buffoons

‘Nothing endures but change.’ –Heraclitus

314.jpg

Over the past few years various researchers have made systematic attempts to replicate some of the more widely cited priming experiments. Many of these replications have failed. In April, for instance, a paper in PLoS ONE, a journal, reported that nine separate experiments had not managed to reproduce the results of a famous study from 1998 purporting to show that thinking about a professor before taking an intelligence test leads to a higher score than imagining a football hooligan.

The idea that the same experiments always get the same results, no matter who performs them, is one of the cornerstones of science’s claim to objective truth. If a systematic campaign of replication does not lead to the same results, then either the original research is flawed (as the replicators claim) or the replications are (as many of the original researchers on priming contend). Either way, something is awry.

{ The Economist | Continue reading }

On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense

4.jpg

How much do you like courgettes? According to one Facebook page devoted to them, hundreds of people find them delightful enough to click the “like” button – even with dozens of other pages about courgettes to choose from.

There’s just one problem: the liking was fake, done by a team of low-paid workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, whose boss demanded just $15 per thousand “likes” at his “click farm”. […]

That particular Facebook page on courgettes was set up by the programme makers to demonstrate how click farms can give web properties spurious popularity. […]

Sir Billi, a British cartoon film voiced by Sir Sean Connery, has more than 65,000 Facebook likes – more than some Hollywood films.

Although it has so far only been released in South Korea, Facebook data suggests the city of Dhaka is the source of the third-largest number of likes. (The Egyptian capital, Cairo, is presently the source of the highest number.)

{ The Guardian | Continue reading }

‘Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.’ –George Carlon

421.jpg

Forget patenting an invention. These days, companies patent conceptual categories for future inventions.

During the first dot-com boom, Amazon famously patented the concept of buying things online with one click. More recently, companies have patented concepts such as scanning documents to an e-mail account, clearing checks electronically and sending e-mail over a wireless network.

The problem with these kinds of abstract patents is that lots of people will independently discover the same basic concept and infringe by accident. Then the original patent holder — who may not have come up with the concept first, or even turned the concept into a usable technology — can sue. That allows for the kind of abusive litigation that has been on the rise in recent years.

A lawsuit over an Internet advertising patent offered a key appeals court an opportunity to rein in these abstract patents. Instead, the court gave such patents its endorsement on Friday, setting the stage for rampant patent litigation to continue unchecked.

A firm called Ultramercial claims to have invented the concept of showing a customer an ad instead of charging for content. The company has sought royalties from a number of Web sites, including Hulu and YouTube. Ultramercial’s patent isn’t limited to any specific software algorithm, server configuration or user interface design. If you build a Web site that follows the general business strategy claimed by the patent, Ultramercial thinks you owe them money.

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

She wasn’t always like this. She used to be happy. We used to be happy.

314.jpg

A real-estate agent keeps her own home on the market an average of ten days longer [than she would for a client] and sells it for an extra 3-plus percent, or $10,000 on a $300,000 house. When she sells her own house, an agent holds out for the best offer; when she sells yours, she encourages you to take the first decent offer that comes along.

{ via Overcoming Bias | Continue reading }

Build a fort, pay for soup, set that on fire

26.jpg

As we noted in 2008, the problem was never liquidity. The problem is that the big banks became insolvent because of stupid gambling.

In other words, the government’s whole approach to the 2008 financial crisis was entirely wrong. And the easy money policy (quantitative easing) of central banks doesn’t help, but instead hurts the economy and the little guy. […]

“The IIF said the US Dow Jones Industrial Average’s had hit an all-time high this week more because of relaxed international monetary conditions than thanks to any recovery in the real economy.”

{ Ritholtz | Continue reading }

‘Mal nommer les choses, c’est ajouter au malheur du monde.’ –Albert Camus

224.jpg

People who identify as strong multitaskers tend to be impulsive, sensation-seeking and overconfident in their ability to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously. In fact, note the researchers in the latest issue of PLOS, the people who multitask the most are often the least capable of doing so effectively.

[…]

“The people who are most likely to multitask harbor the illusion they are better than average at it,” says Strayer, “when in fact they are no better than average and often worse.”

{ io9 | Continue reading }

‘We have already gone beyond whatever we have words for.’ –Nietzsche

233.jpg

According to a songwriting blogger named Graham English, a typical pop song has anywhere from 100 to 300 words, with the Beatles at the low end of that scale and the verbose Bruce Springsteen at the high end. (Don McLean’s epic “American Pie,” for those who wonder, clocks in at 324 words.) […]

[Rihanna’s “Diamonds,”] 67 words. Underwhelming. But at least it’s more complex than “Where Have You Been,” […] 40 distinct words.

