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The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights

The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights
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The Recruiter's Tale - On Hiring In a recent column, I asked the question, “Who is driving the online locomotive?”—in other words, who exactly is pushing the idea of offering more and more (not to mention bigger and bigger) online classes? Because that’s certainly where higher education seems to be headed. I concluded that the people who hire college graduates are not among the culprits, citing a recent Chronicle survey in which prospective employers reported positive impressions of all types of higher-education institutions—except for online colleges. Of course, as I noted (and as several readers pointed out), there’s a big difference between getting an entire degree online and taking a few online courses en route to getting a degree. Not long after that column was published, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine that reinforced my perception of employers’ attitudes toward online classes. My friend is a partner in a large, multinational professional-services firm. Never? Return to Top

Study: You Really Can 'Work Smarter, Not Harder' - Nanette Fondas Research shows that reflecting after learning something new makes it stick in your brain. This Year's Love/Flickr Two weeks ago, my oldest son taught my youngest son how to perform a corner kick during half time of my middle son’s soccer game. He demonstrated the correct way to swing the leg, angle the foot, and launch the ball toward the goal. When the referee blew his whistle, resuming the game, we moved to a spot of grass nearby. There, my little boy began to explain how to do the corner kick, recounting every detail absorbed during his older brother’s half-time tutorial. Learning is more effective if a lesson or experience is deliberately coupled with time spent thinking about what was just presented, a new study shows. In the lab portion of the study, participants completed a math brain teaser under time pressure and wrote about what strategy they used or might use in the future to solve the problem.

A Singularity in All Four Quadrants The Singularity: Rupture or Rapture? There is an old analogy about an ancient emperor of China and the inventor of chess that is often used to help understand the speed of technological growth. According to the story, once the emperor became aware of the game of chess, he sent a message throughout the kingdom seeking to reward its inventor, offering anything within his power to give for such an exceptional game. Upon meeting him, the inventor, who was a poor peasant farmer, thanked the emperor for his generosity, and proceeded to place a single grain of rice in the first square of a chessboard. He then placed two grains in the second square, four in the third, eight in the fourth, etc., doubling the number of grains for each of the chessboard's 64 squares. At first the emperor was fairly amused by the farmer's request—after all, these were mere grains of rice, how much could he possibly lose? According to Moore's Law, computational power is doubling every 18 months. Conclusion

Timothy Ferriss: Accelerated Learning in Accelerated Times As the times accelerate and we face ever more kaleidoscopic careers, a crucial meta-skill is the ability to learn new skills extremely rapidly, extremely well. That practice has no better exemplar and proponent than Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid-Fat Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman. Not surprisingly, he has made himself adept at compelling presentations, this one prepared especially for the Long Now audience. Learning to learn fast To acquire "the meta-skill of acquiring skills," Ferriss recommends approaching any subject with some contrarian analysis: "What if I try the opposite of best practices?" That's what Ferriss calls the "minimum effective dose" for learning a language. With any skill, "solve for extremes and anomalies." How do you manage the self-discipline to bear down on learning a skill? You can get profound effects in an amazingly short time, Ferriss concluded. --Stewart Brand

8 Reasons The IQ Is Meaningless Humans The average person has an intelligence quotient of 100. An unsourced claim gives O. The first standardized attempt to measure the human’s mental capacity was courtesy of Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon, who formulated a test to measure verbal ability. Once an average person reaches the age of 15 or so, the IQ test is no longer important, since the mental age has reached maturity. Extremely high scores are routinely inaccurate. 180 on the Standford-Binet is typically the top of the scale, and anything measured over it has few precedents for comparison and should be taken with a grain of salt. All the various tests can do is discover the very low scorers among children, and these scores are quite accurate. Quite a few IQ tests measure “general knowledge.” As general knowledge goes, the intent is to ask questions to which everyone on Earth, at an age of 5, should know the answers. IQ tests were invented for the purpose of scoring children. Children are mean. Close

