We Prefer the Available Evidence

People are inclined to make decisions based on how readily available information is to them. If you can easily recall something, you are likely to rely more on this information than other facts or observations. This means judgements tend to be heavily weighted on the most recent piece of information received or the simplest thing to recall.

In practice, research has shown (pdf) that shoppers who can recall a few low-price products—perhaps because of a prominent ads or promotions—tend to think that a store offers low prices across the board, regardless of other evidence. And in a particularly devious experiment, a psychology professor (naturally) got his students to evaluate his teaching (pdf), with one group asked to list two things he could improve and another asked to list 10. Since it’s harder to think of 10 bad things than just two, the students asked to make a longer list gave the professor better ratings—seemingly concluding that if they couldn’t come up with enough critical things to fill out the form, then the course must be good.

Eshe Nelson writing in Quartz

Why you make terrible life choices

In a classic experiment, Princeton and Dartmouth students were shown a game between the two schools. At the end, Princeton students remembered more fouls committed by Dartmouth, and Dartmouth students remembered more fouls committed by Princeton.

You seek evidence that confirms your beliefs because being wrong sucks. Being wrong means you’re not as smart as you thought. So you end up seeking information that confirms what you already know.

When you walk into every interaction trying to prove yourself right, you’re going to succumb to confirmation bias-the human tendency to seek, interpret and remember information that confirms your own pre-existing beliefs.

Researchers studied two groups of children in school. The first group avoided challenging problems because it came with a high risk of being wrong. The second group actively sought out challenging problems for the learning opportunity, even though they might be wrong. They found that the second group consistently outperformed the first.

Focus less on being right and more on experiencing life with curiosity and wonder. When you’re willing to be wrong, you open yourself up to new insights.

Lakshmi Mani

articles of interest - Oct 16


When Does a Sexual Advance Amount to Sexual Harassment? An Attorney Explains  Hollywood Reporter

Students storm a professor’s class at Columbia to protest the university’s handling of rape cases  Inside Higher Ed

#MeToo made the scale of sexual abuse go viral. But is it asking too much of survivors?  Washington Post


11 Optical Illusions Found in Visual Design  Prototypr

Art About Racism: Closed to the Public  Inside Higher Ed

Christie’s Unveils a Lost Leonardo da Vinci in New York  Vogue

Two new studies paint an intriguing picture about the payoff of arts training  Chronicle of Higher Ed

How Futura Became The Most Ripped-Off Typeface In History  Fast Co.


Hear Bob Dylan's Lost Gospel Masterpiece 'Making a Liar Out of Me'  Rolling Stone

Hear 1,500+ Genres of Music, All Mapped Out on an Insanely Thorough Interactive Graph  Open Culture

A billionaire’s quirky quest to create a mecca for Bob Dylan fans. In Tulsa, Oklahoma  The Washington Post


The History of Film Censorship  The FIRE


The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms  ICFJ

The Journalism of Why: How we struggle to answer the hardest question  Poynter

Donald Trump just issued a direct threat to the free and independent media (opinion)  CNN

GOP lawmaker drafts bill requiring journalists to register with police  The Hill

Tips for Data Journalism in the Shadow of an Overbroad Anti-Hacking Law  ACLU

10 Journalism Tips That Never Go Out of Style (video)  YouTube

Malta car bomb kills Panama Papers journalist  The Guardian

Not a revolution (yet): Data journalism hasn’t changed that much in 4 years, a new paper finds  Harvard’s Nieman Lab


Is Brand Journalism Just for Big Businesses?  Business2Business

The New York Times posts social media guidelines online for their newsroom accounts  Talking New Media


Twitter Bots Are Trying To Influence You. These Six Charts Show You How To Spot One  BuzzFeed News

These two studies found that correcting misperceptions works. But it’s not magic  Poynter

Facebook Says Its Fake News Label Helps Reduce The Spread Of A Fake Story By 80%  BuzzFeed News

Researchers developing a platform to detect image manipulation  Rochester Institute of Technology


Living purely in opposition to something, rather than for something, hollows you out inside  Becoming (my blog)

The flaws a Nobel Prize-winning economist wants you to know about yourself  Quartz


An argument over the evolution of language, with high stakes  Economist

On Dictionary Day, a tribute to books that offer the last word on language  Poynter


Mississippi School District pulls ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ from its Curriculum over Language  Sun-Herald

To Read This Experimental Edition of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, You'll Need to Add Heat to the PagesOpen Culture


