Triple-Decker Weekly, 22

Man texts, 'I need to quit texting,' before driving into ravine.

Japanese company will 3D print your fetus for $1,275.

Pupil dilation reveals where a person’s sexual response falls on the spectrum from gay to straight.

Study Finds Germans Incapable of Enjoying Life.

When Nietzsche says, as he frequently does, that "the truth is terrible" he has in mind three kinds of terrible truths: (1) the terrible "existential" truths about the human situation (the inevitability of death and suffering); (2) the terrible "moral" truth that "life is essentially something amoral"; and (3) the terrible "epistemic" truth that most of what we think we know about the world around us is illusory. These terrible truths raise Schopenhauer's question: why continue living at all? Nietzsche's answer, from early in his career to the very end, is that only viewed in terms of aesthetic values can life itself be "justified" (where "justification" really means restoring an affective attachment to life). [Brian Leiter /SSRN]

Every day, crucial business and political decisions are made on the basis of numerical data. Only rarely do the key decision makers produce that data; rather they rely on others, not only to produce it, but to present it to them.  Yet how many quants – the data producers – know how to present data effectively? To put it another way, how many of them know how to tell a story using numbers? [Devlin's Angle]

Consider two questions. First: Who are you? What makes you different from your peers, in terms of the things you buy, the clothes you wear, and the car you drive (or refuse to)? What makes you unique in terms of your basic psychological make-up—the part of you that makes you do the things you do, say the things you say, and feel the things you feel? And the second question: How do you use the internet? Although these questions may seem unrelated, they’re not. Clearly the content of your internet usage can suggest certain psychological characteristics. […] how often you email others, chat online, stream media, or multi-task (switch from one application or website to another)? Can these behaviors—regardless of their content—also predict psychological characteristics? Recent research conducted by a team of computer scientists, engineers, and psychologists suggests that it might. Indeed, their data show that such analysis could predict a particularly important aspect of the self: the tendency to experience depression. [Scientific American]

Smiles as signals of lower status in football players and fashion models: Evidence that smiles are associated with lower dominance and lower prestige.

“Smile when you walk into a room. See the group with the target and follow the three-second rule. Do not hesitate—approach instantly. Recite a memorized opener, if not two or three in a row. The opener should open the group, not just the target. When talking, ignore the target for the most part. If there are men in the group, focus your attention on the men. Neg the target with one of the slew of negs we’ve come up with. Tell her, ‘It’s so cute. Your nose wiggles when you laugh.’ Then get her friends to notice and laugh about it.” […] The above excerpt from Strauss’s 2005 NY Times bestselling book illustrates just a few of the many tactics outlined for men to pick-up women. These tactics endorse the concept of using aggressiveness and intentional manipulation to select, pursue, isolate, and sexually conquer women. […] Hall and Canterberry (2011) looked at characteristics of men who use pickup tactics, and the characteristics of women who find them appealing. They found that these men held a more negative attitude toward women, an overt justification of male privilege, and viewed women as lovable yet helpless and vulnerable. They targeted females who were more physically attractive and could be used as a “status marker.” Women who responded positively to these men held more traditional and stereotypic gender roles (i.e., a warm woman, a strong man), and preferred men of high status and resources who could provide for them. […] But do these tactics really work? […] They found that men who flirted in a more dominant, obnoxious, and physical style were more likely to develop casual relationships with women faster and had more sexual chemistry with them. This flirting style communicates an interest in a one-night stand as opposed to a long-term relationship, and this is appealing to women who are interested in the same thing. [eHarmony]

Quantum computers cannot be explained in simple concrete terms; if they could be, quantum computers could be directly simulated on conventional computers, and quantum computing would offer no advantage over such computers. [Michael Nielsen]

New research from the University of Notre Dame shows that when people managed to reduce their lies in given weeks across a 10-week study, they reported significantly improved physical and mental health in those same weeks. […] "We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health," says lead author Anita Kelly. […] The study also revealed positive results in participants' personal relationships, with those in the no-lie group reporting improved relationship and social interactions overall going more smoothly when they told no lies. [EurekAlert]

Hearing generic language to describe a category of people, such as "boys have short hair," can lead children to endorse a range of other stereotypes about the category, a study by researchers at New York University and Princeton University has found.

Fruit flies offer DNA clue to why women live longer.

Are Butterflies Two Different Animals in One? The Death And Resurrection Theory.

Do cats in shelters acclimate faster if given a bunkmate?

Drunk tourist who fell asleep on airport baggage belt is X-rayed.

