On methane, a greenouse gas more potent than carbon dixoide:

To put this in perspective, just seven years ago, estimates suggested that only 500,000 tons of methane were being released into Earth's atmosphere each year. Now we're measuring 17 million tons of it. Just in the Arctic.

Embedded Link

The Giant Methane Monster That Can Wipe Out the Human Race
Underneath the frozen Arctic are 1,000 gigatons of the world’s most deadly greenhouse gas.

Google+: Reshared 1 times
Google+: View post on Google+

Practice doesn't make perfect

This idea is a nice one, because it suggests that successful people earned their expertise, and that many people have a shot at becoming successful if they work hard enough. It gained especially wide attention through a rule it inspired in Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: that to become really, really good at something, you have to intensely practice at it for around 10,000 hours, the "10,000-hour rule."

But this is an area of active dispute among psychologists — and over the years, dozens of studies have collected hard data on the link between practice and top performance in all sorts of fields. A new statistical analysis of 88 of these studies comes to the exact opposite conclusion: success mostly reflects other factors (probably things like innate talent and opportunity) rather than hours and hours of practice.

I find studies like this one especially seductive as I'm a red-blooded contrarian.  Accordingly, I find myself having to consciously increase my skepticism about them as I like the results so much.

Embedded Link

Life isn’t fair: the people who practice the most aren’t the most successful
The importance of practice is a nice idea, but it’s a false one.

Google+: Reshared 2 times
Google+: View post on Google+

Best cosplay or the greatest cosplay?

I like the extreme detail in Chewbacca's feet area.

Google+: Reshared 1 times
Google+: View post on Google+

Google+: Reshared 1 times
Google+: View post on Google+

Image from Krubera Cave in Georgia.  Deepest cave in the world

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krubera_Cave

Image from Krubera Cave in Georgia.  Deepest cave in the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krubera_Cave

Google+: Reshared 27 times
Google+: View post on Google+

And here, according to Trout, was the reason human beings could not reject ideas…

And here, according to Trout, was the reason human beings could not reject ideas because they were bad: Ideas on Earth were badges of friendship or enmity. Their content did not matter. Friends agreed with friends, in order to express friendliness. Enemies disagreed with enemies, in order to express enmity. The ideas Earthlings held didn't matter for hundreds of thousands of years, since they couldn't do much about them anyway. Ideas might as well be badges as anything.

Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

#quotes  

Google+: View post on Google+

Facebook's social psychology experiment isn't so bad

I just finished listening to +TWiT from this weekend with +Leo Laporte+Natali Morris, +Tim Stevens, and Denise Howell.  I don't find myself saying this about TWiT that often, but I disagree with the panel's thoughts on the recent revelations about Facebook's experimentation on their users news feeds.  (http://www.contriving.net/link/fr)

So many people seem to be in such a tizzy over this, but I just don't get it.

The very nature of human interaction is to influence others.  In today's world, we influence other people's emotions via advertisements.  We influence other people's emotions via "addictive" video games like Farmville or Simpson's Tapped Out.  We influence other people's emotions via how we choose to dress.  We influence other people's emotions via the type of car we drive.  All of this is intentional.

The more organized examples of influencing other people's emotions is done for a profit!  Heck, Zynga employs researchers whose sole purpose is to game your emotions and get you to spend more money.  The same holds true for advertising agencies, corporations, and political campaigns.

On the show +Tim Stevens brings up the point that websites do A/B testing all of the time to see what kind of content or presentation causes more user engagement.  That is exactly the same sort of thing.  Emotions drive user engagement.  *Websites manipulate your emotions to make more money.*  This is normal.  This is part of being human.

When you talk to the lady at the DMV you slap a smile on your face so you can manipulate her emotions in your favor so she'll hurry you through the process.  When you take your date to a fancy restaurant, you're manipulating their emotions for  some desired outcome.  

The majority of the time you're consciously or unconsciously partaking in a behavior to manipulate the emotions of those around you in your favor.

Facebook's experiment isn't any worse than any of these.  In fact, if you want to make a value judgement, it's probably the least "bad" out of them all, as the results of their experiment were published.

Finally, Leo brings up the point that the study was stupid because the results were obvious.  I have several things to say about that.  

First of all, I don't think the results are completely obvious.  Yes, I would have predicted the results they got with a fair amount of confidence. However, it's not out of the realm of possibility that people just don't care about their news feeds enough to let it affect them, or to see the opposite happen…namely for people to post more positive stories in "retaliation" against negative news feeds.

Secondly, you could extract a lot of nuance out of such a study.  Maybe, for each of the types of responses I detail in the last paragraph, there are groups of people who consistently respond in each manner.  That would be an interesting and useful result.

Lastly, just because you think the results of an experiment are obvious, doesn't mean the experiment is not worth doing.  You don't know for sure the results until you do them, and how wonderful is it when an experiment dis-confirms your beliefs?  Basically, using "obvious result" as the determining factor in choosing whether to do an experiment is a bad idea.

I'm no fan of Facebook.  I think it's a time wasting cesspool out of which most can extract very minimal amounts of value, and I only visit it a few times a year.  I just can't get excited about this relatively (if not absolutely) small experiment they did amidst the vast and turbulent sea of emotional manipulation we live in…particularly when the most pernicious examples are for profit and we accept those with barely a peep.

A lot of people have some sort of intuitive, it-just-feels-wrong, response to this story and I just don't get it.

Google+: View post on Google+

Google+: Reshared 7 times
Google+: View post on Google+

An animation demonstrating the movements of stars at the center of the Milky Way…

An animation demonstrating the movements of stars at the center of the Milky Way.

The best evidence of a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.

(source: http://www.contriving.net/link/fq)

Google+: Reshared 12 times
Google+: View post on Google+

Based upon analyzing 241 UFC fights men with wider faces are better fighters

 Additionally, when asked to ascertain by looking, people choose the men with wider faces as being better fighters.

Previous research also shows that men with wider faces are more aggressive.  Whether aggression makes the better fighter, or being a better fighter makes you more aggressive isn't addressed…

_Men with faces that are wide relative to their length are more formidable fighters, on average. That's according to a new paper that also finds that observers use the width of a man's face to ascertain with accuracy his likely fighting ability. _

Embedded Link

A man’s fighting ability is written in his face

Google+: Reshared 2 times
Google+: View post on Google+