Why Photography Can’t Get Woke  Bloomberg

Women still earn a lot less than men, despite decades of equal-pay laws. Why?  Economist

ASNE's latest diversity survey shows some progress, but newsrooms are still mostly white and male  Poynter


Students Divided on Free Speech  Inside Higher Ed

Hecklers shout down California attorney general and Assembly majority leader at Whittier College  Washington Post

Why Are Millennials Wary of Freedom? (opinion)  New York Times


When is a Facebook ‘like’ a crime?  Washington Post

Does the Internet Archive Need the Copyright Rhetoric to Be Useful?  Illusion of More

Supreme Court Turns Away Challenge To Google's Trademark  Media Post

Microsoft’s fight with the feds over foreign servers is headed to Supreme Court  The Verge

Benching NFL players for protesting during the anthem would be illegal (opinion)  Vox

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act Turns 20  Media Law Monitor


Tech has made life better, say 42% of Americans  Pew Research Center

Social bots as a threat to democracy  BoingBoing


The 1st demonstration of the ability of quantum machines to outperform classical computers could be just months way  Technology Review

Silicon Valley analytic experts on the sort of classes undergrads should take to prepare for data science careers  Datanami

Intelligence leaders caution that AI cannot and should not replace the role of the human analyst  Fed Tech Magazine

The hardware needs of AI and the hardware needs of traditional software development are diverging in a big way  EE Journal

Machine learning demo with your webcam and GIFs  Flowing Data


Snapchat is getting closer and closer to being a truly useful app with Context Cards  Quartz

What Facebook Did to American Democracy  The Atlantic

The New York Times Issues Social Media Guidelines for the Newsroom  New York Times

Nearly half of U.S. teens prefer Snapchat over other social media  Recode


What do you need to know before creating a podcast?  Better News

Deepgram opens up its machine transcription platform to everyone  Tech Crunch


Africa's "reverse missionaries" are trying to bring Christianity back to the United Kingdom  Quartz

Hell House: The evangelism strategy that aims to scare people into heaven  Christianity Today

How a growing Christian movement is seeking to change America  The Conversation

Just What Is the Museum of the Bible Trying to Do?  Politico

Sneak peek: DC's huge new Museum of the Bible includes lots of tech — but not a lot of Jesus  Washington Post

Female church executive named lead pastor of Willow Creek  Chicago Tribune

A growing share of Americans say it’s not necessary to believe in God to be moral  Pew Research

Church denies First Communion to fashion-loving girl because she wanted to wear a suit Washington Post


Why evangelicals love Trump  Politico

Trump, unlikely religious favorite, hails Christian values  Washington Post

Donald Trump and the Dawn of the Evangelical-Nationalist Alliance  Politico


Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts calls data on partisan gerrymandering “sociological gobbledygook”  Inside Higher Ed

First Evidence That Online Dating Is Changing the Nature of Society  MIT Technology Review


This Company Is Trying To Disrupt The Braces Industry And Dentists Are Fighting Back  BuzzFeed


NASA's visitor center offers a video game filled with bad facts and grammar errors  The Verge


Confirmation bias: Why you make terrible life choices  Medium

Find Out Which Cognitive Biases Alter Your Perspective  Life Hacker


Lessons on Productivity  Chronicle of Higher Ed


I have a message for you (12 minute documentary)  New York Times

The Secret Lives of Leonardo da Vinci  The New Yorker


ResearchGate has reportedly started to take down large numbers of research papers  Inside Higher Ed

Automated software saves researchers valuable hours: Online tools are lightening the load for authors and journal editors  Nature Index

China’s festering problem of systemic research fraud  New York Times

Transparent peer review  Nature Index

A study examines 70 years of engineering retractions, finding the main reason for retraction was unethical conduct  Taylor & Francis Online

New web services are helping authors make data-driven decisions when choosing which journal to submit to  The London School of Economics & Political Science

It is time to restore Rules for Authorship of scientific publications  Wiley Online Library

The Facebooking of Scholarly Research  Scholarly Kitchen


Florida governor declares state of emergency in advance of Richard Spencer event: The white nationalist leader plans to speak at the University of Florida on Thursday  Miami Herald


They Once Cheated in Class. Now They Teach  Chronicle of Higher Ed

A new study shows that students learn way more effectively from print textbooks than screens  Business Insider


