experimental subject

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pages: 349 words: 95,972

Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives by Tim Harford

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affirmative action, Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Basel III, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Broken windows theory, call centre, Cass Sunstein, Chris Urmson, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, crowdsourcing, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Erdős number, experimental subject, Ferguson, Missouri, Filter Bubble, Frank Gehry, game design, global supply chain, Googley, Guggenheim Bilbao, high net worth, Inbox Zero, income inequality, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, microbiome, out of africa, Paul Erdős, Richard Thaler, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, telemarketer, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Turing test, urban decay

As long as people had been appropriately briefed (“mistakes are human, try incorporating them into your work”) they did better work and reported that they had more fun.16 A third experiment was conducted by a team including Paul Howard-Jones, a neuroscientist at the University of Bristol. Researchers showed their experimental subjects a set of three words, and then asked them to tell a brief story involving the three words. Sometimes the words had obvious connections, such as “teeth, brush, dentist” or “car, driver, road.” Sometimes the words were unconnected, such as “cow, zip, star” or “melon, book, thunder.” The more random, obscure, challenging combinations spurred the subjects into spinning far more creative tales.17 These are, admittedly, artificial one-off situations with nothing at stake for the experimental subjects. When someone relies on creativity for a living, mucking them around becomes much more fraught: think of poor Carlos Alomar, too talented and too professional to be comfortable playing “crap”; or Phil Collins, so frustrated with Eno’s unpredictable requests that he started throwing beer cans around the studio.

In one, Charlan Nemeth and Julianne Kwan showed pairs of people bluish/greenish slides, asking them to shout out whether they were blue or green. The experimenters had a trick to play, however: one member of each pair was actually a confederate of the researchers, who would sometimes call out baffling responses—“green” when the slide was clearly blue. Having been thoroughly baffled, the experimental subjects were then asked to free-associate words connected with “green” and “blue”—sky, sea, eyes. Those who had been subjected to a confusing mess of signals produced more original word associations: jazz, flame, pornography, sad, Picasso. There was something about the sheer disruptiveness of the setup that unlocked creative responses.15 In another study, led by psychologist Ellen Langer, researchers assigned creative tasks to their subjects, then started messing with them.

Each one abdicates his own responsibility to think critically, assuming that others are doing the hard thinking for him.15 Back in 1951, two decades before Janis published his ideas on groupthink, another psychologist, Solomon Asch, had carried out a famous set of experiments exploring conformity and dissent. Asch found that people would sometimes suppress their own judgments in order to agree with a unanimous group, even though the group was clearly in the wrong. (The group was made up of actors working for Solomon Asch, surrounding a single, rather confused participant, unaware that he was being set up.) The cure for this groupthink? Even a single dissenting voice broke the spell, and the experimental subjects felt much more able to express their own dissent.16 More recently, complexity scientist Scott Page published The Difference,17 a book that uses a mathematical rather than a psychological framework to explore similar questions. Page showed that in many problem-solving contexts, “diversity trumps ability.” For example, if you already have four brilliant statisticians working on a policy problem, even a mediocre sociologist or economist may add more to your team than another brilliant statistician.


pages: 459 words: 103,153

Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure by Tim Harford

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Andrew Wiles, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, car-free, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, charter city, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dava Sobel, Deep Water Horizon, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, Edmond Halley, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Fermat's Last Theorem, Firefox, food miles, Gerolamo Cardano, global supply chain, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, John Harrison: Longitude, knowledge worker, loose coupling, Martin Wolf, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Netflix Prize, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, PageRank, Piper Alpha, profit motive, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, rolodex, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South China Sea, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, the market place, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, trade route, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, web application, X Prize

This was a trivially easy task, but there was a twist: all but one of the people sitting around the table were actors recruited by Asch. As they went round the table, each one called out the same answer – a wrong answer. By the time Asch turned to the real experimental subject, the poor man would be baffled. Frequently, he would fall in with the group, and later interviews revealed that this was often because he genuinely believed his eyes were deceiving him. As few as three actors were enough to create this effect. Less famous but just as important is Asch’s follow-up experiment, in which one of the actors gave a different answer from the rest. Immediately, the pressure to conform was released. Experimental subjects who gave the wrong answer when outnumbered ten to one happily dissented and gave the right answer when outnumbered nine to two. Remarkably, it didn’t even matter if the fellow dissenter gave the right answer himself.

Cognitive dissonance describes the mind’s difficulty in holding two apparently contradictory thoughts simultaneously: in Tharp’s case, ‘I am a capable, experienced and respected choreographer’ and ‘My latest creation is stupefyingly clichéd.’ This odd phenomenon was first pinned down in an ingenious laboratory experiment half a century ago. Leon Festinger and James Carlsmith asked their experimental subjects to perform a tedious task – emptying and refilling a tray with spools, using one hand – for half an hour. On some plausible-sounding pretext they then offered a third of their subjects $1 – a small sum even in 1959, about an hour’s wage – to tell the next experimental subject (actually an actress) what a great time they’d had stacking spools onto trays for half an hour. They offered another third of their subjects a much more substantial sum, $20, half a week’s typical wages, to do the same thing. The remaining third went straight to the questionnaire which all the subjects finally filled in, asking if they had enjoyed themselves.

Twyla Tharp could have decided that what she’d actually set out to achieve was something artistically radical rather than commercially mass-market, so the incomprehension of the critics was, in a way, validation; she could have found a few audience members who liked it, and convinced herself that the views of this discerning clientele should be given greater weight. How profoundly this tendency runs in the human brain was demonstrated by a team of researchers including the psychologist Daniel Gilbert. The researchers showed their experimental subjects an array of six prints of paintings by Claude Monet – the lilies, the Houses of Parliament at sunset, the haystacks, and others – and asked them to rank the images in order from the one they liked most to the one they liked the least. The researchers then offered the experimental subjects a choice of two spare prints they ‘just happened’ to have, and the spares were always the pair ranked in the middle – number three and number four. Naturally the subject usually chose number three, having just declared it to be preferable to number four.

Propaganda and the Public Mind by Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian

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Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, Bretton Woods, capital controls, deindustrialization, European colonialism, experimental subject, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, interchangeable parts, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, Martin Wolf, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, structural adjustment programs, Thomas L Friedman, Tobin tax, Washington Consensus

In the negotiations at Montreal, the United States, which is the center of the big biotech industries and genetic engineering, was demanding that the issue be determined under WTO rules. According to those rules, the experimental subjects have to provide scientific evidence that it’s going to harm them, or else the transcendent value of corporate rights prevails and they can do what they want. That’s what Ed Herman calls “producer sovereignty.”13 Europe and most of the rest of the world insisted on the precautionary principle, that is, the right of people to say, I don’t want to be an experimental subject. I don’t have scientific proof that it’s going to harm me, but I don’t want to be subjected to that. I want to wait until it’s understood. That’s a very clear indication of what’s at stake, an attack on the rights of people to make their own decisions over things even as simple as whether you’re going to be an experimental subject, let alone controlling your own resources or setting conditions on foreign investment or transferring your economy into the hands of foreign investment firms and banks.

For example, French farmers, who are fairly conservative, are up in arms around these issues. It’s been interesting to watch this. In the U.S., there’s been relatively little discussion and concern about it. In Europe, India, Latin America and elsewhere, there’s been great concern and a lot of very activist popular protest. The French farmers are one case. The same is true in England and elsewhere, quite extensively. There’s a lot of concern about being forced to become experimental subjects for interventions in the food system, both in production and consumption, that have unknown consequences. That did cross the Atlantic in a way that I don’t entirely understand. At some point last fall the concerns became manifested over here as well, to the extent that something quite unusual happened. Monsanto, the major corporation that’s pushing biotechnology and genetically engineered crops, their stock started to fall notably.

That’s quite unusual, for a corporation to be forced into that position. It reflected in part the enormous protests overseas, primarily Europe, which is what mattered because of their clout, but also a growing protest here. On the other hand, we should also take account of the fact that it’s essentially a class issue in the United States. Among richer, more educated sectors, there are tendencies which amount to protecting themselves from being experimental subjects, by buying high-priced organic food, for example. Do you think the food safety issue might be one around which the left can reach a broader constituency? I don’t see it as a particularly left issue. In fact, left issues are just popular issues. If the left means anything, it means it’s concerned for the needs, welfare, and rights of the general population. So the left ought to be the overwhelming majority of the population, and in some respects I think it is.


pages: 519 words: 104,396

Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (And How to Take Advantage of It) by William Poundstone

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availability heuristic, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, equal pay for equal work, experimental economics, experimental subject, feminist movement, game design, German hyperinflation, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, index card, invisible hand, John von Neumann, laissez-faire capitalism, loss aversion, market bubble, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nash equilibrium, new economy, payday loans, Potemkin village, price anchoring, price discrimination, psychological pricing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, random walk, RFID, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, ultimatum game, working poor

His subsequent academic career took him from the University of Utah to Stanford to Harvard. Stevens’s psychology Ph.D. was awarded, per Harvard custom of the time, by the Department of Philosophy. War made Stevens’s reputation. At the behest of the U.S. Air Force, he founded the Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory in 1940. Its location, the basement of Harvard’s neogothic Memorial Hall, belied its somewhat incredible mission: to study the effects of extremely loud noises on pilots. Experimental subjects listened to deafening 115-decibel blasts for seven hours a day. Stevens found that the noise did not impair mental performance too much. The main problem was that nobody could hear what anyone else was saying. Stevens’s lab took on the task of designing intercoms for noisy cockpits. Stevens retained a gruff military manner throughout his career. As one colleague recalled, I was directed to Dr.

What is odd is that the same subjects regularly assign higher prices to $ bets, like the one on the right above. The prices contradict the preferences. In the actual experiments, a dozen distinct bets were used. They were somewhat more complicated than the examples above, in that the player stood a chance of losing money as well as winning it. (This is more like familiar sports or casino bets: you have to put up some money to play and risk losing it.) The experimental subjects were first shown bets two at a time and asked to choose which they preferred. Then they were shown the same set of bets one at a time and asked to price them. In this part, they were told that they “owned” the bet in question and could sell it back to the house for sure cash. What was the minimum price they would accept? Out of 173 subjects, 127 always chose the P bet, yet always assigned a higher price to the $ bet.

Their goal was to see whether anchoring could affect the perceived value of actual houses on the market in Tucson. To do that, they needed a real estate agent to lend them a house to use in the experiment. Neale asked her mother, a real estate broker, for advice. She advised playing up the networking possibilities. Agents would welcome the chance to make some connections with the faculty, she said. Agent Katherine Martin of Tucson Realty and Trust agreed to let them use one of her listings. The experimental subjects were 54 junior and senior undergraduate business students and 47 local real estate agents. For those real estate professionals, the Tucson market was their bread and butter. On average, they bought or sold 16 properties a year and had been selling real estate in Tucson for more than eight years. Northcraft drove the participants to the home, and all were free to inspect it, to “kick the tires,” just like a buyer.


pages: 211 words: 69,380

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman

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experimental subject, fear of failure, Kibera, Lao Tzu, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, science of happiness, Steve Jobs, traveling salesman, World Values Survey

Could it be that ironic process theory also sheds light on what is wrong with our efforts to achieve happiness, and on the way that our efforts to feel positive seem so frequently to bring about the opposite result? In the years since his earliest white bear experiments, Wegner’s research, and that of others, has turned up more and more evidence to support that notion. One example: when experimental subjects are told of an unhappy event, but then instructed to try not to feel sad about it, they end up feeling worse than people who are informed of the event, but given no instructions about how to feel. In another study, when patients who were suffering from panic disorders listened to relaxation tapes, their hearts beat faster than patients who listened to audiobooks with no explicitly ‘relaxing’ content.

These are particularly acute in the case of positive visualisation. Over the last few years, the German-born psychologist Gabriele Oettingen and her colleagues have constructed a series of experiments designed to unearth the truth about ‘positive fantasies about the future’. The results are striking: spending time and energy thinking about how well things could go, it has emerged, actually reduces most people’s motivation to achieve them. Experimental subjects who were encouraged to think about how they were going to have a particularly high-achieving week at work, for example, ended up achieving less than those who were invited to reflect on the coming week, but given no further guidelines on how to do so. In one ingenious experiment, Oettingen had some of the participants rendered mildly dehydrated. They were then taken through an exercise that involved visualising drinking a refreshing, icy glass of water, while others took part in a different exercise.

‘It is [fear] that makes people so willing to follow brash, strong-looking demagogues with tight jaws and loud voices,’ wrote Becker – leaders ‘who seem most capable of cleansing the world of the vague, the weak, the uncertain, the evil. Ah, to give oneself over to their direction – what calm, what relief.’ Mortality salience makes itself felt in numerous other, sometimes unexpected ways. Experimental subjects who have been prompted to think about death demonstrate more intense reactions of disgust to discussions of human bodily waste. They agree more strongly with statements such as ‘If I see someone vomit, it makes me sick to my stomach.’ They are more likely to rank certain hypothetical scenarios as ‘very disgusting’, for example seeing maggots on a piece of meat. This response, researchers argue, shows that participants are struggling to buffer themselves against confronting reminders of their ‘creatureliness’ – of the fact that, like other animals, they are physically mortal.


pages: 314 words: 91,652

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn, Ian Hacking

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Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, cuban missile crisis, experimental subject, Isaac Newton, The Design of Experiments, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

Those characteristics include: the previous awareness of anomaly, the gradual and simultaneous emergence of both observational and conceptual recognition, and the consequent change of paradigm categories and procedures often accompanied by resistance. There is even evidence that these same characteristics are built into the nature of the perceptual process itself. In a psychological experiment that deserves to be far better known outside the trade, Bruner and Postman asked experimental subjects to identify on short and controlled exposure a series of playing cards. Many of the cards were normal, but some were made anomalous, e.g., a red six of spades and a black four of hearts. Each experimental run was constituted by the display of a single card to a single subject in a series of gradually increased exposures. After each exposure the subject was asked what he had seen, and the run was terminated by two successive correct identifications.12 Even on the shortest exposures many subjects identified most of the cards, and after a small increase all the subjects identified them all.

