Hunting and Gathering Evidence about Paleo
You might be interested to pick up the book Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How we Live by Marlene Zuk. If that’s a bit much for you, perhaps you can find the April 2013 issue of the Nutrition Action health letter put out by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. (The April issue was not yet in their archives as of this writing but I expect will be...
(Coigitica) Beating the Competition - Part IV:...
http://www.coigiti.ca/?p=218 This is my fourth post in this series looking at the misuse of competitive pressure as a driver of innovation. I am not suggesting competition never drives innovation, but that it is only weakly related, often produces counter-productive results, and really describes a market dynamic that comes from decisions, not a driver of them. In Part I of this series I looked...
(Coigitica) Beating the Competition - Part III:...
http://www.coigiti.ca/?p=172 In Part I of this series I looked at the Prisoner’s Dilemma and how the incentives (rewards and punishments) affect the effectiveness of competition at driving innovation. If competitive goals are not aligned with ultimate goals, competition will actually decrease efficiency towards the ultimate goal of innovation and long-term improvement and only serve to increase...
Sam Harris's self-fulfilling prophecy: how to be...
Shortly following my last criticism of Sam Harris’ article on gun control he posted a follow-up (FAQ on Violence) responding to various criticisms, many that overlap mine. In his prior article he slowly worked his way out on a limb of irrationality. In this one he takes a leap off of it. I’ll ignore his initial discussion suggesting that other people “simply do not want to think...
Little known fact: I'm sexier than Ryan Gosling
Do you recognize the woman in this photo? I’ll give you a hint: you might have seen her in a magazine ad but not this photo. No, she’s not a model, but could have been one; she’s a very beautiful woman. Her hair is straight in the photo but it is naturally curly and makes some women jealous. She’s also known to have soft skin and great tone. If you were thinking maybe...
Sam Harris riddled with errors on gun control
Sam Harris recently posted a blog article as part of the post-Newtown gun control debates (The Riddle of the Gun). He essentially mimics many of the NRA arguments, himself being an avid gun owner and user. He does nominally criticize the over-simplicity of some NRA argument against sensible gun control laws but he spends the bulk of his effort attacking the idea of gun laws as necessary or...
“The Tinkerers”: How corporations kill creativity →
The Innovator's Straightjacket - and missing the... →
Scott Anthony has a good half-article over at Harvard Business Review where he addresses some of the constraints to innovation within companies, comparing some of the policies or decisions that seem wise in some respect to straightjackets; they do constrain the subject from harming themselves but also constrain them from performing good works too. There are good points in this article but I it...
The Dyson Dilemma
Freeman Dyson is somewhat of a legend in theoretical physics. He is less known for his contributions to advancing the field itself as he is for his contributions of explanatory proofs and visionary ideas. Dyson’s latest musings delve into game theory, an area I have huge interest in, and evolution by natural selection. Any regular reader of my blog will immediately recognize my use of the...
N.N. Taleb's Anti-fragile Swan Song?
I’m finding lots of interesting nuggets from following author Matt Ridley recently. He just posted a review of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (WSJ and blog versions). I have not read this book myself yet, but Ridley provides a synopsys of Taleb’s thesis which goes something like this: bottom-up trial and error produces more robust systems...
Riddles of Sexual Selection and Inequality
[Updates at bottom on Matt Ridley response] Author Matt Ridley has written much about the economics of evolution and sexual selection (Red Queen, The Origins of Virtue, Genome, The Rational Optimist). He is a very good writer and I do recommend his books. Unfortunately, he occasionally slips in snippets of what appear to be political ideology that are often non sequiturs or that only address a...
Canada gets the bronze: Why Nate Silver's forecast...
Perhaps the most interesting side story coming out of the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election is the repeat success of analytical election models, for which Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight New York Times blog is the best known. Nate got all 50 states votes correct, an improvement of 1 from his 49 in 2008, plus D.C., and made the accurate predictions in the face of heavy pundit mockery. It would be nice...
