Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Learning from the Australian ant eating spider and other news and views for Wednesday 22 October

  • Cover Your Face, Then Pay a Fine and Miss the Show – “… both France and Australia, which have minority Muslim populations, have walked a fine line between nationalism and security and xenophobia.”
  • Snake in the grass – Animals and viruses practise deception, fast and slow, in ways that help us understand human predators and scammers – “There are spiders in Australia that smell and behave like ants: some are so convincing that the ants will allow a spider to live permanently as one of them. This spider will then feast upon its new friends, but it won’t eat all the ants, or even a significant number; instead, it extracts resources slowly, sustainably, and over time. … No one likes being a cynic. No one wants our trust in others to erode. But we must never forget that there are those who would misuse our trust for selfish gain, and prey on our sympathies for exploitation; deception is a Darwinian trait, by evolution pre‑ordained. Any one of us could be the next big victim. Soon after you finish reading this story, someone will try to deceive you with a false ad, misleading sales pitch, or worse. Be careful about whom you trust, be willing to admit when you were wrong about someone, and resist the urge to say: ‘But I know him so well!’ Recall that some Australian ants ‘think’ the same thing about spiders. It wouldn’t hurt us humans to take a tip or two from the rest of the animal world.”
  • A Physicist Ponders the Pause – “After surviving a storm-tossed voyage, King James I concluded that witches must have conjured tempests to do him ill because nothing ever happens by chance. In promoting the notion that climate trends are shaped by an industrialised world’s CO2 emissions, warmists are in the same boat.”
  • Amazon’s Monopsony Is Not O.K. – “In economics jargon, Amazon is not, at least so far, acting like a monopolist, a dominant seller with the power to raise prices. Instead, it is acting as a monopsonist, a dominant buyer with the power to push prices down.”
  • Fifty Years After The Bullet Train, Japan Approves Plan To Build Super-Speed Maglev Train Line
  • In the Syria We Don’t Know – “As Bashar’s prospects improve with each American sortie against his enemies in the east of the country, Damascus and the populous towns to the north have been enjoying a respite of sorts from war. The Syrian Ministry of Education reported that, of the 22,000 schools in the country, more than 17,000 of them reopened on time in the middle of September.”
  • The IKEA effect: When labor leads to love – “In four studies in which consumers assembled IKEA boxes, folded origami, and built sets of Legos, we demonstrate and investigate boundary conditions for the IKEA effect—the increase in valuation of self-made products. Participants saw their amateurish creations as similar in value to experts’ creations, and expected others to share their opinions. We show that labor leads to love only when labor results in successful completion of tasks; when participants built and then destroyed their creations, or failed to complete them, the IKEA effect dissipated. Finally, we show that labor increases valuation for both “do-it-yourselfers” and novices.”
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