That is another reason why schools guided by different paradigms are always slightly at cross-purposes. In their most usual form, of course, gestalt experiments illustrate only the nature of perceptual transformations. They tell us nothing about the role of paradigms or of previously assimilated experience in the process of perception. But on that point there is a rich body of psychological literature, much of it stemming from the pioneering work of the Hanover Institute. An experimental subject who puts on goggles fitted with inverting lenses initially sees the entire world upside down. At the start his perceptual apparatus functions as it had been trained to function in the absence of the goggles, and the result is extreme disorientation, an acute personal crisis. But after the subject has begun to learn to deal with his new world, his entire visual field flips over, usually after an intervening period in which vision is simply confused.

With scientific observation, however, the situation is exactly reversed. The scientist can have no recourse above or beyond what he sees with his eyes and instruments. If there were some higher authority by recourse to which his vision might be shown to have shifted, then that authority would itself become the source of his data, and the behavior of his vision would become a source of problems (as that of the experimental subject is for the psychologist). The same sorts of problems would arise if the scientist could switch back and forth like the subject of the gestalt experiments. The period during which light was “sometimes a wave and sometimes a particle” was a period of crisis—a period when something was wrong—and it ended only with the development of wave mechanics and the realization that light was a self-consistent entity different from both waves and particles.

Rogue States by Noam Chomsky

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anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, capital controls, collective bargaining, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, declining real wages, deskilling, Edward Snowden, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, floating exchange rates, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, land reform, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, new economy, oil shock, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, strikebreaker, structural adjustment programs, Tobin tax, union organizing, Washington Consensus

Those rules are that an import can be banned only on the basis of scientific evidence.16 Notice what’s at stake here. The question that’s at stake is whether people have the right to refuse to be experimental subjects. So, to personalize it, suppose the biology department at the university were to walk in and tell you, “You folks have to be experimental subjects in an experiment we’re carrying out, where we’re going to stick electrodes in your brain and see what happens. You can refuse, but only if you provide scientific evidence that it’s going to harm you.” Usually you can’t provide scientific evidence. The question is, do you have a right to refuse? Under World Trade Organization rules, you don’t. You have to be experimental subjects. It’s a form of what Edward Herman has called “producer sovereignty.”17 The producer reigns; consumers have to somehow defend themselves.

For similar reasons, the European Union favors high tariffs on agricultural products, just as the United States did 40 years ago, but no longer—and not because the principles have changed; just because power has changed. There is an overriding principle. The principle is that the powerful and the privileged have to be able to do what they want (of course, pleading high motives). The corollary is that sovereignty and democratic rights of people must go, in this case—and that’s what makes it so dramatic—their reluctance to be experimental subjects when US-based corporations can profit by the experiment. The US appeal to the World Trade Organization rules is very natural, since they codified that principle; that’s the point. These issues, although they’re very real and are affecting a huge number of people in the world, are actually secondary to other modalities to reduce sovereignty in favor of private power. Most important, I think, was the dismantling of the Bretton Woods system in the early 1970s by the United States, Britain, and others.


pages: 236 words: 66,081

Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age by Clay Shirky

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Andrew Keen, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, citizen journalism, corporate social responsibility, Dean Kamen, experimental economics, experimental subject, fundamental attribution error, invention of movable type, invention of the telegraph, Kevin Kelly, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, social software, Steve Ballmer, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, ultimatum game

This framework made little distinction among different kinds of motivation, and the most general-purpose motivator available has always been cash. Deci’s conclusion that payment can crowd out other kinds of motivation flew in the face of both existing theory and practice. His experiment and the subsequent research on the crowding-out effect kicked off an academic disagreement that continues today. In 1994, Judy Cameron and David Pierce of the University of Alberta analyzed the results of dozens of studies that had paid experimental subjects to perform various tasks. Their meta-analysis (as such studies of multiple experiments are called) denied the existence of any such crowding-out effect. Deci and research partner Richard Ryan responded in 1999, pointing out that Cameron and Pierce had included a large number of studies noting that people were more motivated to do uninteresting tasks if you paid them, a result no one disputed.

This result—fairly intuitive, if you imagine yourself on the short end of that particular stick—was a shock to neoclassical theory (what rational actor would give up a free dollar for the sake of mere emotional satisfaction?). As the results of the Ultimatum Game became more widespread, so did the challenges to its conclusions. Versions were run with hundreds of dollars at stake, with ever-tighter controls on the anonymity between the participants so they wouldn’t worry about retribution, with experimental subjects of different ages, different classes, and different cultures. In one version called the Dictator Game, the proposer is able to declare the terms of the split without the recipient’s having any say at all. Even here, the proposed split was more generous than expected. The experiment was performed in countless variations, but the attempt to uncover the secretly rational core of humanity simply failed.

(Zuerichbergstrasse, Zurich: Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, 1999), http://ideas.repec.org/s/zur/iewwpx.html. 73 this sort of crowding out can appear in children as young as fourteen months: Tomasello’s research on children and their view of how things should be, by some ethical compass (a trait called “normativity,” or the understanding and abiding by norms), was published as “The Sources of Normativity: Young Children’s Awareness of the Normative Structure of Games,” with his coauthors, H. Rakoczy and F. Wameken, in Developmental Psychology 44.3 (2008): 875-81. 74 dozens of studies that had paid experimental subjects: Judy Cameron and David Pierce, “Reinforcement, Reward, and Intrinsic Motivation: A Meta-Analysis,” Review of Educational Research 64.3 (1994): 363-423. 74 people were more motivated to do uninteresting tasks if you paid them: Edward L., Deci, Richard Koestner, and Richard Ryan, “A Meta-Analytic Review of Experiments Examining the Effects of Extrinsic Rewards on Intrinsic Motivation,” Psychological Bulletin 125.6 (1999): 627-68. 74 crowding out of free choice can occur with the introduction of extrinsic motivations: J.


pages: 252 words: 73,131

The Inner Lives of Markets: How People Shape Them—And They Shape Us by Tim Sullivan

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Airbnb, airport security, Al Roth, Andrei Shleifer, attribution theory, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Brownian motion, centralized clearinghouse, clean water, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, continuous double auction, deferred acceptance, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, experimental subject, first-price auction, framing effect, frictionless, fundamental attribution error, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, helicopter parent, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, late fees, linear programming, Lyft, market clearing, market design, market friction, medical residency, multi-sided market, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Occupy movement, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pez dispenser, pre–internet, price mechanism, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, proxy bid, RAND corporation, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, school choice, school vouchers, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, technoutopianism, telemarketer, The Market for Lemons, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, uranium enrichment, Vickrey auction, winner-take-all economy

Guided by the insights and intuitions gleaned from the recent revolution in economic thought, policy makers and companies have been conducting what amounts to a grand experiment with new kinds of markets that, as we’ll see, sometimes have unforeseen or unintended consequences. Practically speaking, we’re living in the middle of this experiment, the principles of which were created in the pages of esoteric journals by economists, in the labs of high-tech companies, often (but not always) overlaid by a particular political orientation that comes with being starstruck by the efficiency of the market. Although the experimental subjects (that’s us) are nearly always blind to the consequences of this experimentation, don’t suffer under the delusion that market planners have all the answers. Science doesn’t provide clear guidance on any of this stuff. People (including at least some economists) have a delusional sense about what economic science is capable of forecasting. We need more than a superficial consideration of what new market mechanisms mean for the vast majority of people and whether the type of world that market revolutionaries aspire to is one we’d want to live in.

We need more than a superficial consideration of what new market mechanisms mean for the vast majority of people and whether the type of world that market revolutionaries aspire to is one we’d want to live in. We’re all complicit. Every time you book a room on Airbnb, order a car through Uber, browse on Amazon, or click on an ad—so convenient! so easy!—you help the process of reshaping our social institutions, possibly into something that none of us would recognize. You may not mean to, but you do. The question for someone in the midst of an experiment is, Do you want to be an experimental subject? Maybe. But to really know the answer, you have to have a better sense of the possible consequences, both personally and socially. And because the scientists have some hypotheses but don’t—can’t, really—know the outcome, we’re left with competing visions of the world. At one end of the spectrum are the back-to-the-earthers who want us all to stay local and barter for what we need. At the other end are market fundamentalists who want to shred the very fabric of society and resew it according to the specifications of unfettered free markets.

These allocation problems all now have centralized clearinghouses, many designed with the basic deferred acceptance algorithm as their foundations. But that’s really all that Gale and Shapley provided: a conceptual framework that market designers have, for several decades now, been applying, evaluating, and refining. They’ve learned from its successes and, unfortunately, learned even more from its inevitable failures: modeling real-life exchanges is an imprecise, iterative process in which many of us find ourselves as experimental subjects. The Complicated Job of Engineering Matches Market designer Al Roth likes to use a bridge-building metaphor to explain the contrast between his own work and that of design pioneers like Shapley. Suppose you want to build a suspension bridge connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan. In confronting decisions like where to place the suspension cables and how thick each should be, you’d better have paid attention in physics class.


pages: 786 words: 195,810

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

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Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, crowdsourcing, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, experimental subject, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, index card, Isaac Newton, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mother of all demos, neurotypical, New Journalism, pattern recognition, placebo effect, scientific mainstream, side project, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, union organizing, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War

In 1908, he was invited to oversee the newly endowed Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic at Johns Hopkins, which was expressly built on the Viennese model of combining teaching and practice in a single institution. As a walking embodiment of the European tradition, he became enormously influential. At one point, one in ten of the academic psychiatrists in the United States trained directly under him, launching a school of psychiatry that was dubbed Meyerian. He also introduced the field to its standard experimental subject, the albino rat. Coining the word psychobiology, he constantly exhorted his students to set theories aside and seek the facts. Visiting Meyer’s office for the first time on an October afternoon in 1928, Kanner was awestruck. An impeccably polite secretary invited him to wait in an adjacent library that seemed to extend for miles, with a convenient array of stepladders for retrieving volumes on the upper shelves.

But their repetition of this stilted phrase only made her flail her limbs more violently. The possibility that Beth was responding in a comprehensible way to the bizarre behavior of the people around her didn’t enter Lovaas’s mind. Extinguishing Beth’s self-injurious behavior by ignoring her would have been “a slow procedure requiring several sessions or days,” Lovaas predicted. He had good reason to fear that his sole experimental subject—on whom his National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) funding depended—might hurt herself so badly that his experiments could no longer go on. So Lovaas sought a more expeditious solution, which came to him in a flash one day in the lab. He was talking with a colleague, when Beth began striking her head against the sharp edge of a metal cabinet. Like any good behaviorist, Lovaas rarely ventured to speculate about his subjects’ mental states, but in this case he made an exception.

So I let her know that there was no question in my mind that I was going to kill her if she hit herself once more, and that was pretty much it. She hit herself a few times more, but we had the problem licked. Under the laws of the University of California, Lovaas was required to have his research proposals approved by the Human Subjects Board, so explaining that he wanted to “really lay it on” his experimental subjects wouldn’t do. But there was an alternate way of saying basically the same thing that was acceptable in the lexicon of behaviorism. He began exploring the use of aversive stimuli—otherwise known in the trade as “punishment”—as a less time-consuming way of extinguishing self-injury. — THE USE OF PUNISHMENT on human subjects was controversial among Lovaas’s colleagues. In his classic textbook Science and Human Behavior, Skinner explained that while aversives may seem to promptly extinguish undesirable behavior, the behavior often returns with a vengeance after the punishment ceases, because the subject has not been taught more adaptive ways to behave.


pages: 412 words: 115,266

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris

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Albert Einstein, banking crisis, cognitive bias, endowment effect, energy security, experimental subject, framing effect, hindsight bias, impulse control, John Nash: game theory, loss aversion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, out of africa, pattern recognition, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, ultimatum game, World Values Survey

In our search for the neural correlates of subjective states like belief and disbelief, we are bound to rely on behavioral reports. Therefore, having presented an experimental subject with a written statement—e.g., the United States is larger than Guatemala—and watched him mark it as “true,” it may occur to us to wonder whether we can take him at his word. Does he really believe that the United States is larger than Guatemala? Does this statement, in other words, really seem true to him? This is rather like worrying, with reference to a subject who has just performed a lexical decision task, whether a given stimulus really seems like a word to him. While it may seem reasonable to worry that experimental subjects might be poor judges of what they believe, or that they might attempt to deceive experimenters, such concerns seem misplaced—or if appropriate here, they should haunt all studies of human perception and cognition.

Haidt is pessimistic about our ever making realistic claims about right and wrong, or good and evil, because he has observed that human beings tend to make moral decisions on the basis of emotion, justify these decisions with post hoc reasoning, and stick to their guns even when their reasoning demonstrably fails. He notes that when asked to justify their responses to specific moral (and pseudo-moral) dilemmas, people are often “morally dumbfounded.” His experimental subjects would “stutter, laugh, and express surprise at their inability to find supporting reasons, yet they would not change their initial judgments …” The same can be said, however, about our failures to reason effectively. Consider the Monty Hall Problem (based on the television game show Let’s Make a Deal). Imagine that you are a contestant on a game show and presented with three closed doors: behind one sits a new car; the other two conceal goats.

For instance, if asked to recall the last four digits of their Social Security numbers and then asked to estimate the number of doctors practicing in San Francisco, the resulting numbers will show a statistically significant relationship. Needless to say, when the order of questions is reversed, this effect disappears.36 There have been a few efforts to put a brave face on such departures from rationality, construing them as random performance errors or as a sign that experimental subjects have misunderstood the tasks presented to them—or even as proof that research psychologists themselves have been beguiled by false norms of reasoning. But efforts to exonerate our mental limitations have generally failed. There are some things that we are just naturally bad at. And the mistakes people tend to make across a wide range of reasoning tasks are not mere errors; they are systematic errors that are strongly associated both within and across tasks.


pages: 471 words: 97,152

Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism by George A. Akerlof, Robert J. Shiller

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affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income per capita, inflation targeting, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jean Tirole, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, market bubble, market clearing, mental accounting, Mikhail Gorbachev, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, New Urbanism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, random walk, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, working-age population, Y2K, Yom Kippur War

In the plain vanilla version of this game subjects have the opportunity to put some money into a “pot,” which will be augmented and then shared with the rest of the group. If everyone acts cooperatively the returns for the whole group are the greatest. But at the same time there is an incentive to act selfishly: I achieve the best outcome for myself if everyone else puts his money into the pot—to be augmented and shared—but I act selfishly. There is a standard wisdom about the outcomes of such games: experimental subjects initially play such games with some degree of cooperation, but if the games are repeated they first learn that some other players are defectors and then they themselves increasingly defect. After many repetitions of the game all players are playing selfishly. The behavior pattern is very basic: it has been documented in monkeys as well as in humans.8 But Fehr and Gächter had an idea. They made a slight modification to the game to determine what would happen if players could punish those who played noncooperatively.