Why Nate Silver is a fox
Yesterday I read a lot of stories celebrating the big winner of the U.S. 2012 Presidential Election. No, not Barack Obama. That was pretty much a given. I’m talking about Nate Silver, or more generally about model-based election predictions. For those of you hiding under a rock, Nate runs the FiveThirtyEight election blog at the New York Times. He correctly forecast 49 of 50 states in the...
The Problems of Innovation: Why We Don't Solve Big...
Jason Pontin at the MIT Technology Review wrote a great article on what is wrong with our model for innovation. My summary: without direction, market-driven venture funding chases and creates what is, essentially, profitable techno-fashion. It has become speculative gambling on the trendy and, paradoxically, aimed at incrementally irrelevant changes that make money in volume. I wholeheartedly...
Dilbert Comic for November 1, 2012 →
This is my kind of critical thinking.
Wake up call: Are energy drinks healthier than...
It’s no secret that I find the whole concept of “natural” and “organic” foods a bit baffling and backwards, and effectively a branding effort that exploits a host of cognitive errors. I’ve found it even more fascinating when “natural” foods are competed against each other for which one is more “natural” and, hence, following the cognitive...
The problem with any ideology is that it gives the answer before you look at the...– Bill Clinton, on the Daily Show, 2012-09-20.
Best explanation to clear up misunderstanding of... →
Study finds link between employee engagement and... →
Failure to engage and support your employees cost you in profits and productivity. This one I know too well.
Economists see the big picture, but the devil is... →
Improved productivity is linked to investment by companies innovating their internal processes and other “micro” processes. I’ve found this sort of self-investment is lacking in Canadian businesses and is definitely true at ones I’ve worked for.
On the Origin of Theses →
Jonnie Hughes presents some of his work on the memetic origins of ideas and innovations that evolve through Darwian natural selection, based on Richard Dawkins’ proposal in the Selfish Gene that ideas can evolve in this way, which he named “memes”. As a side note, the running gags we call internet memes are a small subset of all memes but also not a very good example. You can...
Project Processes via Corporate Selection
Here’s an exciting yet boring question: Is it useful to consider the improvement of project processes caused by corporations beating other corporations in the market. I’d say no because the topic is boring. I’ll explain why it is exciting and controversial at the end. Consider Company X who performs projects for customers and uses a set of standard internal processes called P,...
The True Allure of Steven Pinker →
This is by far the best summary smackdown I’ve seen of group selection theory and its use for supporting “conservative” style social politics (organized religions, excessive patriotism, xenophobia, and so forth). I’m a big Steven Pinker fan too. In particular, I like where he describes how a gene for group selection would be selected against: Take the extreme case of a...
Why some people have a hard accepting scientific... →
Pictou County Pizza →
For the record, Crown Pizza in Pictou is the best, a title that used to be held by Pictou’s Mia’s Pizza when I was growing up. Acropole and Sam’s are pretty good too.
Everybody should watch this video no matter your political leanings. Jeff Rubin does a fantastic job of explaining how economies are closed systems and one thing affects another. I particularly like how he describes markets as the brain of an economy and prices as the neurological messengers. I tend to use analogies of mechanical systems but this one works well. It’s really a fantastic...
The Price of Excessive Economic Inequality →
A good summary of the economic inequality problem by Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winning economist, Columbia University professor, and former Senior VP and Chief Economist at the World Bank. The reason the super-rich seek proximate best interests at the expense of their own long-term best interests is a form of the Prisoner’s Dilemma I described in many earlier posts, specifically with...
Err Lines on Security
Sam Harris - author, neuroscientist, and philosopher - recently stirred up a lot of controversy by his suggestion that airport security should make use of profiling to improve security. Harris describe his recommendation more accurately as anti-profiling, meaning that people who are obviously low risk should be paid less attention to than they currently are so that security resources can focus...
