Weekly Roundup 21: A Curated Linkfest For The Smartest People On The Web

Dear Readers,

Thank you for being so patient with me today.

I have come across a problem and need your help. Every weekend I have to select a number of articles for this review. The reality is that I could easily triple the length of the list with out changing the quality. Is anyone interested in a longer weekly wisdom roundup. If you guys like the idea. I’m thinking about creating a longer weekly wisdom roundup and maybe charging a couple bucks a month or per year (to help me maintain web costs).  Let me know your thoughts.

Miguel at SimoleonSense dot com

P.S. Both lists would contain the same amount of variety and quality articles, so to be fair to existing readers I not save the best articles for subscribers.


Here are some links to articles that didn’t make our front page. Several of the articles are very insightful I highly recommend reading them. As always, the articles are from different fields but should make you a more well rounded investor. Take Care.

(Click on the titles to access the articles)

0. Freeman Dyson: Contrarian National Treasure – Via Al Fin – Freeman Dyson is a physicist at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study. Widely dmired for his brilliance and his modesty, the 85 year old Dyson has lately ruffled feathers among the conformist glitterati by expressing doubts about the dangers of “global warming.” And so naturally, the echo chambers of climate catastrophe orthodoxy have rushed to paint the grand old scientist as a closet sell-out to the coal companies, or as a demented old fool well past his prime.

1. The Venus effect: What we see in the mirror isn’t what would really be there – Via Cognitive Daily – Most viewers would say this picture depicts a woman viewing her own reflection in a mirror. But based on the orientation of the mirror, it’s actually physically impossible for her to see her own reflection. Since we can see her face, then if she could see face in the mirror, her head would have to be positioned between us and the the mirror. At best all she would be able to see is us (or rather, the painter painting her picture).

2. Subliminal messages really do affect your decisions – Via New Scientist Life – During the memory task, the volunteers’ brain activity was monitored by electrical sensors attached to their heads. As the pattern of activity differed between “guessers” and the other groups, it suggests that we access unconscious and conscious visual memories differently, says Voss.

3. Video: Robot body language helps humans – Via New Scientist Life – Humans constantly give off non-verbal cues and interpret the signals of others – but without realising it at a conscious level, says Mutlu. The trembling hands of a public speaker betray their nerves even before a word is uttered, while poker players leak subtle signs such as eye flickers or twitches that can be used to spot bluffers. But when faced with a robot all our interpretive skills are irrelevant. Robots leak no information, so it is virtually impossible to read their intentions, which makes them hard to get along with.

4. Podcast: The Learning Styles Myth: An Interview with Daniel Willingham Via Psych Files – Guess what? There’s no such thing as “learning style” (the theory that each of us has a preferred way to learn new ideas. There are many supposed kinds of learning styles, such as a visual learning style, an auditory style, kinesthetic, etc.). Don’t believe it? Neither did I at first. I was sure for a long time that I personally had a visual learning style. Now I’m not so sure anymore. Listen to this interview with professor and author Daniel Willingham as he and I discuss the topic of learning styles. If there is no scientific support for learning styles then whey do we believe they must exist? We also discuss multiple intelligences. While there is support for this idea, many people are confused as to what Howard Gardner really says about his own theory. Let’s see if we can set the record straight about learning styles, abilities, and intelligences in this episode of The Psych Files.

5. The Attentional Spotlight – Via PsyBlog –The experience of ‘looking out of the corner of the eye’ using peripheral vision is commonplace but it conceals a unusual fact about attention. That is that we probably spend a lot more of our time than we might imagine with our ‘mind’s eye’ looking in a different direction to our eyeballs. Eye direction normally coincides with where attention is directed but it is such an important social signal that disguise is sometimes necessary.

6. The Neuro Science Of Deja Vu – Via NS Life –  Déjà vu can happen to anyone, and anyone who has had it will recognise the description immediately. It is more than just a sense that you have seen or done something before; it is a startling, inappropriate and often disturbing sense that history is repeating, and impossibly so. You can’t place where the earlier encounter happened, and it can feel like a premonition or a dream. Subjective, strange and fleeting, not to mention tainted by paranormal explanations, the phenomenon has been a difficult and unpopular one to study. Now that is changing, spurred in part by Mr P and a handful of people who, like him, have dementia and experience continuous déjà vu, and also by the discovery that there is a group of people with epilepsy who have déjà vu-like auras before a seizure. They are making it possible for researchers to catch the process in action, bringing hope that the secrets of this strange and disturbing phenomenon could finally be unlocked. Surprisingly, not only is déjà vu proving an interesting window on the peculiar ways that our memory works, it is also providing a few clues about how we tell the difference between what is real, imagined, dreamed and remembered – one of the true mysteries of consciousness.