One of us (Akerlof ) has written extensively on this subject with Rachel Kranton.13 We have shown that a great deal of what makes people happy is living up to what they think they should be doing. In this sense most of the time people want to be fair. They consider it an insult if others do not think they are fair. At the same time, people also want others to live up to what they think those others should be doing. People get upset (think of Fehr’s experimental subjects and their desire to punish) when they think others are not being fair. Fairness then involves bringing into economics these concepts of how people think they and others should or should not behave. Fairness and the Economy Considerations of fairness are a major motivator in many economic decisions and are related to our sense of confidence and our ability to work effectively together.

It is this deer-in-the-headlights aspect to people’s approach to the saving decision, coupled with their susceptibility to cues, that causes the variability in saving. Small wonder that many policy recommendations —which are based on the standard theory of saving, which is in turn based on the economic fundamentals, and therefore has nothing to say about these cues—are very often simply wrong. An experiment by economists Hersh Shefrin and Richard Thaler demonstrates just such a tendency to grasp at straws. They asked experimental subjects how much they would likely spend out of an unexpected, one-time-only windfall of $2,400 in each of three possible situational framings. In the first framing the additional income is a new bonus at work that will be paid out at a rate of $200 a month over the next year. The median subject said that $100 a month would be consumed, for a total of $1,200. The second framing was additional income received as a single lump sum of $2,400 this month.


pages: 285 words: 78,180

Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life by J. Craig Venter

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Barry Marshall: ulcers, bioinformatics, borderless world, Brownian motion, clean water, discovery of DNA, double helix, epigenetics, experimental subject, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, John von Neumann, Louis Pasteur, Mars Rover, Mikhail Gorbachev, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, stem cell, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Turing machine

The team therefore began a search for other species that might be able to stably accommodate these large synthetic DNA molecules. We looked at B. subtilis, which had been used by a Japanese team to grow large segments of a bacterial algae genome.14 But while B. subtilis could indeed accommodate the large 290kb segments, there was no way to recover the DNA intact from these cells, so we looked elsewhere. The solution came from the more complex cellular world of the eukaryote and a favorite experimental subject of scientists around the world studying eukaryotic biology: brewer’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. For centuries S. cerevisiae has been used for alcohol fermentation as well as for making bread, but in the laboratory it has been routinely exploited because it has a relatively small genome and an array of genetic tools that make genetic manipulation easy. For example, S. cerevisiae uses what is called homologous recombination, in which segments of DNA with sequences on its ends similar or identical to those in the S. cerevisiae genome can be spliced into its genome, replacing the intervening sequence.

The achievement of the Roslin Institute rested on many factors, from a technical understanding of the cell cycle to practical considerations, such as protecting reconstructing embryos in a shell of protective agar.4 But Dolly was far from being the first clone and was not the first cloned sheep, either, as many believe.5 The history of nuclear transfer actually dates back to 1938 and the highly creative and influential German embryologist Hans Spemann (1869–1941), who published the first nuclear-transplantation experiments.6 Spemann was the pioneer of what he called Entwicklungsmechanik, or “developmental mechanics,” and was awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts in 1935. With Hilde Mangold (1898–1924) he conducted the first nuclear-transfer experiments on the newt, which was an ideal experimental subject because of its large, easily manipulated eggs. In 1938 Spemann published the milestone text Embryonic Development and Induction, which described how his experiment rested on the dexterous use of microscopy, tweezers, and a delicate hair, probably plucked from his daughter Margrette. Spemann used the hair as a noose to divide the cytoplasm of a newly fertilized salamander egg under the gaze of a binocular microscope, creating a dumbbell-shaped embryo.


pages: 443 words: 123,526

Glasshouse by Stross, Charles

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cognitive dissonance, experimental subject, gravity well, loose coupling, phenotype, prisoner's dilemma, sensible shoes, theory of mind

Your cohort—all ten of you, one of the twenty groups we're introducing to this section of the polity over the next five megs—will meet once a week, on Sundays, in a parish center called the Church of the Nazarene, where you can discuss whatever you've learned. To make the simulation work better, there are a lot of nonplayer characters, zombies run by the Gamesmaster, and for much of the time you'll be interacting with these rather than with other experimental subjects. Everything's laid out in a collection of hab segments linked by gates so they feel like a single geographical continuum, just like a traditional planetary surface." He calms down a little. "Questions?" "What are the society's ground rules?" asks a male with dark skin in a light suit from the back row. He sounds puzzled. "You'll find out. They're largely imposed through environmental constraints.

"Bullshit!" I punch him lightly on the arm. "Look, if I promise I won't tell?" He looks at me thoughtfully. "Promise." "Okay, I promise." I pause. "So what's wrong?" His shoulders are hunched. "I've just come out of memory surgery," he says slowly. "I think that's where Fiore and Yourdon and their crowd found most of us, by the way. A redaction clinic must be a great place to find experimental subjects who're healthy but who've forgotten everything they knew. People who've come adrift from the patterns of life, and who have minimal social connections. People with active close ties don't go in for memory surgery, do they?" "Not often, I don't think," I say, vaguely disturbed by a recollection of military officers briefing me: trouble in another life, urgent plotting against an evil contingency.

If Curious Yellow really did create sleeper cells, secondary pockets of infection designed to break out long after the initial wave was suppressed, then our collective failure to pursue them is disastrously shortsighted. And I am particularly worried because some aspects of the YFH-Polity experimental protocol, as published, sound alarmingly amenable to redirection along these lines. My biggest reason for wanting you to have undergone major memory erasure prior to injection into YFH-Polity is this: I suspect that when the incoming experimental subjects are issued with new bodies, they are filtered through an A-gate infected with a live, patched copy of Curious Yellow. Therefore preemptive memory redaction is the only sure way of preventing such a verminiferous gate from identifying you as a threat for its owners to eliminate. I watch myself writing this letter to myself. I can read it as clearly as if it's engraved in my own flesh.


pages: 322 words: 107,576

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

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Asperger Syndrome, correlation does not imply causation, experimental subject, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, offshore financial centre, p-value, placebo effect, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, the scientific method, urban planning

I would suggest that the same beliefs were held by the subjects of Asch’s experiments into social conformity. These subjects were placed near one end of a line of actors who presented themselves as fellow experimental subjects, but were actually in cahoots with the experimenters. Cards were held up with one line marked on them, and then another card was held up with three lines of different lengths: six inches, eight inches, ten inches. Everyone called out in turn which line on the second card was the same length as the line on the first. For six of the eighteen pairs of cards the accomplices gave the correct answer; but for the other twelve they called out the wrong answer. In all but a quarter of the cases, the experimental subjects went along with the incorrect answer from the crowd of accomplices on one or more occasions, defying the clear evidence of their own senses.


pages: 294 words: 86,601

Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life by Steven Johnson

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Columbine, double helix, epigenetics, experimental subject, Gödel, Escher, Bach, James Watt: steam engine, l'esprit de l'escalier, pattern recognition, phenotype, Steven Pinker, theory of mind

So Joy agrees to make a last-minute addition: a final stage during which I’m shown a single sentence from my book and given the entire forty seconds to ruminate. Then Joy walks me through the risks. “We’re looking at your brain here. So there’s a very small chance that we might see something in these scans, some abnormality.” I nod. “You mean a brain tumor.” “Sometimes when we do work with experimental subjects-people who come in to help with our research, and who don’t have any symptoms-they say, ‘If you see something in there, don’t tell me.’ ” “Hey, if you see something in there that you don’t like,” I smile ruefully, “by all means let me know.” Then she moves on to the dangers associated with the scanner itself. “It is a fundamentally safe procedure, noninvasive.” I think of a news story from a few years back in which hospital staff had left a metal trash can in the room with an fMRI.

And the cameras are rolling. The results arrive in two stages. The first stage comes almost immediately: Joy gives a quick glance at the conventional MRI images of my brain, and announces that I have a healthy specimen. “Everything looks great,” she says as she slaps the X-ray-like film onto a light board. “A textbook brain.” I glow with pride for a second, and then think, She probably tells this to all her experimental subjects. Still, I find myself more pleased than I had expected to find out that I have no visible brain tumors. I think, At least I’ve got that going for me. The second stage is where it gets interesting. A few days pass, and Joy sends an email to let me know that the results are in. “You’re going to like this,” she writes temptingly. The next afternoon I take the A train up to 168th Street, and Joy and I sit down at a conference table to spend some quality time with my brain.


pages: 317 words: 87,566

The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-Being by William Davies

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1960s counterculture, Airbnb, business intelligence, Cass Sunstein, corporate governance, dematerialisation, experimental subject, Exxon Valdez, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Gini coefficient, income inequality, invisible hand, joint-stock company, market bubble, mental accounting, nudge unit, profit maximization, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, sentiment analysis, sharing economy, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, theory of mind, urban planning

How could these apparently intangible, conceptual entities become an object of scientific investigation? Wundt was keen to avoid resorting to introspection of the sort that many English psychologists had used during the 1850s and 1860s. The purpose of the laboratory was to study mental processes in a more objective fashion than that. He and his assistants built various tools to test the response of experimental subjects to different stimuli. They also borrowed various instruments from physiology and physics labs to time neural reflexes. And they built their own version of a tachistoscope, which was used to time how long it took to get a person’s attention. The eyes were a crucial area of study for the pioneering psychologists, but not merely in a physiological sense. Now they provided a glimpse of thinking itself.

Pulse rate and blood pressure were among the measurable indicators of inner emotional states. One of the key differences – which also distinguishes this early psychological research from what would come later – was that the subjects being experimented on were scholarly associates and students of Wundt. They were fully aware of what the experiments were seeking to test and contributed their own subjective insights to the findings. The perspective of the experimental subject was important here, and there was no sense in which they were being manipulated. Conscious thought processes needed to be respected in their own right and not reduced to naturalistic questions of cause and effect. For instance, the speed of conscious reaction (when the subject became aware of something) could be compared to the speed of unconscious reaction (when the physical reflex occurred).


pages: 481 words: 120,693

Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else by Chrystia Freeland

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Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business climate, call centre, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, don't be evil, double helix, energy security, estate planning, experimental subject, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Gini coefficient, global village, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute couture, high net worth, income inequality, invention of the steam engine, job automation, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, linear programming, London Whale, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, Mikhail Gorbachev, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, NetJets, new economy, Occupy movement, open economy, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, postindustrial economy, Potemkin village, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, Solar eclipse in 1919, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Steve Jobs, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tony Hsieh, too big to fail, trade route, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wage slave, Washington Consensus, winner-take-all economy

Their explanation for the behavior of these ignoble nobles was an echo of the Silicon Valley executive’s Heathrow observation: “We reason that increased resources and independence from others cause people to prioritize self-interest over others’ welfare and perceive greed as positive and beneficial, which in turn gives rise to increased unethical behavior.” One of the experiments studied San Francisco intersections. The team found that the drivers of new, expensive cars were twice as likely to cut off other vehicles or pedestrians as the drivers of old, cheap cars. In another test, experimental subjects with higher real-world incomes were more likely to deceive a hypothetical job applicant in order to persuade him or her to accept a lower salary—an accomplishment that earned the manager in the experiment a bonus. Even imagining you were rich changed the way experimental subjects behaved. In another study, participants were prompted to think of themselves as either very rich or very poor, and were then invited to take candy from a jar that afterward would be given to children in a nearby lab. The subjects who had imagined they were very rich took more candy.


pages: 432 words: 124,635

Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, agricultural Revolution, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, carbon footprint, centre right, City Beautiful movement, clean water, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, East Village, edge city, energy security, Enrique Peñalosa, experimental subject, Frank Gehry, Google Earth, happiness index / gross national happiness, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, license plate recognition, McMansion, means of production, megacity, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, science of happiness, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transit-oriented development, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, wage slave, white flight, World Values Survey, Zipcar

.: Hall, James, “Men in Their Late 40s Living in London Are the Unhappiest in the UK,” The Telegraph, February 28, 2012, www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/9110941/Men-in-their-late-40s-living-in-London-are-the-unhappiest-in-the-UK.html (accessed March 3, 2012); Office for National Statistics, “Analysis of Experimental Subjective Well-Being Data from the Annual Population Survey, April to September 2011,” February 28, 2012, www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/wellbeing/measuring-subjective-wellbeing-in-the-uk/analysis-of-experimental-subjective-well-being-data-from-the-annual-population-survey–april—september-2011/report-april-to-september-2011.html (accessed March 3, 2012). Architects’ brains: Kirk, U., M. Skov, M. S. Christensen, and N. Nygaard, “Brain Correlates of Aesthetic Expertise: A Parametric fMRI Study,” Brain and Cognition, 2008: 306–15.

Year 501 by Noam Chomsky

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anti-communist, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, Bolshevik threat, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, colonial rule, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, declining real wages, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, European colonialism, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Howard Zinn, invisible hand, land reform, land tenure, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, non-tariff barriers, offshore financial centre, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, strikebreaker, structural adjustment programs, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, union organizing, War on Poverty, working poor

The rapid growth of wealth and power set the stage for outright conquest and imperial rule. British officials, merchants, and investors “amassed vast fortunes,” gaining “wealth beyond the dreams of avarice” (Parker). That was particularly true in Bengal, which, Keay continues, “was destabilized and impoverished by a disastrous experiment in sponsored government”—one of the many “experiments” in the Third World that have not exactly redounded to the benefit of the experimental subjects. Two English historians of India, Edward Thompson and G.T. Garrett, described the early history of British India as “perhaps the world’s high-water mark of graft”: “a gold-lust unequalled since the hysteria that took hold of the Spaniards of Cortes’ and Pizzaro’s age filled the English mind. Bengal in particular was not to know peace again until she has been bled white.” It is significant, they remark, that one of the Hindustani words that has become part of the English language is “loot.”12 The fate of Bengal brings out essential elements of the global conquest.

