Incredible starling flocking visuals in this video taken in Ot Moor, a few miles to the east of Oxford, in the U.K.
How should one interpret scientific claims? Here are the headings to an excellent article featured in Nature:
Differences and chance cause variation.
No measurement is exact.
Bias is rife.
Bigger is usually better for sample size.
Correlation does not imply causation.
Regression to the mean can mislead.
Extrapolating beyond the data is risky.
Beware the base-rate fallacy.
Controls are important.
Randomization avoids bias.
Seek replication, not pseudoreplication.
Scientists are human.
Significance is significant.
Separate no effect from non-significance.
Effect size matters.
Study relevance limits generalizations.
Feelings influence risk perception.
Dependencies change the risks.
Data can be dredged or cherry picked.
Extreme measurements may mislead.
Henry Giroux was featured on Bill Moyers’ most recent show, and he regret that we are headed toward “zombie politics.”
In his book, Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism, author and scholar Henry Giroux connects the dots to prove his theory that our current system is informed by a “machinery of social and civil death” that chills “any vestige of a robust democracy.”
This week on Moyers & Company, Giroux explains that such a machine turns “people who are basically so caught up with surviving that they become like the walking dead – they lose their sense of agency, they lose their homes, they lose their jobs.”
What’s more, Giroux points out, the system that creates this vacuum has little to do with expanding the meaning and the substance of democracy itself. Under “casino capitalism,” the goal is to get a quick return, taking advantage of a kind of logic in which the only thing that drives us is to put as much money as we can into a slot machine and hope we walk out with our wallets overflowing.
I highly recommend this TED talk by Brandon Stanton, creator of Humans of New York. He contrasts his own work with the stories we often see on the television “news.” What we see on television are stories carefully filtered to show conflict, sex, violence and danger. It’s not a bad thing, per se, to view such stories, but it is a bad thing to accept these stories as representative of the way the world is.
I find Humans of New York to be a calming counterbalance to the stories usually presented by the “news.”
Beware those nice people out in the business world. Although they are often taken advantage of, they can band together to create jauggernaut business operations. The following comment was written by David Sloan Wilson and Jonathan Haidt, and it appeared in Forbes:
Many people implicitly think that niceness is a virtue for the rest of life, but when it comes to playing business hardball, only the selfish survive. The message of Grant’s book is that this isn’t true, and he gives us both scientific evidence and entertaining profiles for understanding why. Grant divides people into three behavioral categories: givers, matchers, and takers. As their names imply, givers are sweeties who unstintingly share their time and talent, seemingly for the sheer pleasure of it. Matchers calibrate their giving to their taking, and takers take whatever they can get. Who does best playing business hardball? It turns out that the givers do best and worst. When they succumb to the depredations of takers, they become doormats and chumps. But when they manage to work with other givers, they produce spectacular wealth and share the collective benefits. In other words, the costs and benefits of prosociality in the business world are no different than for the rest of life.
Forbes has an article on mentally strong people. Here are the headings of what mentally strong people avoid:
1. Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves.
2. Give Away Their Power.
3. Shy Away from Change.
4. Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control.
5. Worry About Pleasing Others.
6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks.
7. Dwell on the Past.
8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over.
9. Resent Other People’s Success.
10. Give Up After Failure.
11. Fear Alone Time.
12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything.
13. Expect Immediate Results.
This article at Paleolibrarian makes the argument that religion is a classic Hobson’s Choice.
If you are unfamiliar with Hobson’s choice it is essentially the option of no options. It is the illusion of fair and free choice set within only one possible outcome. So if you’re offered just one option and you’re told you can take it or leave it, is that really a choice?
How many religions have urged that they would encourage you to engage in free thinking, as long as you come up with the right conclusions? Stir in threats of ostracizing those who come up with the wrong conclusion combined with the fear of hell, and many a believer has been convinced to draw the curve before plotting the data. All of this is compliments of the confirmation bias, the cognitive bias that causes us to seek evidence that leads us where we want to go and blinds us to conflicting evidence. Thus, many people “choose” religion after asphyxiating their own thought process. But it feels as though one is thinking freely all the way to the preordained conclusion that embracing one’s religion–usually the religion one was taught as a child–is logical.