Viewing entries tagged
The Virtues of Science

Making Science Real: A Guide

The rest of us rely on mental shortcuts to arrive at our opinions on climate change - mostly to do with trust and perceived plausibility. In other words, how we feel/think about climate change depends in large part on whom we trust or don’t trust, as well as what information, explanations, and opinions fit with our understanding of how the world works. This is not an irrational way for non-scientists to approach a subject as complex as climate change. 

But we could do better. We could live the words “science is real”…

What Do We Know about US Millionaires? It Depends on Whom You Ask.

Not that these survey results are implausible. Plenty of peer-reviewed studies have revealed today’s millionaires to be frugal, hard-working, and mostly from middle-class backgrounds. They buy boring cars. They’re diligent savers. This is not new information - twenty years ago academics Thomas Stanley and William Danko found that 80% of US millionaires were first-generation rich. That is, they did not inherit their wealth.

In The Name of Science: Portraying The Other Side as Driven by Fear

According to this trope, the Fearful Conservative is afraid of change and uncertainty, clinging to the safe harbor of habit and tradition, overly controlled, troubled by bad dreams and distressed by disorder. In so many words: fear makes conservatives stupid. The authors usually bolster their case with a few studies and quotes from “experts”, which can be hard to refute if you don’t know what they’re leaving out - namely, evidence to the contrary.

Behind The Headlines: Are Conservatives Driven by Fear? Part II

One thing the articles and opinion pieces don’t mention is the decades of research on personality and political attitudes, covering tens of thousands of participants. And that research is, well, unequivocal: conservatism is not associated with anxiety or fear - it’s most strongly associated with Conscientiousness.

Behind the Headlines: Are Conservatives Driven by Fear? Part I

Azarian wrote a Psychology Today piece titled, “Fear and Anxiety Drive Conservatives' Political Attitudes” …he supported his claims with evidence from four studies. Luckily I was able to locate most of the original studies to see if his conclusions were reasonable. Here’s what I found…

The Social Life of Cats

All that nose-touching, rubbing, and grooming comes with exchange of scents, suggesting that cats within a given colony develop a ‘colony odor’ that is maintained during these behaviors. 

FBI Hate Crime Statistics: What's Changed in the Last Year?

The FBI released its 2017 Hate Crime Statistics report a couple days ago. The report was covered by a bunch of news outlets, but the stories were mostly a rehash of the FBI’s relatively short press release. Few reporters dived into the detailed data tables that accompanied the report. I found none that compared the 2017 data to the previous year’s numbers. But I did.

The Evolution of Laughter

What do chimps, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans and humans all have in common? We laugh.

Eleven Reasons Why Robots Will Not Make Jobs Obsolete

Incorporating new technologies takes time, money, and a reliable revenue stream. Technical capability is not the same thing as economic feasibility. …Very often the new tasks assigned to workers whose jobs have been partly automatized are newly created tasks, not just a reassignment of what used to be done by other employees. That's because technology expands the realm of the doable. In other words, when more is possible, more will be done to exploit the possible.

Mice Feel the Pang of Regret

Regret is the recognition that one made a mistake and that an alternative action was possible. Regret requires consideration of what might have been, aka "counterfactual reasoning". In a phrase: coulda, shoulda, didn't.

Social Science and Political Agendas, Part II

Point is, no one has an emotional reaction to inequality without a sense of what it speaks to.  Inequality is a concept for God's sake. It's not at the same level of concreteness as, say, a snake slithering in the grass.

Social Science and Political Agendas, Part I

The above game is an example of what I call an "Act of God" study design, in which researchers (playing God) randomly dole out good and bad fortune to study participants, typically in the form of monetary payments.

Please, Reality: Don't Make a Fool of Me!

On second thought, all research is desire-driven. Because behavior is necessarily goal-driven and you don't have goals without wanting something to happen and wanting is desire and doing science is a behavior. But some desires are more conducive to scientific progress than others. Like the desire for reality not to make fools of us.