In earlier days, Vietnam was described as “a going laboratory where we see subversive insurgency...being applied in all its forms” (Maxwell Taylor), providing opportunities for “experiments with population and resource control methods” and “nation building.” The Marine occupation of Haiti was described in similar terms, as we have seen. The technical posturing appears to sustain the self-image, at least.7 One finds no intimation that the experimental subjects might have the right to sign consent forms, or even to know what is happening to them. On the contrary, they scarcely have the rights of laboratory animals. We will determine what is best for them, as we always have; another hallmark of the 500 years. The wise among us just know, for example, that maximizing consumption is a core human value: “If we weren’t influencing the world” in this direction, “it would be someone else because what we are seeing everywhere is an expression of the basic human desire to consume,” Boston University professor of management Lawrence Wortzel explains.


pages: 589 words: 147,053

The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life When Robots Rule the Earth by Robin Hanson

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8-hour work day, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, business process, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, correlation does not imply causation, demographic transition, Erik Brynjolfsson, ethereum blockchain, experimental subject, fault tolerance, financial intermediation, Flynn Effect, hindsight bias, job automation, job satisfaction, Just-in-time delivery, lone genius, Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman, market design, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nash equilibrium, new economy, prediction markets, rent control, rent-seeking, reversible computing, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, smart contracts, statistical model, stem cell, Thomas Malthus, trade route, Turing test, Vernor Vinge

In such a simulation, almost everything else about the situation could be held constant. Spurs could also be used to test for biases. Today, psychologists show common biases by randomly splitting experimental subjects into subgroups that are given different prompts. For example, a question might be worded two different ways, resulting in different answers on average. Or an “I knew it all along” hindsight bias might be shown via telling different subgroups different outcomes, and asking subjects what chance they would have assigned before to seeing their chosen outcome. Because of random fluctuations that influence individual decisions, however, such experiments today usually require large groups of experimental subjects to see subtle effects. In contrast, em spurs could directly demonstrate such biases in individuals, and not just in large groups. An individual could be split into different copies that are given different prompts, and then their answers could be directly compared.


pages: 397 words: 110,130

Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better by Clive Thompson

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3D printing, 4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Benjamin Mako Hill, butterfly effect, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of penicillin, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, Filter Bubble, Freestyle chess, Galaxy Zoo, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Henri Poincaré, hindsight bias, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, information retrieval, iterative process, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, patent troll, pattern recognition, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Socratic dialogue, spaced repetition, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, transaction costs, Vannevar Bush, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, X Prize, éminence grise

In one, subjects gave Gosling permission to bring strangers into their houses while they were away. After only a few minutes examining their bedrooms, the strangers could produce eerily accurate descriptions of the subjects’ personalities. Gosling wondered whether Facebook pages would be equally revealing, so he repeated the experiment online, arranging to have strangers inspect the Facebook pages of experimental subjects. Sure enough, they were able to accurately describe those personalities, too. The ambient signals given off by status updates and streams of photos can be as powerful as those from real-life objects. Indeed, they’re sometimes more revelatory. One of the hilarities of ambient life is discovering how much weirder people are than you thought, even those you believed you knew well. Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter, once told me that when his parents began using the service, their updates revealed sides he’d never known.

Resnick, Roger Säljö, Clotilde Pontecorvo, and Barbara Burge (Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1997), 41–62, accessed March 26, 2013, www.ida.liu.se/~729G12/mtrl/Suchman_Centres_of_coordination.pdf; and a personal interview with Heath. a form of proprioception: Portions of my writing here appeared in “Clive Thompson on How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense,” Wired, June 2007, accessed March 26, 2013, www.wired.com/techbiz/media/magazine/15-07/st_thompson. have strangers inspect the Facebook pages of experimental subjects: My description of Gosling’s work comes from Samuel D. Gosling, Sei Jin Ko, Thomas Mannarelli, and Margaret E. Morris, “A Room with a Cue: Personality Judgments Based on Offices and Bedrooms,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 82, no. 3 (2002): 379–98, accessed March 26, 2013, homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/faculty/Gosling/reprints/JPSP02-Roomwithacue.pdf; Sam Gosling, Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You (New York: Basic Books, 2009), Kindle edition; Samuel D.


pages: 257 words: 68,203

The Talent Code: Greatest Isn't Born, It's Grown, Here's How by Daniel Coyle

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Albert Einstein, deliberate practice, experimental subject, impulse control, Ralph Waldo Emerson

Accordingly, ignition is determined by simple if/then propositions, with the then part always the same—better get busy. See someone you want to become? Better get busy. Want to catch up with a desirable group? Better get busy. Bargh and his colleagues have performed a number of similarly magical-seeming experiments, where they use tiny environmental cues (such as inspirational words hidden in a crossword puzzle) to manipulate motivation and effort among unknowing experimental subjects. They possess piles of supportive data to explain why this is so effective—for instance, the fact that the unconscious mind is able to process 11 million pieces of information per second, while the conscious mind can manage a mere 40. This disproportion points to the efficiency and necessity of relegating mental activities to the unconscious—and helps us to understand why appeals to the unconscious can be so effective.

Affluenza: When Too Much Is Never Enough by Clive Hamilton, Richard Denniss

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call centre, delayed gratification, experimental subject, full employment, impulse control, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, Naomi Klein, Own Your Own Home, Post-materialism, post-materialism, purchasing power parity, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, wage slave

One recent approach relies on the creation of fake memories of childhood. We are helped to invent an association between our childhood selves and the product in question and then, so as to relive our carefree childhood years, we are encouraged to consume the product all over again. Testing whether it is possible for marketers to create childhood ‘memories’, a team of psychologists in the United States found that experimental subjects who were shown advertisements suggesting they had shaken hands with Mickey Mouse as children were more likely than a control group to believe that they had actually done so.10 To ensure that the advertisements were not acting simply as a prompt that helped people recall legitimate memories, a number of other experiments were conducted. Each had surprising results. In one, subjects were exposed to an advertisement that showed them shaking hands with an impossible character, such as Bugs Bunny at a Disney resort.


pages: 190 words: 53,409

Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy by Robert H. Frank

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Amazon Mechanical Turk, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, attribution theory, availability heuristic, Branko Milanovic, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, deliberate practice, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, experimental subject, framing effect, full employment, hindsight bias, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop, income inequality, invisible hand, labor-force participation, labour mobility, lake wobegon effect, loss aversion, minimum wage unemployment, Network effects, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Richard Thaler, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, side project, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, ultimatum game, Vincenzo Peruggia: Mona Lisa, winner-take-all economy

In another study, the psychologist Martin Seligman and his coauthors asked people to engage in five exercises that had been shown in earlier work to boost feelings of well-being.15 One was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for an earlier kindness. This step, they found, was associated with a larger and more persistent increase in happiness scores than any other of the four other exercises. Numerous other studies by psychologists report similar findings. Nancy Digdon and Amy Koble found that experimental subjects who were induced to feel gratitude toward others experienced subsequent reductions in anxiety and sounder sleep patterns.16 Nathan DeWall and his collaborators showed that people in whom feelings of gratitude had been induced were also more likely to experience empathy toward others and less likely to respond aggressively when provoked by others.17 Failure to appreciate luck’s importance is of course not the only reason the wealthy have been lobbying for additional tax cuts.


pages: 301 words: 74,571

Idoru by William Gibson

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experimental subject, Kowloon Walled City, means of production, pattern recognition, place-making, telepresence

"Here we are," Pursley said. He drew out a sheaf of blue paper. "Don't let your eggs get cold." "Have a seat," Laney said to Daniels. Daniels winced behind his glasses. "Now," Pursley said, "you were in a Federal Orphanage, in Gainesville, it says here, from age twelve to age seventeen." Laney looked at his eggs. "That's right." "During that time, you participated in a number of drug trials? You were an experimental subject?" 132 William Gibson S. "Yes," Laney said, his eggs looking somehow farther away, or like a picture in a magazine. "This was voluntary on your part?" "There were rewards." "Voluntary," Pursley said. "You get on any of that 5-SB?" "They didn't tell us what they were giving us," Laney said. "Sometimes we'd get a placebo instead." "You don't mistake 5-SB for any placebo, son, but I think you know that."


pages: 293 words: 76,294

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham

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Alfred Russel Wallace, experimental subject, means of production, out of africa

The implications of Oka’s experiment are clear. If cooking softens food and softer food leads to greater energy gain, then humans should get more energy from cooked food than raw food not only because of processes such as gelatinization and denaturation, but also because it reduces the costs of digestion. This prediction has been studied in the Burmese python. Physiological ecologist Stephen Secor finds pythons to be superb experimental subjects because after swallowing a meal, the snakes lie in a cage doing little but digesting and breathing. By measuring how much oxygen the pythons consume before and after a meal, Secor measures precisely how much energy the snakes use, and can attribute it to the cost of digestion. He typically monitors the snakes for at least two weeks at a time. Secor and his team have shown repeatedly that the physical structure of a python’s diet influences its cost of digestion.


pages: 293 words: 81,183

Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference by William MacAskill

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barriers to entry, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Cal Newport, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, effective altruism, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, follow your passion, food miles, immigration reform, income inequality, index fund, Isaac Newton, job automation, job satisfaction, labour mobility, Lean Startup, M-Pesa, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, Nate Silver, Peter Singer: altruism, purchasing power parity, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, randomized controlled trial, self-driving car, Skype, Stanislav Petrov, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, universal basic income, women in the workforce

Second, while I just described giving in terms of choosing between a benefit to yourself or others, that’s not a good way of thinking about it because giving benefits the giver as well as the receiver. If anything, my life has become happier since I’ve started donating some of my income. That’s the upside of the “warm glow” effect. Indeed, academic studies suggest I’m not alone. In one case, experimental subjects ended up more satisfied when they were given money and told to use that money to benefit others, than when they were told to use that money to benefit themselves. (See Elizabeth Dunn, Lara Aknin, and Michael Norton, “Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness,” Science 319, no. 5,870 [March 21, 2008]: 1,687–8.) So in fact we should expect that, if we focus on the most effective activities, the benefits to others will be greater and the costs to ourselves will be less than the 100x Multiplier would suggest.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

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8-hour work day, Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, business climate, Cal Newport, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, David Brooks, deliberate practice, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, follow your passion, Frank Gehry, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Merlin Mann, Nate Silver, new economy, Nicholas Carr, popular electronics, remote working, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, statistical model, the medium is the message, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, winner-take-all economy

If you brought someone into a laboratory and asked her to remember how she felt at a specific point many hours ago, she was unlikely to recall. If you instead gave her a diary and asked her to record how she felt throughout the day, she wouldn’t be likely to keep up the entries with diligence—it’s simply too much work. Csikszentmihalyi and Larson’s breakthrough was to leverage new technology (for the time) to bring the question to the subject right when it mattered. In more detail, they outfitted experimental subjects with pagers. These pagers would beep at randomly selected intervals (in modern incarnations of this method, smartphone apps play the same role). When the beeper went off, the subjects would record what they were doing at the exact moment and how they felt. In some cases, they would be provided with a journal in which to record this information while in others they would be given a phone number to call to answer questions posed by a field-worker.

AC/DC: The Savage Tale of the First Standards War by Tom McNichol

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computer age, experimental subject, fear of failure, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, Menlo Park, popular electronics

If the rest of Tesla’s career didn’t quite measure up, it didn’t matter: once, he had caught lightning in a bottle. Of all the combatants in the AC/DC struggle, it would be the loser who would fare best. For Thomas Edison, the defeat of his cherished DC standard was a bitter blow, but hardly fatal. The inventor was involved in far too many other projects for any one setback to derail him financially. However, Edison never again took up electricity as a serious experimental subject. He had tasted defeat in the field once, and that was quite enough. “People will forget my name ever was connected to anything electrical,” Edison said late in his life. It was less a prediction than a wish. Edison continued to refine his storage battery even after it was clear that batteries would never become a primary source of power for automobiles or industry. Some of Edison’s associates drifted away to form new companies.


pages: 936 words: 252,313

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease by Gary Taubes

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Albert Einstein, California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, collaborative editing, Drosophila, experimental subject, Gary Taubes, invention of agriculture, John Snow's cholera map, meta analysis, meta-analysis, phenotype, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Gordon, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbiased observer, Upton Sinclair

In 1952, however, Laurance Kinsell, director of the Institute for Metabolic Research at the Highland–Alameda County Hospital in Oakland, California, demonstrated that vegetable oil will decrease the amount of cholesterol circulating in our blood, and animal fats will raise it. That same year, J. J. Groen of the Netherlands reported that cholesterol levels were independent of the total amount of fat consumed: cholesterol levels in his experimental subjects were lowest on a vegetarian diet with a high fat content, he noted, and highest on an animal-fat diet that had less total fat. Keys eventually accepted that animal fats tend to raise cholesterol and vegetable fats to lower it, only after he managed to replicate Groen’s finding with his schizophrenic patients in Minnesota. Kinsell and Edward “Pete” Ahrens of Rockefeller University then demonstrated that the crucial factor in controlling cholesterol was not whether the fat was from an animal or a vegetable, but its degree of “saturation,” as well as what’s known as the chain length of the fats.

