In the 21st Century curiosity will SKILL the cat.
Massive changes in digital technology are reshaping the business world—from more power to consumers, to business models that are more about ecosystems than competition.
John Hagel - Podcast - The hero's journey
The future of the business landscape
I believe that the future of work, above all else, is diverse. It’s not just diverse in terms of the race, age, gender, nationality and cultural background of the people working. It’s not just diverse in terms of the types of work being done or the types of projects or industries in which an organization operates. More systemically, it’s diverse in terms of our mode of working: how we organize, how we collaborate, when, where and how much we work, our organizational structures and decision processes, how we distribute power and resources, and our implicit and explicit incentive systems which can serve to make all of the above either thrive or stall.
Organizations today are dangerously undiversified with respect to our mode of work: we pretty much all do it the same way. Fixed roles on pre-defined ladders in a pyramid-shaped hierarchy with sometimes 10 or more levels, depending on company size. Fixed office locations where work is intended to happen, regular working times centered around 9–5 Mon-Fri, and tenure-based PTO allotments. Standardized bi-annual performance reviews and calibration processes run by committee. Annual budgeting and division-based headcount allocations, quarterly strategy and planning cycles at each of the top several levels of the pyramid, and re-orgs every 12–18 months.
The Diversified Organization
….acting upon the concept of the economy as an organism is likely to lead to far more intelligent and sustainable practices than the story enacted byHomo economicus. Key concepts such as “regulation”, “self-organization”, “adaptation” and “selection” are seen in a new light. The unregulated pursuit of self-interest by lower-level units such as individuals and corporations becomes obviously cancerous for the welfare of the whole. At the same time, the concept of society as an organism can lead in nightmarish directions. It’s good to be part of something larger than ourselves in some ways, but as individuals we don’t want to become mindless and expendable workers, which is what happens in some animal societies and could happen in human society if we aren’t careful.
The New Story. The Economy is an Organism
This is a great 12 min TED talk about the continual growth of neurons throughout adulthood. Even a decade ago there were many people who believed that there was a fixed number of neurons and it was all downhill once we reached adulthood. The video also lists some basic foods and behaviors that improve neurogenesis.
Sandrine Thuret: You can grow new brain cells. Here's how
Can we, as adults, grow new neurons? Neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret says that we can, and she offers research and practical advice on how we can help our brains better perform neurogenesis—improving mood, increasing memory formation and preventing the decline associated with aging along the way.
There’s been some interesting drama in the last month concerning Big Pharma and ‘predator capitalism’. We’ve seen the worst instincts of human avarice and also the best instincts - here’s a counter move that is an exemplar of good market citizenship. But this should alert us all - that we need to support alternative and perhaps open-source science for collective wealth, health and security.
Drug with rage-inducing >5,000% price-hike now has $1/pill competitor
Different company developed alternative in response to $750-per-pill price tag.
Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company that last month raised the price of the decades-old drug Daraprim from $13.50 a pill to $750, now has a competitor.
Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company based in San Diego, announced today that it has made an alternative to Daraprim that costs about a buck a pill—or $99 for a 100-pill supply.
“While we respect Turing's right to charge patients and insurance companies whatever it believes is appropriate, there may be more cost-effective compounded options for medications, such as Daraprim,” Mark L. Baum, CEO of Imprimis, said in a news release.
The alternative is not exactly the same as Daraprim, but it’s close. Daraprim’s active ingredient is pyrimethamine, which has been available since 1953 for the treatment of parasitic diseases (namely malaria and toxoplasmosis). Imprimis’ alternative also contains pyrimethamine as well as leucovorin, which the company said helps to reverse pyrimethamine’s negative effects on bone marrow.
Until now, Turing was the sole source of a pyrimethamine-based drug, which is often prescribed to patients with compromised immune systems such as those suffering from AIDS and cancer.
The price increase of Daraprim, announced last month, sparked widespread outrage against the company and its founder and chief executive, Martin Shkreli. The move by Imprimis is in direct response to those events, and the company said it plans to produce more cheap alternative drugs. In the news release, the company announced the start of a new program called Imprimis Cares, which will ensure affordable versions of the 7,800 generic FDA-approved drugs.