Much Ado about Nothing
I’d like to talk about nothing. To be more accurate, I’d like to talk about Sean Carroll talking about nothing. To be more precise, I’d like to talk about Sean Carroll talking about Lawrence Krauss and David Albert talking about nothing, and their disagreement about it. Sean Carroll recently wrote an article (“A Universe from Nothing?”) discussing an ongoing...
Free Will Hunting
New Atheist philosophers Sam Harris and Dan Dennett are well known for their articulate dismantling of religious principles, Sam in his classical direct attacks on religious assertions and Dan tending towards more neutral but esoteric explorations of religious themes in the context of memetic viruses of the mind. Yet it is a mistake to think this philosophical duo necessarily presents a common...
Trying to dig your way out of a hole: Lesson on... →
“There is not, and never has been, a form of DRM that effectively prevents piracy—but every single form of DRM reduces the value of the product to legitimate subscribers. It’s pretty bizarre to continually punish the only people who aren’t engaged in the behavior you want to stamp out.”
Cybercrime exaggeration is inherent in the... →
I like this piece on cybercrime. While it demonstrates the extreme exaggeration of the costs, it is more interesting that the exaggeration is an inherent property of the statistical methods used. Essentially, surveys of losses are multiplied to whole populations. This causes three distinct problems. 1. People tend to overestimate losses. OK, that’s not so much a big problem as a statistical...
Papers please →
While I’m glad a majority of Canadians are not willing to give up civil liberties to fight terrorism (a threat so small to Canadians it isn’t worth mentioning), I’m a little dismayed that up to 43% support the idea of forcing citizens to carry national ID and be subject to random police searches. These are the sorts of things we used to make fun of the former Soviet Union for...
The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he is one who asks...– Claude Levi-Strauss quotes (French Philosopher, b.1908)
I’m back working out regularly as of November 2011, hopefully regularly. I’m returning to my pre-hiatus workout routine and I thought I’d share it, or at least the design concept, for anyone looking to get into shape. I designed my routine myself after years of workouts and on-again, off-again commitment. I’ve learned from my failures, from reading and research, and even...
Anti-innovation: 10 Proven Ways Not to Innovate →
I think this is an excellent list. I may add more to my own.
There’s More to Nothing Than We Knew →
A quick overview of the different definitions of “nothing” as per Lawrence Krauss’ “A Universe from Nothing”. There are many ways to describe “nothing”. Most people imagine nothing as a vast, empty space. But that still has space, time, and laws of physics. Now try to imagine it without space and time. Hard. Now try to imagine it without laws that govern...
Something from Nothing: A conversation with... →
Lawrence Krauss answers some Q&A.
Interesting perspective on two trends in global... →
SOPA & PIPA Protest #4: Khan Academy →
You can also go directly to the Youtube video, but I want to give Khan Academy the credit and exposure. Here’s a good explanation of how sites within the U.S. potentially could be shut down or forced to have massive self-policing costs, or realistically shut down user content and possibly their whole business model, on a whim with no consequences. SOPA is scary stuff.
SOPA & PIPA Protest #3: Michael Geist on why... →
Today I will only post links to information protesting SOPA & PIPA legislation ongoing in the U.S. that will break the internet in the name of fighting piracy, but won’t do much to stop piracy. This link describes how SOPA can directly affect and harm Canadians (like me) and Canadian websites, including the Government of Canada. What is a particularly interesting scenario to me is that...
SOPA & PIPA Protest #2: Reddit →
Today I will only post links to information protesting SOPA & PIPA legislation ongoing in the U.S. that will break the internet in the name of fighting piracy, but won’t do much to stop piracy. This link provides a detailed breakdown of SOPA & PIPA in terms of its poor definitions, vague terms, ease of abuse, and example harms they can do.
SOPA & PIPA Protest #1: TED →
Today I will only post links to information protesting SOPA & PIPA legislation ongoing in the U.S. that will break the internet in the name of fighting piracy, but won’t do much to stop piracy. This link is to a historical context of SOPA & PIPA and what they mean.
Great thoughts on the "god of the gaps" argument... →
The full 57 minute interview is here.