In effect, glucose regulates how much vitamin C is taken up by the cells, according to the University of Massachusetts nutritionist John Cunningham. If we increase blood-sugar levels, the cellular uptake of vitamin C will drop accordingly. Glucose also impairs the reabsorption of vitamin C by the kidney, and so, the higher the blood sugar, the more vitamin C will be lost in the urine. Infusing insulin into experimental subjects has been shown to cause a “marked fall” in vitamin-C levels in the circulation. In other words, there is significant reason to believe that the key factor determining the level of vitamin C in our cells and tissues is not how much or little we happen to be consuming in our diet, but whether the starches and refined carbohydrates in our diet serve to flush vitamin C out of our system, while simultaneously inhibiting the use of what vitamin C we do have.


pages: 612 words: 181,985

Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America by Annie Jacobsen

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Albert Einstein, anti-communist, experimental subject, operation paperclip, Ronald Reagan, V2 rocket, éminence grise

In the debris, I am surprised to find a few specimen jars and bottles intact, filled with preserved human and insect tissues.” Smith asked questions around the concentration camp to try to learn more. Prisoners told him that the laboratory had served Nazi doctors as an experimental medical ward, and that everyone was afraid of it because it was a place “where selected prisoners [were] used as experimental subjects without their consent.” Although it was not yet known by American or British intelligence at the time, what Dr. Marcus Smith had come upon at Dachau was the place where a group of Luftwaffe doctors had been conducting medical research experiments on humans. This work took place in a freestanding barracks, isolated from the others, and was called Experimental Cell Block Five. Many of the Reich’s elite medical doctors passed through the laboratory here.

Alexander learned that the experiments had been conducted on Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and Catholic priests in the secret, freestanding barracks called Experimental Cell Block Five. “In general, the death of prisoners transferred to Block 5 was expected within 2–3 days,” testified John Bauduin. The second witness, Dr. Hussarek, a Czech scholar sent to Dachau for committing “literary crimes,” told Dr. Alexander that “only a few experimental subjects survived the low pressure experiments. Most were killed.” All three men agreed that only one individual was known to have survived the experiments, a Polish priest named Leo Michalowski. Father Michalowski’s testimony provided a critical missing link in the medical murder experiments and how they were so skillfully concealed. Luftwaffe reports used the words “guinea pigs,” “large pigs,” and “adult pigs” as code words for their human subjects.


pages: 823 words: 220,581

Debunking Economics - Revised, Expanded and Integrated Edition: The Naked Emperor Dethroned? by Steve Keen

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, Benoit Mandelbrot, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, cellular automata, central bank independence, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, collective bargaining, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, Financial Instability Hypothesis, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Henri Poincaré, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, invisible hand, iterative process, John von Neumann, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market microstructure, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, open economy, place-making, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, random walk, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, seigniorage, six sigma, South Sea Bubble, stochastic process, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, total factor productivity, tulip mania, wage slave

A bit of algebraic manipulation shows that this consumer gets 1.67 utils of utility from consuming two bananas, compared to 1 util from one banana. A hypothetical example of using this procedure to provide a numerical measure of utility is shown in Table 15.1. TABLE 15.1 Von Neumann’s procedure for working out a numerical value for utility Consumer: Joan Cheng An essential element of this procedure was that it had to be repeatable, and for obvious reasons. If it were done just once, and the experimental subject was hungry, then he might be unwilling to take the risk of starving that the gamble implied, if the outcome were that he had to forgo the banana he already had. Von Neumann was emphatic about this: to make sense, his procedure had to be applied to repeatable experiments only: Probability has often been visualized as a subjective concept more or less in the nature of an estimation. Since we propose to use it in constructing an individual, numerical estimation of utility, the above view of probability would not serve our purpose.

Therefore the square root of 2 can’t be the ratio of two integers, and it is therefore irrational. 2 This is that for changing all incomes and prices by the same factor to have no effect, ‘all other nominal magnitudes [including] assets and liabilities that are expressed in nominal terms)’ (Friedman 1969: 1) have to be altered by the same factor as well – and even this ignores the fact that debt amortization makes the effect of interest rates nonlinear. 3 One example of this is the paper by Caplan (2000) which attempts to explain findings which show that experimental subjects do not conform to the neoclassical definition of rational. Rather than accepting that the neoclassical definition of rationality may be flawed, Caplan proposes that irrationality may be a ‘good,’ which people ‘consume’ like any other, and then represents a rationality–irrationality trade-off using indifference curves. This one article is not the final word on the neoclassical response to such findings.


pages: 396 words: 112,748

Chaos by James Gleick

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Benoit Mandelbrot, butterfly effect, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, discrete time, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, experimental subject, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, iterative process, John von Neumann, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Murray Gell-Mann, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, stochastic process, trade route

Why should a rhythm that has stayed on track for a lifetime, two billion or more uninterrupted cycles, through relaxation and stress, acceleration and deceleration, suddenly break into an uncontrolled, fatally ineffectual frenzy? WINFREE TOLD THE STORY of an early researcher, George Mines, who in 1914 was twenty-eight years old. In his laboratory at McGill University in Montreal, Mines made a small device capable of delivering small, precisely regulated electrical impulses to the heart. “When Mines decided it was time to begin work with human beings, he chose the most readily available experimental subject: himself,” Winfree wrote. “At about six o’clock that evening, a janitor, thinking it was unusually quiet in the laboratory, entered the room. Mines was lying under the laboratory bench surrounded by twisted electrical equipment. A broken mechanism was attached to his chest over the heart and a piece of apparatus nearby was still recording the faltering heartbeat. He died without recovering consciousness.”


pages: 250 words: 88,762

The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World by Tim Harford

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, colonial rule, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, European colonialism, experimental economics, experimental subject, George Akerlof, income per capita, invention of the telephone, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, law of one price, Martin Wolf, mutually assured destruction, New Economic Geography, new economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, women in the workforce

There are some more-sophisticated economic models of rational choice in which both higher wages and harder work are rational as a response to turnover or imperfect information. But they are not what was being tested in the laboratory.) List realized that the laboratory experiments were not an especially realistic setting for this demonstration of irrationality. “Wages” were being offered in exchange for “work,” but all that was really happening was that experimental subjects were ticking boxes on a questionnaire and being paid small amounts based on their answers. It was just a laboratory-based game of “let’s pretend.” List and his colleague Uri Gneezy extended this artificial experimental work to real life. They advertised for and hired people to do actual jobs, such as data entry or door-to-door collection for a charity. They paid some employees the advertised wage and gave others an unexpectedly high wage.


pages: 268 words: 89,761

Unhealthy societies: the afflictions of inequality by Richard G. Wilkinson

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attribution theory, clean water, correlation coefficient, experimental subject, full employment, fundamental attribution error, Gini coefficient, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, invisible hand, land reform, means of production, purchasing power parity, rising living standards, upwardly mobile

Instead of an introspective process by which we reach into an inner source to experience the truth of what we are feeling, it was found that emotions were distinguished from each other largely by 146 Social cohesion and social conflict cognitive processes involving an interpretation of our situation. The emotional experience of a given state of physiological arousal was found to depend on the perception of situational clues. To demonstrate the cognitive and situational contribution to the experience of an emotion depended on manipulating the situation of experimental subjects so as to induce them to ‘misattribute’ their state of arousal from its initial cognitive source. Given some deceptive experimental manipulation of the environment, it was shown that physical arousal caused initially by fear, by humour or annoyance, by adrenaline injections or even by exercise, could be experienced as quite a different emotion and then give rise to behaviour expressive of a different emotion.


pages: 460 words: 107,712

A Devil's Chaplain: Selected Writings by Richard Dawkins

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, Desert Island Discs, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, Necker cube, out of africa, phenotype, placebo effect, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method

Let’s take homeopathy as an example, and let us suppose that we have a large enough fraction of the grant to plan the experiment on a moderately large scale. Having given their consent, 1000 patients will be separated into 500 experimentals (who will receive the homeopathic dose) and 500 controls (who will not). Bending over backwards to respect the ‘holistic’ principle that every individual must be treated as an individual, we shall not insist on giving all experimental subjects the same dose. Nothing so crude. Instead, every patient in the trial shall be examined by a certified homeopath, and an individually tailored therapy prescribed. The different patients need not even receive the same homeopathic substance. But now comes the all-important double-blind randomization. After every patient’s prescription has been written, half of the patients, at random, will be designated controls.


pages: 278 words: 83,468

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

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3D printing, barriers to entry, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, continuous integration, corporate governance, experimental subject, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Lean Startup, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, Network effects, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, pull request, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Toyota Production System, transaction costs

We could begin with problems with clear right answers, perhaps drawn from the many international programming competitions that have developed databases of well-defined problems with clear solutions. These competitions also provide a clear baseline of how long it should take for various problems to be solved so that we could establish clearly the individual problem-solving prowess of the experimental subjects. Using this kind of setup for calibration, we could begin to vary the conditions of the experiments. The challenge will be to increase the level of uncertainty about what the right answer is while still being able to measure the quality of the outcome objectively. Perhaps we could use real-world customer problems and then have real consumers test the output of the teams’ work. Or perhaps we could go so far as to build minimum viable products for solving the same set of problems over and over again to quantify which produces the best customer conversion rates.


pages: 370 words: 112,602

Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo

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Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Cass Sunstein, charter city, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, congestion charging, demographic transition, diversified portfolio, experimental subject, hiring and firing, land tenure, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, microcredit, moral hazard, purchasing power parity, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thomas Malthus, urban planning

This is important, because it turns out that cortisol directly impairs cognitive and decisionmaking ability: The stress-induced release of cortisol affects brain areas such as the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala, and the hippocampus, which are important in cognitive functioning; in particular, the prefrontal cortex is important in suppression of impulsive responses. It is therefore no surprise that when experimental subjects are artificially put under stressful conditions in the laboratory, they are less likely to make the economically rational decision when faced with choosing among different alternatives.8 THE HEDGE What can the poor do to cope with these risks? A natural reaction when faced with a drop in wages or earnings is to try to work more. But this may sometimes be self-defeating. If all the poor laborers want to work more when times are bad (for example, because there is a drought or input prices have gone up), they compete with each other, which drives wages down.


pages: 309 words: 86,909

The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger by Richard Wilkinson; Kate Pickett

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Berlin Wall, clean water, Diane Coyle, epigenetics, experimental economics, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, full employment, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, impulse control, income inequality, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, land reform, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, offshore financial centre, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit maximization, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, statistical model, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, World Values Survey

The researchers suggested that the neural reward networks serve to encourage reciprocity and mutuality while resisting the temptation to act selfishly.341 In contrast to the rewards of co-operation, experiments using brain scans have shown that the pain of social exclusion involves the same areas of the brain as are stimulated when someone experiences physical pain. Naomi Eisenberger, a psychologist at UCLA, got volunteers to play a computer bat-and-ball game with, as it seemed on the screen, two other participants.342 The program was arranged so that after a while the other two virtual participants would start to pass the ball just between each other, so excluding the experimental subject. Brain scans showed that the areas of the brain activated by this experience of exclusion were the same areas as are activated by physical pain. In various species of monkeys these same brain areas have been found to play a role in offspring calling for, and mothers providing, maternal protection. These connections have always been understood intuitively. When we talk about ‘hurt feelings’ or a ‘broken heart’ we recognize the connection between physical pain and the social pain caused by the breaking of close social bonds, by exclusion and ostracism.


pages: 362 words: 104,308

Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson

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bioinformatics, business intelligence, double helix, experimental subject, phenotype, prisoner's dilemma, Ronald Reagan, stem cell, the scientific method

Input from the agency of production would be wrong.” “Like the assembly line choosing what to make,” Marta said. “Right. Thus the idiocy of business management theory in our time.” “I’ll send him an e-mail,” Leo decided. So Leo sent Derek an e-mail concerning what Brian and Marta persisted in calling the exploding mice problem. Derek (according to reports they heard later) swelled up like one of their experimental subjects. It appeared he had been IVed with two quarts of genetically engineered righteous indignation. “It’s in the literature!” he was reported to have shouted at Dr. Sam Houston, his vice president in charge of research and development. “It was in The Journal of Immunology, there were two papers that were peer-reviewed, they got a patent for it! I went out there to Maryland and checked it all out myself!


pages: 339 words: 105,938

The Skeptical Economist: Revealing the Ethics Inside Economics by Jonathan Aldred

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airport security, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, citizen journalism, clean water, cognitive dissonance, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, Diane Coyle, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, framing effect, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, invisible hand, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, libertarian paternalism, new economy, pension reform, positional goods, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, school choice, spectrum auction, trade liberalization, ultimatum game

Turning to the list above, dominant left-siders are also more likely to smile and be assessed as happy by their friends, while right-siders smile less and are regarded as less happy by their friends. Left-siders purposely given the flu virus were less likely to get ill, too. All this evidence seems to correlate brain activity with positive/negative feelings and behaviours, and these in turn are correlated with self-reported happiness, but is there a more direct link? At least one widely discussed experiment suggests there is. All the experimental subjects — victims might be a better term — had a very hot pad applied to one of their legs. The pad was exactly the same temperature for everyone, but people gave very different reports of the level of pain. Nevertheless, the differing reports were highly correlated with brain activity, again suggesting that such reports are meaningful.6 Still, this experiment might seem worrying for the defenders of happiness surveys because it demonstrates so clearly that the same objective stimulus is described differently by different people.


pages: 341 words: 89,986

Bricks & Mortals: Ten Great Buildings and the People They Made by Tom Wilkinson

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Berlin Wall, British Empire, cuban missile crisis, Donald Trump, double helix, experimental subject, false memory syndrome, financial independence, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Google Glasses, housing crisis, Mahatma Gandhi, megacity, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, urban planning

Hence the transparent facade, which was meant to advertise healthy living to the community at large. Although this might seem admirably unpatronising, the reason for the hands-off approach was eugenic: only those whose genes deserved to survive – those who took responsibility for themselves – would benefit. The transparency of the building was also necessary so that the doctors could observe their experimental subjects, ‘looking through the glass walls of the Centre, as the cytologist may under his microscope watch living cells grow’.4 The Finsbury Health Centre was designed with very different aims in mind. Peckham was not a slum, and its residents were mostly tradesmen and skilled labourers, but Finsbury was a much poorer area. The health problems of its residents were correspondingly more acute, as would have been only too apparent to Dr Katial.


pages: 404 words: 113,514

Atrocity Archives by Stross, Charles

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airport security, anthropic principle, Berlin Wall, brain emulation, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, defense in depth, disintermediation, experimental subject, glass ceiling, haute cuisine, hypertext link, Khyber Pass, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, NP-complete, the medium is the message, Y2K, yield curve