7. The role of attention in sexual arousal – Via MindHacks – We can see from our everyday lives that attention is important for sex. We can distract ourselves to avoid sexual arousal when our mind has wandered onto sexual topics and we don’t want to get aroused, or we want to prolong sexual enjoyment without getting over-aroused. We also can do the reverse and focus strongly on sexual fantasises or our partner to dispel other thoughts and lose ourselves in the sexual moment. However, the article looks at the scientific research on attention during sex and discusses how this can help us understand and treat sexual problems.

8. Application:  Helps you highlight websites and take notes online – Via Academic Prouctivity -Would you like to highlight parts of webpages? I do that all the time with pdfs, so I miss this functionality when I’m online. Sometimes I bookmarked a site, but when returning to it I don’t see the part that interested me. This problem has been solved by diigo. As you may have observed, here at ap we are fans of social bookmarking and collaboration (we have the delicious bar under each post). Showing what people have bookmarked gives us feedback, and it is Up to now the leading contender in this space was delicious. But after finding Diigo, I cannot understand how delicious lost their competitive advantage so fast. Diigo is a killer app, and it works in many browsers.

9. Non Technical Overview Of Neuro Finance – Via SSRN & Geary Behaviour Center A non-technical overview of Neurofinance is provided by Sapra and Zak below – the extent to which findings from neuroeconomics should influence financial regulation as well as financial education is an interesting question for debate.

10. New book – Mindfield: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World – Via My Mind On Books – Our world is about to be revolutionised. The way we see economics, health, and law enforcement will change. Our perception of happiness, advertising, and even morality will be turned upside down. Reporting from the frontlines, award-winning writer Lone Frank tracks down the world’s top researchers in brain science and bravely volunteers herself in the name of discovery. As she enrols in a globe-spanning experiment on the moral nature of humanity, endures brain scans to learn the secrets of empathy, and dons a God Helmet to probe the neurological nature of religious experience, her adventures open the door to a plethora of shocking, mind-bending, and frequently comical revelations. An insider’s guide to the outermost boundaries of brain science, Mindfield offers an uplifting vision of what it means to be human in the new age of the brain.

11. Video: Dan Ariely – The Power Of Price Via Predictably Irrational Blog –

12. Nassim Taleb on the History of Medicine Via The Bayesian Heresy Is MTEF – History of medicine, anti-academic, anti-knowledge. Medicine: whenever we use knowledge as a driver instead of tinkering, we get in trouble. Examples: Our understanding of biological processes led to a decrease in cures. When just tinkering we did better than with directed research. Directed research gives us a strong bias and blinds us to things we don’t know are there. In medicine, most medicines are used to cure something completely different from what the intention was. Side-effects dominate. Try to collect positive black swans. Hubris problem, overestimating our knowledge. Difficult to think rationally about uncertainty and risk. Trust the science part, ask the doctor, but the doctor has no idea about the probabilities. Each person, disease is different. Minimize the harm coming from theories. Empirical doctors were successful until eliminated after the rise of Arabic medicine. Western medicine was rationalistic after the Arabic tradition. Improvements after that came from the barbers, not from the doctors. Thinking has not helped us a lot. Evidence in option trading. People think that quants make option formulas, therefore the market uses them. Bogus. Supply and demand. Did a lot better before the Black and Scholes formula…

13. Magic is in the MindVia The Situationist – The underlying concept of using quirks in human perception to learn about how the mind works is an old one. Visual, auditory and multisensory illusions, in which people’s perceptions contradict the physical properties of the stimuli, have long been used by psychologists to study the mechanisms of sensory processing. Magicians use such sensory illusions in their tricks, but they also heavily use cognitive illusions, manipulating people’s attention, trains of logic and even memory. Although magicians probably haven’t studied these phenomena with the scientific method—they don’t do controlled experiments—their techniques have been tested over time, perfected by practice and performed under conditions of high scrutiny by skeptical audiences looking to spot the trick.

14. 10,000 Year Danger Maker -Via Cognition & Culture – Here’s a real-world puzzle for students of precautionary cognition.The US Department of Energy’s “Waste Isolation Pilot Plan” is a program to store nuclear waste in an area that will remain toxic to humans for at least 10,000 years. The planners need to place markers that will discourage vandalism and reliably convey danger for 400 generations. The Edvard Munch aspect of the image above seems promising, but English text? They also considered planting immense spikes to inspire awe as well as aversion.