The key part of the experiment was that the participants were fully aware of the setup; they knew that they were only hearing one side or the entire story. But this didn’t stop the subjects who heard one-sided evidence from being more confident and biased with their judgments than those who saw both sides. [Scientific American]

It is estimated that there are at least 85 different posses operating on the island with anywhere between 2,500 to 20,000 members. Each posse operates within a clearly defined territory or neighborhood. The basic structure of a Jamaican posse is fluid but cohesive. Like most other gangs in the Americas, it has an all-powerful don or area leader at the apex of the organization, an upper echelon, a middle echelon, and the “workers” at the bottom of the social pyramid. […] The general reputation of Jamaican posses is one of high efficiency and absolute ruthlessness in pursuit of their territorial and commercial interests. Examples of swift and brutal violence include, but are not limited to, fire-bombing, throat-slashing, and dismemberment of victims and their families. […] Today, it is estimated that any given gang-cartel combination earns more money annually from its illicit activities than any Caribbean country generates in legitimate revenues. Thus, individual mini-state governments in the region are simply overmatched by the gang phenomenon. The gangs and their various allies have more money, better arms, and more effective organizations than the states. […] The great city of São Paulo, Brazil—the proverbial locomotive that pulls the train of the world’s eighth largest economy—was paralyzed by a great surprise in mid-May 2006. […] More than 293 attacks on individuals and groups of individuals were reported, hundreds of people were killed and wounded, and millions of dollars in damage was done to private and public property. Buses were torched, banks were robbed, personal residences were looted and vandalized, municipal buildings and police stations were attacked, and rebellions broke out in 82 prisons within São Paulo’s penal system. Transportation, businesses, factories, offices, banks, schools, and shopping centers were shut down. In all, the city was a frightening place during those days in May. [National Defense University Press]

The Institute for Economics and Peace’s annual Global Peace Index (GPI) reported an increase in world peace after two consecutive years of decline. The change was driven by slight reductions worldwide in terrorist acts, military expenditure as a percentage of GDP, military sophistication, and aggregate number of heavy weapons per capita. […] Sub-Saharan Africa was reported as the least positively peaceful region, followed by the Middle East and North Africa. […] The most peaceful countries, Iceland, Denmark, and New Zealand, shared the characteristics of harmonious society, very little internal and external conflict, and especially, low military spending. With its high military spending and involvement in external conflicts, the U.S. slipped seven places last year to the 88th most peaceful country. [Diplomatic Courier]

The principal psychological features of any war are hatred, hostility, violence, uncertainty (or fog of war), friction, fear, danger, irrationality, chance, and luck. For Clausewitz, a war was a trinity composed of primordial violence, hatred, and enmity—a blind natural force. […] He pointed out that the only situation a commander can know fully is his own. [National Defense University Press]

Whether or not certain crime syndicates control illegal markets, or both the legitimate and illegitimate business activities in a neighborhood, a town or even a region, is an important question in scholarly discussions of organized crime. In the early 1970s, American scholars such as Donald Cressey and Thomas Schelling identified monopolistic control of this kind as one of the defining features of organized crime. In the words of Schelling, “real organized crime is striving to control the underworld.” The notion that “mafia-type” criminal organizations dominate criminal markets and even succeed in regulating the activities of other criminal groups immediately met with fierce criticism from the criminology world. Various researchers who had studied the American drug and gambling markets failed to find Cosa Nostra or any other crime syndicate in control of these illegal activities. Peter Reuter, for example, concluded that the mafia did not dominate the New York illegal gambling market. Instead, it was “disorganized” and made up of many independent criminal groups of varying sizes competing for market share. This powerful image is now widely thought to describe how criminal markets are structured in states with a functional legal system, the assumption being that criminal groups cannot grow “big” under constant law enforcement pressure. [SSRN]

Swiss scientists have developed an algorithm which they claim can determine the source of spam, computer viruses or malware by analysing a small percentage of network connections. […] The researchers said the algorithm could also be used as a tool for advertisers who use viral marketing strategies by using the Internet and social networks to reach customers. The algorithm would allow advertisers to identify specific Internet blogs that are most influential for their target audience and to understand how these articles spread throughout the online community. [CBR]

Using Swedish registry data, we study the impact of class origin on becoming part of the business elite between 1993 and 2007 for men aged 35–44 years. The elite is defined as the top 1 per cent of wage earners within large firms. We find a clear working class disadvantage and, with time, a polarization between those of working class origin and others. Decomposition analyses indicate that differences in educational attainment levels cause a large part of the gap, but less so over time. Differences in personality traits measured at around the age of 18 years also help explain the class origin differentials, and more so over time. The decomposition analyses indicate that the net effect of cognitive abilities is small. The results suggest a change in the value of education and personality in the labour market over time, but as men of working class origins have disadvantages in both domains, the relative disadvantage of coming from the working class was rather stable during the period 1993–2007. [Oxford Journals]

But what if experts didn’t simply ask the crowd to donate time or answer questions? What if the crowd was asked to decide what questions to ask in the first place? Could the crowd itself be the expert? That’s what a team at the University of Vermont decided to explore — and the answer seems to be yes. [University of Vermont]

The price a consumer will pay for a product is often significantly less than the price they will accept to sell it. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, this occurs because ownership of a product enhances its value by creating an association between the product and consumer identity. [EurekAlert]

