Triple-Decker Weekly, 96

‘Too drunk’ gambler sues Las Vegas casino over $500,000 debt

Tips for Working From Home […] 1. Have a Backup Plan [WSJ]

We must realize that if Pop Art depersonalized, it does not make anonymous: nothing is more identifiable than Marilyn, the electric chair, a tire, or a dress, as seen by Pop Art; they are in fact nothing but that: immediately and exhaustively identifiable, thereby teaching us that identify is not the person: the future world risks being a world of identities, but not of persons. [Roland Barthes, Cette vieille chose, l’art, 1980]

Two fields stand out as different within cognitive psychology. These are the study of reasoning, especially deductive reasoning and statistical inference, and the more broadly defined field of decision making. For simplicity I label these topics as the study of reasoning and decision making (RDM). What make RDM different from all other fields of cognitive psychology is that psychologists constantly argued with each other and with philosophers about whether the behavior of their participants is rational. The question I address here is why? What is so different about RDM that it attracts the interests of philosophers and compulsively engages experimental psychologists in judgments of how good or bad is the RDM they observe. Let us first consider the nature of cognitive psychology in general. It is branch of cognitive science, concerned with the empirical and theoretical study of cognitive processes in humans. It covers a wide collection of processes connected with perception, attention, memory, language, and thinking. However, only in the RDM subset of the psychology of thinking is rationality an issue. For sure, accuracy measures are used throughout cognitive psychology. We can measure whether participants detect faint signals, make accurate judgments of distances, recall words read to them correctly and so on. The study of non-veridical functions is also a part of wider cognitive psychology, for example the study of visual illusions, memory lapses, and cognitive failures in normal people as well as various pathological conditions linked to brain damage, such as aphasia. But in none of these cases are inaccurate responses regarded as irrational. Visual illusions are attributed to normally adaptive cognitive mechanisms that can be tricked under special circumstances; memory errors reflect limited capacity systems and pathological cognition to brain damage or clinical disorders. In no case is the person held responsible and denounced as irrational. [Frontiers]

It’s a con­cept that had become uni­ver­sally under­stood: humans expe­ri­ence six basic emotions—happiness, sad­ness, anger, fear, dis­gust, and surprise—and use the same set of facial move­ments to express them. What’s more, we can rec­og­nize emo­tions on another’s face, whether that person hails from Boston or Borneo. The only problem with this con­cept, according to North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Psy­chology Lisa Feldman Bar­rett, is that it isn’t true at all. [Northeastern University]

“Saying there are differences in male and female brains is just not true. There is pretty compelling evidence that any differences are tiny and are the result of environment not biology,” said Prof Rippon. “You can’t pick up a brain and say ‘that’s a girls brain, or that’s a boys brain’ in the same way you can with the skeleton. They look the same.” […] A women’s brain may therefore become ‘wired’ for multi-tasking simply because society expects that of her and so she uses that part of her brain more often. The brain adapts in the same way as a muscle gets larger with extra use. [Telegraph]

Both men and women erred in estimating what the opposite sex would find attractive. Men thought women would like a heavier stature than females reported they like, and women thought men would like women thinner than men reported they like. Results suggest that, overall, men’s perceptions serve to keep them satisfied with their figures, whereas women’s perceptions place pressure on them to lose weight. [APA/PsycNET]

Men want sex more than women do. (While I am sure that you can think of people who don’t fit this pattern, my colleagues and I have arrived at this conclusion after reviewing hundreds of findings. It is, on average, a very robust finding.) This difference is due in part to the fact that men, compared to women, focus on the rewards of sex. Women tend to focus on its costs because having sex presents them with bigger potential downsides, from physical (the toll of bearing a child) to social (stigma). Accordingly, the average man’s sexual system gets activated fairly easily. When it does, it trips off a whole system in the brain focused on rewards. In fact, merely seeing a bra can propel men into reward mode, seeking immediate satisfaction in their decisions. Most of the evidence suggests that women are different, that a sexy object would not cause them to shift into reward mode. This goes back to the notion that sex is rife with potential costs for women. Yet, at a basic biological level, the sexual system is directly tied to the reward system (through pleasure-giving dopaminergic reactions). This would seem to suggest a contrasting hypothesis that perhaps women will also shift into reward mode when their sexual system is activated. […] Women, more than men, connect sex to emotions. Festjens and colleagues therefore used a subtle, emotional cue to initiate sexual motivation – touch. Across three experiments, Festjens and colleagues found that women who touched sexy male clothing items, compared to nonsexual clothing items, showed evidence of being in reward mode. [Scientific American]