15. Video: Exercise boosts Brain Power – Via ShockMd – Exercise boosts brain power is one of the rules of the book: Brain RulesJohn Medina’s Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School pulls off a terrific trick: combining popular science with touching personal memoir and a bunch of practical conclusions for improving work, education and personal life.

16. Video: Keep Asking Questions – Via NeuroNarrative – Skeptic extraordinaire James Randi discusses parapsychologists, ghost hunters, PhD’s with whacky ideas, and demonstrates how a competent magician can make the impossible appear before your very eyes.

17. Video: Treasury Secretary Geithner on Financial System Oversight At Council On Foreign Relations Via Fora Tv – Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner addresses a Council on Foreign Relations meeting with his plan to adjust regulations on the U.S. financial system.

18. Hedge Fund Manager Says ‘Regulate Me!’ – Via Big Think- Sure, Geithner and Barney Frank are idiots, and regulators are by nature “slow moving,” but one hedge funder, who works at an “already registered” fund, says it would be a mistake to fight inevitable regulations, arguing that regulators can’t stop top talent from making huge money, and hedge funds don’t have anything to hide anyway.

19. A Living Wage in an Ailing Economy? Via Bill Moyers – This week, the JOURNAL introduced James Thindwa, a community organizer in Chicago who has been involved in a lengthy campaign to force big-box stores like Wal-Mart to pay employees a living wage if they want to open locations in the city. Those efforts proved controversial in struggling neighborhoods that lack other employment opportunities.

20. Video: Conversation With Founder Of Wikipedia: Andrew Lih – Via World Bank – Lih discussed the five major reasons for Wikipedia’s success. The program is free, which enables a vast reach among various audiences. It operates within an open, transparent community, allowing all its users to add, reduce or inspect value. The content is intended to be neutrality agreed upon by users, which allows them to work collaboratively on articles. The articles are updated at a speed comparable to major news providers, and it is social– meaning people converse and debate with one another in order to produce the content.

21. Podcast: How Business Can Improve Their Ability To Innovate Via Ideas Project – John Kao discusses the merits of prizes such as those given by the X Prize Foundation, Google and Cisco to encourage innovation in everything from genetics and the environment to space travel. Kao points out that, although these types of incentives have existed throughout history, the recent flurry of new prizes is the result of a number of factors. For one thing, the private sector is more agile and robust than it was say in the 1960s. We’ve also witnessed an exponential increase in the power of entrepreneurs to solve global challenges, and nowadays we’re facing a greater number of them than perhaps at any time in history.

22. Video: Hernando de Soto: Second Interview Via McAlvany & Wikipedia – De Soto has served was an economist for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), as president of the Executive Committee of the Intergovernmental Council of Copper Exporting Countries (CIPEC), as managing director or CEO of Universal Engineering Corporation (Continental Europe’s largest consulting engineering firm), as a principal of the Swiss Bank Corporation Consultant Group, and as a governor of Peru’s Central Reserve Bank.[3] De Soto was Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori’s personal representative and principal adviser until he resigned two months before latter’s self-coup in April 1992. The Associated Press reports that President Alan Garcia hired de Soto in August 2006 to lobby the U.S. Congress for passage of the Peru-United States Free Trade Agreement.[4] De Soto is currently President of the Lima-based ILD, where he works on the design and implementation of capital formation programmes in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and former Soviet Nations. Some 30 heads of state have invited him to carry out these ILD programmes in their countries. He is also on the Advisory Board of the Trickle Up Program.[5] He also co-chairs with former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor.

23. New Gatekeepers Twitter, Apple, YouTube Need Transparency in Editorial Picks – Via Media Shift @ PBS –  There was a time when all you needed was a good record review in Rolling Stone or a stellar book review in the New York Times to get a boost in sales and popularity. But as those old gatekeepers lose their cachet in the digital age, a new set of gatekeepers has sprung up and they don’t have bylines. These are the editors who pick featured artists and apps at the Apple iTunes store, who choose videos to spotlight on YouTube, and who highlight Suggested Users on Twitter. The most recent hubbub over the gatekeeping function started when Twitter began listing Suggested Users a couple months ago for newbies who weren’t following anyone and didn’t get how the service worked. By highlighting popular Twitter feeds from news organizations such as the New York Times and celebrities such as Britney Spears, Twitter hoped to hook new users. The problem? There was no explanation of how anyone made it onto such a list, and all the featured users started racking up huge numbers of followers.