(By nuclear structure he is of course referring to the core of the atom, as deduced by our experiments last year.) Then he explained how he was going to seat a gorgon on one side of a very large device he calls a cloud chamber, with big magnetic coils positioned above and below it, to see if there is some other physical phenomenon at work. I can now reveal the effects of our team's experimentation. Subject C is cooperating in a most professional manner, but despite Ernest's greatest efforts the cloud chamber bore no fruit--she can sit with her face pressed up against the glass window on one side, and blow a chicken's egg to flinders of red-hot pumice on the target stand, but no ionization trail appears in the saturated vapour of the chamber. Or rather, I should say no direct trail appears.


pages: 397 words: 109,631

Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking by Richard E. Nisbett

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, big-box store, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, cognitive dissonance, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological constant, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, endowment effect, experimental subject, feminist movement, fundamental attribution error, glass ceiling, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, quantitative easing, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Socratic dialogue, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, William of Occam, Zipcar

One difference between paradigmatic changes in science and those in technology and business practices is that the old paradigm often as not hangs around in science. Cognitive science didn’t replace all learning theory findings, or even the explanations behind the findings. Rather, it just established a body of work that couldn’t have been produced within the learning theory framework. Science and Culture Bertrand Russell once observed that scientists studying the problem-solving behavior of animals saw in their experimental subjects the national characteristics of the scientists themselves. The pragmatic Americans and the theoretically inclined Germans had very different understandings of what was happening. Animals studied by Americans rush about frantically, with an incredible display of hustle and pep, and at last achieve the desired result by chance. Animals observed by Germans sit still and think, and at last evolve the solution out of their inner consciousness.


pages: 340 words: 96,242

Mars Crossing by Geoffrey A. Landis

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affirmative action, experimental subject, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover

She had never worked harder in her life. The launch to the space station, when it came, seemed almost like a vacation. She was so excited that she barely noticed the launch, and only when she saw her notepad floating out of her pocket did she realize, I'm really here; I'm in zero gravity. I made it. Tana's billet was to be the blue-shift medical officer, and in her spare time, a biology research technician and an experimental subject. The bio labs always needed both technicians and subjects. She liked being on space station. Ft was crowded and noisy and confusing. It was remarkably easy to get confused, and even—despite its small size—momentarily lost. The familiar route from one module to another that you've memorized as a left turn would, if you happen to be flipped, mutate into a right turn, or even an up or down turn.


pages: 385 words: 103,561

Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Our World by Greg Milner

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Ayatollah Khomeini, British Empire, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, experimental subject, Flash crash, friendly fire, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, land tenure, lone genius, Mars Rover, Mercator projection, place-making, polynesian navigation, precision agriculture, race to the bottom, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, smart grid, the map is not the territory

A historical and technological survey of GPS published in 2002 summarized the relationship between the two technologies/concepts: “GPS receivers without GIS have no knowledge of the real world.” This knowledge runs deep. Street View ultimately taught me nothing definitive about Fallen Man, but Street View images are perhaps thicker with real information than we realize. An MIT Media Lab study of “perceptual inequality” showed experimental subjects pairs of images selected randomly from a set of hundreds of street-level images of New York City, Boston, and two cities in Austria, Salzburg and Linz. For each pair, subjects answered the questions “Which place looks safer?” and “Which place looks more upper-class?” The study found that both positive and negative impressions were more clustered around geographic regions in the American cities, and more widely dispersed in the Austrian cities, suggesting that the cityscapes of Boston and New York City exhibit starker inequality.


pages: 379 words: 113,656

Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age by Duncan J. Watts

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Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, business process, corporate governance, Drosophila, Erdős number, experimental subject, Frank Gehry, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, invisible hand, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Milgram experiment, Murray Gell-Mann, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, rolodex, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, supply-chain management, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Toyota Production System, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, Y2K

The dithering, it turned out, had not only allowed us to become friends and given me a chance to finish my courses; it also freed us from the focus of a single, well-defined project for long enough to think about what we really wanted to do, rather than just what we thought we could do. And that, as the poem goes, has made all the difference. THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED AT THE TIME WE STUMBLED ONTO OUR EVENTUAL PROJECT, WE were studying, of all things, crickets. It sounds silly, but because this particular species of cricket—the snowy tree cricket—chirps in such a regular fashion and because (unlike pacemaker cells or neurons) it is such a well-behaved experimental subject, it is virtually an ideal specimen of biological oscillator. We were trying to test a deep mathematical hypothesis, originally proposed by Winfree, that only certain types of oscillators can synchronize. Since snowy tree crickets are extremely good at synchronizing, it seemed a natural step to determine experimentally what kind of oscillators they were and therefore whether or not the theoretical predictions were true.


pages: 327 words: 97,720

Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection by John T. Cacioppo

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Alfred Russel Wallace, biofilm, butterfly effect, Celebration, Florida, corporate governance, delayed gratification, experimental subject, impulse control, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, post-industrial society, Rodney Brooks, Ted Kaczynski, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, theory of mind, urban planning, urban renewal, Walter Mischel

A controlled experiment means studying people in a situation in which you can hold certain variables constant while you manipulate some other variable. Such an experiment also requires that the participants be randomly assigned to different levels of the manipulation taking place. To manipulate levels of perceived loneliness, we enlisted David Spiegel, a psychiatrist at Stanford University, to hypnotize our experimental subjects. Using precisely worded scripts, we guided our hypnotized student volunteers to re-experience moments in their lives that summoned up either profound feelings of loneliness or profound feelings of social connectedness. With some individuals we induced loneliness in their first hypnotic state and social connectedness in their second; with the others the order was reversed. Before and after each hypnosis we administered the revised UCLA Loneliness Scale to ensure that the hypnosis had induced the desired emotional state.18 Earlier, Spiegel had done a classic experiment with Harvard’s Steven Kosslyn to demonstrate that hypnotic suggestion was not merely an extreme case of suggestion, coercion, and compliance.


pages: 502 words: 107,657

Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die by Eric Siegel

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Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, backtesting, Black Swan, book scanning, bounce rate, business intelligence, business process, call centre, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data is the new oil, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, Google Glasses, happiness index / gross national happiness, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, personalized medicine, placebo effect, prediction markets, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, risk-adjusted returns, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, software as a service, speech recognition, statistical model, Steven Levy, text mining, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize, Yogi Berra

Websites serve the ads that get clicked the most, and run random AB tests to compare which web page design and contents lead to the most buying. Facebook conducts controlled experiments to see how changes to the rules driving which friends’ posts get displayed influence your engagement and usage of the product. I tested titles for this book, following in the footsteps of SuperCrunchers and The 4-Hour Workweek. Placed as ads on Google Adwords, Predictive Analytics, when displayed on tens of thousands of screens of unsuspecting experimental subjects across the country, was clicked almost twice as often as Geek Prophecies, and also beat out I Knew You Were Going to Do That and Clairvoyant Computers, plus the six remaining book titles that I also entered into this contest. It was convenient that the field’s very name came out as the top contender, an unquestionably fitting title for this book. In both medicine and marketing, this scheme to test treatments reveals the impact of selecting one outward action over another—but only as a trend across the group of subjects as a whole.


pages: 350 words: 103,988

Reinventing the Bazaar: A Natural History of Markets by John McMillan

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, Anton Chekhov, Asian financial crisis, congestion charging, corporate governance, crony capitalism, Dava Sobel, Deng Xiaoping, experimental economics, experimental subject, fear of failure, first-price auction, frictionless, frictionless market, George Akerlof, George Gilder, global village, Hernando de Soto, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, income per capita, informal economy, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job-hopping, John Harrison: Longitude, John von Neumann, land reform, lone genius, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market friction, market microstructure, means of production, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, pez dispenser, pre–internet, price mechanism, profit maximization, profit motive, proxy bid, purchasing power parity, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, Silicon Valley, spectrum auction, Stewart Brand, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transaction costs, War on Poverty, Xiaogang Anhui farmers, yield management

If there are unfilled jobs for barrel scrapers, the employers raise the offered wage, people change their jobs in response, and the vacancies get filled. With a price system, unlike under central planning, no central authority needs to know when there is an imbalance of supply and demand. Evidence that price movements can guide an economy to a stable outcome comes from experimental economics, in research done by Vernon Smith and others.12 An economy is simulated in the laboratory, with experimental subjects, usually undergraduate students, being put in the role of consumers and firms (and to get them to take their decision-making seriously, they are offered cash payments based on the outcomes of their decisions). Provided the experimental market’s rules are well designed, prices quickly settle down at their theoretical equilibrium levels (that is, where supply equals demand), even though no one in the economy knows enough to be able to figure out what those prices should be.

Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower by William Blum

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anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, collective bargaining, Columbine, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Joseph Schumpeter, land reform, Monroe Doctrine, profit motive, Ronald Reagan, union organizing

A remarkable variety of government programs, either formally, or in effect, using soldiers as guinea pigs—marched to nuclear explosion sites, with pilots then sent through the mushroom clouds; subjected to chemical and biological weapons experiments; radiation experiments; behavior modification experiments that washed their brains with LSD; exposure to the dioxin of Agent Orange in Korea and Vietnam...the list goes on...literally millions of experimental subjects, seldom given a choice or adequate information, often with disastrous effects to their physical and/or mental health, rarely with proper medical care or even monitoring,5 The moral of this little slice of history is simple: If the United States government does not care about the health and welfare of its own soldiers, if our leaders are not moved by the prolonged pain and suffering of the wretched warriors enlisted to fight the empire's wars, how can it be argued, how can it be believed, that they care about foreign peoples?


pages: 1,079 words: 321,718

Surfaces and Essences by Douglas Hofstadter, Emmanuel Sander

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, Benoit Mandelbrot, Brownian motion, Chance favours the prepared mind, cognitive dissonance, computer age, computer vision, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Ernest Rutherford, experimental subject, Flynn Effect, Georg Cantor, Gerolamo Cardano, Golden Gate Park, haute couture, haute cuisine, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, l'esprit de l'escalier, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, place-making, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, theory of mind, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl

Another influential view involves stored “mental simulators” of experiences one has undergone, which, in response to a fresh stimulus, reactivate certain regions of the brain that were once stimulated by the closest experiences to the current stimulus. Behind all these efforts lies the appealing idea of non-homogeneous categories — that is, categories having stronger and weaker members — which amounts to distinguishing between more central and less central members. For example, if one times the responses of experimental subjects when they are asked questions of the form “Is an X a Y?”, or if one asks them to write down a list of members of a certain category, or if one gives them a list and asks them to indicate, for each item, its degree of typicality as a member of a specific category, one finds that some very striking trends emerge, and these trends turn out to be stable across all these different ways of testing.

We all depend implicitly on knowledge deeply rooted in our experiences over a lifetime, and this knowledge, which has been confirmed and reconfirmed over and over again, has also been generalized over time, allowing it to be carried over fluidly to all sorts of new situations. It is very rare that, in real life, we rely on an analogy to a situation with which we are barely familiar at all. To put it more colorfully, when it comes to understanding novel situations, we reach out to our family and our friends rather than to the first random passerby. But in the source–target paradigm, experimental subjects are required to reach out to a random passerby — namely, the one that was imposed on them as a source situation by the experimenter. And so, what do the results obtained in the framework of this paradigm really demonstrate? What they show is that when people learn something superficially, they wind up making superficial analogies to it. It would hardly be an earth-shaking revelation that people who have been given a single five-minute juggling lesson turn out to be lousy jugglers.

The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal by M. Mitchell Waldrop

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Ada Lovelace, air freight, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Apple II, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bill Duvall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Byte Shop, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, experimental subject, fault tolerance, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, information retrieval, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Rulifson, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, pink-collar, popular electronics, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Silicon Valley, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture, Wiener process

It turns out that you can understand what's being said much more easily if the words are selected from a very limited vocabulary, so there can be no confusion (this is why fighter jocks go in for that clipped alphafoxtrot-bravo jargon). Shortly after Shannon's paper came out, Miller says, he and two of his students decided to measure this effect in terms of information theory. They found that their experimental subjects could detect the difference between, say, "boy" and "heel" at quite high noise levels: it was just an either-or choice, requiring the perception of only one bit of information. But as they added more words to the list of possibilities-that is, as they demanded the perception of more and more bits of information-it rapidly became impossible for their subjects to detect the differences. They literally could no longer hear "boy" and "heel" in the noise, even though the stimulus was exactly the same.

