November 20, 2012

The test-and-learn approach appears to be associated with flourishing

Recently, I administered a survey about how people think about change and approach change. The survey which was filled in by 96 people consisted of the following parts: 1) How do you think people can accomplish successful change?, 2) How do you approach change?, and 3) How do you view yourself and your circumstances? The goal of this study was to explore to which extent people’s mindset about change and their actual change behavior are somehow associated with several aspects of human flourishing. The overall expectation was that the test-and-learn approach would be associated with respondent’s flourishing.

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November 12, 2012

30 Quotes from The signal and the noise by Nate Silver

Jon Stewart suggests that Nate Silver, statistician, blogger at FiveThirtyEight and author of The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction, should ask people to bow down to him and that he should call himself  Lord and God of the Algorithm. Why?

In the 2008 US presidential election, Nate Silver correctly predicted the winner of 49 of the 50 states. He also predicted the winner of all 35 U.S. Senate races that year. In the 2012 presidential election, he correctly predicted the winner of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. His predictions of U.S. Senate races were correct in 31 of 33 states.

November 9, 2012

Receiving a compliment after exercising enhances performance

Norihiro Sadato and his colleagues have done an experiment which show that people doing exercises appear to perform better when another person compliments them. Here is a description of their experiment: 

Forty-eight adults recruited for the study were asked to learn and perform a specific finger pattern (pushing keys on a keyboard in a particular sequence as fast as possible in 30 seconds). Once participants had learned the finger exercise, they were separated into three groups. One group included an evaluator who would compliment participants individually, another group involved individuals who would watch another participant receive a compliment, and the third group involved individuals who evaluated their own performance on a graph. When the participants were asked to repeat the finger exercise the next day, the group of participants who received direct compliments from an evaluator performed better than participants from the other groups. It indicates that receiving a compliment after exercising stimulates the individual to perform better afterwards.

Read more, here.

November 4, 2012

Conditions for perpetual peace

In a review of Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, Bill Gates said that the book "stands out as one of the most important books I’ve read – not just this year, but ever". Who am I to disagree? The book is an unbelievably rich resource documenting the steady decline of violence throughout history. To get an impression of how strong this decline has been, take a look at this graph.

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