24. The Financial Crisis: Address Structural Problems Immediately – Via Policy Pointers.Com- A 4-page Japanese perspective on the global financial crisis

25. How Hard the Fed Looked for AIG’s Potential Losses – Via ProPublica – Before you handed over $85 billion to a failing company, what sort of information would you need to know about it? The Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department had to make quick decisions [1] to save AIG back in September. Officials believed they had to act urgently to avoid a global financial seize-up. They didn’t have a lot of time to plumb AIG’s byzantine books [2]. So what information did they have? And what information have they used in the following six months, which saw three additional bailouts, each one prompted by apparent realizations that the situation was even worse than was known before?

26.  MIT Professors Approve Campuswide Policy to Publish Their Scholarly Articles Free Online – Via Wired Campus & Chronicle Of Higher Ed – The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is known for its ambitious effort to give away its course materials free online, and now the university is giving away its research, too. Last week MIT’s professors voted unanimously to adopt a policy stating that all faculty members will deposit their scholarly research papers in a free, online university repository (in addition to sending them to scholarly journals), in an effort to expand access to the university’s scholarship. The policy is modeled on one adopted last year by Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. At MIT, like at Harvard, professors can opt out of the policy if, for instance, a journal their paper is accepted to does not allow free publication of articles

27.  For Students in India, the American Dream Is Losing Its Appeal Via Chronicle Of Higher EdNew Delhi — The economic crisis in the United States has tarnished the American dream for many Indians, who are opting for university studies and career opportunities at home, the Reuters news agency reported. Vivek Wadhwa, an adjunct professor at Duke University and a senior research associate at Harvard Law School, described the “reverse brain drain” in a paper. “When I joined Duke four years ago, nearly every student talked about wanting to stay and work in the U.S.,” he said. “Now the vast majority plan to go back home. A few want to work here to pay off their loans, but they don’t think they will be able to get jobs.” About 100,000 skilled Indian “returnees” will go home from the United States in the next five years, Mr. Wadhwa estimated.

28. Daniel Everett, “Endangered Languages, Lost Knowledge and the Future” – Via Long Now Blog –  The Pirahã tribe in the heart of the Amazon numbers only 360, spread in small groups over 300 miles. An exceptionally cheerful people, they live with a focus on immediacy, empiricism, and physical rigor that has shaped their unique language, claims linguist Daniel Everett. The Pirahã language has no numbers or concept of counting (only terms for “relatively small” and “relatively large”); no kinship terms beyond immediate children and parents; no “left” and “right” (only “upriver” and “downriver”); no named distinction of past and future (only near time and far time); no creation stories or myths; and—most important for linguists—no recursion.

29. Awesome Video: Computers, Clocks, Astronomy and The Making of the Modern World – Via Long Now Blog – Long Now member and close friend Susan Shea sent me this astoundingly good episode of James Burke’s “Connections”show from 01978 (It is in 5 parts).  It is the best tracing of computing technology through time and culture I have ever seen, and shows the lineage of ancient clocks to modern computers (if a computer in 01978 can be called modern, but you get the idea.) This also reminded me how good this TV show was, now I have to watch the other episodes…

30. What’s a Smart Grid and Why Does It Matter? – Via Fractals Of Change – We Vermonters have a huge opportunity to use federal stimulus funds to shape our near term energy future. The Vermont of three years from now will have both reduced its use of expensive and relatively dirty peak electricity AND begun to substantially reduce the use of oil in cars and homes. Energy policy is a key part of the SmartVermont plan announced Thursday by Governor Douglas and the Smart Grid is a key part of energy policy. Whether you believe that the most important goal of an energy policy is reducing CO2 emissions, preventing the outflow of dollars from the State and nation for imported oil, or stopping the flow of petro dollars to unfriendly places, you are probably part of the huge consensus which believes that we need to reduce our use of fossil fuels both locally and nationally. It’s even better, of course, if we reduce our use of fossil fuels by making alternatives cheaper rather than just by making fossil fuels more expensive; that’s kinder to our pocketbooks and has a better chance of being a model for the rest of the world.

31. “King Solomon’s Dilemma and Behavioral Economics” – Via Economists View – King Solomon’s Dilemma and Behavioral Economics, Macromania:  When the tale of King Solomon’s dilemma was first told to me as a kid, I was (like most people, no doubt) left marvelling at Solomon’s brilliant solution to a rather difficult predicament. But then I grew up and made the unfortunate choice of pursuing a graduate degree in economics. My mind was left rotted to the point where I could no longer appreciate what most other people continued to believe was the self-evident wisdom of Solomon.

