Getting into College is about to get disrupted.

ACET in Ateneo de Davao University High School 2012 

What We’re Missing In Measuring Who’s Ready For College
[Via FiveThirtyEightFiveThirtyEight | Features]

Who’s ready for college? At first blush, not a lot of us. By most measures, far less than half of those taking college entrance exams could tread water at our nation’s colleges and universities.

That’s not too surprising. College enrollment rates are higher than completion rates, suggesting that while the draw of a post-secondary degree is strong and growing, something goes awry once a student kicks off her college career.

At the same time, the pressure is on to send even more students to college, with President Obama challenging the nation to reclaim the title of being the country with the highest percentage of adults who have a post-secondary degree by 2020. The Lumina Foundation, an influential nonprofit that supports efforts to increase the number of college graduates in the U.S., is committed to raising the portion of the U.S. workforce that has a post-secondary degree to 60 percent by 2025. Today that figure hovers at 42 percent for those age 25 and over, according U.S. Census data released this year.

A more educated workforce would be a great boon to the economy: Scholars say more employees would earn higher wages, which leads to more taxes being collected and fewer Americans grappling with the challenges of poverty, among other benefits.


The process of getting into college is being disrupted. It is no longer simply  following a well-defined process (ie take a test, write an essay, get good grades). The world is changing too rapidly for the assembly line approaches that worked well for most of the last century.

So what will work? A couple of things I read indicate the possibilities.

Change the entire learning process. Finland has one of the best education systems in the world. Yet it is completely revamping some of its curriculum. It recognizes that the analytical, siloed approaches used before – where an hour of math is followed by an hour of chemistry is followed by an hour of English, all cut off from any connection to the real world – cannot cut it in an increasingly complex world.

So they are going to examine what they call “phenomena”, topics that require synthesis of a lot of information.

Now this is only being done with students who already know the basics. It is for high school level students. But its high collaborative approach, coupled with the need to looking at a complex system rather than its parts, could be a great start.

But how do you measure success here? We know what a good test score is based on a specific subject. How do we tell what is happening here?

Perhaps with this novel way to get around taking a test to prove you are college-worthy: ace a college level class.

Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, allow students to take college level courses from anywhere. They require similar rigor and siscipline as actually attending the class. 

They allow students to determine whether they are ready for that level of education, without huge expenses. Admission might actually be based on being able to do well in college level classes, rather than have a well-connected or rich parent

Here, we see that a 15 year old boy in Mongolia did so well in a class that he was admitted to MIT. Instead of spending a lot of money recruiting people without knowing if they could get the work done, what if colleges used their online classes to help admission?

We shall see.

This is how replicators may really work

WATCH: New 3D printer births fully-formed objects out of molten plastic – 
[Via ScienceAlert]

You know that scene in Terminator 2 when the new Terminator T-1000 model rises creepily out of a pool of metallic liquid? Well, now a new, super-fast 3D printer kinda does the same thing, but with any type of object you design. 

The new technology is known as Continuous Liquid Interface Production, or CLIP, and you can see it in action in the video above, sped up to seven times its normal speed. But despite that, you can still see how incredibly fast the 3D printer is – in fact, the researchers behind the device claim it’s 25 to 100 times faster than anything else on the market. This is because, instead of buliding up an object using layer upon layer of material, CLIP actually grows an object from just one pool of molten resin.

Developed by researchers at a new company called Carbon3D, the printer was announced on Monday at the TED2015 conference, coinciding with a paper published in Science. And we don’t even really want to call it a 3D printer because it’s really, really different to anything we’ve seen before.


The videos are mesmerizing. hope this really takes off.

Some NASA data Ted Cruz does not want us to see

nasa heat map via NASA

NASA: Earth Tops Hottest 12 Months On Record Again, Thanks To Warm February
[Via ThinkProgress]


There had never been as hot a 12-month period in NASA’s database as February 2014–January 2015. But that turned out to be a very short-lived record.

NASA reported this weekend that last month was the second-hottest February on record, which now makes March 2014–February 2015 the hottest 12 months on record. This is using a 12-month moving average, so we can “see the march of temperature change over time,” rather than just once every calendar year.


Thr top illustration shows the temperature above or below the average, from around the globe, based on NASA satellite data.

It is in the 90s today in LA. We will see more of this as long as politicians refuse to even acknowledge the existence of climate change and the causes for it.

And this is why Ted Cruz wants NASA to stop working on climate change. It keeps coming up with data that shows just how bad things are. He seems to feel if there is no data, then things won’t be so bad.

He obviously has read 1984. Ignorance is Strength. War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery.

California may not have any water after next year, due to the continuing drought. Water for farms, water for food and water for people. Gone.

But then NASA is behind that data also. 