Here is another more informative link about this pharmaceutical company.
There are many issues where we must be careful of the behavior of incumbents facing profound disruption - here’s something happening around the efforts to delay or prevent the progress of alternative energy implementation. This article is about the U.S. but is a concern everywhere.
The Outrageous War on Solar
http://www.greenbuildermedia.com/blog/the-outrageous-war-on-solar?utm_campaign=vantage&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=23082127&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_w9pJiB0e73wtWUCloYxsahLt5cUjak_3mkSZBmAN81eCQ6vXtuqv9xZVQ3pRyVno7TLvP_iJdiWvey_4jE-WnJ019-g&_hsmi=23082127Fossil fuel interests are waging a shady war on solar through backroom transactions and bootleg deals. How long will they be able to rig the game?
84% of U.S. voters are in favor of “taking action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy”, but major fossil fuel interests don’t care as long as their profits are at stake.
A recent report by the Environment America exposed 12 special interest groups that are waging aggressive anti-solar campaigns in states across the country to quell the exponential growth that the solar industry has recently been experiencing.
These fossil fuel interests, utilities, and industry front groups are stacking the deck, substantially undermining key policies that have enabled the solar industry’s growth over the past decade—often to the detriment of the general (and supportive) public.
According to Environment America’s report, “A national network of utility interest groups and fossil fuel industry-funded think tanks is providing funding, model legislation and political cover for anti-solar campaigns across the country.”
The report highlights specific organizations that have worked hard to hinder the proliferation of solar in the U.S.
This article I think can be considered as a viable ‘weak signal’ related to changes in economic paradigm.
Vote of no confidence in shareholder capitalism
Big investors are leaning increasingly towards a long-termist and more inclusive outlook
What exactly does shareholder capitalism expect of the people who run companies and who invest in them? And if it does not expect enough, does that mean we should try something other than shareholder capitalism?
These esoteric questions are growing ever more practical. Big investors themselves are worried that markets are insufficiently long-termist, and that capitalism is insufficiently inclusive. Many different high-level efforts are under way to deal with the problem, with powerful investment groups such as BlackRock claiming that the current model is forcing companies to worry too much about the short term.
This has very practical effects. So far this year, the S&P 500’s market value has risen but its free float — the value of the shares available to buy — has fallen. Indeed, since 2011, global non-financial corporates have bought back more than $2.2tn of their own shares, equivalent to 9 per cent of average market value over the period, according to Citi.
This is de-equitisation, to use the term coined more than a decade ago by Rob Buckland, Citi’s equity strategist. Through share buybacks, cash mergers and high dividends, all egged on by shareholders in the low-yield environment of recent years, the total amount of shares on issue has declined.
Finally, environmental, social and governance, or ESG, investing is on the rise, with more than half of institutional investments in Europe now taking into account at least one of these factors, while $6.6tn in assets in the US are run along these lines. Again this betrays a sense that the invisible hand of shareholder market capitalism cannot be trusted to drive good outcomes…..
….A second approach is to start a different corporate framework altogether. The “benefit corporation” commits to creating public benefits, as well as profits, and must report regularly on its sustainability. Directors must take into account the interests of all stakeholders, and not just share-owners.
There were barely any benefit corporations in the US in 2009; now there are more than 3,000, including recognisable names such as Kickstarter, the crowdfunder, or Patagonia, the outdoor clothing maker.
Video games remains a domain of controversial claims - but what doesn’t seem to be controversial is the issue of the engagement of increasing numbers of youth in video game play. This is not likely to diminish as in the next few years we will see the emergence of Virtual Reality (VR) capabilities from many companies including Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Valve.
This 44 min video explore some of the research in how video games engage our emotions - this has important implications not just for ‘gamification’ for the design of new work environments - the gaming environment is emerging as a new laboratory for the social sciences.
Games Move Us - An Exploration of Design Innovations that Lead to Player Emotions
From the Interactive Media & Games Seminar Series; Katherine Isbister examines the new techniques that game designers and developers have added to the pantheon of media strategies for influencing how we feel while playing games.
For anyone interested in this line of thinking here’s a site and references to a series of books on the topic games.
