Summary of “The Case for Professors of Stupidity”

In 1933, dismayed at the Nazification of Germany, the philosopher wrote “The Triumph of Stupidity,” attributing the rise of Adolf Hitler to the organized fervor of stupid and brutal people-two qualities, he noted, that “Usually go together.” He went on to make one of his most famous observations, that the “Fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
Stupidity is not simply the opposite of intelligence.
They obtained similar results, they write, “In a parallel study with representative samples from the United States, France and Germany, and in a study testing attitudes about a medical application of genetic engineering technology.”
What exactly is stupidity? David Krakauer, the President of the Santa Fe Institute, told interviewer Steve Paulson, for Nautilus, stupidity is not simply the opposite of intelligence.
“Stupidity is using a rule where adding more data doesn’t improve your chances of getting [a problem] right,” Krakauer said.
“In fact, it makes it more likely you’ll get it wrong.” Intelligence, on the other hand, is using a rule that allows you to solve complex problems with simple, elegant solutions.
“Stupidity is a very interesting class of phenomena in human history, and it has to do with rule systems that have made it harder for us to arrive at the truth,” he said.
“It’s an interesting fact that, whilst there are numerous individuals who study intelligence-there are whole departments that are interested in it-if you were to ask yourself what’s the greatest problem facing the world today, I would say it would be stupidity. So we should have professors of stupidity-it would just be embarrassing to be called the stupid professor.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Ocean Cleanup Project Could Destroy the Neuston”

The neuston is home to more than blue buttons and bright snails.
The neuston is a nursery for multiple species of larval fish and a hunting ground for paper nautilus octopuses.
When I learned about the Ocean Cleanup project’s 600-meter-long barrier with a three-meter-deep net, a wall being placed in the open ocean, ostensibly to collect plastic passively as the currents push water through the net, I thought immediately of the neuston.
Though the neuston isn’t known to many people, it is certainly known to marine biologists.
Evidence that the Ocean Cleanup knows about the neuston is clear from a table reporting animals in the vicinity of the Ocean Cleanup deployment area, where both blue buttons and by-the-wind sailors are listed.
By omitting the neuston from its assessment, the project is overlooking the habitat it could be impacting most, and there is no sense of what the damage might be.
There are few contemporary reviews of whole-ocean neuston ecosystems.
Savilov spent his career studying the neuston by conducting extensive surveys all across the Pacific and synthesizing this work into a map of the open-ocean surface ecosystems.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Want to ‘Train Your Brain’? Forget Apps, Learn a Musical Instrument”

While brain training games and apps may not live up to their hype, it is well established that certain other activities and lifestyle choices can have neurological benefits that promote overall brain health and may help to keep the mind sharp as we get older.
Playing a musical instrument is a rich and complex experience that involves integrating information from the senses of vision, hearing, and touch, as well as fine movements, and learning to do so can induce long-lasting changes in the brain.
Together, these studies show that learning to play a musical instrument not only increases grey matter volume in various brain regions, but can also strengthen the long-range connections between them.
Importantly, the brain scanning studies show that the extent of anatomical change in musicians’ brains is closely related to the age at which musical training began, and the intensity of training.
What’s more, the benefits of musical training seem to persist for many years, or even decades, and the picture that emerges from this all evidence is that learning to play a musical instrument in childhood protects the brain against the development of cognitive impairment and dementia.
Unlike commercial brain training products, which only improve performance on the skills involved, musical training has what psychologists refer to as transfer effects – in other words, learning to play a musical instrument seems to have a far broader effect on the brain and mental function, and improves other abilities that are seemingly unrelated.
Learning to play a musical instrument seems to be one of the most effective forms of brain training there is.
Musical training can induce various structural and functional changes in the brain, depending on which instrument is being learned, and the intensity of the training regime.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Therapy wars: The Revenge of Freud”

Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is a down-to-earth technique focused not on the past but the present; not on mysterious inner drives, but on adjusting the unhelpful thought patterns that cause negative emotions.
CBT has always had its critics, primarily on the left, because its cheapness – and its focus on getting people quickly back to productive work – makes it suspiciously attractive to cost-cutting politicians.
Seek a therapy referral on the NHS today, and you’re much more likely to end up, not in anything resembling psychoanalysis, but in a short series of highly structured meetings with a CBT practitioner, or perhaps learning methods to interrupt your “Catastrophising” thinking via a PowerPoint presentation, or online.
The analysts’ arguments fell on deaf ears so long as experiment after experiment seemed to confirm the superiority of CBT – which helps explain the shocked response to a study, published last May, that seemed to show CBT getting less and less effective, as a treatment for depression, over time.
“I went to the early seminars on cognitive therapy to satisfy myself that it was another approach that wouldn’t work,” David Burns, who went on to popularise CBT in his worldwide bestseller Feeling Good, told me in 2010.
A few years ago, after CBT had started to dominate taxpayer-funded therapy in Britain, a woman I’ll call Rachel, from Oxfordshire, sought therapy on the NHS for depression, following the birth of her first child.
Some studies have sometimes seemed to unfairly stack the deck, as when CBT has been compared with “Psychodynamic therapy” delivered by graduate students who’d received only a few days’ cursory training in it, from other students.
“People who say CBT is superficial have just missed the point,” said Trudie Chalder, professor of cognitive behavioural psychotherapy at the King’s College Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience in London, who argues that no single therapy is best for all maladies.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Do Dieters Succeed or Fail?”

Overall, dieters in both groups lost a similar amount of weight on average – 11 pounds in the low-fat group, 13 pounds in the low-carb group – suggesting different diets perform comparably.
Over the last week, I’ve spoken to Dawn, Denis, Elizabeth*, and Todd – two low-fat dieters and two low-carb dieters – about their experiences of succeeding or faltering in trying to slim down.
While these four DIETFITS enrollees are not necessarily representative of the 600-plus people who participated in the research, their stories can teach us a lot about why diets fail and succeed.
Elizabeth didn’t shift her diet much for the study, she says.
Dawn Diaz lost 47 pounds following the low-fat diet for the study, from a starting weight of 215 pounds.
In the study, Dawn Diaz was assigned to the low-fat diet, which initially disappointed her.
That leads us to one of the burning mysteries of diets: how to explain why some people fail where others succeed – or the extreme variation in responses.
Science doesn’t have compelling answers, but the unifying theme from the four study participants should be instructive: The particulars of their diets – how many carbs or how much fat they were eating – were almost afterthoughts.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Sports Science Is Finally Talking About Its Methodology Problems”

A few years ago, as I started researching my book about the science of exercise recovery, I found something curious: the methodological flaws that have roiled psychology were also lurking in sports science.
As I plowed through the published studies in the sports and exercise science literature, I saw many studies with small sample sizes, a journal system that appeared to be biased toward publishing studies showing that a treatment or regimen improves performance and studies that collected multiple measures in a way that could make it tempting for researchers to fish around for a favorable result.
Today at SportsRxiv, a place where researchers can share their unpublished studies to get feedback before peer review, 36 researchers have released an editorial urging the field to adopt practices that have been gaining traction in the social sciences to combat “Questionable research practices” such as p-hacking.
They’ve formed The Society for Transparency, Openness, and Replication in Kinesiology, which is modeled after the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science that has brought psychology researchers together to develop better research practices.
In the former, researchers submit their hypotheses in advance and commit to a specific methodology and analysis plan, which they post in an independent registry.
This prevents researchers from playing around with different ways of looking at their data until they get an appealing result, said lead author Aaron Caldwell, a graduate student in exercise science at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.
Registered reports, on the other hand, give researchers an opportunity to submit their studies to journals where they’ll be accepted or rejected based on the rigor of their methodology, rather than on the sexiness of their results.
The reaction so far has ranged from “This is good – it’s how science should be operating” to “Why are you trying to make science harder to do? It’s already hard enough,” Caldwell said.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Research: When Overconfidence Is an Asset, and When It’s a Liability”

