Monthly Archives: February 2013

Fake sunglasses make you cheat more

So if you make people do tests that are designed to give them the option to cheat such that you can gauge how often on average a person will cheat, you find some cools things.
1) On average, people will cheat. But only by a little bit, even if it’s very obvious that there’s no way that they can get caught.
2) If you make them wear really expensive designer sunglasses and tell them that the sunglasses are fake, they will cheat more on these tests. Weird huh.

The idea is that most of our propensity to cheat is derived from the view we have of our self as an upstanding person and the rationalizations we make around this. If we disrupt this idea even a little, it seems we are tempted to take it pretty far. Think about diet cheating. If you’re on a diet and have a single bite of something bad, you’re very likely to think “Oh well, I’ve broken my diet for the day, I’ll start again tomorrow” and go bonkers. So ya, don’t wear sunglasses that you think are fake and you’ll be a more honest person.

The experiments and notions explained here are from Dan Ariely’s new book. It’s pretty good so far – book review to come.

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The Self Illusion – Bruce Hood: Review

This is the beginning of a new world. Ok, well, just a new category. Book review!! The shortest, to the point, no bull shit, book review ever. If you don’t like it, let’s fight a’boot it.

 

The Self Illusion by Bruce Hood.

It tries to get at how influenced we are by the outside world and our environment. And because we wouldn’t be the same if the world around us were removed, that our ‘self’ is just an illusion. It cannot exist in the same way on its own.
There are some pretty decent experiments that he highlights. You might have heard maybe 75% of them before if you’ve read any behavioral economics stuff before.
But it falls short of a deeper, more intriguing notion. One that maybe wasn’t meant for this book. But cam’an, if you’re gonna write a book, go deep. If one’s brain is simply making a matrix out of the world around it and if our mind that we observe is the simple result of neurons connecting billions of times over, how different and separate are we from nature and seemingly inanimate things around us? It seems that the matrix our neurons create, is creating our mind, which is the more outright illusion. We are not so separate from the world.
All-in-all: Worth a quick read.

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The loss of our privacy is liberating

The loss of privacy will eventually lead to the liberation of the individual.
People are often scared of their private lives being revealed to the world. But why? What do you have to hide? That you’re gay, bi, have a secret ant collection and are scared people are going to find out about it?
Yes, in the short term, with an unequal distribution of power, that information can be used against someone. But in the long term, the more ant collectors that have their private details revealed to the world, the more accepted their ‘already-happening’ actions become.

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Nietzsche, old computer games and life

“In peaceful times, the warlike man turns upon himself” – Nietzsche

Also from the rabbit hole of the internets: You could never win the old original computer games. The just got harder and more complicated until you died. You were always ‘better’ at them, but it didn’t always seem this way.

There’s a common thread between the above ideas regarding life that tickles ma’ brain fancy. You?

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You have a finite fuel tank for control

Study: Take a bunch of people and put them in a movie theater. Then, play the nastiest movie possible. In this case it was the Japanese horror film “Audition” (I had personally never heard of it but from the description, am actually scared to watch the trailer, haha).

Anyways, tell half the audience to do what they normally would: squirm, scream, close their eyes, shudder, whatever. Tell the others to sit on their hands and try as hard as possible to endure the movie without flinching.
Then stick ’em all in a room with a bunch of booze. Guess what happens? The people that had to force themselves to not react, the ones that had to control themselves, have about 2 times more drinks than the other group.

The study gets at the fact that the human brain has a finite amount of ‘control energy’ and when it’s been expended in stressful situations, the tank becomes empty. So ya, da’s coooo.

But what’s more interesting about this is its implications on the decisions based around stress in our lives. Most people want to lead better lives in some respect. But doing so requires controlling those unwanted impulses. And control requires a tank with some gas in it. So to be a better person, the first step is to decrease stress in your life, then use the resulting gas in the tank to be a badass, haha.

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Your brain is creating its own matrix

Your brain is made of little things that can connect with around 10,000 other little things. And all they can do if have signals be on or off. It’s like the binary circuitry of a microprocessor, just vastly more complex. But the point is that what you’re experiencing is just some combination of those switches being triggered by the outside world. Your brain is creating its own Matrix of the outside world. Instead (I’m assuming we’ve all seen the movie) of a Matrix being fed into our brains, our brain is creating its own matrix of what it’s perceiving outside. That’s badass.

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It’s not what you’re packin’, it’s who you know

Other cool stuff: Your cortex is the part of your brain responsible for higher functioning, so you’d expect it to contain most of the neurons (the little things that connect to other things), but it doesn’t. It only contains about 1/5. The rest are in the cerebrum and are responsible for coordinating movement. The cortex is special though because its neurons contain far more connections, therefor allowing it to be more complex. It’s not what you’re packin’ it’s who you know 😉 Again, badass.

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