A major insight into human behavior from pre-internet era studies of communication is the tendency of people not to speak up about policy issues in public—or among their family, friends, and work colleagues—when they believe their own point of view is not widely shared. This tendency is called the “spiral of silence.”1 Some social media creators and supporters have hoped that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter might produce different enough discussion venues that those with minority views might feel freer to express their opinions, thus broadening public discourse and adding new perspectives to everyday discussion of political issues.
This survey’s findings produced several major insights:

People were less willing to discuss the Snowden-NSA story in social media than they were in person. 86% of Americans were willing to have an in-person conversation about the surveillance program, but just 42% of Facebook and Twitter users were willing to post about it on those platforms.
Social media did not provide an alternative discussion platform for those who were not willing to discuss the Snowden-NSA story. Of the 14% of Americans unwilling to discuss the Snowden-NSA story in person with others, only 0.3% were willing to post about it on social media.


Philosophy PSA.


Philosophy PSA.

In addition, a growing literature has begun to highlight the potential importance of overconfidence in driving entrepreneurial outcomes. Such a mechanism may appear at face value to work like a lower level of risk aversion, but there are clear conceptual differences—in particular, overconfidence likely arises from behavioral biases and misperceptions of probability distributions. Finally, nonpecuniary taste-based factors may be important in motivating both the decisions to enter into and to persist in entrepreneurship.
Astebro, Herz, Nanda, and A. Weber. 2014. “Seeking the Roots of Entrepreneurship: Insights from Behavioral Economics.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 28(3): 49-70.
If entrepreneurship is a social good, and irrational overconfidence drives entrepreneurship, then society needs to invest in producing irrationally overconfident citizens. Discuss.

Since there are enough creative concepts in circulation already to explain everything through recombination, I’ve decided all my future reviews of art, film etc will be of this form: “It’s _____ meets _____ for the ______ generation”.

I estimate I could save 40 hours over my entire life through this strategy, which time I will spend drinking tea in the garden.

[…]But people will actually pay to avoid learning unpleasant facts.[…] Here’s a new experiment on information aversion: In order to gauge how information aversion affects health care, one group of researchers decided to look at how college students react to being tested for a sexually transmitted disease. […]The students were told they could get tested for the herpes simplex virus. It’s a common disease that spreads via contact. And it has two forms: HSV1 and HSV2. The type 1 herpes virus produces cold sores. It’s unpleasant, but not as unpleasant as type 2, which targets the genitals. Ganguly says the college students were given information — graphic information — that made it clear which kind of HSV was worse. “There were pictures of male and female genitalia with HSV2, guaranteed to kind of make them really not want to have the disease,” Ganguly says. Once the students understood what herpes does, they were told a blood test could find out if they had either form of the virus.
[…] Those who didn’t want to know if they had a sexually transmitted disease had to pay $10 to not have their blood tested. So what did the students choose? Quite a few declined a test. And while only 5 percent avoided the HSV1 test, three times as many avoided testing for the nastier form of herpes.
Information Aversion
A study where people pay NOT to know if they have a horrible disease, and pay MORE not to know if they have a MORE HORRIBLE disease. Immediate lessons should be clear. As Baez points out, the more metaphorical lesson, about our whole civilisation being built upon paying NOT to know how fucked we are, should also be pretty clear.
For every dollar spent to build new separated bike lanes, cities could save as much as $24 thanks to lower health care costs and less pollution and traffic, according to a new study from researchers in New Zealand.

The Cities That Spend The Most On Bike Lanes Later Reap The Most Reward | Co.Exist | ideas impact It’s an economic/sociological model, mind, not a study, and includes many unidentifiable parameters. OTOH, there isn’t much support for building a statistical ensembles of duplicate Aucklands to test this experimentally, so a model is a good start.

Also note that with this model, the $24 saving doesn’t go to the city that pays for the bike lanes, but to health services, businesses and individuals; There is the usual coordination problem here. Just because lanes (or clean air, or low crime-rate etc) bring us all benefits, doesn’t mean we want to pay the costs ourselves, nor that the minority who lose out (e.g. inner city parking garages) are any less incentivised to protest.

Cynthia Dwork and Aaron Roth’s Differential Privacy Book is Here

Not only is it an important theme, it also tells you a lot about academic publishing.

You have 3 options for obtaining a copy! (I must admit to not quite understanding the pricing model of our publisher).