The Playful Thinking series
The Playful Thinking series from MIT Press publishes engaging and visually compelling volumes on game-related topics, authored by both scholars and industry luminaries, that are easily accessible to academics, professionals, and laymen from a broad range of backgrounds and levels of experience.
Each volume ranges between 25,000-30,000 words (approximately 100 pages) in length, is small enough to be easily thrown in a backpack or a coat pocket, and is written in a way that is accessible and compelling to academics, professionals, and educated readers in general.
The series' focus can be summed up as follows:
- Each volume focuses on an innovative and clearly demarcated issue concerning video games.
- Each volume has a hook and theme that is relevant to readers outside video game studies.
- The prototypical volume discusses video games and x, applying insights from other fields to video games, and reflecting upon what this combination yields in terms of more general insights.
Short form, roughly 25,000-30,000 words.
Sample topics may include video games and art, video games and architecture, video games and music, the history of video games, video games and fairy tales, etc.
The trends toward solar energy continue to strengthen with advances in battery technology.
Discovery about new battery overturns decades of false assumptions
New findings at Oregon State University have overturned a scientific dogma that stood for decades, by showing that potassium can work with graphite in a potassium-ion battery – a discovery that could pose a challenge and sustainable alternative to the widely-used lithium-ion battery.
Lithium-ion batteries are ubiquitous in devices all over the world, ranging from cell phones to laptop computers and electric cars. But there may soon be a new type of battery based on materials that are far more abundant and less costly.
A potassium-ion battery has been shown to be possible. And the last time this possibility was explored was when Herbert Hoover was president, the Great Depression was in full swing and the Charles Lindbergh baby kidnapping was the big news story of the year – 1932.
“For decades, people have assumed that potassium couldn’t work with graphite or other bulk carbon anodes in a battery,” said Xiulei (David) Ji, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Science at Oregon State University.
“That assumption is incorrect,” Ji said. “It’s really shocking that no one ever reported on this issue for 83 years.” The Journal of the American Chemical Society published the findings from this discovery, which was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and done in collaboration with OSU researchers Zelang Jian and Wei Luo. A patent is also pending on the new technology.
The findings are of considerable importance, researchers say, because they open some new alternatives to batteries that can work with well-established and inexpensive graphite as the anode, or high-energy reservoir of electrons. Lithium can do that, as the charge carrier whose ions migrate into the graphite and create an electrical current.
But then again there continue to be interesting advance - this one is interesting.
D.C. Water begins harnessing electricity from every flush
The next time you flush in the nation’s capital, you might consider this: You — or, more precisely, whatever you have flushed — will help generate clean energy.
D.C. Water, which also treats sewage from much of the Maryland and Northern Virginia suburbs, recently became the first utility in North America to use a Norwegian thermal hydrolysis system to convert the sludge left over from treated sewage into electricity.
Yes, to put it bluntly, the city’s sewage treatment plant is turning poop into power.
“It’s a huge deal on so many fronts,” D.C. Water General Manager George S. Hawkins said after Wednesday’s official unveiling of the system. “It’s a public utility leading the world in innovation and technology. We have private and public water companies coming from all over the world to see this.”
D.C. Water officials say the $470 million system, which took four years to build, will end up paying for itself and shrink the plant’s overall carbon footprint by one-third.
This is a 15 min video between an economist and an researcher/activist in the emerging commons-based open-source economy. Very interesting discussion of the implication of a near-zero marginal cost political-economy. Worth the view - for a quick introduction to a movement that is much bigger than most incumbents imagine.
Voices of the Impact Economy: Michael Lewis and Michel Bauwens on Economic Democracies
In this podcast, Tammy Lea Meyer chats with Michael Lewis and Michel Bauwens on economic democracies and shared commons.
Learn more about Impact Economy October 5-9, 2015 in Whistler, B.C. Canada here: impacteconomy.io
More about Michael Lewis's latest book, The Resilience Imperative: https://www.newsociety.com/Books/R/The-Resilience-Imperative
More about Michel Bauwens: http://p2pfoundation.net/Michel_Bauwens
This is an interesting site with great pointers to other sites about machine learning and AI algorithms - for anyone interested in these things.