That introductory article he'd published with Fred Frick in 1949 had made information theory into something of a fad in psychology, espe- cially among the rising generation. And as these young researchers applied the theory to more and more aspects of human perception, they found more and more evidence for the same kind of "channel capacity" that Miller had found in the perception of words. Their experimental subjects could distinguish very well between different musical pitches, say, or different positions of points on a line, or even different levels of saltiness in a taste of water-if there were only two al- ternatives. Salty-not salty and so on were really just yes-no choices, meaning that the subjects had to perceive only one bit of information. But as the num- ber of alternatives increased, the subjects inevitably began to falter and make mistakes at the level of roughly seven choices, or slightly less than three bits of information. :- The clear implication was that perception didn't just happen, as the behavior- ists would have it.


pages: 416 words: 118,592

A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing by Burton G. Malkiel

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, asset allocation, asset-backed security, backtesting, Bernie Madoff, BRICs, capital asset pricing model, compound rate of return, correlation coefficient, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversification, diversified portfolio, Elliott wave, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, feminist movement, financial innovation, fixed income, framing effect, hindsight bias, Home mortgage interest deduction, index fund, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, margin call, market bubble, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Own Your Own Home, passive investing, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit maximization, publish or perish, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, Vanguard fund, zero-coupon bond

Daniel Kahneman has argued that this tendency to overconfidence is particularly strong among investors. More than most other groups, investors tend to exaggerate their own skill and deny the role of chance. They overestimate their own knowledge, underestimate the risks involved, and exaggerate their ability to control events. Kahneman’s tests show how well investors’ probability judgments are calibrated by asking experimental subjects for confidence intervals. He asks a question such as the following: What is your best estimate of the value of the Dow Jones one month from today? Next pick a high value, such that you are 99% sure (but not absolutely sure) that the Dow Jones a month from today will be lower than that value. Now pick a low value, such that you are 99% sure (but no more) that the Dow Jones a month from today will be higher than that value.


pages: 586 words: 159,901

Wall Street: How It Works And for Whom by Doug Henwood

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, central bank independence, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, facts on the ground, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, index arbitrage, index fund, interest rate swap, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, kremlinology, labor-force participation, late capitalism, law of one price, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, London Interbank Offered Rate, Louis Bachelier, market bubble, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, oil shock, payday loans, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, random walk, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, short selling, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, women in the workforce, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

They seem to think that building a better model will persuade the main-streamers of the errors of their ways. 4. Of course they were asking these questions on behalf of money managers, who need advice on how to handle the trillions of dollars they "run." 5. Besides comfortable self-sufficiency, one shouldn't discount the macho feel of having dominated chaos with a complex model. 6. In a prisoners' dilemma, two experimental subjects, metaphorically partners in crime, are given the choice of betraying each other or hanging tough for monetary reward. If one defects and the other doesn't, the skunk gets 3 units. If both defect, each gets 1. If both cooperate, each gets 2. 7. One doesn't want to get too carried away naturalizing temperament and values, but the model seems particularly to drive away women and nonwhites, at least in America, because of its chilly irreality.


pages: 483 words: 141,836

Red-Blooded Risk: The Secret History of Wall Street by Aaron Brown, Eric Kim

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Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Asian financial crisis, Atul Gawande, backtesting, Basel III, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, capital asset pricing model, central bank independence, Checklist Manifesto, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, disintermediation, distributed generation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, financial innovation, illegal immigration, implied volatility, index fund, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, margin call, market clearing, market fundamentalism, market microstructure, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, natural language processing, open economy, pre–internet, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, special drawing rights, statistical arbitrage, stochastic volatility, The Myth of the Rational Market, too big to fail, transaction costs, value at risk, yield curve

At that point you’re going to wildly overshoot on the cold side. Of course, your reaction to that will be an overreaction on the warm side. The only people who can master this extremely simple task are ones who apply explicit quantitative reasoning and have the faith to stick with it even when it seems not to be working. Another simple Dorner experiment is to let people manage a few variables in a simple virtual village. The experimental subjects can devote resources to health care, irrigation, house building, and other projects. Here again, almost everyone creates disasters, however much training they receive and however often they replay the game. The tendency is to correct every short-term problem without considering the long-term consequences. In a few virtual years, everyone in the village is dead and the area is an environmental wasteland.


pages: 621 words: 157,263

How to Change the World: Reflections on Marx and Marxism by Eric Hobsbawm

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anti-communist, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, British Empire, currency manipulation / currency intervention, deindustrialization, discovery of the americas, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, full employment, labour market flexibility, market fundamentalism, means of production, new economy, Simon Kuznets, Thorstein Veblen, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile

Indeed, its own scientific affiliations had been non-Galilean and non-Newtonian, for Engels himself maintained a lifelong tenderness for the German ‘natural philosophy’ in which German students of his youth had no doubt been brought up. He sympathised with Kepler rather than Galileo. It is possible that this aspect of the Marxist tradition helped to attract scientists whose field (biology) or whose cast of mind made the mechanical-reductionist models of a science whose greatest triumph was physics, and the analytical method of isolating the experimental subject from its context (‘keeping other things equal’), seem particularly inapposite. Such men (Joseph Needham, C.H. Waddington) were interested in wholes rather than parts, in general systems theory – the phrase was not yet familiar – in ensembles which integrate, in a living reality, phenomena which conventional ‘scientific method’ separated; for instance, ‘bombed yet still functioning cities’ (to use an illustration by Needham suitable to the age of anti-fascism). 55 293 How to Change the World Thirdly, dialectical materialism appeared to provide a way out of the inconsistencies of science by embodying the concept of contradiction in its approach.


pages: 598 words: 134,339

Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World by Bruce Schneier

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23andMe, Airbnb, airport security, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, augmented reality, Benjamin Mako Hill, Black Swan, Brewster Kahle, Brian Krebs, call centre, Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, congestion charging, disintermediation, Edward Snowden, experimental subject, failed state, fault tolerance, Ferguson, Missouri, Filter Bubble, Firefox, friendly fire, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, hindsight bias, informal economy, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, license plate recognition, linked data, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Nash equilibrium, Nate Silver, national security letter, Network effects, Occupy movement, payday loans, pre–internet, price discrimination, profit motive, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, RFID, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, South China Sea, stealth mode startup, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, TaskRabbit, telemarketer, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, urban planning, WikiLeaks, zero day

We don’t want to live in a society where everybody only ever reads things that reinforce their existing opinions, where we never have spontaneous encounters that enliven, confound, confront, and teach us. In 2012, Facebook ran an experiment in control. It selectively manipulated the newsfeeds of 680,000 users, showing them either happier or sadder status updates. Because Facebook constantly monitors its users—that’s how it turns its users into advertising revenue—it could easily monitor the experimental subjects and collect the results. It found that people who saw happier posts tended to write happier posts, and vice versa. I don’t want to make too much of this result. Facebook only did this for a week, and the effect was small. But once sites like Facebook figure out how to do this effectively, they will be able to monetize this. Not only do women feel less attractive on Mondays; they also feel less attractive when they feel depressed.


pages: 396 words: 117,149

The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos

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3D printing, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Arthur Eddington, Benoit Mandelbrot, bioinformatics, Black Swan, Brownian motion, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, constrained optimization, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, data is the new oil, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, Filter Bubble, future of work, global village, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, information retrieval, job automation, John Snow's cholera map, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Narrative Science, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, NP-complete, P = NP, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, planetary scale, pre–internet, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, superintelligent machines, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, theory of mind, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight

Newell and Rosenbloom hypothesized that a similar process is at work in all skill acquisition, not just chess. In perception and memory, a chunk is just a symbol that stands for a pattern of other symbols, like AI stands for artificial intelligence. Newell and Rosenbloom adapted this notion to the theory of problem solving that Newell and Simon had developed earlier. Newell and Simon asked experimental subjects to solve problems—for example, derive one mathematical formula from another on the blackboard—while narrating aloud how they were going about it. They found that humans solve problems by decomposing them into subproblems, subsubproblems, and so on and systematically reducing the differences between the initial state (the first formula, say) and the goal state (the second formula). Doing so requires searching for a sequence of actions that will work, however, and that takes time.


pages: 564 words: 163,106

The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine by M. D. James le Fanu M. D.

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Barry Marshall: ulcers, clean water, cuban missile crisis, discovery of penicillin, double helix, experimental subject, Gary Taubes, Isaac Newton, meta analysis, meta-analysis, rising living standards, stem cell, telerobotics, The Design of Experiments, the scientific method, V2 rocket

There is, though, another much more important reason why young doctors found research a less attractive option: the revolution of clinical science as initiated by Sir Thomas Lewis and carried on by John McMichael and his contemporaries had become exhausted. There are many forms of medical research – synthesising new drugs, inventing new technologies, experimenting on animal models of disease, and so on – but the distinguishing feature of clinical science is that it is practised by doctors with a unique access to the ‘experimental subjects’ – patients with illnesses. Most clinical science involves observing or measuring in some way the phenomena of disease in a living person, rather than a dead one in the autopsy room, usually with some special technique. Thus, in the post-war years at the Postgraduate Medical School, John McMichael used the cardiac catheter to measure pressures within the heart while Sheila Sherlock used the liver biopsy needle to take specimens of the liver from jaundiced patients to make a more accurate diagnosis.

Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing (Writing Science) by Thierry Bardini

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Apple II, augmented reality, Bill Duvall, conceptual framework, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, experimental subject, Grace Hopper, hiring and firing, hypertext link, index card, information retrieval, invention of hypertext, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Rulifson, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, new economy, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Silicon Valley, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, Ted Nelson, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, unbiased observer, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog

These subjects were only The ArrIval of the Real User 179 "half-real" or, in other words, they were model subjects, subjects who could be read as embodiments of the generic eye-hand system. The experiments were able to prove that using the mouse was as efficient as pointing, but people who point usually don't develop repetitive-stress injuries (RSls). The limitations in the definition of the user imposed by the cognitive-science conception of the user as an experimental subject thus laid ample groundwork for subsequent unintended consequences of the technology. To put it another way, the qualities of the" real" test subjects were selected in accord with and limited to the purpose of the testing, as the following state- ment by Larry Tesler shows: I really didn't believe in [the mouse]. . . . I thought cursor keys were much better. We literally took people off the streets who had never seen a computer.


pages: 478 words: 142,608

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

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Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Ayatollah Khomeini, Brownian motion, cosmological principle, David Attenborough, Desert Island Discs, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, invisible hand, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, placebo effect, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, unbiased observer

Clearly Oscar should have no problem deciding to pull the points and divert the trolley. Except that there happens to be a hiker walking in front of the iron weight. He will certainly be killed if Oscar pulls the switch, just as surely as Ned’s fat man. The difference is that Oscar’s hiker is not being used to stop the trolley: he is collateral damage, as in Denise’s dilemma. Like Hauser, and like most of Hauser’s experimental subjects, I feel that Oscar is permitted to throw the switch but Ned is not. But I also find it quite hard to justify my intuition. Hauser’s point is that such moral intuitions are often not well thought out but that we feel them strongly anyway, because of our evolutionary heritage. In an intriguing venture into anthropology, Hauser and his colleagues adapted their moral experiments to the Kuna, a small Central American tribe with little contact with Westerners and no formal religion.


pages: 405 words: 121,531

Influence: Science and Practice by Robert B. Cialdini

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Albert Einstein, attribution theory, bank run, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, desegregation, experimental subject, Mars Rover, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, Milgram experiment, Ralph Waldo Emerson, telemarketer, The Wisdom of Crowds

The drive to be (and look) consistent constitutes a highly potent weapon of social influence, often causing us to act in ways that are clearly contrary to our own best interest. Consider what happened when researchers staged thefts on a New York City beach to see if onlookers would risk personal harm to halt the crime. In the study, an accomplice of the researchers would put a beach blanket down five feet from the blanket of a randomly chosen individual—the experimental subject. After several minutes of relaxing on the blanket and listening to music from a portable radio, the accomplice would stand up and leave the blanket to stroll down the beach. Soon thereafter, a researcher, pretending to be a thief, would approach, grab the radio, and try to hurry away with it. As you might guess, under normal conditions, subjects were very reluctant to put themselves in harm’s way by challenging the thief— only four people did so in the 20 times that the theft was staged.


pages: 479 words: 144,453

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

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23andMe, agricultural Revolution, algorithmic trading, Anne Wojcicki, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, call centre, Chris Urmson, cognitive dissonance, Columbian Exchange, computer age, Deng Xiaoping, don't be evil, European colonialism, experimental subject, falling living standards, Flash crash, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, glass ceiling, global village, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, Kevin Kelly, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Minecraft, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, mutually assured destruction, new economy, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, placebo effect, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, stem cell, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, too big to fail, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, ultimatum game, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

In a country with far more sheep than humans (30 million vs 4.5 million), that is a very significant statement. The Canadian province of Quebec has since passed a similar Act, and other countries are likely to follow suit. Many business corporations also recognise animals as sentient beings, though paradoxically, this often exposes the animals to rather unpleasant laboratory tests. For example, pharmaceutical companies routinely use rats as experimental subjects in the development of antidepressants. According to one widely used protocol, you take a hundred rats (for statistical reliability) and place each rat inside a glass tube filled with water. The rats struggle again and again to climb out of the tubes, without success. After fifteen minutes most give up and stop moving. They just float in the tube, apathetic to their surroundings. You now take another hundred rats, throw them in, but fish them out of the tube after fourteen minutes, just before they are about to despair.


pages: 420 words: 121,881

The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution by Jonathan Eig

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Albert Einstein, experimental subject, feminist movement, placebo effect, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Rosa Parks, Upton Sinclair, women in the workforce

“I was ready to murder anyone who momentarily got in my way, and to burst into tears on practically no provocation.” Whether this was directly a result of the pills or simply the anger she felt at suffering so many physical symptoms, she wasn’t sure. When she quit the pill after ten days, Blake went to see her doctor to make sure there was nothing wrong with her. “I shall forward you the bill,” she informed Pincus, “since, though I am glad to be an experimental subject for you, I don’t think I should lose money on the deal.” Blake’s letter might have served as a warning, but Pincus was still not terribly worried. Side effects were called side effects for a reason: they were not the main concern. The priority was to make sure no one taking the pill got pregnant. There would be time enough to tinker with the dosages and even the chemical makeup of the pill to see if the side effects could be reduced or eliminated.


pages: 467 words: 116,094

I Think You'll Find It's a Bit More Complicated Than That by Ben Goldacre

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call centre, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, Desert Island Discs, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, Firefox, Flynn Effect, jimmy wales, John Snow's cholera map, Loebner Prize, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, Simon Singh, statistical model, stem cell, the scientific method, Turing test, WikiLeaks

The Glorious Mess of Real Scientific Results Guardian, 6 November 2010 Popular science is often triumphalist, presenting research as a set of completed answers, when in reality much of what gets published makes a glorious, necessary mess. Here is an example. Solomon Asch’s legendary studies from the 1950s on conformity are among my favourite experiments of all time. Some people in a room are asked to judge the length of a line; all but one are stooges, and they unanimously assert what is obviously an incorrect answer. The one true, unsuspecting experimental subject conforms to the majority view, despite knowing that it’s incorrect, about a third of the time. This is a chilling result that feels just right, and over the past half-century researchers have replicated the study over a hundred times in seventeen countries, allowing hints of patterns to be spotted in the results. One analysis of US studies found that conformity has declined since the 1950s.


pages: 577 words: 149,554

The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey by Michael Huemer

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Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, cognitive dissonance, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, experimental subject, framing effect, Gini coefficient, illegal immigration, impulse control, Isaac Newton, Julian Assange, laissez-faire capitalism, Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman, Milgram experiment, moral hazard, Phillip Zimbardo, profit maximization, profit motive, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, unbiased observer, uranium enrichment, WikiLeaks

