While risk research focuses on actions that put people at risk, this paper introduces the concept of “passive risk”—risk brought on or magnified by inaction. […] Avoidance of regret (more precisely “perceived future regret”/ “anticipated regret”) is a major factor in most inaction biases. Support for this idea can be found in Norm Theory which claims that inactions are usually perceived as “normal”, in contrast to actions, which are viewed as “abnormal” and therefore elicit more counterfactual thinking and regret. People regret actions (with bad outcomes) more than inactions, so it is clear why people who try to avoid regret prefer inaction in situations when actions may lead to unwanted outcomes. However, in passive risk taking behavior we refer to situations in which actions can only lead to positive/neutral outcomes, so regret avoidance cannot be the cause of inaction in these instances. People do not avoid cancer tests because they fear they might feel regret after having the tests done. […] Procrastination is defined as “the act of needlessly delaying tasks to the point of experiencing subjective discomfort.” It may seem as though passive risk taking is essentially procrastination, but there is a major difference: the procrastinator knows that eventually he will have to complete the task at hand, the decision to act has already been established—it is only the actual doing that is delayed. In passive risk taking people decide “not to act,” or in some cases “not act for now.” [Judgment and Decision Making]
We have past, present and future; we can imagine various time relationships such as imagining some time in the future from the prospective of looking back at it from even further into the future. But we can also abandon identifying a particular time when we imagine. For example we can simulate what it would be like to be in another’s shoes or what it would be like to be in a different place. Instead of time-traveling, we can space-travel or identity-travel. It seems that the evidence so far implies that future and atemporal imagined events are represented similarly. But there are differences between temporal and atemporal imaginings. [thoughts on thoughts]
The American Psychiatric Association: Being transgender is no longer a disorder.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego have used genome engineering to create algae that can produce expensive biological drugs more cheaply and in larger quantities than bacteria or mammalian cells.
Germany plans to slap a fine of up to 25,000 euros on people having sexual relations with pets, but zoophiles plan to fight the move. They say there’s nothing wrong with consensual sex.
The TseTse fly is unique to the African continent and transmits a parasite harmful to humans and lethal to livestock. This paper tests the hypothesis that the presence of the TseTse reduced the ability of Africans to generate an agricultural surplus historically by limiting the use of domesticated animals and inhibiting the adoption of animal-powered technologies. [PDF]
What if you could not access YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia? How would you feel if Google informed you that your connection had been reset during a search? What if Gmail was only periodically available, and Google Docs was completely unreachable? These things happen almost every day in China. […] Most of these problems are caused by GFW (Great Firewall of China, also known as GFC), one of the most important building blocks in China’s comprehensive censorship system, and perhaps the most sophisticated Internet censorship system in the world. […] Using special techniques, it successfully blocks the majority of Chinese Internet users from accessing most of the Web sites or information that the government doesn’t like. […] Over a decade of development, GFW has been deployed near the gateways of all Chinese domestic ISPs. With DPI (deep packet inspection) technology, GFW wiretaps all international links and inspects the traffic to detect any sensitive keywords going through the gateway. GFW depends mainly on three technologies to block “harmful” information: IP blocking, DNS (Domain Name System) injection, and TCP RST (Reset). [ACM]
We live in an image society. Since the turn of the 20th century if not earlier, Americans have been awash in a sea of images – in advertisements, in newspapers and magazines, on billboards, throughout the visual landscape. We are highly attuned to looks, first impressions and surface appearances, and perhaps no image is more seductive to us than our own personal image. In 1962, the cultural historian Daniel Boorstin observed that when people talked about themselves, they talked about their images. If the flourishing industries of image management — fashion, cosmetics, self-help — are any indication, we are indeed deeply concerned with our looks, reputations, and the impressions that we make. For over a hundred years, social relations and conceptions of personal identity have revolved around the creation, projection, and manipulation of images. […] In what follows, I want to contemplate one legal consequence of the advent of the image society: the evolution of an area of law that I describe as the tort law of personal image. By the 1950s, a body of tort law – principally the privacy, defamation, publicity, and emotional distress torts4 — had developed to protect a right to control one’s own image, and to be compensated for emotional and dignitary harms caused by egregious and unwarranted interference with one’s self-presentation and public identity. The law of image gave rise to the phenomenon of the personal image lawsuit, in which individuals sued to vindicate or redress their image rights. By the postwar era, such lawsuits had become an established feature of the sociolegal landscape, occupying not only a prominent place on court dockets but also in the popular imagination. The growth in personal image litigation over the course of the 20th century was driven by Americans’ increasing sense of entitlement to their personal images. A confluence of social forces led individuals to cultivate a sense of possessiveness and protectiveness towards their images, which was legitimated and enhanced by the law. This article offers a broad overview of the development of the modern “image torts” and the phenomenon of personal image litigation. [Samantha Barbas/SSRN]
We like people more when they mimic us. But only up to a point. If mimicry becomes too obvious, it can backfire, becoming mockery. A new study asks just how much imitation is enough to trigger benefits. Does the mimicker need to copy every action, or merely to move the same body parts?
What goes wrong when talks break down. Nonlinear analysis explains how negotiations often fail.
Some people like to have a few close friends, while others prefer a wider social circle that is perhaps less deep. These preferences reflect people’s personalities and individual circumstances — but is one approach to social networks “better” than the other? New research suggests that the optimal social networking strategy depends on socioeconomic conditions.
Would you pay more cash to experience intense happiness or to avoid intense embarrassment? Your answer may depend on the culture you live in.
According to new research, playing hard to get tests the commitment and quality of any would-be mate. Researchers identified 58 different hard-to-get strategies used, from on/off flirting and being snooty to using voicemail to intercept calls from would-be partners. […] In the study, reported in the European Journal of Personality, the researchers carried out four separate projects involving more than 1,500 people, looking at playing hard to get as a mating strategy to see how and why it works. […] Women used the tactics more than men. That, say the researchers, could be because women are trying to learn more information about a potential mate as they have more to lose in terms of pregnancy. […] Appearing highly self-confident was the top-ranked tactic, followed by talking to other people and, third, withholding sex. [Independent]
“There have been no systematic studies of the safety of tattoo inks,” says Howard, “so we are trying to ask—and answer—some fundamental questions.” For example, some tattoos fade over time or fade when they are exposed to sunlight. And laser light is used to remove tattoos. “We want to know what happens to the ink,” says Howard. “Where does the pigment go?” [Thanks Tim]
The construction of a crossword consists of two operations that are quite different and in the end perfectly independent of each other: the first is the filling of the diagram; the second is the search for definitions. [Georges Perec/The Believer]
In fact, crosswords are made by people (called constructors) whose status is roughly equivalent to freelance writers—that is to say, low. Puzzles are sent on spec to editors, who buy them or turn them down, and who fine-tune the ones they accept without, as a nearly universal rule, consulting the constructor. Submissions may sit in an editor’s inbox for months or even years before the author hears back. (A few months ago, constructor Tim Croce received an acceptance from The New York Times—for a puzzle he submitted in 2001.) […] Most outlets offer less than $100 for a daily crossword and less than $300 for a Sunday-sized. […] The New York Times, which runs the most prestigious American crossword series, pays $200 for a daily or $1,000 for a Sunday. [The Awl]
Eternalism is a philosophical approach to the ontological nature of time, which takes the view that all points in time are equally “real”, as opposed to the presentist idea that only the present is real. [Wikipedia]
The western style of having both a family name (surname) and a given name (forename or “Christian” name) is far from universal. In many countries it is common for ordinary people to have only one name or mononym.