In many restaurants throughout the world, wait staff’s income depends largely on the tips received from customers. According to this study, male restaurant customers give higher tips to waitresses wearing red. […]Men gave between 14.6% and 26.1% more to waitresses wearing red, while color had no effect on female patrons’ tipping behavior at all. [SAGE]

Top actors, writers, and athletes have agents, who help them find good jobs, in exchange for a small part of their income. But having an agent is pretty rare – why don’t the rest of us have agents? You might think its only worth paying an agent 5% of your income for jobs where wages vary by large factors, and that most people’s wages are pretty much set by their occupation, education, etc. Not true, however. Consider: workers in the same occupation, with the same observable experience, school, etc. can easily earn 30% more, or 30% less, just based on the industry they work in. For example, in the auto industry both janitors and truck drivers make twice the salary of janitors and truck drivers in the “eating and drinking place” industry. [Overcoming Bias]

Behavioral modernity is a term used in anthropology, archeology and sociology to refer to a set of traits that distinguish present day humans and their recent ancestors from both other living primates and other extinct hominid lineages. It is the point at which Homo sapiens began to demonstrate a reliance on symbolic thought and to express cultural creativity. These developments are often thought to be associated with the origin of language. [Wikipedia]

Whilst we do have a decent understanding of when religious ideas arose, the hows and whys of their appearance are still unknown. However, anthropologists have managed to identify certain factors which seem to be associated with the rise of complex religious beliefs (such as the “high” god). Notably, social and economic complexity. For example, animal sacrifice and altars in the Near East are consistently preceded by groups acquiring surplus food (and the economic and social changes associated with such an acquisition). [EvoAnth]

Previous research on gender effects in robots has largely ignored the role of facial cues. We fill this gap in the literature by experimentally investigating the effects of facial gender cues on stereotypical trait and application ascriptions to robots. As predicted, the short-haired male robot was perceived as more agentic than was the long-haired female robot, whereas the female robot was perceived as more communal than was the male counterpart. Analogously, stereotypically male tasks were perceived more suitable for the male robot, relative to the female robot, and vice versa. [Journal of Applied Social Psychology | via Mind Hacks]

The “visions” aren’t always complex or bizarre. Sometimes they can “blend in” to our everyday lives a bit more. One case study was recently published in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology described a patient having visual hallucinations of small children popping up in her vision. She didn’t try to speak or interact with them in any way and they never spoke to her. She didn’t recognize them. She knew that they weren’t real and she wasn’t frightened of them but there they were. She saw them. Why? It turns out she had Charles Bonnet Syndrome, a condition in which visual hallucinations are caused by recent visual field loss… and, in her case, a brain tumor. [Scientific American]

Our attraction to faces, and particularly to eyes, appears to be innately determined.

African Grey Parrots Have the Reasoning Skills of 3-year-olds.

Salmon sex delayed by global warming.

The average price to buy fake followers is $18 per 1,000 followers.

Here is a prediction—Apple devices will soon project holograms like you’ve never seen. This is not mere speculation, but insight based on Apple’s patents, recent acquisitions, and the business imperative to do something to break free of the tablet clutter.

No bomb powerful enough to destroy an on-rushing asteroid.

Plate tectonics is the process that underpins much of our understanding of the Earth. It explains many aspects of the Earth, from magnetic patterns in oceanic rocks to the distribution of plants and animals. How unusual is it? Well, it doesn’t seen to be happening on other rocky planets in our solar system. Many geologists have argued that plate tectonics wasn’t active during the earth’s early history. As astronomers find many rocky planets in other solar systems, the question of understanding how ‘typical’ plate tectonics has implications beyond the earth. How long has it been going on – how old is it? [Metageologist]

If aliens come, we’re probably toast. Whoever takes the trouble to come visit us is probably a more aggressive personality. And if they have the technology to come here, the idea that we can take them on is like Napoleon taking on U.S. Air Force. We’re not going to be able to defend ourselves very well. [Seth Shostak/IEEE]

...Beyoncé in Texas, her childhood home which she now visits exclusively to achieve Art. The magical thing about Texas is that everything bright-colored becomes Art against the state's washed-out sandscape backdrop. A jalapeño pepper in your hand becomes Art. Your friend pushing a cart next to some of the grocery store's more expensive soup and salad selections becomes Art. A yellow shirt in front of shipping pallets: many an Art is here. [Caity Weaver/Gawker]

Linsday Lohan was yelling "I'm a star, she's a nobody, get her out of here!"

Ellsworth Kelly on The Gulf of Marseilles Seen from L'Estaque, by Paul Cézanne.

Interview with Ellsworth Kelly [BusinessWeek]

The Baltimore's Twelve O'Clock Boyz, a hundred-strong gang who wheely dirt bikes through a city where police are banned from chasing them.

How can water be wasted? Doesn’t it automatically recycle?

The Coolest Things Ever Found With A Metal Detector.

How Not To Get Hacked.

How To Whistle Loudly.

Road crew paints yellow line over dead raccoon.


Love lickers.

Feeding seagulls laxatives ends exactly as expected.