“If a stranger came up to a woman, grabbed her around the waist, and rubbed his groin against her in a university cafeteria or on a subway, she’d probably call the police. In the bar, the woman just tries to get away from him.” […] “The current study was part of an evaluation of the Safer Bars program, a program we developed to reduce aggression in bars, primarily male-to-male aggression,” said Graham. “However, when we saw how much sexual aggression there was, we decided to conduct additional analyses. So these analyses of sexual aggression were in response to how much we observed – which was considerably more than we were expecting.” [ScienceNewsline]

fMRI studies show that the same areas of the brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. [Psychology Today | Thanks Tim ]

Strangers with easier-to-pronounce monikers are deemed more trustworthy

“exposure to an unstructured, uniform stimulation field, elicits in most observers pseudo-hallucinatory percepts” Hallucinating without drugs, the profundity of silence, and the thalamocortical circuit

Instead quantum physics only offers probabilistic predictions: it can tell you that your quantum particle will behave in one way with a particular probability, but it could also behave in another way with another particular probability. “Suppose there’s this little particle and you’re going to put it in a magnetic field and it’s going to come out at A or come out at B,” says Conway, imagining an experiment, such as the Stern Gerlach experiment, where a magnetic field diverts an electron’s path. “Even if you knew exactly where the particles were and what the magnetic fields were and so on, you could only predict the probabilities. A particle could go along path A or path B, with perhaps 2/3 probability it will arrive at A and 1/3 at B. And if you don’t believe me then you could repeat the experiment 1000 times and you’ll find that 669 times, say, it will be at A and 331 times it will be at B.” [The Free Will Theorem, Part I | Part II | Part III]

The simplest type of human communication is non verbal signals: things like posture, facial expression, gestures, tone of voice. They are in effect contagious: if you are sad, I will feel a little sad, if I then cheer up, you may too. The signals are indications of emotional states and we tend to react to another’s emotional state by a sort of mimicry that puts us in sync with them. We can carry on a type of emotional conversation in this way. Music appears to use this emotional communication – it causes emotions in us without any accompanying semantic messages. It appears to cause that contagion with three aspects: the rhythmic rate, the sound envelope and the timbre of the sound. For example a happy musical message has a fairly fast rhythm, flat loudness envelop with sharp ends, lots of pitch variation and a simple timbre with few harmonics. Language seems to use the same system for emotion, or at least some emotion. The same rhythm, sound envelope and timbre is used in the delivery of oral language and it carries the same emotional signals. Whether it is music or language, this sound specification cuts right past the semantic and cognitive processes and goes straight to the emotional ones. Language seems to share these emotional signals with music but not the semantic meaning that language contains. [Neuro-patch]

Our brains show more activity in their emotional regions when the music we are listening to is familiar, regardless of whether or not we actually like it. [Aeon]

Young Musicians Reap Long-Term Neuro Benefits

Wealthier people are more musical, research

5% of people have “no real response to music,” study

By Licking These Electric Ice Cream Cones, You Can Make Music

The 14 synthesizers that shaped modern music

These Are the “Most Hipster” Bands, According to Science

Origins of Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” cover

LCD Soundsystem James Murphy wants to to change the sound of the New York City subway turnstiles. He has worked out a unique set of notes for every station, one of which would sound each time a passenger swipes his or her MetroCard.

Although many attempts have been made, it took until 2003 for the vortex ring scent canon to be developed.