What happens to people who are overconfident? Are they generally rewarded, promoted, and respected? Or do we distrust them and avoid collaborating with them? Our research suggests it may depend on how they express confidence.
We noticed a pattern in the existing research: that the confidence expressions in studies on in-person groups were primarily nonverbal; whereas in studies with vignettes or videos, they were primarily verbal.
Participants overwhelmingly selected the confident candidate, regardless of whether confidence was described using verbal statements from the candidates, or was inferred from how the candidates carried themselves on recorded video.
Then participants received performance information that could help them detect overconfidence; they found that, despite their confidence, all candidates were equally mediocre at a pre-screening version of the task.
If the candidate had expressed confidence verbally, the candidate suffered a big blow to reputation and lost the advantage; fewer people selected them as collaborators compared to the cautious candidate.
Our participants found the denial much more plausible when the candidate had expressed confidence nonverbally rather than verbally.
The results replicated our previous studies, in that confidence, no matter how it was expressed, was beneficial until it became clear that performance fell short.
It’s harder to hold people accountable for overestimating their abilities or knowledge when they express that confidence in nonverbal ways.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The bad news on human nature, in 10 findings from psychology”

Another study showed that people who are opposed to Arab immigration tended to rate Arabs and Muslims as literally less evolved than average.
Among other examples, there’s also evidence that young people dehumanise older people; and that men and women alike dehumanise drunk women.
If people were rational and open-minded, then the straightforward way to correct someone’s false beliefs would be to present them with some relevant facts.
In one study, researchers found that people rated the exact same selfish behaviour as being far less fair when perpetuated by others.
There is a long-studied phenomenon known as actor-observer asymmetry, which in part describes our tendency to attribute other people’s bad deeds, such as our partner’s infidelities, to their character, while attributing the same deeds performed by ourselves to the situation at hand.
While research has suggested that people who are prone to everyday sadism are especially inclined to online trolling, a study published last year revealed how being in a bad mood, and being exposed to trolling by others, double the likelihood of a person engaging in trolling themselves.
We are sexually attracted to people with dark personality traits.
Not only do we elect people with psychopathic traits to become our leaders, evidence suggests that men and women are sexually attracted, at least in the short term, to people displaying the so-called ‘dark triad’ of traits – narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism – thus risking further propagating these traits.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What we can learn about crowd behavior by watching the Tour de France”

Check out the aerial footage of bicyclists competing in the annual Tour de France and you’ll notice that riders tend to spontaneously group themselves into a diamond-shaped pattern.
Jesse Belden, a researcher at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, says such patterns emerge because riders are trying to stay close to their competitors while avoiding collisions.
He found himself wondering how one might model the behavior of riders in a peloton.
Belden initially thought the diamond pattern arises because each rider is trying to gain an aerodynamic advantage by catching the tailwinds of other nearby riders.
The longitudinal waves triggered by a rider slowing or braking spread twice as fast as the transverse waves triggered by riders moving side to side.
A rider in this position will have more time to react to a sudden braking motion by the rider in front.
Professional cyclists who compete in the Tour de France are so skilled at maintaining a balance between these dynamics that they can ride extremely close to each other without crashing.
They didn’t ride nearly as close together as the average Tour de France cyclists.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Secrets of the Creative Brain”

Although many people continue to equate intelligence with genius, a crucial conclusion from Terman’s study is that having a high IQ is not equivalent to being highly creative.
If high IQ does not indicate creative genius, then what does? And how can one identify creative people for a study?
Drawing on creativity studies done by the psychiatric epidemiologist Thomas McNeil, I evaluated creativity in family members by assigning those who had had very successful creative careers an A++ rating and those who had pursued creative interests or hobbies an A+. My final challenge was selecting a control group.
Today’s neuroimaging tools show brain structure with a precision approximating that of the examination of post-mortem tissue; this allows researchers to study all sorts of connections between brain measurements and personal characteristics.
I spent many years thinking about how to design an imaging study that could identify the unique features of the creative brain.
Based on my interviews with the creative subjects in my workshop study, and from additional conversations with artists, I knew that such unconscious processes are an important component of creativity.
Many creative people are polymaths, people with broad interests in many fields-a common trait among my study subjects.
Which has examined 13 creative geniuses and 13 controls-has borne out a link between mental illness and creativity similar to the one I found in my Writers’ Workshop study.

The orginal article.