“The essential mechanism of the SAT, the multiple choice test question, is a bizarre relic of long outdated twentieth century social scientific assumptions and strategies. As every adult recognizes, knowing something or how to do something in real life is never defined by being able to choose a “right” answer from a set of possible answers (some of them intentionally misleading) put forward by faceless test designers who are rarely eminent experts. No scientist, engineer, writer, psychologist, artist, or physician—and certainly no scholar, and therefore no serious university faculty member—pursues his or her vocation by getting right answers from a set of prescribed alternatives that trivialize complexity and ambiguity.”—
-Leon Botstein, Bard College President, in an opinion piece for Time Magazine
The Yutu rover suffered a mysterious “abnormality” over the weekend. And the robot’s microblogged death note may make you cry.
“The sun has fallen, and the temperature is dropping so quickly…to tell you all a secret, I don’t feel that sad. I was just in my own adventure story - and like every hero, I encountered a small problem.” “Goodnight, Earth,” concluded the rover. “Goodnight, humanity.”
“In the coming weeks I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you should not have to live in poverty.”—
PRESIDENT OBAMA, setting the bar on raising the minimum wage.
My upstairs neighbors are playing music at wall-shaking decibels. However, it sounds like mom & kids are all having a really fun dance party. Since usually the noise from upstairs is scary yelling, I think I should probably let this go.
“There is no doubt that President Obama draws inspiration from Martin Luther King, Jr. and has sought to emulate the laudable qualities of the Civil Rights leader: You can hear it even in the President’s speeches, which move with the cadence and rhetorical flair of a minister. Obama specifically referred to the FBI’s war on King in his speech on Friday detailing surveillance reforms. But it makes little sense for the President to open the door on the deeply-flawed surveillance program that plagued King while making cosmetic reforms to his own far-flung surveillance program.”—from “King, Obama and Surveillance Today" by Deji Olukotun
“In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail says for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker. So, the state began giving away apartments, with no strings attached.”—Utah is Ending Homelessness By Giving People Homes
“Technology is usually fairly neutral. It’s like a hammer, which can be used to build a house or to destroy someone’s home. The hammer doesn’t care. It is almost always up to us to determine whether the technology is good or bad.”—
Noam Chomsky, answering a question from an 11-year-old named Honor on whether technology is always good. It’s the perfect answer, if you ask me.
Chomsky’s words come from Does My Goldfish Know Who I Am?, a collection of young people’s questions answered by great scientists and thinkers. It’s ample proof that many of our greatest questions are simple ones, and their answers delight minds both brilliant and new.
Remember, remember! The fifth of November, The Gunpowder treason and plot; I know of no reason Why the Gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot! Guy Fawkes and his companions Did the scheme contrive, To blow the King and Parliament All up alive. Threescore barrels, laid below, To prove old England’s overthrow. But, by God’s providence, him they catch, With a dark lantern, lighting a match! A stick and a stake For King James’s sake! If you won’t give me one, I’ll take two, The better for me, And the worse for you. A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope, A penn’orth of cheese to choke him, A pint of beer to wash it down, And a jolly good fire to burn him. Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring! Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King! Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!
There has been a lot of criticism in the academic literature of the research supposedly showing evidence of ‘innate’ sex differences in psychological tendencies. Even setting that aside, I think it’s a misconception to think of hormonal contributions to behaviour as being somehow more ‘real’ or fundamental than social ones. Studies that manipulate the gender labelling of toys find clear effects on children’s preferences, and it has also been found that making gender psychologically salient increases in-group favouritism and out-group prejudice.
It’s also interesting to think about children’s toys in the context of relevant psychological traits. Nurturance is strongly associated with ‘girl toys’, and aggression and competitiveness with ‘boy toys’. Yet girl/boy differences in nurturant and aggressive behaviour are surprisingly small, with huge overlap, while sex differences in competitiveness aren’t consistently seen. In other words, the sharp gender segregation of toys simply doesn’t reflect the psychological similarities between girls and boys.
”—Cordelia Fine, neuroscientist and author of Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences in an interview at Let Toys Be Toys
If you loved science, you’d vote based on candidates who want to increase funding for it. You’d make it an issue that actually generates media debate, that sees equal time with the wars we fight and the bills we pay our aging workforce. These other things are priorities, too. But if you think science comes after these things, you’re dead wrong: Science is the reason we’ve gotten so damned good at these things.
If you really love science, you’ll start making noise about this issue. You’ll start asking why the U.S. is shooting itself—and the world—in the foot by putting science on the back burner. We can spend as much as we want on other things, but in the end, if we’re not funding science, we’re moving backwards.
“Well, there is some genuine wondering as to what the fox really says…I mean, who cares what the shark says?”—Bård Ylvisåker (one of the guys behind “The Fox,” the summer’s funniest viral music video) talks to us about his work and going viral. (via motherjones)
“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me,” Manning said in a statement. “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way I have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.”
Here is what I am going to say about this:
I think Manning is probably one of the bravest people in the world.
We already plenty of evidence of bravery — Manning took great personal risk in an attempt to expose injustice (though perhaps clumsily via Wikileaks).
And now this — making a public statement about identity to a world that is hostile to such identities.
I am more afraid for Manning than I was even yesterday, but awed all the same by this brave, brave act.
“When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system. A legal system that doesn’t distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability.”—ACLU Report on Bradley Manning Prison Sentence