The inability of well educated politicians (Cruz is a Harvard Law graduate) to acknowledge science, while fully embracing fantasy, will be the doom of America.

Cruz is a smart man doing harmful things. Ignorance gives him tremendous political power. 

But it hurts us all. Not knowing, not understanding, refusing to examine. Those are the traits that lead to collapse, not growth,

Humanity may never recover. We could fix this, with less economic impact than doing nothing. 

But ideologues may well doom millions to starvation and death, while still destroying jobs and the economy.

It is a race, between the willful idiocy of leaders like Ted Cruz that will bring humanity down, and the willful idealism of leaders like Elon Musk that will raise humanity up.

Most days I feel the latter will win but today, I am worried about the increasing irrationality of the willfully ignorant.

Apple nails their new ad campaign – using online photos taken with iPhone 6

 Traffic lights unfocused

Apple Found Its Newest Billboards on the Internet
[Via Daring Fireball]

Brendan Klinkenberg, writing for Buzzfeed:

Last December, when the Bay Area had one of its rare rainy days, Cielo de la Paz took her kids out to play. She’s an avid photographer, “willing to wake up at five in the morning and hike 10 miles to get that shot of the sunrise,” and when she saw the reflection of her red umbrella on the wet concrete, she knew she had a good one.

“It took a few shots,” she said, “this was the last one I took, I was finally happy with how the wind arranged the leaves for me.”

She edited the shot with Filterstorm Neue, uploaded the picture to Flickr (she was taking part in the photo365 challenge), where Apple found it.

Then, they put it on a billboard.


What a great way to show how  imppressive pictures can look when using the iPhone. And some of these are from amateurs. Discovered on Flickr might now be a new route to fame.

Former GM CEO does his Steve Ballmer impersonation


Apple would be crazy to make cars, former GM chief says 
[Via - CNET]

Talk of Apple entering the car market is serious enough that former General Motors CEO Dan Akerson has felt the need to offer his two cents: Don’t do it!

Akerson, who left GM in 2014, told Bloomberg in an interview published Wednesday that if he were an Apple shareholder hearing news of the company considering building an electric car, he “wouldn’t be very happy.”

“I would be highly suspect of the long-term prospect of getting into a low-margin, heavy-manufacturing” business, he told Bloomberg.


The former CEO of the worst car maker in the US doing his best Steve Ballmer impersonation. Here is what Ballmer said about the iPhone in 2007:

There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.

 That sure went well. The iPhone is not only increasing market share but also making most of the smartphone profits. Having your stuff in 60% of anything but making no money will never overcome 10% of the market with all the profits.

Because of Apple’s money, it can leverage all sorts of things to give itself a competitive edge. Few other makers can meet Apple’s prices and make a profit because Apple acts so much like a monopsonist by tying up long term contracts for parts that no one else can meet and even loaning the foundries money to upgrade themselves, as long as Apple gets first dibs.

The profit margin for Tesla is 25%. GM’s is 12%. Apple would love ot get Tesla’s and probably could.

In fact if Apple is going to make cars (something I really am skeptical of) it will follow Tesla not GM.

But if Apple ever does make a car, it will not be anything like what GM makes, just as the iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac were not like anything that was being made before they entered the market.

Speculation is fun. I’m not even sure it will be private cars. Maybe combining auto-guided cars with flight.

Or perhaps coupling an electric car with Musk’s Hyperloop. The Hyperloop itself looks to be moving forward. Maybe you drive in your electric Apple car and get special pricing and perks (like a rest room).


How being WEIRD is a good thing

Waves-Clogher Beach 

We Aren’t the World 
[Via - Pacific Standard]

IN THE SUMMER of 1995, a young graduate student in anthropology at UCLA named Joe Henrich traveled to Peru to carry out some fieldwork among the Machiguenga, an indigenous people who live north of Machu Picchu in the Amazon basin. The Machiguenga had traditionally been horticulturalists who lived in single-family, thatch-roofed houses in small hamlets composed of clusters of extended families. For sustenance, they relied on local game and produce from small-scale farming. They shared with their kin but rarely traded with outside groups.

While the setting was fairly typical for an anthropologist, Henrich’s research was not. Rather than practice traditional ethnography, he decided to run a behavioral experiment that had been developed by economists. Henrich used a “game”—along the lines of the famous prisoner’s dilemma—to see whether isolated cultures shared with the West the same basic instinct for fairness. In doing so, Henrich expected to confirm one of the foundational assumptions underlying such experiments, and indeed underpinning the entire fields of economics and psychology: that humans all share the same cognitive machinery—the same evolved rational and psychological hardwiring.


Nice article about how the West has actual cognitive differences from tthe East and just about everyone else. We have created and inhabit a different cultural environment and, like Darwin’s Finches, have evolved different social structures to deal with it. These social structures change the way we think.