A Tour of Machine Learning Algorithms
Originally published by Jason Brownlee in 2013, it still is a goldmine for all machine learners. The algorithms are broken down in several categories. Here we provide a high-level summary, a much longer and detailed version can be found here. You can even download an algorithm map from the original article. Below is a much smaller version.
3D printing continues to make rapid advances here are a few of them.
In this article there is also a 4 min video.
MIT Invents A Flowing River Of 3-D Pixels That Lets Objects Assemble Themselves
THE TANGIBLE MEDIA GROUP'S LATEST INNOVATION COULD REVOLUTIONIZE THE ASSEMBLY LINE. HERE'S HOW.
When MIT's Tangible Media Group first unveiled its shapeshifting display, the inFORM, one thing the team pointed out was that it had a lot of possibilities for the manufacturing and industrial sectors. With Kinetic Blocks, a follow-up of sorts to the inFORM, the Tangible Media Group chose to explore this potential, showing how the conveyor-belt assembly lines of today could be replaced by flowing rivers of 3-D pixels.
Like the inFORM, Kinetic Blocks is a flatbed "shape display" made up of computer-controlled pins, with a Microsoft Kinect as an overhanging eye. What has been supercharged here is the ability and granularity with which those pins can manipulate objects. In their video demonstration, the Tangible Media Group shows how the Kinetic Blocks platform can be used to stack, rotate, twist, and move blocks, without any human intervention. It can even construct preprogrammed structures.
This is an ‘affordable’ ($2000) 3D printer for the home fablab - it looks like a regular scanner printer. A must see.
Glowforge - The iconic 3D Laser Printer that made crowdfunding history.
Built on Laser Cutter/Engraver Technology
Glowforge uses a beam of light the width of a human hair to cut, engrave, and shape designs from a variety of materials
3D printing of human organs continues to advance as well in an open-source way. There’s a 3 min video of what they call ‘bio-printing’ as well.
Team hacks off-the-shelf 3-D printer towards rebuilding the heart
As of this month, over 4,000 Americans are on the waiting list to receive a heart transplant. With failing hearts, these patients have no other options; heart tissue, unlike other parts of the body, is unable to heal itself once it is damaged. Fortunately, recent work by a group at Carnegie Mellon could one day lead to a world in which transplants are no longer necessary to repair damaged organs.
"We've been able to take MRI images of coronary arteries and 3-D images of embryonic hearts and 3-D bioprint them with unprecedented resolution and quality out of very soft materials like collagens, alginates and fibrins," said Adam Feinberg, an associate professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Feinberg leads the Regenerative Biomaterials and Therapeutics Group, and the group's study was published in the October 23 issue of the journal Science Advances.
Bioprinting is a growing field, but to date, most 3-D bioprinters have cost over $100,000 and/or require specialized expertise to operate, limiting wider-spread adoption. Feinberg's group, however, has been able to implement their technique on a range of consumer-level 3-D printers, which cost less than $1,000 by utilizing open-source hardware and software.
"Not only is the cost low, but by using open-source software, we have access to fine-tune the print parameters, optimize what we're doing and maximize the quality of what we're printing," Feinberg said. "It has really enabled us to accelerate development of new materials and innovate in this space. And we are also contributing back by releasing our 3-D printer designs under an open-source license."
This may be coming to a construction site near you in the next few years. There’s a nice very brief video as well.
AMAZING INDUSTRIAL 3D PRINTER FITS IN A TRUCK, CAN PRINT AN ENTIRE BUILDING IN 24 HOURS
Created by Russian engineer Nikita Chen-yun-tai, the new Apis Cor 3D printer is powerful enough to print a building in one day, yet small enough to be moved with minimal preparation and transportation costs. This portability allows users to print a building in one location and easily move the Apis Cor the next day to another spot. It promises to revolutionize the use of 3D printers in construction, especially in developing nations where low-cost, efficient printing is critical.
The 3D printing of houses is not a new idea — companies have been using the tenets of additive manufacturing for years. What makes the compact Apis Cor printer unique is the unit’s small size — it measures 16.4 ft by 5 ft, weighs 2.5 tons and can be assembled within 30 minutes. As a result, the Apis Cor can be moved easily without the need for an expensive method of transportation and setup. It requires no site preparation and no testing before use, which means it can be dropped on site and deployed right away after assembly.