Most thought they would refuse to continue beyond the 150-volt shock (when the learner first demands to be released), and no one saw themselves going beyond 300 volts (when the learner refuses to answer). Their predictions of others’ behavior were only slightly less optimistic: respondents expected that only a pathological fringe of 1–2 percent of the population would proceed all the way to 450 volts. The psychiatrists Milgram surveyed thought that only one experimental subject in a thousand would proceed to the end of the shock board. 6.2.3 Results Milgram’s experiment shows something surprising, not only about our dispositions to obey but also about our self-understanding. The predictions of psychiatrists, students, and lay people fell shockingly far from reality. In the actual experiment, 65 percent of subjects complied fully, eventually administering the 450-volt shock three times to a silent and apparently lifeless victim.


pages: 573 words: 163,302

Year's Best SF 15 by David G. Hartwell; Kathryn Cramer

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air freight, Black Swan, experimental subject, Georg Cantor, gravity well, job automation, Kuiper Belt, phenotype, semantic web

The warm red of her suit went perfectly with the warm brown of her skin. Leslie felt tall and chilly and ridiculous. “I don’t think anyone will be hurt by knowing calculus, do you?” Solada murmured, when Leslie explained why she was there. “You’re a biologist,” said Leslie. “You know how many forms you have to fill out to do human experimentation. If I want to ask a dozen freshmen whether they’d buy a cookie for a dollar, I have to fill out forms.” “Our experimental subjects filled out their forms,” said Solada. “The viruses fell slightly outside our predicted parameters and got transmitted to a few people close to the original test subjects and then a few people close to them. This is a problem we will remedy in future trials, I assure you.” A grad student with wire-rimmed glasses poked her head around the door. “Solada, we’ve got the people from the Empty Moon here.”


pages: 654 words: 191,864

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

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Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, availability heuristic, Black Swan, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, choice architecture, cognitive bias, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, demand response, endowment effect, experimental economics, experimental subject, Exxon Valdez, feminist movement, framing effect, hindsight bias, index card, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, libertarian paternalism, loss aversion, medical residency, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, nudge unit, pattern recognition, pre–internet, price anchoring, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, The Chicago School, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, union organizing, Walter Mischel, Yom Kippur War

If you have the emotional discipline that this rule requires, Bght l d for e you will never consider a small gamble in isolation or be loss averse for a small gamble until you are actually on your deathbed—and not even then. This advice is not impossible to follow. Experienced traders in financial markets live by it every day, shielding themselves from the pain of losses by broad framing. As was mentioned earlier, we now know that experimental subjects could be almost cured of their loss aversion (in a particular context) by inducing them to “think like a trader,” just as experienced baseball card traders are not as susceptible to the endowment effect as novices are. Students made risky decisions (to accept or reject gambles in which they could lose) under different instructions. In the narrow-framing condition, they were told to “make each decision as if it were the only one” and to accept their emotions.


pages: 798 words: 240,182

The Transhumanist Reader by Max More, Natasha Vita-More

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23andMe, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, brain emulation, Buckminster Fuller, cellular automata, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, combinatorial explosion, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological principle, data acquisition, discovery of DNA, Drosophila, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, Extropian, fault tolerance, Flynn Effect, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, friendly AI, game design, germ theory of disease, hypertext link, impulse control, index fund, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Louis Pasteur, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, P = NP, pattern recognition, phenotype, positional goods, prediction markets, presumed consent, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, RFID, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, silicon-based life, Singularitarianism, stem cell, stochastic process, superintelligent machines, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telepresence, telepresence robot, telerobotics, the built environment, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Review, women in the workforce

From the date on the forward, probably written before 1937. Swanwick, Michael (1986/7) Vacuum Flowers. Serialized in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (December(?) 1986–February 1987). Thearling, Kurt (1992) “How We Will Build a Machine That Thinks.” A workshop at Thinking Machines Corporation, August 24–26. Vinge, Vernor (1966) “Bookworm, Run!” Analog (March), pp. 8–40. Early intelligence amplification story. The hero is the first experimental subject – a chimpanzee raised to human intelligence. Vinge, Vernor (1981) “True Names.” In Binary Star 5. New York: Dell. Vinge, Vernor (1983) “First Word.” Omni 10 (January). Earlier essay on “the Singularity.” “The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era,” by Vernor Vinge, was presented at the VISION-21 Symposium sponsored by NASA Lewis Center and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, March 30–31, 1993.


pages: 647 words: 43,757

Types and Programming Languages by Benjamin C. Pierce

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Albert Einstein, combinatorial explosion, experimental subject, finite state, Henri Poincaré, recommendation engine, sorting algorithm, Turing complete, Turing machine, type inference, Y Combinator

Indeed, we will see in Chapter 12 that no expression that can lead to non-terminating computations can be typed using only simple types.8 So, instead of defining fix as a term in the language, we simply add it as a new primitive, with evaluation rules mimicking the behavior of the untyped fix combinator and a typing rule that captures its intended uses. These rules are written out in Figure 11-12. (The letrec abbreviation will be discussed below.) The simply typed lambda-calculus with numbers and fix has long been a favorite experimental subject for programming language researchers, since it is the simplest language in which a range of subtle semantic phenomena such as full abstraction (Plotkin, 1977, Hyland and Ong, 2000, Abramsky, Jagadeesan, and Malacaria, 2000) arise. It is often called PCF . 8. In later chapters—Chapter 13 and Chapter 20—we will see some extensions of simple types that recover the power to define fix within the system. 144 11 → fix Simple Extensions Extends λ→ (9-1) New syntactic forms t ::= ... fix t New typing rules terms: fixed point of t t -→ t0 New evaluation rules fix (λx:T1 .t2 ) (E-FixBeta) -→ [x , (fix (λx:T1 .t2 ))]t2 t1 -→ t01 fix t1 -→ fix t01 Γ `t:T Γ ` t1 : T1 →T1 Γ ` fix t1 : T1 (T-Fix) New derived forms letrec x :T1 =t1 in t2 def = let x = fix (λx :T1 .t1 ) in t2 (E-Fix) Figure 11-12: General recursion 11.11.1 Exercise [««]: Define equal, plus, times, and factorial using fix.


pages: 778 words: 227,196

The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes

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Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, British Empire, Copley Medal, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, Etonian, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Harrison: Longitude, music of the spheres, placebo effect, polynesian navigation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, trade route, unbiased observer, University of East Anglia, éminence grise

Her muscular motions were uncommonly violent.’67 Joseph Cottle recorded a rumour that another young woman was overcome by hysterical excitement, ran out of the laboratory, and rushed screaming down the street towards the Avon, where she was somewhat bizarrely reported to have ‘jumped over a large dog’ before she could be restrained and brought back. This case does not appear in Davy’s notes, but the idea that women could be made to lose their inhibitions, and might even be sexually aroused by nitrous oxide, persisted. With his experimental subjects, Davy monitored pulse rates, and required them to undergo certain standard tests, such as gazing at a candle flame and listening to bells. He wanted to record physiological changes, such as distortions of vision and hearing. But gradually he became more and more interested in subjective responses. He asked his Institution patients to put into words exactly what they were feeling. This proved surprisingly difficult, and early responses ranged from ‘I don’t know how, but very queer’; to ‘I felt like the sound of a harp.’68 Davy now conceived a new and original line of investigation.


pages: 843 words: 223,858

The Rise of the Network Society by Manuel Castells

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Apple II, Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, borderless world, British Empire, capital controls, complexity theory, computer age, Credit Default Swap, declining real wages, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, deskilling, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, edge city, experimental subject, financial deregulation, financial independence, floating exchange rates, future of work, global village, Hacker Ethic, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, illegal immigration, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, intermodal, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, job-hopping, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Menlo Park, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, packet switching, planetary scale, popular electronics, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Robert Gordon, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social software, South China Sea, South of Market, San Francisco, special economic zone, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ted Nelson, the built environment, the medium is the message, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, urban renewal, urban sprawl

In fact, some insurance companies would rather welcome euthanasia, and would like to send patients home as soon as possible, a cynical view daily fought against by doctors. Without this relentless will to reject the inevitable, valuable lessons would be lost, and our collective ability to survive and overcome suffering would be hampered. Yet the societal impact of such efforts, along with less-noble enterprises of using terminal patients as experimental subjects, is tantamount to the denial of death until its very last act. So strong is the temporal and spatial confinement of death that the overwhelming majority of deaths (80 percent in the US, and a growing proportion in all countries: see figure 7.2 for Japan, a society with a strong family culture) takes place in hospital, very often in special intensive care units, with the bodies already removed from their social and emotional environments.


pages: 708 words: 176,708

The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire by Wikileaks

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affirmative action, anti-communist, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Boycotts of Israel, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, central bank independence, Chelsea Manning, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, cuban missile crisis, Deng Xiaoping, Edward Snowden, energy security, energy transition, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, experimental subject, F. W. de Klerk, facts on the ground, failed state, financial innovation, Food sovereignty, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of journalism, high net worth, invisible hand, Julian Assange, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, Mohammed Bouazizi, Monroe Doctrine, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, statistical model, structural adjustment programs, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, UNCLOS, UNCLOS, uranium enrichment, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, éminence grise

As with previous CIA torture practice, for the program to be effective there had to be a range of professionals willing to assist. These included the two psychologists who helped devise the torture program over a period of seven years and were paid $81 million for their services.106 On one occasion they were escorted to Thailand, where Abu Zubaydah was being held, and given the opportunity to use the detainee as an experimental subject on whom to perfect the techniques they were developing, which directly drew on past CIA expertise in the field. In bidding for the contract, the psychologists recommended such techniques as “The attention grasp, walling, facial hold, facial slap, cramped confinement, standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, water-board, use of diapers, use of insects, and mock burial.” The CIA had been given time before the release of the report to prepare its defense, whose first component was summarized by George Tenet, director of the CIA while the torture program was being rolled out: “We don’t torture people,” he asserted, insisting that the CIA’s methods “saved lives.”107 Tenet refused to substantiate his claim that the CIA’s methods did not constitute torture, simply stating that he would not discuss specific methods.


pages: 1,294 words: 210,361

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

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Barry Marshall: ulcers, conceptual framework, discovery of penicillin, experimental subject, iterative process, life extension, Louis Pasteur, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, New Journalism, phenotype, randomized controlled trial, scientific mainstream, Silicon Valley, social web, statistical model, stem cell, women in the workforce, éminence grise

Like lymphoblastic leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease is a rare illness, but the researchers did not need to look hard to find patients. Advanced Hodgkin’s disease, often accompanied by the spectral B symptoms, was uniformly fatal. Young men and women (the disease typically strikes men and women in their twenties and thirties) were often referred to the NCI as hopeless cases—and therefore ideal experimental subjects. In just three years, DeVita and Canellos thus accumulated cases at a furious clip, forty-three patients in all. Nine had been blasted with increasing fields of radiation, à la Kaplan, and still progressed inexorably to disseminated, widely metastatic disease. Others had been treated with an ad hoc mix of single agents. None had shown any durable response to prior drugs. So, like the younger band of leukemics that had gone before them, a fresh new cohort appeared at the institute every two weeks, occupying the plastic chairs of the Clinical Center, lining up for the government-issued cookies and awaiting the terrifying onslaught of the experimental drugs.


pages: 1,051 words: 334,334

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

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centre right, Eratosthenes, experimental subject, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Plutocrats, plutocrats, random walk

The man will suffer—perhaps, in some clinical way, be destroyed—but how many others tonight are suffering in his name? For pity's sake, every day in Whitehall they're weighing and taking risks that make his, in this, seem almost trivial. Almost. There's something here, too transparent and swift to get a hold on—Psi Section might speak of ectoplasms—but he knows that the time has never been better, and that the exact experimental subject is in his hands. He must seize now, or be doomed to the same stone hallways, whose termination he knows. But he must remain open— even to the possibility that the Psi people are right. "We may all be right," he puts in his journal tonight, "so may be all we have speculated, and more. Whatever we may find, there can be no doubt that he is, physiologically, historically, a monster. We must never lose control.


pages: 1,351 words: 385,579

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

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1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, Broken windows theory, California gold rush, Cass Sunstein, citation needed, clean water, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Columbine, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, crack epidemic, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, demographic transition, desegregation, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, experimental subject, facts on the ground, failed state, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fudge factor, full employment, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, global village, Henri Poincaré, impulse control, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, loss aversion, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, means of production, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Singer: altruism, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Republic of Letters, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, security theater, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, statistical model, stem cell, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, Turing machine, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, V2 rocket, Walter Mischel, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

With the usual spaghetti of variables, it’s impossible to be certain what caused what, but the results are consistent with the idea that the disinterested justice of a decent Leviathan induces citizens to curb their impulse for revenge before it spirals into a destructive cycle. Revenge, for all its tendency to escalate, must come with a dimmer switch. If it didn’t, the Moralization Gap would inflate every affront into an escalating feud, like the experimental subjects who mashed down on each other’s fingers harder and harder with every round. Not only does revenge not always escalate, especially in civil societies with the rule of law, but we shouldn’t expect it to. The models of the evolution of cooperation showed that the most successful agents dial back their tit-for-tatting with contrition and forgiveness, especially when trapped in the same boat with other agents.

Executive Orders by Tom Clancy

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affirmative action, Ayatollah Khomeini, card file, defense in depth, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, experimental subject, financial independence, friendly fire, Monroe Doctrine, out of africa, Own Your Own Home, Plutocrats, plutocrats, rolodex, South China Sea, trade route

He required the same of his people, for such was his devotion that he went beyond the teachings of Islam without even knowing it, bending such rules as stood in his way as though they were made of rubber, and at the same time telling himself that, no, he never violated the Prophet's Holy Word, or Allah's Will. How could he be doing that? He was helping to bring the world back to the Faith. The prisoners, the experimental subjects, were all condemned men in one way or another. Even the thieves, lesser criminals, had four times violated the Holy Koran, and they had probably committed other crimes as well, perhaps-probably, he told himself-those worthy of death. Every day they were informed of the time for prayer, and though they knelt and bowed and mouthed the prayers, you could tell by watching them on the TV monitor that they were merely going through the ritual, not truly praying to Allah in the manner prescribed.