This is a good thing, as long as we realize that our adaptations to this environment do not necessarily extend to all of humanity. It also fits in well with a recent paper that has gotten some press.

The acronym, WEIRD – Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic – was coined to describe the social groups that have adapted the dominant cultural environment on the planet. Dominant by its outsized effects not only on natural resources but on other cultures as well.

A major hallmark of this:

In their paper the trio pointed out cross-cultural studies that suggest that the “weird” Western mind is the most self-aggrandizing and egotistical on the planet: we are more likely to promote ourselves as individuals versus advancing as a group. WEIRD minds are also more analytic, possessing the tendency to telescope in on an object of interest rather than understanding that object in the context of what is around it.

This fits in quite well with my model on hierarchical authorities and distributed democracies. Humans have two ways to think about the world – Daniel Kahneman calls them System 1 and System 2. System 1 is fast, giving us rapid responses to the world around us. System 2 is slow, taking a more analytical approach to gain greater understanding.

System 1 is instinctual, rules-based and heuristic. It lives in a world  of metaphor and narrative. It is what allows us to respond properly the first time we see a wolf.

System 2 is slower, analytical and energy intensive. It is fact-based, not narrative-based. It is what allows us to see a wolf and produce a thousand breeds of dogs.

System 2 often is used to produce the narratives needed for System 1 to act to fast. A large part of the necessary adaptations to a new cultural environment is for System 2 to synthesize complexity into the simple narratives that System 1 uses.

This why different cultures are so plastic that they seem to think differently. They have differaent metaphors for System 1 based on the results of previous System 2 processes to assess the environment.

Cultures that failed to do this, to understand the cultural environment they inhabited, by transferring System 2 understanding into System 1 rapid responses, collapsed.

Just as the dodo failed to adapt to humans on the island. 

System 2 is useful when something new enters the environment, requiring deeper examination to understand how to deal with it. System 1 is for things we already know how to deal with, because they are a constant in our cultural environment. 

When someone says “You aren’t listening to me” it is often because  people are reacting with System 1 thoughts about something new that requires System 2 approaches. The listener  really is not ‘thinking’ but reacting. Fast, not slow.

Now on top of these ways of thinking,  we have two modes for organizing our social groups – hierarchical authorities and distributed democracies. The former puts the place of the individual into a specific social structure, atomizing while creating specific roles.

The latter subsumes the individual into a network designed for rapid information flow. Both approaches can use either System. For example, authority coupled with System 1 produces people who instinctually know how is above them and below them in the hierarchy, responding without thinking to commands.

But hierarchy coupled with System 2 produces analysis of a problem, breaking it down into pieces that those in a hierarchy can address more easily.

System 2 coupled with democracy can produce the Scientific Revolution. System 1 approaches here can rapidly disseminate the information from that revolution, by synthesis, not analysis.

So,we can see that WEIRD cognitive approaches have produced extremely large and complex hierarchies and democracies, which both use important System 1 and System 2 processes.

That is what has produced Western civilization. I would suggest that a key adaptation of this culture – something that has allowed it to dominate  has been to make System 2 approaches  external. Tacit System 2 creates shamans and alchemists. Explicit System 2 produces scientists.

WEIRD cultures are more analytical and use System 2 to a much larger extent than any other culture. That is because our rapidly changing cultural environment keeps throwing up novel problems we have to analyze deeply to solve.

We do not have time to relax with our System 1 responses to the world we live in. 

This could explain why there is such a difference in cognition today in America between conservatives in general and liberals. The data suggest that, as a group, conservatives are mostly using System 1 approaches (ie gut reactions and simple narratives) and are less WEIRD than average. Liberals  on the other had, are the mostly WEIRD, using analytical, System 2 thinking much more.

Thus why they have such a hard time coming up with the sort of short pithy metaphors to deal with the world, a world that is rapidly shifting from one stage to another, with the metaphors needed for System 1 thinking ins tremendous flux.

I think this is due to the Information Age, Moore’s law and the exponential economy.

We are living in a rapidly changing cultural environment, one where social norms and System 1 rules are changing. We need to develop new rules, new adaptations to this cultural environment. This requires analysis – System 2 – which is currently found more concentrated in the liberal side than the conservative.

It is a fluke of timing that these different approaches mostly align with political parties. In the 1850s, the thinking was the same – one group responding to changes by deeper analysis while the other retreated to old principles – but the parties were reversed  with the Republicans being the radical party adapting to the new cultural environment.

It doe snot matter which group is doing the analytical thinking. What is important is that we use this analysis to come up with better narratives and metaphors for sustain adaptive System 1 thinking.

The data suggest that less than 20% of even WEIRD cultures spend a lot of time in analysis and deep thinking. So a lot of liberals are also acting with System 1 responses, mostly to old rules for the old environment.

