Summary of “Tim Harford — Article — The Problem With Facts”

The facts about smoking – indisputable facts, from unquestionable sources – did not carry the day.
Facts, it turns out, are important, but facts are not enough to win this kind of argument.
Proctor, the tobacco industry historian turned agnotologist, warns of a similar effect in the US: “Fact checkers can become Trump’s poodle, running around like an errand boy checking someone else’s facts. If all your time is [spent] checking someone else’s facts, then what are you doing?”.
There’s a final problem with trying to persuade people by giving them facts: the truth can feel threatening, and threatening people tends to backfire.
Parents who were already wary of vaccines were actually less likely to say they’d vaccinate their children after being exposed to the facts – despite apparently believing those facts.
Giving people more facts can backfire, as those facts provoke a defensive reaction in someone who badly wants to stick to their existing world view.
Curiosity brought people together in a way that mere facts did not.
The researchers muse that curious people have an extra reason to seek out the facts: “To experience the pleasure of contemplating surprising insights into how the world works.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google is super secretive about its anti-aging research. No one knows why.”

In 2013, Time magazine ran a cover story titled Google vs. Death about Calico, a then-new Google-run health venture focused on understanding aging – and how to beat it.
How exactly would Calico help humans live longer, healthier lives? How would it invest its vast $1.5 billion pool of money? Beyond sharing the company’s ambitious mission – to better understand the biology of aging and treat aging as a disease – Page was vague.
Among the little more than a dozen press releases Calico has put out, there were only broad descriptions of collaborations with outside labs and pharmaceutical companies – most of them focused on that overwhelmingly vague mission of researching aging and associated diseases.
People who work at Calico, Calico’s outside collaborators, and even folks who were no longer with the company, stonewalled me.
Topol knows some of the scientists at Calico from their pre-Calico days.
There were no clinical trials or patents filed publicly under the Calico brand that I could find, and out of the 22 papers published by the company and its affiliates, only about half related to aging and many were review articles.
The problem with Calico’s secrecy There are a few potential explanations for Calico’s secrecy.
A recent news release from Calico announced a partnership with C4 Therapeutics to work on coming up with drugs for “Diseases of aging,” such as cancer – one of a number of drug company partnership’s Calico has formed.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google, Not the Government, Is Building the Future”

Google is not alone in this quest to build a future out of A.I. Its parent company, Alphabet, is spending billions to inject machine intelligence into much of the global economy, from self-driving cars to health care.
There are two ways to respond to the tech industry’s huge investments in the intelligent future.
What’s more, experts in the field say that many tech giants are currently approaching A.I. with a kind of academic ethos.
The tech industry’s huge investments in A.I. might also be cause for alarm, because they are not balanced by anywhere near that level of investment by the government.
The report found that the federal government spent only $1.1 billion on unclassified A.I. research in 2015.
With greater federal funding, the report said, researchers could focus more on basic research – more tenuous, potentially less immediately applicable areas of A.I. – and through the grant-making process, the government would have a greater say in how the technology develops.
“We created OpenAI partly because industry is investing such vast sums of money into A.I. research that commercial, private entities were on track to create the first powerful A.I. systems, and these entities don’t have a built-in mechanism to ensure that everyone benefits from advances,” Mr. Brockman told me in an email.
In other words, the tech giants that are building the future would like some help changing the world.

The orginal article.

Summary of “deadspin-quote-carrot-aligned-w-bgr-2”

Take the most computational part of the body, the brain.
Our brains do not “Store” memories as computers do, simply calling up a desired piece of information from a memory bank.
Research into some of these things is underway, but so far much of what it has uncovered is that the body and brain are incredibly complex.
Scientists do hope, for example, that one day brain computer interfaces might help alleviate severe cases of mental illnesses like depression, and DARPA is currently funding a $65 million research effort aimed at using implanted electrodes to tackle some of the trickiest mental illnesses.
After decades of research, it’s still unclear which areas of the brain even make the most sense to target for each illness.
Within a mere two years, Facebook thinks it’ll know whether its plan to send 100-word-per-minute status updates from our brains to our screens is possible.
The technology available today can only measure a fraction of the neural activity necessary to link someone’s entire brain to a computer, or allow them to communicate with another person without speaking.
In his 1958 book The Computer and the Brain, the mathematician John von Neumann stated explicitly that the human nervous system is ‘prima facie digital.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Being open-minded literally changes the way you see the world”