When a coin falls in water, its trajectory is one of four types determined by its dimensionless moment of inertia I? and Reynolds number Re: (A) steady; (B) fluttering; (C) chaotic; or (D) tumbling. The dynamics induced by the interaction of the water with the surface of the coin, however, makes the exact landing site difficult to predict a priori. Here, we describe a carefully designed experiment in which a coin is dropped repeatedly in water to determine the probability density functions (pdf) associated with the landing positions for each of the four trajectory types, all of which are radially symmetric about the centre drop-line. [arXiv | PDF]

Americans use twice as much water as they think they do, study says

Chefs have been using the sensation of chillies and other peppers to spice up their culinary experiments for centuries. But it is only in the last decade or so that scientists have begun to understand how we taste piquant foods. Now they have found the mechanism that not only explains the heat of chillies and wasabi, but also the soothing cooling of flavours like menthol. The implications of this discovery extend far beyond cuisine. The same mechanisms build the body’s internal thermometer, and some animals even use them to see in the dark. Understand these pathways, and the humble chilli may open new avenues of research for conditions as diverse as chronic pain, obesity and cancer. [NewScientist ]

Most recently, he tested how two different diets affected flatulence.

First LSD tests in decades show terminal patients gained valuable and lasting insights

Want to remember something? Have some coffee.

Doctors’ Stethoscopes Can Transmit Bacteria As Easily As Unwashed Hands

NY Will Use Birth Control To Wipe Out Mute Swans Instead Of Executing Them

How many healthy animals do zoos put down?

Changing the color of rope used in lobster gear could prevent deadly whale entanglements, researcher says

3 Minutes of Tetris Reduces Cravings for Drink, Cigarettes and Food

…bottles of ChlorOxygen chlorophyll concentrate, which “builds better blood.” Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience

Science can predict if a seemingly healthy person will die on the short term, based on 4 biomarkers

At Kean University, students are dying (as it were) to get into Norma Bowe’s class “Death in Perspective,” which has sometimes carried a three-year waiting list. On one one field trip to a local coroner’s office, Dr. Bowe’s students were shown three naked cadavers on metal tables. One person had died from a gunshot, the other from suicide and the third by drowning. […] Every semester, students also leave the campus in Union, New Jersey, to visit a cemetery, a maximum-security prison (to meet murderers), a hospice, a crematory and a funeral home, where they pick out caskets for themselves. The homework is also unusual: Students are required to write goodbye letters to dead loved ones and to compose their own eulogies and wills. [WSJ]

Man Wakes up in Body Bag at Funeral Home

A startup called The Dating Ring wants to fly New York women “in dateable ages” to San Francisco to service the Bay Area’s soldiers of code.

For a donation of $20, NYC women win the chance to be selected for a free flight to SF. Donations of $1,250 guarantee the full package: a flight to SF, housing for four nights, three dates, two parties, and three private 30-minute matchmaking and date-coaching sessions via Skype. [Bloomberg]

How a Hacker Intercepted FBI and Secret Service Calls With Google Maps

California court says drivers can read maps on their phones

Inventor Has Waited 43-Years For Patent Approval

Finally, an app that lets you rent out your toilet

A “web-enabled” toothbrush collects dental data while it cleans your teeth

There are currently 8 sunken nuclear submarines around the world. They all contain a nuclear reactor in various states of damage or decay.

How a 40% decrease in X can be a 6% increase in non-X

Ultracrepidarian (n):”Somebody who gives opinions on subjects they know nothing about.” / Groke (v): “To gaze at somebody while they’re eating in the hope that they’ll give you some of their food.” My dog constantly grokes at me longingly while I eat dinner. [BI]

Toy Story: The True Identity of Andy’s Mom

Clifford Michael Irving (born November 5, 1930) is best known for a fake “autobiography” of Howard Hughes in the early 1970s.

13 Dive Bars In NYC

Scotland, one of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom (along with England, Northern Ireland, and Wales), will hold a referendum on independence this September. If it succeeds, Britain’s iconic flag may need a makeover.

During the chase, Nakamoto was seen throwing bitcoins out the window to deter his pursuers

Women arrested for defying a Chicago edict banning abbreviated bathing suits on beaches, 1922

I’m just tanning