If we fail to adapt to the new cultural environment we are creating, then we will fail as a society. 

This model does not show what the adaptations we need to make will be. But it does suggest where those adaptations, those new stories will come from.

It does explain why the professions most aligned with slow, deliberative, analytical thinking – such as scientists – tend to align with liberals.

And why those most charged with creating new narratives – Hollywood – are also seen as liberal.

I expect this will change as we continue to adapt better to the new cultural environment. The current fluke – where analytical thinking falls more under one political group – may only be seen when our culture is undergoing rapid change. Once we gain better adaptations, creating the necessary narratives to support fast responses, we will all fall under mostly System 1.

Because we will understand the new rules of the culture. In fact, a large part of why System 2 evolved in humanity may simply be to gain understanding that can more easily be implemented by System 1. To create better narratives to explain the world.

And one interesting aspect that unfolds from this data deals with whether urban areas are generally more liberal because they attract liberal people or do they make people more liberal.

I’m falling on the cities make people more liberal. The paper showed that people can easily be trained to use either approach. It is a response to the environment they find themselves and what is required more often – rapid response to something you already know or slower responses to novel events.

I would suggest that having to adapt to the much more complex environment of a large city would require everyone to use more System 2 thinking than living in a rural one.

And right now, more System 2 correlates with being liberal.

I am not surprised that the most liberal cities, such as San Francisco, Washington DC and Seattle, are also home to some of the greatest technology/information/poetical changes driving our new cultural environment. 

The adaptations our culture is acquiring will be driven from those places where greater System 2 thinking is happening. Because they are creating the stories needed to sustain System 1 reactions to the new environment.

Liberal/Conservative – More data supporting intuitive, System 1 thinking vs analytical, System 2

Thinking RFID 

Study: Oh Yes, We Can Change Conservative Minds
[Via Crooks and Liars]

This is something many of us have been saying for a while. A substantial number of Americans hold both conservative and progressive views, and this study indicates that yes, we can change people’s minds — and votes:

Political conservatives in the United States are somewhat like East Asians in the way they think, categorize and perceive. Liberals in the U.S. could be categorized as extreme Americans in thought, categorization and perception. That is the gist of a new University of Virginia cultural psychology study, published recently in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Additionally, the study indicates that thought styles – whether analytical or holistic – can be changed through training, enough so to temporarily change political thought and the way a person might vote.

“We found in our study that liberals and conservatives think as if they were from completely different cultures – almost as different as East and West,” said study leader Thomas Talhelm, a U.Va. doctoral candidate in cultural psychology. “Liberals and conservatives categorize and perceive things differently, just as East Asians and Westerners look differently at the world.”

According to Talhelm, political conservatives in the United States, generally, and East Asians, particularly, are intuitive or “holistic” thinkers, while Westerners, generally, and American liberals, in particular, are more analytical thinkers.


Liberals and conservatives see the world differently and think differently, even across cultures.

Daniel Kahneman has discussed these sorts of thinking, Fast and Slow. Fast is required for making quick decisions needed to survive a threatening environment. It is rules-based, intuitive. But also unable to easily deal with complex systems.

Slow requires deeper analysis, taking more time and energy. It is not something that works well when the tiger is in front of you but absolutely required for dealing with complex systems.

Fast is best for dealing with a dangerous world, but can fall apart when the cultural environment is changing rapidly. Old rules may no longer work.

Slower thinking is better for understanding how to deal with a changing environment  But takes much more time to discern the best new rules.

Humans can use either but seem to naturally default to a specific type.

Here we find that supposed political attitudes fall under this, with conservatives being more rules-based, intutiove and users of fast thinking.while liberals are more analytical using System 2.

Now, the study indicates that what we call politics is malleable, which makes sense since what is called a conservative or liberal based on political views changes with time.

They discovered that if they trained holistic thinkers to think analytically, for example, to match scarf with mitten, they would subsequently start viewing the world more liberally (though not on economic policy). Likewise, liberals, if trained to think holistically, would come to form more conservative opinions.

It does support something that people have connected with conservatives and liberals – conservatives generally see the world as a dangerous place, one to be fearful of. Liberals… not so much.

Someone who sees the world as extremely dangerous would use fast, intuitive, System 1 thinking a lot. It would be a survival trait.

But, given the correct approaches, people can be provided the support for using System 2 thinking. And when they do, they see the world as less dangerous, drop into analytical thinking and act more liberally in their actions.

It does not change their views on economic issues but does seem to change their views on social ones.

Which is very hopeful as we emerge into a new era of organizing ourselves to fit the new cultural environment we have created.

In a few years, we will have discovered which rules to maintain and which news ones are useful and settle back into a more stable set of social organizations.


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