Student art exhibit at Penn prompts fierce debate over suicide  Inside Higher Ed

Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?  New York Times

Research says college students no more narcissistic than previous generations at that age  Inside Higher Ed

University student charters planes to bring supplies to Puerto Rico  WTAE

America’s top universities deny students fair hearings  The FIRE


How to cover free speech issues on university campuses  Student Press Law Center


You Probably Need a Public Portfolio Even If You're Not a Freelancer or a "Creative"  Life Hacker


Living in Opposition

I've never been around an activist group that didn't turn into an endless series of petty purity tests. I was raised in a church where everyone was looking for more and more inconsequential things to judge each other by..  The natural evolution is toward tighter and tighter criteria for what behavior gets you shunned from the group. The end result is that the central cause can be as pure as the driven snow, and yet the tone will get more and more toxic over time, the members becoming less and less charitable with each other.

You hear experts talk about how extremists get "radicalized." But it really isn't a mystery, and we all form less-murderous versions of this. All it takes is a closed like-minded social circle in which it's considered unacceptable to disagree with the group, and then devote that group to hating something. It doesn't even matter if the thing truly deserves hating -- it still turns toxic. In fact, it works better if it does. "How can you criticize any flaw in our group's behavior when the other side is Nazis! That's literally saying that both sides are the same! The mere existence of pure evil on the other side mathematically means our side is pure good!"

At that point, no criticism is possible and there is nothing to moderate the rage. The rhetoric ratchets higher and higher as each member tries to top each other (to prove their own righteousness by demonstrating they hate the target most), and there is no method for reining it in. Anyone from the inside who takes a moderate tone can be shouted down with accusations of being an enemy sympathizer.

Living purely in opposition to something, rather than for something, hollows you out inside. To be a whole human being, you have to spend your life building something good. 

David Wong writing for Cracked

The decision that most affects your happiness

There are two premises that lead Moran Cerf, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University, to believe personal company is the most important factor for long-term satisfaction.

The first is that decision-making is tiring. A great deal of research has found that humans have a limited amount of mental energy to devote to making choices. Picking our clothes, where to eat, what to eat when we get there, what music to listen to, whether it should actually be a podcast, and what to do in our free time all demand our brains to exert that energy on a daily basis.

The second premise is that humans falsely believe they are in full control of their happiness by making those choices. So long as we make the right choices, the thinking goes, we'll put ourselves on a path toward life satisfaction.

Cerf rejects that idea. The truth is, decision-making is fraught with biases that cloud our judgment. People misremember bad experiences as good, and vice versa; they let their emotions turn a rational choice into an irrational one; and they use social cues, even subconsciously, to make choices they'd otherwise avoid.

But as Cerf tells his students, that last factor can be harnessed for good.

His neuroscience research has found that when two people are in each other's company, their brain waves will begin to look nearly identical. 

"This means the people you hang out with actually have an impact on your engagement with reality beyond what you can explain. And one of the effects is you become alike."

From those two premises, Cerf's conclusion is that if people want to maximize happiness and minimize stress, they should build a life that requires fewer decisions by surrounding themselves with people who embody the traits they prefer. Over time, they'll naturally pick up those desirable attitudes and behaviors. At the same time, they can avoid the mentally taxing low-level decisions that sap the energy needed for higher-stakes decisions.

Chris Weller writing in Business Insider

articles of interest - Oct 9


Algorithms have already gone rogue  Wired

Does the new theory “information bottleneck” crack open the black box of deep neural networks?  Wired


Local Media Consortium to partner with Facebook-owned  CrowdTangle

How to use Tweetdeck and advanced search to make Twitter useful again Poynter

Survey: Facebook (FB) is the big tech company that people trust least  Quartz

Key trends in social and digital news media  Pew Research Center

9 ways to make your dog famous on Instagram  Hapers Bazaar

Meet the millennials who are making a living from livestreaming  The Guardian

Snapchat to launch augmented reality art platform  TechCrunch


The Three Fundamental Moments of Podcasts' Crazy Rise  Wired

How to Make Short-Form Videos as Tutorials, and Why You Might Want To  Chronicle of Higher Ed

Rethinking audio editing on mobile  Medium

The state of podcasting in five charts  Digiday

Podcasts, Smart Speakers Lead the Way at Next Radio  Radio World

Try This: Podcasting made audio great again. It could be even better. Two tools to help  Poynter

