraham.com – They’ve faced resistance from investors of course. Investors have a deep-seated bias against hardware. But investors’ opinions are a trailing indicator. The best founders are better at seeing the future than the best investors, because the best founders are making it.

Asian Americans 70% of Stuyvesant High School (top NYC high school)via infoproc.blogspot.com – Stuyvesant High School (traditionally the top high school in NYC; admission is by exam) is now over 70% Asian-American. Meanwhile, at elite universities that do not practice race-blind admissions (from earlier post Demography and destiny; IIRC, currently the Asian-American fraction at all Ivies is lower than at Harvard in the early 1990s):

Book Review: Infographics a Functional Artvia Book Review – The book itself is really a highly readable, crystal clear, and unbelievably informative introduction to infographics and data visualization. It is full of great examples from the author’s work but also of other graphic designers. It is structured in two main sections. The first section is the introduction per se, where Cairo gives the “tricks of the trade” and offers the basic principles of graphic design in data presentations. It also includes chapters on designing graphics based on the way the human brain functions (the fact that the human brain processes certain shapes, shades and patterns better than others) based on the latest cognition research.

Oliver Sacks Trains His Gaze on Himself With His Newest Book, ‘Hallucinations’ via New York Magazine – To talk of diseases is a sort of Arabian Nights entertainment,” ran the epigraph to The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks’s fourth book and his first best seller—the one that made him famous, in 1985, as a Scheherazade of brain disorder. A sensitive bedside-manner neurologist, he had previously written three books, none of which had attracted much notice at all. The Man Who Mistook would mark the beginning of another career, and a much more public one, as perhaps the unlikeliest ambassador for brain science—a melancholic, savantlike physician disinterested in grand theories and transfixed by those neurological curiosities they failed to explain. Sacks was 52 years old and cripplingly withdrawn, a British alien living a lonely aquatic life on City Island, and for about ten years had been dealing with something like what he’d later call “the Lewis Thomas crisis,” after the physician and biologist who decided, in his fifties, to devote himself to writing essays and poetry.

Rick Bookstaber: A Crack in the Foundation of Economics -via More Readings – Last year I did a post on a mathematical error that has dictated the direction of important work in economics, and more especially finance. The discovery of this error, by U.K. mathematician Ole Peters, has slowly gained some recognition, though for some reason the journal where the original paper was published has not been willing to publish this correction.

Does complexity bias biotechnology towards doing damage?via www.overcomingbias.com – A few months ago I attended the Singularity Summit in Australia. One of the presenters was Randal Koene (videos here), who spoke about technological progress towards whole brain emulation, and some of the impacts this advance would have. Many enthusiasts – including Robin Hanson on this blog – hope to use mind uploading to extend their own lives. Mind uploading is an alternative to more standard ‘biological’ methods for preventing ageing proposed by others such as Aubrey de Gray of the Methuselah Foundation. Randal believes that proponents of using medicine to extend lives underestimate the difficulty of what they are attempting to do. The reason is that evolution has led to a large number of complex and interconnected molecular pathways which cause our bodies to age and decay. Stopping one pathway won’t extend your life by much, because another will simply cause your death soon after. Controlling contagious diseases extended our lives, but not for very long, because we ran up against cancer and heart disease. Unless some ‘master ageing switch’ turns up, suspending ageing will require discovering, unpacking and intervening in dozens of things that the body does. Throwing out the body, and taking the brain onto a computer, though extremely difficult, might still be the easier option.

You Don’t Work as Hard as You Say You Dovia Seth’s posterous – Americans tend to overestimate how many hours they work in a typical week by about 5 to 10 percent, according to a Labor Department study, with the biggest exaggerators being people who work longer weeks.

How the Stress of Disaster Brings People Together: Scientific Americanvia www.scientificamerican.com – Ever feel that stress makes you more cranky, hot-headed or irritable? For men in particular, we think of stress as generating testosterone-fueled aggression – thus instances of road rage, or the need to “blow off steam” after work with a trip to the gym or a bar. On the other hand, in circumstances of extreme stress such as during natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, we hear moving accounts of people going out of their way to help others. Hurricane Sandy has led to a flourish of supportive tweets and Facebook messages directed to people on the East Coast. The tsunami in Asia a couple of years ago led to a huge influx of financial support to help afflicted areas. Many who lived in New York City during 9/11 remember that, for a few days afterward, the boundaries and class divisions between people dissolved: people greeted each other on the street and were more considerate, sensitive to each other, and gentle than normal.

