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Why Too Much Data Disables Your Decision Making

Why Too Much Data Disables Your Decision Making
Quick, think back to a major decision. You know, the kind that compelled you to read everything on a topic and lead you to spend hours devouring every last scrap of data. How'd that work out for you? We like to think that more information drives smarter decisions; that the more details we absorb, the better off we'll be. It's why we subscribe to Google Alerts, cling to our iPhone, and fire up our TweetDeck. Knowledge, we're told, is power. That's the question raised by Princeton and Stanford University psychologists in a fascinating study titled On the Pursuit and Misuse of Useless Information. Their experiment was simple. Imagine that you are a loan officer at a bank reviewing the mortgage application of a recent college graduate with a stable, well-paying job and a solid credit history. Group 2 saw the same paragraph with one crucial difference. Here's where the study gets clever. The result? To say the findings are surprising is to state the obvious. Remember Seinfeld and Friends?

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Video: How Steve Jobs's Early Vision For Apple Inspired A Decade Of Innovation Eds. Note: Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, has passed away at the age of 56, leaving behind a larger-than-life legacy which no obituary could possibly capture. As colleagues and family members and all those who he inspired begin to reflect on his life and impact, it's impossible not to do so without feeling an almost shared sadness, as if the world is collectively mourning the loss of a close relative--even if most of us weren't fortunate to meet him.

Astronomy: Planets in our galaxy may be vastly more numerous than believed - The Milky Way galaxy may be filled with millions upon millions of Jupiter-sized planets that have escaped their solar systems and are wandering freely in space, researchers said Wednesday in a finding that seems certain to make astronomers rethink their ideas about planetary formation. Scientists had previously thought that about 20% of stars had massive planets attached to them, but the new results reported in the journal Nature suggest that there are at least twice as many planets as stars, and perhaps several times as many. The finding "is a revelation in the sense that it looks like a quintupling of the number of gas giants in the universe," said astronomer Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who was not involved in the research.

Eureka! Neural evidence for sudden insight A recent study provides intriguing information about the neural dynamics underlying behavioral changes associated with the development of new problem solving strategies. The research, published by the Cell Press in the May 13 issue of the journal Neuron, supports the idea of "a-ha" moments in the brain that are associated with sudden insight. Our daily lives are filled with changes that force us to abandon old behavioral strategies that are no longer advantageous and develop new, more appropriate responses. While it is clear that new rules are often deduced through trial-and-error learning, the neural dynamics that underlie the change from a familiar to a novel rule are not well understood. "The ability of animals and humans to infer and apply new rules in order to maximize reward relies critically on the frontal lobes," explains one of the researchers who led the study, Dr. Jeremy K.

Are we entering a new age of ignorance? » Change Factory In an age where data is available at the click of a mouse to 1.6 billion internet users (at last count) it seems to me we are becoming more ignorant rather than more enlightened. The sources of information we are exposed to, either inadvertently or through a deliberate act on our part, are increasingly uncontrolled. For example, blogs are increasing at about 100,000 per day. Email spam is an ever-growing menace in two ways.

Finding 'Life, Death And Hope' In A Mumbai Slum Next to Mumbai's bustling international airport, a boy picks through refuse, looking for pieces he can recycle and sell to support his family of 11. He is a resident of Annawadi, a slum built on a patch of reclaimed swampland — now fringed by luxury hotels. As economists and activists fret over increasing income inequality in America, scenes like this one from journalist Katherine Boo's new book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, are a forceful reminder of the extreme disparity of wealth that exist all over the world — and what people must do to survive. Boo, a Pulitzer Prize-winner who earned acclaim for her pieces on poverty in America, became a regular visitor to Mumbai after she married a man from India. She tells Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep how she felt compelled to investigate further after witnessing the struggles of Mumbai's poor. Abdul, the hero of Boo's book, is a young man struggling to eke out a living when he's falsely accused of setting a neighbor on fire.

"Higgs Boson Will Unlock Great Mysteries of the Universe" Scientists hailed the announcement, speculating that it could one day make light speed travel possible by "un-massing" objects or allow huge items to be launched into space by "switching off" the Higgs.* CERN scientist Albert de Roeck likened it to the discovery of electricity, when he said humanity could never have imagined its future applications. "What's really important for the Higgs is that it explains how the world could be the way that it is in the first millionth of a second in the Big Bang," de Roeck told AFP.* "Can we apply it to something? At this moment my imagination is too small to do that." Physicist Ray Volkas said "almost everybody" was hoping that, rather than fitting the so-calledStandard Model of physics -- a theory explaining how particles fit together in the Universe -- the Higgs boson would prove to be "something a bit different".

120 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power Here are 120 things you can do starting today to help you think faster, improve memory, comprehend information better and unleash your brain’s full potential. Solve puzzles and brainteasers.Cultivate ambidexterity. Use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth, comb your hair or use the mouse. Write with both hands simultaneously. Switch hands for knife and fork.Embrace ambiguity. Learn to enjoy things like paradoxes and optical illusions.Learn mind mapping.Block one or more senses. Q&A with Katherine Boo, Author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers Bill Gates: How did you pick the particular slum and the people that you profiled in the book? Katherine Boo: Although I’d been spending time in slums all over Mumbai, I kept gravitating to Annawadi because of the hope there. In 2008, preventable disease was rampant and only six of 3,000 residents had permanent work, but the place was still frantic with the optimism and entrepreneurial energy you noted in your review. By scavenging and selling recyclable garbage, hawking marigold garlands in traffic, picking up day jobs at construction sites, and identifying other market niches in the prospering airport area, nearly every family in the slum had crossed the Indian government’s poverty line, if not the World Bank benchmark. One young woman, Manju Waghekar, was poised to become the slum’s first female college graduate.

CERN Confirms New Particle The Higgs boson is a potential key to understanding why elementary particles have mass and to the existence of diversity and life in the universe. Both the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN observed a new particle in the mass region around 125-126 GeV, physicists announced at a seminar held at CERN yesterday. The next step will be to determine the precise nature of the particle and its significance for our understanding of the universe. Are its properties as expected for the long-sought Higgs boson, the final missing ingredient in the Standard Model of particle physics? Or is it something more exotic? Is Neuroscience the Death of Free Will? The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless. Is free will an illusion? Some leading scientists think so. For instance, in 2002 the psychologist Daniel Wegner wrote, “It seems we are agents. It seems we cause what we do… It is sobering and ultimately accurate to call all this an illusion.” More recently, the neuroscientist Patrick Haggard declared, “We certainly don’t have free will.

Slum Children’s Capacity to Aspire – Policy Lessons In my previous post, I presented my initial thoughts after reading Katherine Boo’s recent book “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity”. I have maintained an active academic and professional interest in public interventions related to urban poverty and slums in cities of the South ever since my undergraduate days in India. Katherine Boo’s book was therefore more than of mere sentimental value to me. I found it a rich source of information on a number of policy arenas – corruption, urban poverty, urban land and labor markets, electoral politics, education, public health, policing, slum resettlement, rural-to-urban migration – just to name a few. Let us take the issue of corruption as an example. The book describes several instances of corruption in different forms.