The Hidden Danger of Being Risk-Averse - Heidi Grant Halvorson by Heidi Grant Halvorson | 9:00 AM July 2, 2013 People are generally not all that happy about risk. As Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has written, “For most people, the fear of losing $100 is more intense than the hope of gaining $150. [Amos Tversky and I] concluded from many such observations that ‘losses loom larger than gains’ and that people are loss averse.” While the phenomenon of loss aversion has been well-documented, it’s worth noting that Kahneman himself refers to “most people” — not all — when describing its prevalence. Studies from Columbia’s Motivation Science Center have shown that prevention-focused people work more slowly and deliberately, seek reliability over “coolness” or luxury in products, and prefer conservative investments to higher-yielding but less certain ones. They even drive differently. That’s because everything I just told you about prevention-focused people is true when everything is running smoothly — when the status quo is acceptable.

8 New Jobs People Will Have In 2025 New technology will eradicate some jobs, change others, and create whole new categories of employment. Innovation causes a churn in the job market, and this time around the churn is particularly large—from cheap sensors (creating "an Internet of things") to 3-D printing (enabling more distributed manufacturing). Sparks & Honey, a New York trend-spotting firm, has a wall in its office where staff can post imaginative next-generation jobs. Below are eight of them, with narration from CEO Terry Young (who previously appeared here talking about health care). "Life-logging" will be a way of life, affecting how we record and remember what we do. Young sees a role for someone who can take the mass of life-logged material, and make stories out of it. The concept of education as a four-year box-ticking exercise will be over. Machines will be connected, producing tons of data about their performance and surroundings. The digital "overload" will become even more overwhelming.

The Wrong Way to Teach Grammar - Michelle Navarre Cleary A century of research shows that traditional grammar lessons—those hours spent diagramming sentences and memorizing parts of speech—don’t help and may even hinder students’ efforts to become better writers. Yes, they need to learn grammar, but the old-fashioned way does not work. There is a real cost to ignoring such findings. In my work with adults who dropped out of school before earning a college degree, I have found over and over again that they over-edit themselves from the moment they sit down to write. These students are victims of the mistaken belief that grammar lessons must come before writing, rather than grammar being something that is best learned through writing. Happily, there are solutions. There are also less immediately apparent costs to having generations of learners who associate writing only with correctness. Schools that have shifted from traditional “stand-alone” grammar to teaching grammar through writing offer concrete proof that such approaches work.

The Future Doesn’t Hurt.... Yet Ven. Matthieu Ricard Interdependence is a central Buddhist idea that leads to a profound understanding of the true nature of reality. Nothing in the universe exists in a purely autonomous way. Phenomena can only appear through mutual causation and relationship. Since all beings are interrelated and all, without exception, want to avoid suffering and achieve happiness, this understanding becomes the basis for altruism and compassion. Unchecked consumerism operates on the premise that others are only instruments to be used and that the environment is a commodity. The vast majority of Tibetans have never heard of global warming, although it is a well-known fact that the ice is not forming as thickly as before and the winter temperatures are getting warmer. People usually only consider changing their way of living when they are forced to do so by circumstances, not by rational and altruistic thinking. Within ten years they could make substantial investments in renewable energy.

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments Maxwell's Equations. From Einstein Light Maxwell's equations: symmetric form Although the equations are simple, they are notated in a few different ways, for use in different circumstances. The variable quantities are the electric field E (written in bold here to indicate that it is a vector), the magnetic field B, the electric charge density ρ (the amount of charge per unit volume) and the electric current density J (the amount of electric current flowing through unit area). There are also properties of the medium, even if it is vacuum. ε is the dielectric permittivity. It is a property of a medium that determines the strength of the electric field produced by a given electric charge and geometry. Greater values of ε mean that more charge is required to produce the same electric field (for all materials in the liquid or solid phase, ε is greater than the vacuum value). μ is the magnetic permeability of a medium. Isn't that lovely?