Why People Gossip: An Empirical Analysis of Social Motives, Antecedents, and Consequences – Beersma - via Wiley Online Library – In 3 studies with student samples, we advance a social-motivational approach to gossip. We developed the Motives to Gossip Questionnaire to distinguish negative influence, information gathering and validation, social enjoyment, and group protection as motives underlying gossip. Study 1 demonstrated that these motives can be distinguished empirically, and that the informational motive was the most prevalent reason to instigate gossip. Study 2 showed that group protection was especially important when the opportunity to gossip with a group member about another member’s norm-violating behavior was salient. Study 3 showed that when participants imagined someone gossiped to them about another group member’s norm violation, and ascribed this to group protection, they rated the gossip as social and did not disapprove of it.

Probably Not the Best Lager in the World: Effect of Brands on Consumers’ Preferences in a Beer Tasting Experimentvia ideas.repec.org – We investigate the role and impact of exposure to brands in consumers’ evaluations of lager beers, and explore its relation with exposure to intrinsic information. The first objective is to study the ability of young consumers to identify their preferred beer. The second is to explore the role played by brands, under two distinct perspectives: i) whether the effect of exposure to brands is either generalized or specific to preferred beers; ii) the ability of brands to induce perception of sensory characteristics. We propose a two-stage beer tasting experiment, exploiting information both on within-subject differences across different stages, and between-subjects differences across treatments. In each stage, participants’ evaluations for three beers was elicited using an incentive-compatible mechanism. The first stage was a blind tasting, while in the second stage beers were presented together with the bottles. Our main results are the following. Consumers seem unable to identify their preferred lager beer in a blind taste. Brands affect consumers’ evaluations: after brands are revealed, average evaluations change. Although they are stronger on most preferred brands, brand effects are generalized. Finally, extrinsic information on brands also affects and induces the description of sensorial perceptions of intrinsic characteristics of beers.

Reasoning Is Sharper in a Foreign Languagevia www.scientificamerican.com – The language we use affects the decisions we make, according to a new study. Participants made more rational decisions when money-related choices were posed in a foreign language that they had learned in a classroom setting than when they were asked in a native tongue.

Refusing to apologize can have psychological benefits (and we issue no mea culpa for this research finding)via Wiley Online Library – Despite an understanding of the perception and consequences of apologies for their recipients, little is known about the consequences of interpersonal apologies, or their denial, for the offending actor. In two empirical studies, we examined the unexplored psychological consequences that follow from a harm-doer’s explicit refusal to apologize. Results showed that the act of refusing to apologize resulted in greater self-esteem than not refusing to apologize. Moreover, apology refusal also resulted in increased feelings of power/control and value integrity, both of which mediated the effect of refusal on self-esteem. These findings point to potential barriers to victim–offender reconciliation after an interpersonal harm, highlighting the need to better understand the psychology of harm-doers and their defensive behavior for self-focused motives.

The Faintest Speck of Dirt Impacts Our Ability To Discriminatevia pss.sagepub.com – Purity is commonly regarded as being physically embodied in the color white, with even trivial deviations from whiteness indicating a loss of purity. In three studies, we explored the implications of this “white = pure” association for disgust, an emotion that motivates the detection and avoidance of impurities that threaten purity and cleanliness. We hypothesized that disgust tunes perception to prioritize the light end of the light-dark spectrum, which results in a relative hypersensitivity to changes in lightness in this range. In Studies 1 and 2, greater sensitivity to disgusting stimuli was associated with greater ability to make subtle gray-scale discriminations (e.g., detecting a faint gray stimulus against a white background) at the light end of the spectrum relative to ability to make subtle gray-scale discriminations at the dark end of the spectrum. In Study 3, after viewing disgusting images, disgust-sensitive individuals demonstrated a heightened ability to detect deviations from white. These findings suggest that disgust not only motivates people to avoid impurities, but actually makes them better able to see them.

Mike Norton: Giving Time Gives You Timevia pss.sagepub.com – Results of four experiments reveal a counterintuitive solution to the common problem of feeling that one does not have enough time: Give some of it away. Although the objective amount of time people have cannot be increased (there are only 24 hours in a day), this research demonstrates that people’s subjective sense of time affluence can be increased. We compared spending time on other people with wasting time, spending time on oneself, and even gaining a windfall of “free” time, and we found that spending time on others increases one’s feeling of time affluence. The impact of giving time on feelings of time affluence is driven by a boosted sense of self-efficacy. Consequently, giving time makes people more willing to commit to future engagements despite their busy schedules.

America’s opportunity gap - via lanekenworthy.net – For all the differences between Democrats and Republicans that were laid bare during the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign, the parties’ standard-bearers, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, do seem to have agreed on one thing: the importance of equal opportunity. In remarks in Chicago in August, Obama called for an “America where no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name is, no matter who you love, you can make it here if you try.” The same month, he urged the Supreme Court to uphold affirmative action in public universities, putting his weight behind what has been a mainstay of U.S. equal opportunity legislation since the 1960s. Days later, the Republican vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, echoed Obama’s sentiment, saying, “We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.” Romney, too, argued that whereas Obama “wants to turn America into a European-style entitlement society,” his administration would “ensure that we remain a free and prosperous land of opportunity.”

