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Why Americans Are the Weirdest People in the World

Why Americans Are the Weirdest People in the World
In the Summer of 1995, a young graduate student in anthropology at UCLA named Joe Henrich traveled to Peru to carry out some fieldwork among the Machiguenga, an indigenous people who live north of Machu Picchu in the Amazon basin. The Machiguenga had traditionally been horticulturalists who lived in single-family, thatch-roofed houses in small hamlets composed of clusters of extended families. For sustenance, they relied on local game and produce from small-scale farming. They shared with their kin but rarely traded with outside groups. While the setting was fairly typical for an anthropologist, Henrich’s research was not. The test that Henrich introduced to the Machiguenga was called the ultimatum game. Among the Machiguenga, word quickly spread of the young, square-jawed visitor from America giving away money. When he began to run the game it became immediately clear that Machiguengan behavior was dramatically different from that of the average North American. “Yes,” Henrich said.

My Lost City by Luc Sante The idea of writing a book about New York City1 first entered my head around 1980, when I was a writer more wishfully than in actual fact, spending my nights in clubs and bars and my days rather casually employed in the mailroom of this magazine. It was there that Rem Koolhaas’s epochal Delirious New York fell into my hands. “New York is a city that will be replaced by another city” is the phrase that sticks in my mind. Koolhaas’s book, published in 1978 as a paean to the unfinished project of New York the Wonder City, seemed like an archaeological reverie, an evocation of the hubris and ambition of a dead city.2 I gazed wonderingly at its illustrations, which showed sights as dazzling and remote as Nineveh and Tyre. The irony is that many of their subjects stood within walking distance: the Chrysler Building, the McGraw-Hill Building, Rockefeller Center. The New York I lived in, on the other hand, was rapidly regressing. Copyright © 2003 by Luc Sante

Inside TED: the smartest bubble in the world 103inShare Jump To Close Imagine, if you will, a snow globe. What’s inside the snow globe? That snow globe metaphor helped me to understand the TED conference (TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design), a yearly happening focused on “ideas worth spreading.” Before I physically went to TED, my only real impression of what the event was like came to me through those short videos. Sticky TOC engaged! Making a snow globe from scratch Making a snow globe from scratch The anarchist and writer Hakim Bey described a Temporary Autonomous Zone (or T.A.Z.) as being "like an uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerrilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before the State can crush it." Those two sentiments don’t describe TED in exact detail, but they come dangerously close. But TED has structure Bey didn’t detail, and a form that is unmistakable and repeatable. Entering the globe

Culture in Economics and the Culture of Economics: Raquel Fernandez in Conversation with The Straddler Culture in Economics and the Culture of Economics: Raquel Fernández in Conversation with The Straddler On October 17, 2011, The Straddler met with Raquel Fernández at her office at NYU, where she is Professor of Economics. Fernández has been a leader in the study of culture's impact on economic outcomes. Fernández, October 17, 2011 The interaction between culture and economic outcomes did not exist as a legitimate area of work ten years ago. Now this field has really taken off. The methodology of economics is so strong that we have had a large impact on many fields, from political science to sociology and even neuroscience. There is a beauty to the models in and of themselves. So all of the models are going to be flawed, and hopefully policy is going to be the best that you can do given current knowledge. But the people who go and give advice usually end up with a very bad rap in economics. Take the argument we’ve been having recently. Economists don’t have to be free-marketers.

Clive Thompson on Why Kids Can't Search | Wired Magazine Illustration: Tymn Armstrong We’re often told that young people tend to be the most tech-savvy among us. But just how savvy are they? A group of researchers led by College of Charleston business professor Bing Pan tried to find out. Specifically, Pan wanted to know how skillful young folks are at online search. His team gathered a group of college students and asked them to look up the answers to a handful of questions. But Pan pulled a trick: He changed the order of the results for some students. Other studies have found the same thing: High school and college students may be “digital natives,” but they’re wretched at searching. Who’s to blame? Consider the efforts of Frances Harris, librarian at the magnet University Laboratory High School in Urbana, Illinois. But, crucially, she also trains students to assess the credibility of what they find online. “I see them start to get really paranoid,” Harris says. In other words, Google makes broad-based knowledge more important, not less.

Six Feet Under: Mapping Tangled Transit Networks Underground Maps Unraveled: Explorations in Information Design is a weighty volume, both rich in content and high in poundage. The author, Maxwell J. Roberts, is a British psychologist who has conducted usability studies of underground rail system maps for over a decade. The book is based on the premise that schematic rail transportation maps, as epitomized by Henry Beck’s groundbreaking diagrammatic 1933 London Underground map, help users more effectively navigate transit systems by simplifying tangled routes and interchanges into a clear gestalt. Given this basic premise, the author has set forth to systematically explore methods for improving the design of diagrammatic transport maps. Henry Beck’s 1933 London Underground map. As a signage designer, I was especially interested in the book’s early chapters on the evolution of the London Underground’s signage, maps, architecture, and publicity into a coordinated whole, thus blazing the trail for contemporary brand identity programs.

Is Medical School a Worthwhile Investment for Women? - Keith Chen & Judith Chevalier The average female primary-care physician would have been financially better off becoming a physician assistant. Brian Snyder/Reuters Over the last quarter century, women have been earning college and professional degrees in record numbers. In 1976, women earned only 45 percent of bachelor's degrees in the United States; by 2006 that had increased to 58 percent. During that same interval, women have made even larger gains in advanced degrees. Despite these gains in education, a number of recent studies find that women's incomes lag those of men. This raises two interesting and uncomfortable questions. In a study being published this month in the Journal of Human Capital, we try to shed light on these questions by looking closely at doctors in primary-care fields and a plausible alternative career for anyone entering medical school -- Physician Assistants. Interestingly, while the PA field started out all male, the majority of graduates today are female. Where does this result come from?

A Critical Discussion on the Art of Video Gaming Pippin Barr, “The Artist Is Present” game screen shot (image courtesy, click to enlarge) It’s a sunny Friday morning in midtown Manhattan, and at the education building of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the second day of the conference “Critical Play — The Game as an Art Form” begins its debates. I’m no video gaming expert, but with 50 other physical attendees and many more over live stream, I vow to learn how video games can be better understood within an art context, as they’ve been the new art frontier for some time. Why are they less recognized in the art world than, say, video art? The obvious and overwhelming plus to video games are their interactive capabilities. The day begins with a discussion about the role of video games in our society, culture and politics. Books are a powerful technology. James Paul Gee showing how players use theory to build their game in the video game Spore (all conference photos by the author for Hyperallergic; click to enlarge)

Alessandro Acquisti-The Economics of Privacy-Resources on financial privacy,economics,anonymity This page provides links to resources on the economics of privacy, financial privacy, and the economics of anonymity: papers, people, related conferences, and other links. Behind a privacy intrusion there is often an economic trade-off. The reduction of the cost of storing and manipulating information has led organizations to capture increasing amounts of data about individual behavior. The hunger for customization and usability has led individuals to reveal more about themselves to other parties. Is there a combination of economic incentives and technological solutions to privacy issues that is acceptable for the individual and beneficial to society? Please send comments, corrections, and additional content to: To subscribe/unsubscribe to updates, send an email to privacy_subscribe. Also see Ross Anderson's Economics and Security Resource Page. Categories: [Last updated: 19-09-05] Papers Overview Also see Kai-Lung Hui's and Ivan Png's privacy pages. Talks Papers