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Cognitive Biases Screw Up Decisions

Cognitive Biases Screw Up Decisions
The tendency to prefer inaction to action, in ourselves and even in politics. Psychologist Art Markman gave a great example back in 2010: The omission bias creeps into our judgment calls on domestic arguments, work mishaps, and even national policy discussions. In March, President Obama pushed Congress to enact sweeping health care reforms. Republicans hope that voters will blame Democrats for any problems that arise after the law is enacted. But since there were problems with health care already, can they really expect that future outcomes will be blamed on Democrats, who passed new laws, rather than Republicans, who opposed them?

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How Sleep Deprivation Decays the Mind and Body - Seth Maxon I awoke in a bed for the first time in days. My joints ached and my eyelids, which had been open for so long, now lay heavy as old hinges above my cheekbones. I wore two pieces of clothing: an assless gown and a plastic bracelet. I remembered the hallway I had been wheeled down, and the doctor’s office where I told the psychiatrist he was the devil, but not this room. I forced myself up and stumbled, grabbing the chair and the bathroom doorknob for balance. I made it to the toilet, then threw water on my face at the sink, staring into the mirror in the little lavatory.

Facebook altered 689,000 users' News Feeds for a psychology experiment According to new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Facebook altered the News Feeds for hundreds of thousands of users as part of a psychology experiment devised by the company's on-staff data scientist. By scientifically altering News Feeds, the experiment sought to learn about the way positive and negative effect travels through social networks, ultimately concluding that "in-person interaction and nonverbal cues are not strictly necessary for emotional contagion." "Each emotional post had between a 10% and 90% chance...of being omitted." To test the hypothesis, the researchers identified 689,003 different English-language Facebook users, and began removing emotionally negative posts for one group and positive posts for another. As the researchers point out, this kind of data manipulation is written into Facebook's Terms of Use.

List of cognitive biases Illustration by John Manoogian III (jm3).[1] Cognitive biases can be organized into four categories: biases that arise from too much information, not enough meaning, the need to act quickly, and the limits of memory. Cognitive biases are tendencies to think in certain ways that can lead to systematic deviations from a standard of rationality or good judgment, and are often studied in psychology and behavioral economics. There are also controversies over some of these biases as to whether they count as useless or irrational, or whether they result in useful attitudes or behavior.

Brain cancer may grow faster the more you think In a newly published study, medical researchers led by neurologist Michelle Monje at Stanford report than many aggressive forms of brain cancer appear to worsen the more you think. Not just about the cancer, but anything. The more brain activity you have, the faster the cancer cells divide. This discovery has the potential to lead to the creation of new treatments for previously terminal diseases. Monje and her colleagues came to this realization while studying diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare cancer found in children that is untreatable by any current means. The team used a mouse model to investigate the hypothesis that DIPG was hijacking the chemical signals related to myelination, an important part of maintaining the brain and its functionality.

Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks Author Affiliations Edited by Susan T. Fiske, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, and approved March 25, 2014 (received for review October 23, 2013) Overcoming Our Aversion to Acknowledging Our Ignorance Each December, The Economist forecasts the coming year in a special issue called The World in Whatever-The-Next-Year-Is. It’s avidly read around the world. But then, like most forecasts, it’s forgotten. Do you have a male or female brain? The simple test that investigates your 'gender personality'... and the answer will surprise you A person's brain often reflects their gender. However their hands can also indicate if their brain is more female or maleWhy are some skills or characteristics considered male or female-specific?Documentary examines if gender-specific traits are due to biology (occuring from birth) or develop as a result of environmentThe film examines different theories and studies about gender and the brain Study says fingers can indicate how much testosterone is in a person's body Is your brain male or female?

Be a better writer in 15 minutes: 4 TED-Ed lessons on grammar and word choice There’s no denying it — the English language can be mighty tricky. When writing a paper, a novel or even an e-mail, you might look at a sentence you just wrote and think, “Is that comma supposed to be there?” or “Is that really the best word to use?” Fear not! The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy The Misconception: You take randomness into account when determining cause and effect. The Truth: You tend to ignore random chance when the results seem meaningful or when you want a random event to have a meaningful cause. Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were both presidents of the United States, elected 100 years apart. Both were shot and killed by assassins who were known by three names with 15 letters, John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald, and neither killer would make it to trial. Spooky, huh?

New insight into how brain makes memories Every time you make a memory, somewhere in your brain a tiny filament reaches out from one neuron and forms an electrochemical connection to a neighboring neuron. A team of biologists at Vanderbilt University, headed by Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Donna Webb, studies how these connections are formed at the molecular and cellular level. “Alterations in dendritic spines are associated with many neurological and developmental disorders, such as autism, Alzheimer’s disease and Down Syndrome,” said Webb. “However, the formation and maintenance of spines is a very complex process that we are just beginning to understand.”The filaments that make these new connections are called dendritic spines and, in a series of experiments described in the April 17 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the researchers report that a specific signaling protein, Asef2, a member of a family of proteins that regulate cell migration and adhesion, plays a critical role in spine formation.

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