The Boom In Political Podcasting  NPR


The rise of virtual reality journalism  Columbia Journalism Review

Day One takeaways from ONA-17  Medium

Day Two: Following the Future of Journalism with #ONA17  MediaShift

ProPublica’s New Project to Work With Local Newsrooms  ProPublica

Our addiction to links is making good journalism harder to read  The Coffeelicious

Beyond 800 words: new digital story formats for news  BBC

How J-Schools Are Adding Social Media, Curation, Analytics to Editing Classes  Media Shift


Los Angeles Times Newsroom, Challenging Tronc, Goes Public With Union Push  New York Times

A course in freelancing? Yes, and not only that, it's a master's degree  Poynter


The science behind why fake news is so hard to wipe out  Vox

Facebook tries fighting fake news with publisher info button on links  TechCrunch


Google's New Live-Translating Earbuds Look Absolutely Incredible  Digg

A “right to repair” movement tools up From tractors to smartphones, mending things is getting ever harder  Economist

Inside Apple’s Quest To Transform Photography  BuzzFeed News

Video Games for people with disabilities  Economist

Who’s afraid of disruption?  Economist


To take a step without feet  Becoming (my blog)

How We Make Up Our Minds  The New York Times


The Rise of the Restrictive Comma  Chronicle of Higher Ed


The weekly routine of writer Ann Friedman Extraordinary Routines  Extraordinary Routines 


Two new slang words that show the effects of electronically mediated communication on our speech  Chronicle of Higher Ed


Kazuo Ishiguro Is Awarded Nobel Prize In Literature  NPR

Jill Bialosky Says Plagiarism Claims ‘Should Not Distract’ From Her Poetry Memoir  New York Times

Austenistan: Jane Austen’s books are remarkably relevant to women in Pakistan today  1843 Magazine

Students, teachers ponder literature in an age of technology  Meridian Star


Jeff Sessions Just Reversed A Policy That Protects Transgender Workers From Discrimination  BuzzFeed News

To Keep a Campaign Pledge Pleased his Conservative Christian Supporters, Trump Eviscerates Requirements that Employers cover Women’s birth Control  Reuters

Financial Firm Behind ‘Fearless Girl’ Will Pay $5 Million for Allegedly Underpaying Women and Minorities  Adweek


Free Speech Advocate Silenced: An ACLU official was the latest to be blocked from speaking on campus  Inside Higher Ed

College students and the First Amendment: What the right doesn’t want you to know  Salon

Blocking a President From Talking: University of Oregon is third institution in two weeks where speakers have had talks disrupted  Inside Higher Ed


The defamation lawsuit against BuzzFeed for publishing an unverified intelligence dossier on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election National Law Journal

NYPD officer: Former tennis star James Blake defamed me as ‘a racist and a goon’  Washington Post

Publishers seek removal of millions of papers from ResearchGate  Times Higher Ed

In Comic-Con Dispute, Appeals Court Wants to Hear More About Judge's Gag Order  Hollywood Reporter

Authenticity more than any other quality was flagged as a key to success by 22 litigators  National Law Journal

U.S. Government, Hollywood Studios Weigh in on Dispute Exploring Reach of U.S. Copyright Law  Hollywood Reporter

Hyperlinking to Sources Can Help Defeat Defamation Claims–Adelson v. Harris  Eric Goldman


How digital devices challenge the nature of ownership and threaten property rights in the digital age  Economist

Despite massive hack, Equifax wins IRS contract for fraud-detection  The Verge


An AI god will emerge by 2042 and write its own bible. Will you worship it?  Venture Beat

Key facts about government-favored religion around the world Pew Research Center

Sessions outlines broad exemptions for religious freedom  Politico

Princeton Student Group Excises 'Evangelical From Name Due to Negative Perceptions  Washington Free Beacon

The Satanic Temple Wins Appeal in Missouri Abortion Case  Patheos

Christian radio host Delilah trusting God as she loses her second child to a suicide  Christianity Today

Religion on the College Campus  First Things


This music production tool is the reason why all new music sounds the same  Quartz

Language of Hip Hop  The Pudding


Honest Trailers creator suspended over accusations of sexual harassment and assault  AV Club

Men, women and films: How pronounced is the gender divide on the silver screen?  1843 Magazine


USC medical school dean out amid revelations of sexual harassment claim, $135,000 settlement with researcher  LA Times

Some colleges opt to outsource Title IX investigations, hearings  Inside Higher Ed


