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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category


 

Having spent a couple of weeks in New Zealand for a business trip, coincidentally coinciding with the Rugby World Cup, I thought it an interesting interlude to point you to a (rather dated but still interesting) post looking at some pseudoscience, rugby, and incidentally the All Blacks:

32 genetically determined combinations of left right dominance of brain hemisphere, hand, foot, eye and ear, determine people’s reaction to stress. Based on the genetic brain profile, Lotter and Associates claim that they are able to predict “blockages” persons will experience under stress. These “blockages” cause different parts of the brain to become inaccessible under stress.

“(Rugby) Players with left-eye dominance are overly sensitive to body langauge, and if you know that, you can throw them of their game by pulling faces or making gestures. You might also wonder how they would react to the haka (the Maori war chant used by the All Blacks)”

I find the post an interesting example of critique and persuasion (albeit satirical) on what is otherwise a passionate subject of rugby. Check out the rest of the post here.

Meanwhile back to the games… er… I meant work! And by the way, the All Blacks is facing Japan tonight! Go All Blacks!

 

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We’ve discussed some of the more popular personality disorders under the DSM-IV before. However, excluded from that list are some diagnoses that for some (Millon) are considered valid, but since they were excluded or deleted from the DSM definition, do not have a concrete diagonistic criteria.

When subjects do not readily fit into the formally clustered disorders, a differential diagnosis of “not specified” may be offered. This may have referred to personalities that fall within the following types. These types of disorders are also referred to as categories requiring further study.

  1. Depressive personality disorder – is a pervasive pattern of depressive cognitions and behaviors beginning by early adulthood.
  2. Passive-aggressive personality disorder (negativististic personality disorder) – is a pattern of negative attitudes and passive resistance in interpersonal situations.
  3. Sadistic personality disorder – is a pervasive pattern of cruel, demeaning and aggressive behavior.
  4. Self-defeating personality disorder (masochistic personality disorder) – is characterised by behaviour consequently undermining the person’s pleasure and goals.

What we can see from the examples provided is how subjective the diagnoses can be, especially when no specified concrete and agreed criteria is prevalent. However it is the goal of future diagnostic query to find more statistically valid bases for classifying personality disorders.

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Hypatia was a 4th-century Greek scientist, philosopher, and astronomer. A noted scholar from the great library of Alexandria, she was murdered on 415 AD by a Christian mob. Her death coincided with the beginning of the Dark Ages.

Her thoughts on:

Dogma

All formal dogmatic religions are fallacious and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final.

Free Thought

Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.

Enlightnment

Life is an unfoldment, and the further we travel the more truth we can comprehend. To understand the things that are at our door is the best preparation for understanding those that lie beyond.

Myths

Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fancies. To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing. The child mind accepts and believes them, and only through great pain and perhaps tragedy can he be in after years relieved of them.

Superstition vs. Truth

In fact, men will fight for a superstition quite as quickly as for a living truth — often more so, since a superstition is so intangible you cannot get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so is changeable.

We previously featured the story of Hypatia on Carl sagan’s account of the last days of Alexandria–and the loss of all the classical knowledge of that time.

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Popular science-fiction author of the critically-acclaimed Dune series of novels, and his thoughts on:

Power:

Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely. Absolute power attracts the corruptible.

 Fiction:

 The function of science fiction is not always to predict the future but sometimes to prevent it.

Over-population

Beyond a critical point within a finite space, freedom diminishes as numbers increase. …The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system, but what kind of existence is possible for those who do survive.

Making Sense

Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.

Managing Fear

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Law

Laws to suppress tend to strengthen what they would prohibit

Religion

These are illusions of popular history which a successful religion must promote:

  • Evil men never prosper;
  • only the brave deserve the fair;
  • honesty is the best policy;
  • actions speak louder than words;
  • virtue always triumphs;
  • a good deed is its own reward;
  • any bad human can be reformed;
  • religious talismans protect one from demon possession;
  • only females understand the ancient mysteries;
  • the rich are doomed to unhappiness

Authoritarianism

A large populace held in check by a small but powerful force is quite a common situation in our universe. And we know the major conditions wherein this large populace may turn upon its keepers:

  • When they find a leader. This is the most volatile threat to the powerful; they must retain control of leaders.
  • When the populace recognizes its chains. Keep the populace blind and unquestioning.
  • When the populace perceives a hope of escape from bondage. They must never even believe that escape is possible!

