I’m not a regular viewer of Family Guy, but the Long John Peter episode caught me completely off guard about 20 minutes in, and I laughed for probably a minute straight. Hopefully my neighbors didn’t mind my laughter too much. The scene is worth watching at least three times.
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article explaining that researchers have found the brain appears to make up its mind 10 seconds before its owner become conscious of a decision. If this sounds familiar, that’s because the study came out in April and received some press attention then. It appears that the researchers’ focus was to predict whether study participants would push a button with their left hand or a different button with their right hand. Brain scans prior to the action can predict which button is pushed with more accuracy than chance alone. Furthermore, the prediction can be made before the participant claims to have made the decision.
The study is touted as evidence that our conscious minds are riding in the back seat and our decisions are made unconsciously in advance. That may be true, but from the press coverage of this story, I don’t see how this study provides much evidence. It’s fairly obvious that our conscious decisions are proceeded by a period of consideration. Before someone pushes a button, they must decide to push it, and before they decide to start moving their finger toward a button, they must decide which finger and which button. One doesn’t claim to have made a decision until all consideration is completed, so it’s not surprising that researchers have found evidence of a consideration period. People flip-flopping at the last minute might explain why the predictions are not more accurate.
I haven’t paid the $32 to read the study directly, so perhaps the study’s methodology guarded against this apparent deficiency. The mainstream press could very well have omitted critical parts of the research. It’s still really cool that they can read our minds, regardless of whether it’s our conscious minds or our unconscious minds.
This Reuters article, Switching languages can also switch personality, is a pretty interesting idea. However, while I haven’t read the original study, the article’s lay explanation seems to have an obvious flaw. It sounds like they studied native Spanish-speakers and discovered that, when speaking in their native language, they were more assertive, self-sufficient, and extroverted. Is that really a sign of a personality change? It sounds like a consequence of the mental challenge of speaking a foreign language. I’m certainly less assertive when I speak German; I’m just lucky to get an idea across. It would be interesting to see scientific proof that switching accents can switch personality, though.
I recently watched The Power of Nightmares: The Shadows in the Cave, a BBC documentary. Some of its findings are contested, but I consider it startling even if only half of it is true:
- It may be that al-Qaeda is no more formal an organization than the average businessperson’s professional network.
- The “dirty” part of dirty bombs apparently causes virtually no harm.
- Counter-terrorism prosecutors have used lack of criminal activity as evidence of “sleepers” and claim to have found secret messages in ordinary-looking home videos and doodles.
I’m not sure if I agree with the documentary’s emphasis on neoconservatists being the driving force behind American counter-terrorism. Regardless of the political philosophy, I recall the first 12-18 months of reactions following 9/11 were widely supported across all parts of society.
I ran across an interesting nugget in Google Analytics today. Apparently someone in Many, Lousiana went to my website yesterday, generated 226 pageviews, clicked an ad, returned, and generated another 383 pageviews. It’s odd, but I’m not sure that its worth looking into further.
I think this article is short-sighted. It’s a long article, and I won’t debate all of it. And I won’t ridicule the whole thing like BoingBoing. However, I think they’re overlooking at least one wonderful aspect of the Internet and blogs: the emergence of the Internet and blogs has greatly increased the awareness of minority opinions and private realities. While there are plenty of blogs that say steretypical things like “I love Brittney Spears” and “iPods are cool,” there are plenty other that say rarely talked about things like “I have a balloon fetish” and “feel tired after my chemo” and “pastor to flirt at church“. With the Internet, many people who previously thought they were alone in the world can discover that there are thousands or millions of other people who are like them in a particular aspect. Without the Internet, we would only know about these things if they happened among our relatively small circles of direct contact or if they were in the media. Stopping blogs is not a good solution; it would be wrong to throw the baby out with the bathwater. In response to the many Bible verses cited in the article, I would like to respond with “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.“
Monday this week was a bit rough. My front left tire blew out while I was driving on the freeway to school, I learned my teamlab team members rated me lower than most other leaders, I discovered another team was not on track towards completing our report, and I almost hit a deer driving home! *sigh*
Fortunately, Tuesday seemed to go much better, so this week could turn out okay overall. And besides, almost hitting a deer isn’t anywhere as bad as actually hitting a deer.
Wow…. it has been a long time since I last updated. I have little excuse for not posting anything in August, but in September I have been very busy. On top of taking 6 classes while working approximately 2 jobs, I have been recovering having all my luggage stolen the night before I returned from Germany. (I wish I had posted more of my photos online before that night!) I also spend much time enjoying the company of Heather rather than working on pesky homework. However, commitments I’ve made to my teammates will keep me on track for most classes.
Fall is supposed to be the heavy season for fulltime MBA recruiting, but I’m not sure how much that applies to me. First, I’m really busy. Second, many of the companies I was interested in last year didn’t seem to get serious about interviewing for internships until May, so it seems doubtful they would interview and extend offers in the fall for work starting the following summer. Some of the work I’m doing now for Journeys International and for my entrepreneurship class has the potential to give me networking potential and strong referrals, as well as skills that would be very helpful in starting a new venture.
In the past month, I have received several feedback spam messages on my neglected VW Cabriolet website. Each submission sends me an e-mail (which the spammer might not know) and typically posts the message online (which I assume is the spammer’s intent). However, they’ve screwed everytime and simply sent the e-mail without posting. It’s actually surprising they can screw this up. A quick search on Google shows that they’ve been more successful posting their spam elsewhere. It will be interesting to see if they read this post and realize their mistake.
I just launched my first attempt at an online job search. The idea is to eventually expand it to speed up the application process, but I figured getting a search online would be a good first step. If nothing else, I’d be happy to see it indexed in Google.