This is not about 3D printing - but it is about creating 3D assets that could enable 3D maps and virtual landscapes.
England Makes 3D Data of the Entire Country Free After Minecrafters Ask For It
Laser scanning has helped England do everything from discovering new things about Stonehenge to planning better flood infrastructure. Now, the country has made the entirety of its massive trove of scans available for free—in part because of requests from everyone from researchers to Minecraft players.
Alright, so it’s not just for Minecraft, though it’s very funny to hear that fans actually appealed to the government for LIDAR data to use in the game. “Minecraft players have requested our LIDAR data to help them build virtual worlds,” the Environment Agency writes, “the data could be useful to anyone creating realistic 3D worlds.”
It’s also for anyone who could benefit from a comprehensive, high-res model of the country, including archaeologists studying Bronze Age burial sites, scientists working on climate change, and urban planners.
In fact, England’s been making its LIDAR data available for a few years. But last month, it made the entire 11-terabyte dataset available for free through an online portal. As the government’s Environment Agency points out, “that’s roughly equivalent to 2,750,000 MP3 songs.” As Prosthetic Knowledge put it this week, “you can download a country,” for free, for any use you want.
Since governments can’t be responsible for analyzing all the data it collects, it makes sense that they would open it up for public use. This is a growing trend: Minnesota has made its own LIDAR data available online, for example. Finland has made its data for some of the country available a few years ago, too, along with Switzerland and several other countries.
This is very cool - seeing what is right before us but has been invisible - whole new dimension to ‘body language’. This is a Must Read and see the 3 min video.
Affordable camera reveals hidden details invisible to the naked eye
HyperCam, which uses the visible and near-infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, illuminates a scene with 17 different wavelengths and generates an image for each.
Peering into a grocery store bin, it’s hard to tell if a peach or tomato or avocado is starting to go bad underneath its skin.
But an affordable camera technology being developed by the University of Washington and Microsoft Research might enable consumers of the future to tell which piece of fruit is perfectly ripe or what’s rotting in the fridge.
The team of computer science and electrical engineers developed HyperCam, a lower-cost hyperspectral camera that uses both visible and invisible near-infrared light to “see” beneath surfaces and capture unseen details. This type of camera is typically used in industrial applications and can cost between several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.
In a paper presented at the UbiComp 2015 conference, the team detailed a hardware solution that costs roughly $800, or potentially as little as $50 to add to a mobile phone camera. They also developed intelligent software that easily finds “hidden” differences between what the hyperspectral camera captures and what can be seen with the naked eye.
“It’s not there yet, but the way this hardware was built you can probably imagine putting it in a mobile phone,” said Shwetak Patel, Washington Research Foundation Endowed Professor of Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the UW.
“With this kind of camera, you could go to the grocery store and know what produce to pick by looking underneath the skin and seeing if there’s anything wrong inside. It’s like having a food safety app in your pocket,” Patel said.
Here’s a TED talk that provides information on the trajectory of this technology. What is totally fascinating is how sound was recovered from a video of a potato chip bag - a Must See. This too is a whole new dimension of ‘sensor technology’.
Michael Rubinstein: See invisible motion, hear silent sounds. Cool? Creepy? We can't decide
Meet the “motion microscope,” a video-processing tool that plays up tiny changes in motion and color impossible to see with the naked eye. Video researcher Michael Rubinstein plays us clip after jaw-dropping clip showing how this tech can track an individual’s pulse and heartbeat simply from a piece of footage. Watch him recreate a conversation by amplifying the movements from sound waves bouncing off a bag of chips. The wow-inspiring and sinister applications of this tech you have to see to believe.
This is an fascinating research development - regarding the fundamental nature of reality.
'Zeno effect' verified: Atoms won't move while you watch
One of the oddest predictions of quantum theory – that a system can’t change while you’re watching it – has been confirmed in an experiment by Cornell physicists. Their work opens the door to a fundamentally new method to control and manipulate the quantum states of atoms and could lead to new kinds of sensors.