{ Time | Continue reading }

photo { Alexandra Ziegler }

I will sometimes apologize for farting even when I didn’t just so people think mine don’t stink

232.jpg

Whenever a successful writer gets busted for “cheating,” the narrative always involves the collective wondering of why they would take such a risk. We saw this with the downfall of Jayson Blair and Johann Hari, and most recently with Jonah Lehrer. For example, Erik Kain called Lehrer’s actions “strange and baffling.” Curtis Brainard at CJR straight-up asks what’s on everybody’s mind: “Following the revelations of self-plagiarism, outright fabrication, and lying to cover his tracks, we were bewildered. How could such a seemingly talented journalist, and only 31 years old, have thrown it all away?”

What’s interesting is that this question takes a noble view of the offender. The implication is always that the person got to the top on their merits, and then drastically changed their behavior due to situational pressures. People rarely consider that the offender might have risen to the top because they’re predisposed to bending rules or inhabiting the gray areas in an advantageous way. […]

Why assume that everything the offenders accomplished up until their downfall was based purely on virtuous actions?

Furthermore, research on the fundamental attribution error (FAE) predicts that people would not attribute the mistakes of somebody like Lehrer to situational pressures. The FAE describes the tendency to believe that a person’s behavior and mental state correspond to a degree that is logically unwarranted by the situation. […] Situational factors tend to be ignored, and that means when somebody cheats, we tend to assume that they have always been, and forever will be, a cheater.

Why then do writers tend to give Lehrer the benefit of the doubt by focusing the pressures of his situation? […] I think it’s fair to say that because of the nature of the industry most writers do have a personal interest in understanding why writers fabricate, how they should be judged, and what the consequences should be. […]

I think it’s worth mentioning Seth Mnookin’s recent post highlighting previously unknown errors made by Lehrer. Mnookin concludes by essentially saying that Lehrer is a cheater, and has always been a cheater.

{ peer reviewed by my neurons | Continue reading }

The delegation, present in full force, consisted of Commendatore Bacibaci Beninobenone (the semi-paralysed doyen of the party who had to be assisted to his seat by the aid of a powerful steam crane), the Archjoker Leopold Rudolph von Schwanzenbad-Hodenthaler, Countess Marha Virdga Kisászony Putrápesthi…

37.jpg

Fallout continues from the MOCA board’s removal of chief curator Paul Schimmel.

“Jeffrey has always been supportive of my work, but I don’t understand the direction he’s taking the museum right now,” McCarthy said. “I see it as placating the populace. It’s not really what art’s about, but a ratings game.”

Among those in Deitch’s corner is Shepard Fairey, an art star of a younger generation, especially since he designed the “Hope” poster that became the unofficial image of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. (The design firm Fairey founded, Studio One, is now handling much of MOCA’s design work.)

In an email, Fairey, 42, praised Deitch’s “astute understanding of the interconnected nature of high and low art culture. When I say low, I don’t mean inferior.”

{ LA Times | Continue reading }

John Baldessari, citing Paul Schimmel’s ouster, becomes the fifth trustee to bolt since February.

{ LA Times | Continue reading }

threesome { Jeffrey Deitch, Yoko Ono, Jeff Koons }

Fellow sharpening knife and fork, to eat all before him

33.png

Yesterday we found out that Jonah Lehrer, the Gladwellesque whiz kid who’s The New Yorker’s newest staff writer, reused his own old writings for every goddamn blog post he’s written for The New Yorker so far. […] What’s the latest? […]

Repackaging the work of others without disclosure is arguably a much more serious offense than reusing your own work without disclosure. […]

This is also why you should never pay someone in their 20s to give a speech and expect to learn something new.

{ Hamilton Nohan | Continue reading }

Wired editor Chris Anderson cemented his speaker-circuit bona fides with a 2006 book, The Long Tail, that was hailed as cogent and disruptive. His last effort, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, met with considerably worse reviews, and its premise was derided on many blogs. Worse, chunks of it turned out to have been copied and pasted without attribution from Wikipedia. None of that matters on the speaking circuit, where Mr. Anderson’s agency says he is in more demand than almost any other client worldwide.

{ NY Observer | Continue reading }

‘Although rivaled closely by SATAN PUT THE DINO BONES THERE, QUENTIN.’ –Malcolm Harris

451.jpg

Worst Companies At Protecting User Privacy: Skype, Verizon, Yahoo!, At&T, Apple, Microsoft.

{ Main Device | full story }

photos { Marlo Pascual | Sean and Seng }

‘Come on girl. Everyone’s doing it!’ –Peer pressure

2.jpeg

Chances are pretty good you’ve recently seen the “Banksy on Advertising” quote that begins, “People are taking the piss out of you everyday.” The passage is from Banksy’s 2004 book Cut It Out, and it presents the idea that if advertisers are going to fill your world with ads, you have every right to “take, re-arrange and re-use” those images without permission. The quote has been posted widely on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter, which is where I found it.

Here’s the interesting part:

Most of it is swiped directly from an essay I wrote in 1999.

{ Reading Frenzy | Continue reading }