Monday, June 28, 2010

Six intuitions you shouldn't trust

From the book The Invisible Gorilla these are the most common intuitive errors.

inattentional blindness (failing to see things that are in plain sight);
the belief that our memories are more reliable than they are;
the tendency to think someone is competent if they are confident;
the illusion of knowledge (we know much less than we think);
the assumption that things that occur together must be causally related (think MMR vaccine and autism);
and the increasingly popular notion that cognitive exercises make us smarter (in fact, physical exercise has a much stronger effect).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pain in the Fetus

The Nebraska law that restricts abortions at later than 20 weeks is on shaky ground scientifically. The nerve structures to feel pain just aren't connected up until 24 weeks.

Teen Drinking and Parenting Styles

It seems that parenting style can be a predictor of teen drinking behavior. It doesn't affect whether they will drink or not but it does affect when they say enough. Teens whose parents' style is high on accountability and warmth don't drink much. But when parents demand high accountability without warmth they drink more. Same thing applies when there is no accountablity but plenty of warmth.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cantwell et al and Energy Proposals

Maria Cantwell uses a video to outline her energy proposals.

Vaccine News

By modifying the genome just a tiny bit a flu vaccine has been made that contains the complete set of proteins of the virulent form. But the scrambling is sufficient to keep it from being infectious. As a result the immune response is precise and robust.

Advances Using Carbon Nanotubes in Lithium Batteries

It seems that carbon nanotubes can greatly boost the capacity of lithium batteries.

Something New in Air Conditioning

By combining evaporativy cooling and dessicants a new method of cooling air promises an energy saving of 90 percent. That's right, effective cooling using only 1/10 the energy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Personality and Political Preferences

There has been much written about this subject but here is one more instance in which one's politics tend to be a result of one's personality traits. It also explains why conservative/liberal tension tends to appear in all political systems over time.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Memorial Thoughts

Last weekend there was much talk of honoring the servicemen and women who have made so many sacrifices for the rest of us. If we wish to truly honor them we should make sure we are a nation that is worthy of that sacrifice. While it is well and proper to send them to harm's way to protect citizens, allies, and innocents but we should not ask them to sacrifice to merely protect American greed. If our military must protect our access to foreign oil and we consume so much more than our moral share of that resource, we, as a nation, need to make some changes. Americans don't have an inalienable right to force our notions of government onto others however much we ourselves may revere those notions. And we do not honor our military by asking them to participate in forcing those notions onto unwilling people.