Charles Ferguson The Truth on  Glenn Hubbardvia www.valueinvestingworld.com – Found via Chris Martenson. I haven’t gone through all of Hubbard’s CV, but as an example, it looks like he received total compensation from KKR of $301,125 last year, another $289,124 from Metlife, and another $205,000 from ADP.

Crony Capitalism is the Common Enemy of The Tea Party and Occupy Movement- via Reality Base – Before the Occupy Movement appeared, I suggested in Common Ground for Tea Partiers and Liberals that both “feel that their lives are getting worse, not better, and that, rather than having control over their own lives, they are being dictated to and victimized by powerful people and institutions.” Professor Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business concurs in an LAT op ed today, where he specifically identifies crony capitalism as the common enemy of the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement

Monopoly Is Theftvia Harper’s Magazine – The players at Table 25 fought first over the choice of pawns. Doug Herold, a forty-four-year-old real estate appraiser, settled on the car. The player across from him, a shark-eyed IT recruiter named Billy, opted for the ship and took a pull from a can of Coors. The shoe was taken by a goateed toxic-tort litigator named Eric, who periodically distracted himself from the game on a BlackBerry so that he “could get billable hours out of this.” The dog was taken by a doughy computer technician named Trevis, who had driven from Canton, Ohio, as a “good deed” to help the National Kidney Foundation, sponsor of the 25th Annual Corporate Monopoly Tournament, which is held each year in the lobby of the U.S. Steel Tower in downtown Pittsburgh. On hand for the event, which had attracted 112 players, divided into twenty-eight tables of four, were the Pittsburgh Steelers’ mascot, Steely McBeam, who hopped around the lobby grunting and huzzahing with a giant foam I beam under his arm; three referees dressed in stripes, with whistles around their necks; and a sleepy-looking man, attired in a long judges’ robe and carrying a two-foot-long oaken gavel, who was in fact a civil-court judge for Allegheny County donating his time “to make sure these people follow the rules.”

Voting and Bounded Rationality a 160 year studyvia Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei .: Publications :. – Using a natural voting experiment in Switzerland that encompasses a 160-year period (1848–2009), we investigate whether a higher level of complexity leads to increased reliance on expert knowledge. We find that when more referenda are held on the same day, constituents are more likely to refer to parliamentary recommendations in making their decisions. This finding holds true even when we narrow our focus to referenda with a relatively lower voter turnout on days on which more than one referendum was held. We also show that when constituents face a higher level of complexity, they listen to parliament rather than interest groups.

Sex Motivates Aggressive Behavior in Males? - via Psych Net – There are sizable gender differences in aggressive behavior, with men displaying a much higher propensity for violence than women. Evolutionary theories suggest that men’s more violent nature derives in part from their historically greater need to compete over access to potential mates. The current research investigates this link between mating and male violence and provides rigorous experimental evidence that mating motives cause men to behave violently toward other men. In these studies, men and women were primed with a mating motive and then performed a noise-blast aggression task. Being primed with mating led men, but not women, to deliver more painful blasts of white noise to a same-sex partner (but not an opposite-sex partner). This effect was particularly pronounced among men with an unrestricted sociosexual orientation, for whom competition over access to new mates is an especially relevant concern. Findings also suggest that mating-induced male violence is motivated by a desire to assert one’s dominance over other men: when men were given feedback that they had won a competition with their partner (and thus had achieved dominance through nonaggressive means), the effect of the mating prime on aggression was eliminated. These findings provide insight into the motivational roots of male aggression and illustrate the value of testing theories from evolutionary biology with rigorous experimental methods.

The Invariant nature of Investor Ineptitudevia The Psy Fi Blog – One of our themes here is the unchanging nature of human behavior across time and space. It doesn’t much matter whether we’re in 1st century Rome, 17th century Holland, 18th century Britain or 21st century America, if you put large groups of people in the same situation they’ll tend to behave the same way when they have money at stake: irrationally.

Charlie Rose Talks to Jeremy Granthamvia www.valueinvestingworld.com – I am going to be careful, particularly for the first half of next year. Great brands of blue chips are not so bad in the U.S. Emerging countries are about fair price. Beaten-down European stocks, particularly the so-called value stocks, are probably a little cheap, although risky. And resource stocks, once they reflect the weak economy—and we’ll get another whack-down—will be a wonderful long-term purchase. Farmland and forests, which should be the backbone of any long-term, serious portfolio. … It will also be a good time to buy in.

Infographics: Tracking American Poverty - via Cool Infographics – Tracking American Poverty & Policy is an interactive infographic visualization site that breaks down the data about…you guessed it…poverty in America.

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