All posts by Edward Berge

Why economics needs a new invisible hand

In this clip Hartmann interviews David Sloan Wilson on his new article by the above name. A new economics needs a new foundation from the typical and shopworn invisible hand proposed by Adam Smith. That new hand is applying evolutionary theory to the topic. David S. Wilson is SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University and Arne Næss Chair in Global Justice and the Environment at the University of Oslo. His most recent book is Does Altruism Exist?

Dumpsters are the biggest consumers and promoters of fake news

Continuing this prior post,  this new study by Oxford University confirms the phenomenon. And no, this study is not confirmation bias but scientific reality.  The abstract:

“What kinds of social media users read junk news? We examine the distribution of the most significant sources of junk news in the three months before President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union Address. Drawing on a list of sources that consistently publish political news and information that is extremist, sensationalist, conspiratorial, masked commentary, fake news and other forms of junk news, we find that the distribution of such content is unevenly spread across the ideological spectrum. We demonstrate that (1) on Twitter, a network of Trump supporters shares the widest range of known junk news sources and circulates more junk news than all the other groups put together; (2) on Facebook, extreme hard right pages—distinct from Republican pages—share the widest range of known junk news sources and circulate more junk news than all the other audiences put together; (3) on average, the audiences for junk news on Twitter share a wider range of known junk news sources than audiences on Facebook’s public pages.”

Dancing or fitness sport?

The title of a recent article in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience. Parts of the abstract:

“Age-related degenerations in brain structure are associated with balance disturbances and cognitive impairment. However, neuroplasticity is known to be preserved throughout lifespan and physical training studies with seniors could reveal volume increases in the hippocampus (HC), a region crucial for memory consolidation, learning and navigation in space, which were related to improvements in aerobic fitness. Moreover, a positive correlation between left HC volume and balance performance was observed. Dancing seems a promising intervention for both improving balance and brain structure in the elderly. It combines aerobic fitness, sensorimotor skills and cognitive demands while at the same time the risk of injuries is low. Hence, the present investigation compared the effects of an 18-month dancing intervention and traditional health fitness training on volumes of hippocampal subfields and balance abilities.  […] Both groups revealed hippocampal volume increases mainly in the left HC (CA1, CA2, subiculum). The dancers showed additional increases in the left dentate gyrus and the right subiculum. Moreover, only the dancers achieved a significant increase in the balance composite score. Hence, dancing constitutes a promising candidate in counteracting the age-related decline in physical and mental abilities.”

Roger McNamee on brain hacking and Facebook

Brain hacking is using social media and your smart phone to addict people and implant ideas. The advertisers put us in filter groups to feed addiction to our ‘likes,’ giving us a dopamine rush. It creates a sense of belonging with others who agree with us while further isolating human relations in real life. These filter groups are also geared to feed our fear and anger, which makes us more receptive to notice the ads and buy their products. While social media networking can be a positive thing it’s basically the ad companies and Facebook that use it to create the above quagmire.

McNamee is a venture capitalist and an early investor in Facebook but became critical of it due to the above.

Altered states and altered traits

Good, brief clip on the difference between the above, and how meditation can turn altered states into lasting traits that one carries in their daily life. Aside from the physiological benefits, if we can just dump the metaphysical mumbo jumbo that accompanies traditional interpretations of what these states and traits mean then we’ll have made progress toward a postmetaphysical cultural metaphor.

The evolution of synergy

Very interesting, short video on how evolution relies on synergy, the forming of new organisms by teaming up with others. It also applies to how synergy leads to social organization. An enticing quote: “It outlines a path for completely new organisms to evolve which does not rely on natural selection for increased complexity. In fact, just the opposite. It relies on relaxed selection and degradation” (9:15).

Communication between brain areas based on nested oscillations

eNeuro, 10 March 2017, 4(2). This might be neuroscientific evidence for my speculations on the syntegration of consciousness states and stages via meditative discipline. To be determined. The abstract:

“Unraveling how brain regions communicate is crucial for understanding how the brain processes external and internal information. Neuronal oscillations within and across brain regions have been proposed to play a crucial role in this process. Two main hypotheses have been suggested for routing of information based on oscillations, namely communication through coherence and gating by inhibition. Here, we propose a framework unifying these two hypotheses that is based on recent empirical findings. We discuss a theory in which communication between two regions is established by phase synchronization of oscillations at lower frequencies, which serve as temporal reference frame for information carried by higher frequency activity. Our framework, consistent with numerous recent empirical findings, posits that cross-frequency interactions are essential for understanding how large-scale cognitive and perceptual networks operate.”

Study of fake news in the 2016 election

Authors from Princeton, Dartmouth and Exeter published this. The abstract:

“Though some warnings about online “echo chambers” have been hyperbolic, tendencies toward selective exposure to politically congenial content are likely to extend to misinformation and to be exacerbated by social media platforms. We test this prediction using data on the factually dubious articles known as “fake news.” Using unique data combining survey responses with individual-level web traffic histories, we estimate that approximately 1 in 4 Americans visited a fake news website from October 7-November 14, 2016. Trump supporters visited the most fake news websites, which were overwhelmingly pro-Trump. However, fake news consumption was heavily concentrated among a small group — almost 6 in 10 visits to fake news websites came from the 10% of people with the most conservative online information diets. We also find that Facebook was a key vector of exposure to fake news and that fact-checks of fake news almost never reached its consumers.”

So fake news bias is not at all the same as real news bias. Same for anti-science and science bias. False equivalency. The first paragraph below supports this in that only a certain sub-set (as described above) consume only fake news in their filter bubbles. Another study showed the rest of us fact-check and compare other news sources and hence are not as inclined to confirmation bias:

“The combination of rising partisanship and pervasive social media usage in the United States have created fears of widespread “echo chambers” and “filter bubbles” (Sunstein, 2001; Pariser, 2011). To date, these warnings appear to be overstated. Behavioral data indicates that only a subset of Americans have heavily skewed media consumption patterns” (Gentzkow and Shapiro, 2011; Barber´a et al., 2015; Flaxman, Goel, and Rao, 2016; Guess, 2016).

Lakoff introduces FrameLab

In this FB post, copied below. The first podcast can be found here.

“By popular demand, it’s the FrameLab Podcast — a podcast about politics, language, and your brain.

In Episode 1, [I] discuss the conservative moral hierarchy and how Republicans really think. And I answer some of the questions you submitted via Facebook and Twitter.
This is a fight for freedom.
Conservatives want to take the words ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ and say that they mean that you’re free to take advantage of anybody else. But that’s not the case. You may be free to walk down the street, but you’re not free to knock down other people and keep them from walking down the street. You are only free to the extent that you do not impose of the freedom of others.
This tax bill is imposing on the freedom of most people in the country. Ninety-nine percent of the people in this country are not going to get any benefits of this tax bill. Over 83% of the $1.5 trillion is going to the top 1%. Where’s it coming from? It’s coming from the bottom 99%.
Ninety-nine percent of the people of this country are paying to increase the freedom of the top 1% and giving up their own freedom. Their freedoms are being taken away from them because their power – through wealth – is going to the top 1%.”