Research Publications Newsletters Above the Fold Above the Fold - 14 April 2014


Does Thinking Fast Mean You're Thinking Smarter?

Smithsonian Magazine • April 2014

Slow down. Speed is often equated with superiority, but author Maria Konnikova says quick thinking isn't always smarter. In fact, a Swedish study found that, based on a century of data on reaction times, we're actually getting slower. Based on widespread assumptions about speed and higher intellect, the study concluded we've lost about 1.16 IQ points per decade, putting us about 13 IQ points behind our Victorian predecessors. Read on for more on why thinking "long and hard" might lead to better outcomes.

I had never heard of this reported correlation between reaction time and human intelligence. But then I'd never heard of the Fagan test either. Maybe they should show the baby the pictures and then see how fast it can catch them. (Michalko)

Cultural Production of Ignorance Provides Rich Field for Study

Los Angeles Times • 9 March 2014

Word for the day. As anyone who follows the media discourse over evolution and climate change knows, American society is a fertile field for agnotology—the cultural production of ignorance. The tactic was first pioneered by the tobacco industry in the 1960s to cast doubt on scientific findings linking smoking to lung cancer. "Doubt is our product," according to a 1969 internal Brown & Williamson memo. Read on for more on how this insidious strategy is "undermining public trust in science."

Discouraging. They are right. Misinformation, no matter its source, is incredibly hard to dislodge. And it is an obstacle to the creation of intelligent policy. Critical thinking needs to become a goal of the primary school curriculum. (Michalko)

I Sold My Undergraduate Thesis to a Print Content Farm

Future Tense • 23 March 2014

Buyer beware. Check out science reporter Joseph Stromberg's adventures with an international academic publishing conglomerate based in Germany. It's all perfectly legal, but Stromberg's saga offers insight into how this little-known operation claims to churn out 50,000 titles a month.

A good story that finally explains all that e-mail I get from a similar purveyor—Primary Research Group (5,511 Amazon results). Is this the ignorant production of culture? Perhaps we need a variation on agnotology. (Michalko)

Tricks on the Book

The Smart Set • 19 March 2014

Tinkering around. Sensory effects? Soundtracks? Check out where augmented reading might be headed next. Editor Kathleen Volk Miller offers her common sense assessment of some uncommonly intrusive gadgets designed to enhance the reading experience: "I'm just thinking: just because we can do something, does that mean we have to?"

I am sympathetic. On the other hand it is clear that many of these devices are one-off efforts more likely to succeed at provoking reflection on what is essential than to be useful augmentation of the basic act. Here's a picture of that Sensory Fiction device. Any doubt that it was a one-off? I was pleased that the article draws attention to one of my favorite science fiction authors—James Tiptree—whose personal story is as riveting and strange as the work. Read any of the short stories. (Michalko)

The Brutal Ageism of Tech

New Republic • 23 March 2014

Past their prime? The Boomer generation has a long history of mistrusting their elders—and now they're finding themselves on the receiving end of rampant ageism, particularly among youth-obsessed VCs. Read on for an exposé on what it's like to be over the hill at 32 in today's high-tech startup environment, and take solace in a recent study of Nobel Prize winners and inventors, that found only 14% were in their 20s—the same percentage as those over 50.

Sitting in Palo Alto at the center of this echo chamber I judge the reporting and analysis here exactly right. I'd like to think this age-ism is a phenomenon peculiar to the geography of the local industry that reveals its distastefulness when you move a little distance. Like a Hawaiian shirt in Nevada. For more see The NYT Magazine article—Silicon Valley's Youth Problem and this commentary from the author. (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what are the seven stakeholder groups with an interest in researcher identifiers?

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