Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lazy Linking

This week's lazy linking...

"Winners wear red: How colour twists your mind"
  • A genuinely superb article in New Scientist on yet another crazy psychological bias: seeing red. It seems red is a phylogenetically conserved signal of danger/threat that subtly but significantly affects cognition and behavior in a range of animals, including humans. I have to wonder: does this effect explain part of Britian's dominance in the 19th century? Did the red of the Redcoats influence the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo? (Which, as Wellington said, was "the nearest run thing you ever saw". Apparently, "damn close run thing" is a misquotation).
"Homeopathic Rebuttal: The argument is in there, bit it's at homeopathic dilutions"
  • Angela Butterworth responds to an attack on her by a local homeopath.
  • Ben Goldacre making sense on medical patents.
  • "If the global $550bn pharmaceutical industry are trying to make an economic case for patents in the developing world, then they must argue that the benefit to drug development from the financial incentives in these tiny corners of the world market is so significant – so vital, the final link in the incentive chain – that it is more important than millions of unnecessary deaths. I am not a health economist, but I doubt that is a fair swap, and this is not what patent laws were invented for."
  • A piece on the open courseware movement and what it means. (Via Michael Nielsen).
"The logic of skepticism"
  • Massimo Pigliucci on the philosophical and statistical groundwork of modern (scientific) skepticism.
  • "So when trying to steer the course between skepticism and gullibility, it makes sense to stay much closer to the Scylla of skepticism than to bring our ship of beliefs within reach of the much larger and more menacing Charybdis of gullibility. The net result of this prudent policy, however, is that even positive skeptics are bound to reject a lot of beliefs, with the side effect that their popularity plunges. As I said, it’s a lonely art, but you can take comfort in the psychological satisfaction of being right much more often than not. This will not get you many girls and drinking buddies, though."
"Unicolonial Ants Pose Challenge to "Selfish Gene" Theory"
  • Excellent and thought provoking piece on recent ant research that seems to support group selection. I don't know whether it's right, but I do know it's interesting and important.

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