The experiments were performed in the Utracold Lab of Mukund Vengalattore, assistant professor of physics, who has established Cornell’s first program to study the physics of materials cooled to temperatures as low as .000000001 degree above absolute zero. The work is described in the Oct. 2 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters
Graduate students Yogesh Patil and Srivatsan Chakram created and cooled a gas of about a billion Rubidium atoms inside a vacuum chamber and suspended the mass between laser beams. In that state the atoms arrange in an orderly lattice just as they would in a crystalline solid. But at such low temperatures the atoms can “tunnel” from place to place in the lattice. The famous Heisenberg uncertainty principle says that position and velocity of a particle are related and cannot be simultaneously measured precisely. Temperature is a measure of a particle’s motion. Under extreme cold velocity is almost zero, so there is a lot of flexibility in position; when you observe them, atoms are as likely to be in one place in the lattice as another.
Previous experiments have demonstrated the Zeno effect with the “spins” of subatomic particles. “This is the first observation of the Quantum Zeno effect by real space measurement of atomic motion,” Vengalattore said. “Also, due to the high degree of control we’ve been able to demonstrate in our experiments, we can gradually ‘tune’ the manner in which we observe these atoms. Using this tuning, we’ve also been able to demonstrate an effect called ‘emergent classicality’ in this quantum system.” Quantum effects fade, and atoms begin to behave as expected under classical physics.
As if the Zeno Effect weren’t strange enough - this next bit of progress isn’t ready for prime time - but if we think about the end of Moore’s Law - well maybe there’s a lot more Moore than many think.
Scientists have found a way to make light waves travel infinitely fast
Have you ever wondered why we don’t use light to transmit messages? Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, but while we use light to carry signals along fiber optic cables, we use electrons to process sound and information in our phones and computers. The reason has always been because light particles–photons—are extremely difficult to manipulate, whereas electrons can be manipulated relatively easily.
But now a group of Harvard physicists has taken a major step toward solving that puzzle, and have brought us one step closer to ultra-fast, light-based computers.
The physicists, led by Professor Eric Mazur, have created a material where the phase velocity of light is infinite. Their results were published in Nature Photonics on Oct. 19th.
“The phase speed is infinite—much larger, infinitely larger than the speed of light,” Mazur tells Quartz.
This doesn’t mean light itself is traveling faster than the speed of light, which would violate the laws of relativity. “Phase velocity” refers to the speed of the crest of waves that ripple out when light strikes a material. The Harvard scientists created a material that allows these wave crests to move infinitely fast. This is a strange thought to wrap your head around, and means the crests of the waves are oscillating through time, but not space. Under these peculiar conditions, the Harvard scientists found that it’s easy to manipulate the photons, squeezing them down to the microscopic scale and turning them around. In other words, we can treat photons in the same way we currently manipulate electrons.
Here’s another article on the same thing.
To infinity and beyond
LIGHT GOES INFINITELY FAST WITH NEW ON-CHIP MATERIAL
Many of us you are scientists, or work in domains based on an expertise in applied logic think of ourselves as relatively immune to the illusion of causality. This is a very good article that everyone should read as a reminder of just how easily we can attribute ‘cause-effect’ relationship to correlated phenomena.
Your Brain Is Primed To Reach False Conclusions
Paul Offit likes to tell a story about how his wife, pediatrician Bonnie Offit, was about to give a child a vaccination when the kid was struck by a seizure. Had she given the injection a minute sooner, Paul Offit says, it would surely have appeared as though the vaccine had caused the seizure and probably no study in the world would have convinced the parent otherwise. (The Offits have such studies at the ready — Paul is the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and author of“Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All.”) Indeed, famous anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy has said her son’s autism and seizures are linked to “so many shots” because vaccinations preceded his symptoms.
But, as Offit’s story suggests, the fact that a child became sick after a vaccine is not strong evidence that the immunization was to blame. Psychologists have a name for the cognitive bias that makes us prone to assigning a causal relationship to two events simply because they happened one after the other: the “illusion of causality.” A study recently published in the British Journal of Psychology investigates how this illusion influences the way we process new information. Its finding: Causal illusions don’t just cement erroneous ideas in the mind; they can also prevent new information from correcting them.