Recent studies suggest that personality traits don’t simply affect your outlook on life, but the way you perceive reality.
One study published earlier this year in the Journal of Research in Personality goes so far as to suggest that openness to experience changes what people see in the world.
In the study, researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia recruited 123 volunteers and gave them the big five personality test, which measures extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience.
Though the research suggests that personality affects the way we filter conscious experience, it’s not clear exactly how this process works.
While studies show that personality can shift over time, there’s currently little research on whether perception also changes to correspond with new personality traits.
Given the above cited evidence that meditation can shift perception, Antinori believes the way we see the world may well change in line with personality.
“It may be possible that a change in people’s personality may also affect how they see the world,” she says.
Mounting evidence suggests that our personalities are affecting our experience of the world in more ways than we realize.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Popular People Live Longer”

The human body’s sensitivity to popularity may reflect the effects of natural selection over thousands of years.
As social beings, we protected one another, shared resources and collaborated to gain advantages over other species.
Our popularity may have an effect on our DNA.George Slavich and Steve Cole, experts in the field of human social genomics at the University of California, Los Angeles, have described our genomic material as being exquisitely “Sensitive to social rejection.” They study what happens immediately after we’ve been left by a romantic partner, excluded from a social event, rejected by a stranger or even simply told that we may be judged by others we care about.
Professors Slavich and Cole suggest that ancestral humans who had no peers to defend them no longer had a great need to be protected from viruses – who would infect them? – so their bodies conserved energy by reducing their vigilance to infection.
That’s most likely why our concern for social standing begins so early and persists throughout our lives.
Dozens of studies reveal that children’s popularity can be measured reliably by age 3, and it remains remarkably stable not just through the next dozen years of primary and secondary education but also across contexts, as they move from community to community and into adulthood.
This same research reveals that there is more than one type of popularity, and most of us may be investing in the wrong kind.
Likability is markedly different from status – an ultimately less satisfying form of popularity that reflects visibility, influence, power and prestige.
Status can be quantified by social media followers; likability cannot.
We may be built by evolution to care deeply about popularity, but it’s up to us to choose the nature of the relationships we want with our peers.

The orginal article.

Key Points of “The 4 Skills Needed to Make a Great Impression”

Fake it, ’til you make it.

Mostly body language. Try to feel comfortable and confident.

  • Perfect handshake: dry, vertical, firm
  • Make eye contact
  • Use your arms and hands
  • Stance that projects confidence: upright, head sightly up
  • Lean in
  • Be calm – don’t: tap your fingers, shake your legs, tap your feet, touch your face, blink too much
  • Be curious – don’t use your standard questions

The original article by Vanessa van Edwards.

Key Points of “Want to Raise Successful Kids? Send Them to School a Year Later, According to Science”

  • Studies of academic performance yield frustrating, inconsistent results.
  • Stanford University studied how did being among the oldest kids or the youngest kids in the class affect things like mental health, discipline, and self-control in Denmark — for some reason.
  • Dramatically higher levels of self-control:  “We found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73 percent for an average child at age 11,” Thomas Dee, one of the co-authors, said. “And it virtually eliminated the probability that an average child at that age would have an ‘abnormal,’ or higher-than-normal rating for the inattentive-hyperactive behavioral measure.”
  • Similar to the findings in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.
  • Send your kid to a decent pre-kindergarten instead.

The original article by Bill Murphy Jr.

Key Points of “The utter uselessness of job interviews”

Research shows that the judgment of the interviewers

  • in the best case adds nothing of relevance to the admissions process.
  • can be harmful, undercutting the impact of other, more valuable information about interviewees.

What can be done?

  • Structure interviews so that all candidates receive the same questions to make interviews more reliable and modestly more predictive of job success.
  • Test job-related skills, rather than idly chatting or asking personal questions.

The original article by Jason Dana.

P.S.: You could also learn from the most successful companies and select applicants based on IQ tests – which means they are well equipped to adapt to the ever changing requirements and challenges of modern work.