  1. Hard Copy: You can buy a hard copy directly from NOW for $99 […] or from Amazon for $101[…]
  2. "ebook" format (which I believe is just a downloadable pdf): If you don’t have room on your book shelf, and are happy with a PDF, the book can be yours from NOW for only $240.[…] This is a bargain — coming in at 281 pages, this is less than 86 cents per digital “page”. 
  3. Free download: The PDF is also available for free on my web page.[…]

Vital national interests will change. Perceptions may not.

Eric Drexler at maximum pith:

Quadrennial Defense Review – May 1997
Section III: Defense Strategy

When the interests at stake are vital…we should do whatever it takes to defend them, including, when necessary, the unilateral use of military power. U.S. vital national interests include, but are not limited to:

  • protecting the sovereignty, territory, and population of the United States….
  • ensuring uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources….

In the foreseeable future, access to foreign markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources will become unimportant, while avoiding an unpredictable arms race will become critical. We need to be able to discuss scenarios in which potential military technologies and national interests will both be transformed.

Mildly perturbed to find non-trivial numbers of anki flashcard reviews at 4am. 3am is where the real action is though, check that out.

Anyway, the key point here is that German flashcards are ca. 1.5% of my waking life, and I apparently know about 4000 of them. At this rate I will have, wortschatzmässig, the speaking age of a 6 year old by February. Sweet.

Everyone needs to come to this.Filastine and Nova play Zürcher Theater Spektakel
And he started writing letters to all of the London papers who had records of his 2003 extradition to France and conviction for corruption in France over the Elf-Acquitaine scandal. Where he had been involved in taking kickbacks on selling the invaded Kuwaiti governments’ oil refineries in order to fund their operations while Iraq had occupied it. So the Guardian pulled three articles from 2003. So they were five years old. They had been in the Guardian’s archive for 5 years. Without saying anything. If you go to those URLs you will not see “removed due to legal threats.” You will see “page not found.” And one from the Telegraph. And a bunch from some American publications. And bloggers, and so on. Important bits of history, recent history, that were relevant to an ongoing presidential campaign in the United States were pulled out of the intellectual record. They were also pulled out of the Guardian’s index of articles. So why? The Guardian’s published in print, and you can go to the library and look up those articles. They are still there in the library. How would you know that they were there in the library to look up, because they are not there in the Guardian’s index? Not only have they ceased to exist, they have ceased to have ever existed. Which is the modern implementation of Orwell’s dictum that he controls the present controls the past and he who controls the past controls the future. Because the past is stored physically in the present. All records of the past.

Transcript of secret meeting between Julian Assange and Google CEO Eric Schmidt (via ravelite)

Digital archiving also means digital deleting. The cost of rewriting the past attains new economies of scale.

(This particular snippet is about potentially-dirty US campaign finance involving Tony Rezko, Nadhmi Auchi and the UK law firm Carter Ruck, who apparently are masters of UK’s already-advanced expertise in recording everything but vanishing the inconvenient parts.)

Aside: Holy shit, can Assange really just pull out these killer lines foe 5 hours running? Whatever his shortcomings, that dude is sharp.

I knew that getting records of my malfeasance vanished was a service available in the UK to the sufficiently wealthy (1, 2) but the offerings of information vanishment services really are astounding. Is there a brochure I can have should I strike it rich and need to decided which country to can offer me the best deal to emigrate to?

NB I’ve corrected small non-semantic transcriptions errors  in this excerpt.

Ambrose Bierce and Gustav Flaubert are back. On tumblr. TL;DR Wikipedia

Ambrose Bierce and Gustav Flaubert are back. On tumblr. TL;DR Wikipedia

Peter Nash SSBD, according to the indictment, was the lowest-ranked of the three pseudonyms, having a role only in the Silk Road discussion forums and not on the marketplace. The USA requested Nash’s extradition upon his arrest. Under Australian law, unless the subject of an extradition request can show “special circumstances”, that person must be remanded in custody. Consequently, Nash was remanded in a Brisbane jail[…] Subsequent reports had him bashed by prison guards following a prisoner protest in which he had no part. Nash was extradited to the USA in June 2014. He is now remanded in a federal penitentiary in New York, meaning he has so far served nine months awaiting trial.
Accused Silk Road staff: where are they now? I didn’t know that under Australian law, being accused by a foreign state of managing an online discussion forum they found objectionable could lead to you being remanded for 9 months (and counting) awaiting trial in a federal penitentiary. It hardly seems… er… Let me phrase it another way: What are the virtues of this arrangement?