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Interesting stuffs – 20

Exciting things I learned and read during the week (28 Nov – 03 Dec):

  1. Science Isn’t Broken

“The important lesson here is that a single analysis is not sufficient to find a definitive answer. Every result is a temporary truth, one that’s subject to change when someone else comes along to build, test and analyze anew.”

“The scientific method is the most rigorous path to knowledge, but it’s also messy and tough. Science deserves respect exactly because it is difficult — not because it gets everything correct on the first try. The uncertainty inherent in science doesn’t mean that we can’t use it to make important policies or decisions. It just means that we should remain cautious and adopt a mindset that’s open to changing course if new data arises. We should make the best decisions we can with the current evidence and take care not to lose sight of its strength and degree of certainty. It’s no accident that every good paper includes the phrase “more study is needed” — there is always more to learn.”

2. Yes, dogs can ‘catch’ their owners’ emotions

“Studies have shown that dogs can catch our yawns, experience an increase in cortisol levels when they hear a baby crying—just as humans do—and respond to the emotional tone of our voices”

“Dogs also have “affective empathy”—which is defined as the ability to understand someone else’s feelings—toward people who are important to them”

“In general, the range of emotions that dogs experience is probably more limited than what most humans experience. “I don’t think dogs’ emotions are very complex,” says Wynne. “They experience primal emotions including warms ones like happiness and excitement, and cold ones like fear and anxiety.” Beyond that, there are many unknowns, and one of the challenges with doing this kind of research is that dogs can’t say exactly how they’re feeling at any given moment.”

3. The Myth of the Secret Genius

If someone is a billionaire, they must be a genius. But there are serious reasons to doubt that claim. Wealth is not normally distributed, like height...That means that the super-rich are extreme outliers, and that creates some major statistical irregularities that are not tied to talent.”

“The Gates Foundation, which rewards grant money to applicants, subjected its awards to scrutiny and found something fascinating. The grant applications that promised the moon were more likely to get funding than those that promised more modest, realistic results. But when the proposals actually got funded, those that over-promised frequently delivered similar results to those who accurately depicted their research.

What happens when you have an overconfident narcissist with a lot of power and even more money? ….authoritarian leaders miscalculate because they purge anyone who disagrees with them. Over time, the yes men survive, while those who tell hard truths get weeded out.

4. Defaults Loom as Poor Countries Face an Economic Storm

“Mass defaults in low-income countries are unlikely to spur a global financial crisis given the relatively small size of their economies. But the potential is causing policymakers to rethink debt sustainability in an era of rising interest rates and increasingly opaque loan transactions. In part, that’s because defaults can make it harder for countries like the United States to export goods to indebted nations, further slowing the world economy and possibly leading to widespread hunger and social unrest. As Sri Lanka drew closer to its default this year, its central bank was forced to arrange a barter agreement to pay for Iranian oil with tea leaves.”

5. As Gen X and Boomers Age, They Confront Living Alone

In 1960, just 13 percent of American households had a single occupant. But that figure has risen steadily, and today it is approaching 30 percent. For households headed by someone 50 or older, that figure is 36 percent.”

The trend has also been driven by deep changes in attitudes surrounding gender and marriage. People 50-plus today are more likely than earlier generations to be divorced, separated or never married.

Women in this category have had opportunities for professional advancement, homeownership and financial independence that were all but out of reach for previous generations of older women. More than 60 percent of older adults living by themselves are female.

In interviews, many older adults said they feel positively about their lives.

But while many people in their 50s and 60s thrive living solo, research is unequivocal that people aging alone experience worse physical and mental health outcomes and shorter life spans.

And even with an active social and family life, people in this group are generally more lonely than those who live with others, according to Dr. Schafer’s research.

Several Gen X solo dwellers said they had begun exploring options to live communally as they age, inspired, in part, by living arrangements they had enjoyed in college years and young adulthood.

6. Your Cat Might Not Be Ignoring You When You Speak

Every cat owner has a story to tell of being blanked by their cat: We call to our cat, it turns away, and some of us might be left wondering why we didn’t get a dog. But your cat may be listening after all. More than that, it cares more than you may think.

We found that when cats heard their owners using a high-pitched voice, they reacted more than when they heard their owner speaking normally to another human adult,” said Charlotte de Mouzon, an author of the study and cat behavior expert at the Université Paris Nanterre. “But what was very surprising in our results was that it actually didn’t work when it came from a stranger’s voice.”

Cats don’t do what you expect them to do. But if cats don’t come when we call them, it may be because they’re busy doing something else, or they are resting,” she said. “People have these kinds of expectations because when you call a dog, the dog will come. But if you call a human when they are having a nap at the other end of the house, would you go?”

7. This company delivers packages faster than Amazon, but workers pay the price

South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang uses AI to promise almost-instant delivery. But speed comes with troubling labor issues—including worker deaths.

 workers were treated like “disposable objects,” …But somewhere along the way, it seemed, the workers had been reduced to what South Korean labor journalist Kim Ha-young has called the “arms and legs of artificial intelligence.” 

The right to rest and the health of workers should be set as fixed preconditions, and then the algorithms should then be put to work to calculate how fast deliveries can be made.

8. Vietnam: It’s time to level up – very interesting piece!

“People don’t realize this, but Vietnam’s economy is more FDI-intensive than China’s or Malaysia’s

 this is something Ha-Joon Chang says not to do. Chang sees FDI as a trap — if you make a bunch of stuff for foreign companies, he argues, they won’t give up their best technologies and they’ll end up crowding out domestic companies that could become high-tech national champions and internationally recognized brands.”

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