- The ‘wisdom of crowds’ loses steam | The Open Road – CNET News – Matt Asay shares a collection of evidence that the "crowdsourcing" revolution may be settling into traditional models. From the article: "Despite countless articles extolling the virtues and seeming omnipotence of "community" over the past several years, the technology industry seems to be settling back into old habits: Command and control."
- The Science of Success – The Atlantic (December 2009) – A fascinating article on the "Orchid Child Hypothesis" that impacts evolution, nature v. nurture (or should we say nature + nurture), and parenting. From the article: "Most of us have genes that make us as hardy as dandelions: able to take root and survive almost anywhere. A few of us, however, are more like the orchid: fragile and fickle, but capable of blooming spectacularly if given greenhouse care. So holds a provocative new theory of genetics, which asserts that the very genes that give us the most trouble as a species, causing behaviors that are self-destructive and antisocial, also underlie humankind’s phenomenal adaptability and evolutionary success. With a bad environment and poor parenting, orchid children can end up depressed, drug-addicted, or in jail—but with the right environment and good parenting, they can grow up to be society’s most creative, successful, and happy people."
Posts Tagged science
- A New Vision for Teaching Science: Scientific American – A very interesting article about strategies for addressing the horrid state of scientific and mathematical education of Americans. From the article: "The most effective teaching expands both the knowledge and the skills needed to engage with science authentically—that is, in a manner akin to how scientists work. To practice science in the classroom calls for problem- and project-based lessons, as well as considerable social interaction."
- Government 2.0: A tale of "risk, control, and trust" | Enterprise Web 2.0 | ZDNet.com – Dion does a nice roundup of recent events and challenges in the "Gov 2.0" space.
As a scientist, I have been appaled at how politics and fanaticism have run roughshod over facts and reason the last eight years. When I opened the Washington Post this morning, I found that Tom Toles had summed it up very nicely:
- Ask Nature – the Biomimicry Design Portal: biomimetics, architecture, biology, innovation inspired by nature – As a biologist by training, I constantly see ways in which effective business systems mimic biological systems. This looks like a wonderful site for inspiration. From the site: "That's the idea behind AskNature, the online inspiration source for the biomimicry community. Think of it as your home habitat—whether you're a biologist who wants to share what you know about an amazing organism, or a designer, architect, engineer, or chemist looking for planet-friendly solutions. AskNature is where biology and design cross-pollinate, so bio-inspired breakthroughs can be born."
- learningscience.org – A topic near and dear to my heart. And based on the latest international test results, we need it now more than ever…
- Web 2.0 Continues As Most Used New Internet Term [Dion Hinchcliffe’s Web 2.0 Blog] – Dion Hinchcliffe's latest musing on the state of "Web 2.0"
- Free Will vs. the Programmed Brain: Scientific American – More thoughts on the existence of free will: "If our actions are determined by prior events, then do we have a choice about anything—or any responsibility for what we do?"
- The Google Way of Science — Kevin Kelly — The Technium – Kevin Kelly with a less bombastic post that continues on Chris Anderson’s theme that the petrabyte age of information is changing the scientific method in that we can move from models to actually data to test hypothesis.
- No, Mr Kelly, I’m afraid the internet is not as clever as a single (human) brain | Technology | guardian.co.uk – A blistering response to Kevin Kelly’s “Infoporn” post at Wired. See the link below to read the Kelly post.
- Infoporn: Tap Into the 12-Million-Teraflop Handheld Megacomputer – An absurd postulate from Kevin Kelly claiming that the Web has already become more powerful than the human brain. Interesting concept (and colorful pictures!) but hardly accurate. He never mentions “mind”…
- The Science of Diversity and the Art of Inclusion | Learn to Adapt – The circular bookmark of my post on the discussion about diversity and inclusion I had with Scott E. Page, the author of “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies”
Here is a very interesting research paper:
I added this to today’s links list, but wanted to highlight it. If you want the short version, here is the abstract from the article:
Does moral behavior draw on a belief in free will? Two experiments examined whether
inducing participants to believe that human behavior is predetermined would encourage cheating. In Experiment 1, participants read excerpts that encouraged a belief in determinism (i.e., behavior as the consequence of environmental and genetic factors) or neutral text. Exposure to the deterministic message increased immoral behavior on a passive cheating task that involved allowing a flawed computer program to reveal answers to mathematical problems that participants should have been solving themselves. Moreover, increased cheating behavior was mediated by decreased belief in free will. In Experiment 2, exposure to deterministic statements led participants to overpay themselves on a cognitive test relative to participants who were exposed to statements endorsing free will as well as participants in numerous control conditions. These findings suggest that the debate over free will has societal, as well as scientific and theoretical, implications.
Now, I have long been a proponent of free will theory and opposed to any concept of predetermination. I believe that it undermines individual potential. Predeterminism recuses you from personal accountability. Even those who believe in predetermination but profess “many paths to the predetermined result” makes them accountable are fooling only themselves. If you know in your heart of hearts that the outcome is already determined, you divest responsibility.
What I had never stopped to consider (because I’m not terribly bright) is the impact beyond the individual. This research discussed in the article illustrates the toll predeterminism can take on our society. Frankly stated, the research shows that predetermination is immoral. To strengthen our society, all institutions should be teaching the importance of free will. Now, this could become a discussion of whether free will exists or not, but instead I want to consider what we should be teaching people to strengthen our society. Whether you believe in free will or not, I leave you with a quote from the article:
It is also crucial to emphasize that the present findings do not speak to the larger issue of whether free will actually exists. It is possible that free will is an illusion that nevertheless offers some functionality. It may be that a necessary cost of public awareness regarding the science of human behavior will be the dampening of certain beliefs about personal agency (Wegner, 2002). Conversely, it may prove possible to integrate a genuine sense of free will into scientific accounts of human behavior (see Baumeister, in press; Dennett, 2004; Kane, 1996; Shariff et al., in press). Although the concept of free will remains scientifically in question, the present results point to a significant value in believing that free will exists.