This finding might seem like nothing more than an interesting psychological quirk if it didn’t make us so vulnerable to quackery. Many so-called “alternative” remedies exploit the illusion of causality, Matute said, by targeting conditions that naturally have high rates of spontaneous recovery, such as headaches, back pain and colds. Quack cures remain popular in part because they bestow a sense of empowerment on people who are feeling miserable, by giving them something to do while they wait for their problem to run its course.
….Physicians don’t have a great track record for self-assessment. A 2006 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that doctors are poor judges of their own performance.
In this respect, doctors are only human, and so it’s not so surprising that the medical profession is filled with practices that have been disproved. Even when the evidence for or against a treatment or intervention is clear,medical providers and patients may not accept it. In some cases, the causality illusion is to blame, but usually the reasons are more complex. Other cognitive biases — such as motivated reasoning (all of us want to believe that the things we do make a difference), base rate neglect (failing to pay attention to what happens in the absence of the intervention), and confirmation bias (the tendency to look for evidence that supports what you already know and to ignore the rest) — also influence how we process information. In medicine, perverse incentives can push people in the wrong direction. There’s no easy fix here.
One thing seems clear, though. Simply exposing people to more information doesn’t help.
So where does this leave us? With a lot of evidence that erroneous beliefs aren’t easily overturned, and when they’re tinged with emotion, forget about it. Explaining the science and helping people understand it are only the first steps. If you want someone to accept information that contradicts what they already know, you have to find a story they can buy into. That requires bridging the narrative they’ve already constructed to a new one that is both true and allows them to remain the kind of person they believe themselves to be.
And speaking of false conclusions - this is an interesting article - again pointing to a potential shift toward an emerging new economic paradigm. The article also has some very worthwhile links to other articles.
The New Story. The Economy is an Organism
The problem when we pretend homo economicus is real
Just as Ronald Reagan rode tall on his horse in one western movie after another before entering politics, a fictional character named Homo economicus has been riding the economic range for decades, captivating ever larger audiences. The problem is, when we pretend that the story enacted by Homo economicus is real, it causes us all to ride off a cliff, as I recount in a previous essay titled “Change the Story. Survival of the Fairest Companies”.
Can a story really be so powerful that it overrides experience, scientific evidence, logic, and common sense? Of course it can, as Eric Hoffer showed us long ago in his book The True Believer. The problem is to spot the stories told by true believers and avoid the temptation of true belief in ourselves. Some cases are easy to spot, such as religious zealotry, but others do a better job of masquerading as reality. The story enacted by Homo economicus is an example of such a stealth religion. Theologian Harvey Cox nailed it in his 1990 Atlantic Monthly article titled The Market as God, which begins this way:
“A few years ago a friend advised me that if I wanted to know what was going on in the real world, I should read the business pages. Although my lifelong interest has been in the study of religion, I am always willing to expand my horizons; so I took the advice, vaguely fearful that I would have to cope with a new and baffling vocabulary. Instead, I was surprised to discover that most of the concepts I ran across were quite familiar.”
The True in True Believer refers to a willingness to stick to a given belief to the bitter end, but the same word has two other meanings. A belief can be true when it corresponds to factual reality, as in a scientific truth. A belief can also be true when it leads to a desired outcome, in which case we call it realistic. Let’s call a belief that is true in all three senses a Triple T Belief. It is scientifically correct, causes us to thrive as human beings, and is so compelling that we stick with it through thick and thin. That’s a form of True Belief worth wanting.
Here’s a great infographic about risk - something that we should all have a better sense of priority about.
The things most likely to kill you in one infographic
Humans are notoriously bad at assessing risk. It's why someone lights up another cigarette while worrying about getting killed by a terrorist, and why so many of us calmly drive to work everyday but feel nervous getting on a plane.
To help people make sense of all this, the UK's National Health Service put together the Atlas of Risk, which we first saw tweeted by Duke University physician Peter Ubel.
Here are the leading causes of death in the UK, with larger circles representing more common causes:
Given that Saturday is Halloween - I thought I would share some of the results of my annual pumpkin mania. Here are a few of my Pumpkins. Happy Halloween.