With The Swab Of A Cheek, This Company Knows When You're Likely To Die  Forbes

Is there a doctor in my pocket? we are on the verge of a transformation in health care that will render visiting the doctor a thing of the past  1843 Magazine

Human Brain Has A Direct Link To The Immune System After All  NPR


Children have got much better at a famous psychological test  Economist

My Depression Is Like Having A Bad Dog  BuzzFeed News


How Stress Can Change Your Brain: An Animated Introduction  Open Culture

Understanding the Influential MindScientific American  Scientific American


Is It Ethical to Visit a Country With Human Rights Violations?  CN Traveler

Ethics of Internet research trigger scrutiny: Concern over the use of public data spurs guideline update  Nature


How philosophy can solve your midlife crisis  Phys.org


Productive on six hours of sleep? You’re deluding yourself, expert says  Chicago Tribune


Stalin’s famine, a war on Ukraine  Economist


The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider  People

America's Political Divide Intensified During Trump's First Year As President  The Atlantic


The Big Bang Theory recap: 'The Retraction Reaction  Entertainment Weekly

What separates a predatory publisher from a legitimate science publisher?  PLOS

Research papers are becoming less readable  Chemistry World

The scientist who spots fake videos: “I’ve seen the technology get good enough that I’m now very concerned”   Nature

Publishers seek removal of millions of papers from ResearchGate  Times Higher Ed

The benefits and drawbacks of letting reviewers identify themselves to the authors of the paper under review  PLOS


How Technology Is Transforming the Way We Teach and Learn  Singularity Hub

Hate fliers have appeared on hundreds of campuses, largely due to the efforts of groups looking to make recruiting inroads  Chronicle of Higher Ed

Tennessee congressmen support end of DACA after Christian colleges ask President Trump to keep it   The Stampede (Milligan College student newspaper)

Nondenominational Christian University Closing  Inside Higher Ed

How to prepare students for the rigors of higher education: The 2017-2018 Bilingual Christian College Guide  Christianity Today

Puerto Rico's plight has Olivet Nazarene University student worried  Daily Journal


Instructors, Did You Ever Cheat When You Were a Student?  Chronicle of Higher Ed


Professors are the new therapists  Slate


5 Tips for Feeling Organized in College  Study Breaks

Students Are Demanding More Help With Mental Health And Say Universities Aren’t Keeping Up  BuzzFeed News

Ex-student sues Montana State University alleging Disabilities Act violations  Bozeman Daily Chronicle

What everyone gets wrong about 'millennial snowflakes'  BBC

Video shows white California Baptist student throwing beer on black men for kneeling during national anthem  The Tab


Student government and college paper in Pennsylvania clash over publishing budget  SPLC

Young Sheldon sends student newspaper editor into an existential death spiral AV Club

To Take a Step Without Feet

This is Love: to fly toward a secret sky,
To cause a hundred veils to fall each moment.
First, to let go of life.
In the end, to take a step without feet;
to regard this world as invisible,
and to disregard what appears to the self.

Heart, I said, what a gift it has been
to enter this circle of lovers,
to see beyond seeing itself,
to reach and feel within the breast.

My soul, where does this breathing arise?
How does this beating heart exist?
Bird of the soul, speak in your own words,
and I will understand.

The heart replied: I was in the workplace
the day this house of water and clay was fired.
I was already fleeing that created house,
even as it was being created.
When I could no longer resist, I was dragged down,
and my features were molded from a handful of earth.


Policing people’s grammar online is never really about grammar

One of the many unexpected side effects of the internet is that it’s shown us just how many people appear to lose the capacity for emotional self-regulation when confronted with a misused semicolon. Scroll through the comments section of any publication or simply sign on to Twitter, and you’ll find plenty of examples of people who treat typos and grammatical errors not just as ordinary mistakes, but as a kind of moral offense.

When a grammar stickler obsesses over the proper placement of an apostrophe in a Facebook status or a blog post, they’re not engaging with the actual content. How many times have we seen an online commenter whose only remark on a post about the author’s struggles with body image is “It’s their not there,” or a Twitter acquaintance who proudly screenshots a typo in a New York Times article on science education? The instinct to publicly criticize and police linguistic errors is also a way to avoid wading into the muck of other people’s thoughts and feelings, and redirect the conversation back toward oneself.

Because young or poor or immigrant populations are often among those who may not conform to traditional English grammar and spelling and punctuation usage, focusing on linguistic deviations can reinforce the barriers of privilege.

Sarah Todd writing in Quartz