32. Robert Shiller- It Pays to Understand the Mind-Set- Via NYT-  The journalist Johannes Steel wrote a remarkably prescient book, “The Second World War,” which described the social psychology that laid the groundwork for global tragedy. Mr. Steel was trying to peer into people’s minds and infer their actual world views and motivations — in part by examining prewar cycles of social provocation in Germany and Japan and Italy. His timing about the war was wrong — he expected it to start in 1935, not 1939 — but he was correct about many fundamentals. Yet his early readers were often skeptical and blithely assumed that there would be no war. So it has been with more recent analyses, based in large part on social psychology, foreshadowing the global economic crisis of the current day. No one got it exactly right, but the insights of the approach ex.

33. How Some Places Fare Better in Hard Times – Via NYT –  The whole world seems to have been touched by the current recession, but that doesn’t mean that it has touched every place equally. Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released data on January unemployment rates across metropolitan areas, and the is staggering. Some places, like Ames, Iowa, or Lafayette, La., have unemployment rates that are less than 4 percent. At the other end of the spectrum, El Centro, Calif., has an unemployment rate of 24.2 percent and the rate in Flint, Mich., is over 14 percent.
34.  The Quiet Coup Via The Atlantic – One Thing you learn rather quickly when working at the International Monetary Fund is that no one is ever very happy to see you. Typically, your “clients” come in only after private capital has abandoned them, after regional trading-bloc partners have been unable to throw a strong enough lifeline, after last-ditch attempts to borrow from powerful friends like China or the European Union have fallen through. You’re never at the top of anyone’s dance card. The reason, of course, is that the IMF specializes in telling its clients what they don’t want to hear. I should know; I pressed painful changes on many foreign officials during my time there as chief economist in 2007 and 2008. And I felt the effects of IMF pressure, at least indirectly, when I worked with governments in Eastern Europe as they struggled after 1989, and with the private sector in Asia and Latin America during the crises of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Over that time, from every vantage point, I saw firsthand the steady flow of officials—from Ukraine, Russia, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, and elsewhere—trudging to the fund when circumstances were dire and all else had failed.
35. Video: The Financial Meltdown: Causes, Consequences, and Options -Via Econ Indicators – Andrew Samwick, Professor of Economics and Director, Rockefeller Center – Moderator, Nancy Marion, Professor of Economics, Bruce Sacerdote, Vice-Chair and Professor of Economics, and Eric Zitzewitz, Associate Professor of Economics
36.  Lecture Slides – Financial Economics Lecture 16: CDO, CDS, and Ireland-Via StephenkinsellaThis lecture introduces students to the CDO and CDS markets. We’ll talk about the structure of the markets, and describe how they are affecting Ireland at the moment.
37. The Internationalization of U.S. Doctorate Education Via NBER The representation of a large number of students born outside the United States among the ranks of doctorate recipients from U.S. universities is one of the most significant transformations in U.S. graduate education and the international market for highly-trained workers in science and engineering in the last quarter century. Students from outside the U.S. accounted for 51% of PhD recipients in science and engineering fields in 2003, up from 27% in 1973. In the physical sciences, engineering and economics the representation of foreign students among PhD recipients is yet more striking; among doctorate recipients in 2003, those from outside the U.S. accounted for 50% of degrees in the physical sciences, 67% in engineering and 68% in economics. Our analysis highlights the important role of changes in demand among foreign born in explaining the growth and distribution of doctorates awarded in science and engineering. Expansion in undergraduate degree receipt in many countries has a direct effect on the demand for advanced training in the U.S. Changes in the supply side of the U.S. graduate education market may also differentially affect the representation of foreign students in U.S. universities. Supply shocks such as increases in federal support for the sciences will have relatively large effects on the representation in the U.S. of doctorate students from countries where demand is relatively elastic. Understanding the determinants — and consequences — of changes over time in the representation of foreign born students among doctorate recipients from U.S. universities informs the design of policies affecting the science and engineering workforce.
38. Own Your Choices Via InfostheticsOwn Your Choices  is claimed to be the “first-ever choice making community”. At first, the website was part of the Own your C campaign, and meant to encourage teens not to smoke. Currently, it aims to reveal how personal choices affect others and characterize one’s self. In particular, the website focuses on starting the conversation around topics such as tobacco, health, self-image, culture, alcohol, relationships and school. Users are invited to connect with peers on these issues, to share their opinion and influence the conversation. And by accident, the interface seems driven by simple dynamic graphs of the statists resulting from the data-gathering surveys.

About Miguel Barbosa

I run this site.

29. March 2003 by Miguel Barbosa
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