Open Carry T-shirts are not a good idea

Open Carry T-shirts are an invitation to be shot by cops
[Via Boing Boing]

The only difference between Open Carry T-Shirts and the Please Kill Me T-shirt that Richard Hell wore is that the Open Carry T-Shirts will really get you killed. Junior sizes available!

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Only if someone has a deathwish. This is crazy. Cops kill unarmed people all the time because they think a bottle is a gun.

Correlation is not causation

Flu vaccinations make their way to U.S. Army in Europe 

Your Brain Is Primed To Reach False Conclusions
[Via FiveThirtyEightFiveThirtyEight | Features]

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.

Helena Matute, a psychologist at Deusto University in Bilbao, Spain, and her colleagues enlisted 147 college students to take part in a computer-based task in which they each played a doctor who specializes in a fictitious rare disease and assessed whether new medications could cure it.

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We look for patterns, even when they do not exist. As the article demonstrates, it is so easy to be fooled into thinking a particular treatment cures the illness.

And when dealing with something as complex as human health, it becomes easy to see how people can go down the wrong path. Other data shows that once many people go down that wrong path, it is very hard to turn off of it.

Since only about 15% of people  examine things analytically, facts may not matter. The rest simply use rapid, gut-level thinking to make decisions. 

Simple narratives for complex subjects. It appears that the best approach is not to get them tosee the facts. They will not deop into analytical thinking.

One has to create better metaphors.


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.

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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.

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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.

Wall Street just does not understand social media companies

I'm with the Stupid network 

Facebook’s Worst Nightmare: What If Social Media Is Just That – Social?
[Via Crooks and Liars]

Facebook's Worst Nightmare: What If Social Media Is Just That - Social?

These are heady days for social media interests. Facebook and Twitter run rampant, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vine and Instagram are booming, Ello is all kinds of interesting, and somehow or another Google+ and StumbleUpon are still hanging in there. While there isn’t literally a new social net rolling out every 15 minutes, it sometimes feels that way.

The money in social is just insane. Take the leader of the pack, for instance. Facebook’s market cap is just north of $200B and NASDAQ’s analysis is all kinds of bullish. Why not? Have a look at their revenue projections.

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And I think thayt a lot of these companies do not really understand their success either.

People love social because its … social. We love connecting. But we hate being made a commodity for others to enrich themselves at out expense. The companies that find win-win ways to exist will do fine. The sociopathic ones playing a zero-sum game will not.

Wall Street does not get this and is acting to reward the companies that are actually the least social in their outlook.

And the problem is that as it becomes cheaper and easier to launch a social organization online, people will self-organize in ways that simply do not fit the 20th century model of capital investment.

The app economy allows all sorts of organizations to exist. To rise and fall as they do better supporting the community rather than feeding their wealthy investors.

Wall Street is in for a big surprise.

What does the community do when someone vital to its success needs help?

Somebody, Help Me Please 

Internet Comes Through For Developer Of Key Email Encryption Tool
[Via Techdirt]

Yesterday, we reposted Julia Angwin’s article from ProPublica about how the guy behind GPG, a key tool for email encryption, Werner Koch, was basically broke, and that attempts to crowdfund money to keep going hadn’t been all that successful. The story seemed to resonate with lots of people, and the donations started flowing. After getting a grand total of just about €34,000 in 2014, he’s already well over €100,000 this year, with most of that coming yesterday after Angwin’s story went up. On top of that, Stripe and Facebook each agreed to fund him to the tune of $50,000 per year (from each of them, so $100k total), and the Linux Foundation had agreed to give him $60k (though, Koch admits that the deal there was actually signed last week).

Either way, this is great to see, though it’s unfortunate that it had to wait until an article detailing his plight came out. We’ve seen this sort of thing a few times now, such as when the Heartbleed bug made everyone realize that OpenSSL was basically supported by volunteers with almost no budget at all. Thankfully, the attention there got the project necessary funds to continue to keep us safe.

It really is quite incredible when you realize how much of the internet that you rely on is built by people out of a true labor of love. Often, people have no idea that there even is an opportunity to support those projects, and it’s great that Angwin was able to highlight this one and get it the necessary funding to keep moving forward.

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Humans are some of the most altruistic animals ever seen, helping strangers with no concerns for their own help in return.

But what happens when that help creates and sustains the vital work of others? New communities come into existence that would not otherwise exist, communities that do recognize the help given to them by others.

So, what then happens when the altruist, whose help sustained the community, needs help themselves? 

Well, we show altruism in return. we are social animals that evolved a sense that helping others would result in better results for everyone. Here we see such an example.


Stay away from Colorado: Under-vaccinated state likely to become disease-ridden soon.

 Measles and Scarlet Fever

State With Lowest Rate Of Vaccinated Kids Proposes Bill To Make It Even Worse
[Via ThinkProgress]

As the United States grapples with a widespread measles outbreak that originated from an unvaccinated woman’s visit to Disneyland, lawmakers have started to discuss potential policies that could prevent the future spread of infectious diseases. California lawmakers, for instance, have introduced a measure that would make it harder to parents to opt out their kids from recommended vaccines.

But other states are taking the opposite approach. Colorado — which has the highest rate of schoolchildren who have not been immunized in line with federal guidelines — is proposing a measure that would underline parents’ rights to turn down vaccines.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just 82 percent of children in Colorado have gotten the two-dose vaccine that protects against measles. That’s far below the national average of 95 percent, as well as below the threshold needed to achieve herd immunity, which hovers around 94 percent. And certain parts of the state are even worse. Some school districts in Western Colorado have undervaccination rates five times higher than the state average.

“We are going to have a large outbreak of measles,” Dr. Edwin J. Asturias, a pediatrician with the Colorado School of Public Health and Children’s Hospital Colorado, told the Denver Post this week. “For almost a decade we have been accumulating people without protection. We are like a forest waiting to catch fire.”

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82% is likely below the threshold for herd immunity for diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps, whooping cough, rubella, and smallpox. In fact, in some parts of the state, it is much lower than that.

Without herd immunity, not only is it very likely that all their kids will get sick, but that infants, the elderly, people whose immunity has worn off and immune-compromised individuals will also get sick. The selfishness of anti-vaxxers places large numbers of others at risk.

And these people shut down an attempt last year trying to educate people, calling it harassment and coercion.

You may have a right to be willfully ignorant in this country but not a right to harm others through your willful ignorance.

Their selfishness – which could result in major outbreaks of preventable disease, disabling many and costing millions – is more important than public safety.

That is not what made America great. But if they want to game the system for their own benefit, while harming America, fine. There should, however, be consequences.

Do not allow their children into public spaces or into contact with others. Go ahead, do not vaccinate but no public schooling. No trips to the mall. Or to football games. They should be civilly sued for getting sick and spreading the disease.

Heck places like Disneyland should look into technology to prevent children or adults who are shedding virus (and may not even be showing symptoms yet) from entering their parks. (Sure, these may take minutes now but who does not expect that to be greatly reduced in a few years.)

Heck, a smartphone attachment was just described and the results published. SO, go ahead and do not vaccinate. Just look forward to a whole lot of finger pricks for blood.

If I was an onwer of any place where people congregated, I would be worried about my employees’’ health and that of their families with weakened immune systems.

As well as law suits from anyone getting sick due to my facility.

I’m sure this will do wonders for the ski resorts when infectious disease spreads like wildfire throughout the state.

People are perfectly free to make decisions about their own health but they should not  be allowed to jeopardize the health of others.

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