Sex

You could drag humankind almost anywhere by manipulating the enormous energies of procreation. You could goad humans into actions they would never have believed possible. One of his teachers had said it directly: “This energy must have an outlet. Bottle it up and it becomes monstrously dangerous. Redirect it and it will sweep over anything in its path. This is an ultimate secret of all religions.”

Intelligence

Education is no substitute for intelligence. That elusive quality is defined only in part by puzzle-solving ability. It is in the creation of new puzzles reflecting what your senses report that you round out the definition.

 

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Having moved back into the analytic world of bank risk management, I’m pleased to be surrounded by familiar friends: statistical data and number crunchers. I thought this time would be a good starting point to refresh the critical-thinker blog with a few updates on how the financial world has evolved since the financial crisis of 2008 (of which we have written about in a number of previous posts).

One thing I’ve noticed is that banks have become more quantitative and rigorous with their desire for data than ever. One of the smarting lessons of the financial crisis seems to be: you can never have enough information, especially when it involves risk.

This is an interesting thing for us–as we’ve aluded to the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy before. Nevertheless, corporations (not just financial institutions) continue to amass huge quantities of data in the hopes of gaining an edge not only on competition but against disaster.

In a 2006 Harvard Business Review Article: Competing On Analytics, author Thomas Davenport elucidates 10 guiding criteria that determines if an individual or organization is serious about its data. The principles also help illustrate exactly the dimensions by which companies are moving forward with their information requirements (although noting that this was written prior to the financial crisis). Having moved back into risk analytics–I can only confirm that this is more the case than ever in the wake of the crisis.

You Know You Compete On Analytics When…

  1. You apply sophisticated information systems and rigorous analysis not only to your core capability but also to a range of functions as varied as marketing and human resources.
  2. Your senior executive team not only recognizes the importance of analytics capabilites but also makes their development and maintenance a primary focus.
  3. You treat fact-based decision making not only as a best practice but also as a part of the culture that’s constantly emphasized and communicated by senior executives.
  4. You hire not only people with analytical skills but a lot of people with the very best analytical skills–and consider them a key to your success.
  5. You not only employ analytics in almost every function and department but also consider it so strategically important that you manage it at the enterprise level.
  6. You not only are expert at number crunching but also invent proprietary metrics for use in key business processes.
  7. You not only use copious data and in-house analysis but also share them with customers and suppliers.
  8. You not only avidly consume data but also seize every opportunity to generate information, creating a “test and learn” culture based on numerous small experiments.
  9. You not only have committed to competing on analytics but also have been building your capabilities for several years.
  10. You not only emphasize the importance of anaytics internally but also make quantitative capabilities part of your company’s story, to be shared in the annual report and in discussions with financial analysts.

More on analytics in future posts.

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We reopen our blog posts today by taking AskMen.com‘s advice on the 10 Top TED Talks. We’ve featured TED Talks here before and this Top 10 list is fresh and very insightful material.

From AskMen.com:

The Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conferences aim to help foster a better future by mining the ideas of “the world’s smartest thinkers, greatest visionaries and most-inspiring teachers.” Past TED talks have been given by Gordon Brown, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and other preeminent figures in their fields. Since 2007, hundreds of talks have been available online in their entirety on subjects ranging from matters of dire global importance to lighthearted comedy.

Described in The New York Times Magazine as a series of “head-rush disquisitions” from “violinists, political prisoners, brain scientists, novelists, and Bill Clinton,” the event isn’t at all limited in its scope, as long as the final product is interesting. The talks to follow are all in some way about men’s issues, though they range from perilous adventure to reflective poetry.

(more…)

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Leviathan melvillei, the ancient whale that lived 12-13 million years ago, has don’t-mess-with-me teeth larger than a T-Rex’s at 36 centimeters.  Scientists have decided to call it the Moby Dick whale, although its name melvillei was derived from Moby Dick author, Herman Melville

More on the whale that fed on whales here.

 

This makes me think that the myriad existing animal species on earth at present have made it possible to make humans feel superior, or at least propagate themselves.

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