Sunday, 26 March 2017
J. B. S. Haldane's famous essay On Being the Right Size.
The most obvious differences between different animals are differences of size, but for some reason the zoologists have paid singularly little attention to them. In a large textbook of zoology before me I find no indication that the eagle is larger than the sparrow, or the hippopotamus bigger than the hare, though some grudging admissions are made in the case of the mouse and the whale. But yet it is easy to show that a hare could not be as large as a hippopotamus, or a whale as small as a herring. For every type of animal there is a most convenient size, and a large change in size inevitably carries with it a change of form.'s famous essay On Being the Right Size.
Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Katharine Murphy has written a very interesting essay in Meanjin: The Tricky Business of what Happens Next. In it she argues that progressives won't win the battle of politics by arguing about facts and figures or economic theory. They need to engage with people by showing they're shared values, and to tell stories that demonstrate that.
Tuesday, 21 March 2017
In An elusive command philosophy and a different command culture Thomas E. Ricks explains the German Army concept of Auftragstaktik and why the US Army doesn't get it.
Monday, 20 March 2017
In How News Organizations Inadvertently Spread "Alternative Facts" Gleb Tsipursky explains that many readers will tend to believe President Donald Trump's claims, even when they aren't true, because of the way the media presents them.
Behavioral science suggests that despite Trump offering no substantive facts for his claim, the mainstream media’s current coverage will get him what he craves. Fortunately, we can use the same research to reframe the narrative to help truth trump Trump’s evidence-free accusations.This is because many people only glance at the headlines rather than reading the full reports. Tsipursky suggests an alternate way of presenting the stories:
Reframing the media coverage of Trump’s claims, using techniques informed by behavioral science, would disincentivize Trump from making such baseless statements, instead of rewarding him. Rather than focusing on relating the details of the specific claims made by Trump, news headlines and introductory paragraphs could foreground the pattern of our President systematically making accusations lacking evidence.
For instance, in the case of this specific news item, AP News could have run the headline “Trump Delivers Another Accusation Without Evidence, This Time Against Obama.” CNN could have introduced the story by focusing on Trump’s pattern of making serial allegations of immoral and illegal actions by his political opponents without any evidence, focusing this time on his predecessor. Then, deeper in the article where the shallow skimmers do not reach, the story could have detailed the allegations made by Trump. This style of media coverage would make Trump less inclined to make such claims, as he would not get the impact he wants.
Tuesday, 14 March 2017
Paul Rosenberg describes how Trump uses fake history as a narrative to base his lies on in Bigger than fake news: Trump’s rise was fueled by a deeper narrative of fake history.
A lot of ink and a lot of electrons have been spilled on the subject of “fake news” during the last election cycle. But too little attention has been paid to something deeper that plays a crucial role in Donald Trump’s worldview: fake history. Although vague in its outlines, and more often alluded to than directly mentioned, that fake history is central to Trump’s worldview, his sense of self and the ways he connects with his audience.Of particular interest is the description of different ways of understanding the world:
In “The Battle for God,” Karen Armstrong highlighted an ancient distinction between two different ways of understanding the world: Logos is concerned with the practical understanding of how things work in the world, while mythos is concerned with ultimate meaning. “Unless we find some significance in our lives, we mortal men and women fall very easily into despair,” she noted. “The mythos of a society provided people with a context that made sense of their day-to-day lives; it directed their attention to the eternal and the universal. It was also rooted in what we would call the unconscious mind.”
The power of memes is clearly related to how well they fit into a mythos. For decades, conservatives have nourished a mythos that sustains them, one in which liberal betrayal plays a central role, and where conservatives alone are the “real Americans,” the most exceptional people on earth. (Their mythos has always had a strong ethnocentric core, which they’ve drawn on to achieve other policy ends. Trump won by doubling down on that core.) Liberals, meanwhile, have been much more engaged in logos, in the actual how and why things work in the world. Trump’s campaign intensified this polarization, identifying all educated elites as the liberal establishment that had betrayed “real Americans.”
Sunday, 12 March 2017
Thursday, 2 March 2017
Michael Gebicki lists Five ways to get a flight upgrade: Tips on how to get a seat upgrade when you fly.
In New intermittent fasting studies reignite debate about its benefits Sarah Berry reports that there's still a lot of uncertainty about intermittent fasting, but some studies are showing some benefits:
Several new studies support its supposed benefits. One study, by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC), found that intermittent fasting may help to reverse diabetes in mice by reprogramming "non-insulin-producing cells into insulin-producing cells".
A second study of 71 adults, also out of the USC, found that fasting for five days a month (consuming between 3138 and 4600 kilojoules on those days) reduced cardiovascular risk factors, inflammation levels, waistlines and total body fat, but not muscle mass.