Crime, Caution, and Crunching
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More Sugar, Less Crime
Though this sounds like a clickbait headline, there are multiple studies which suggest that blood sugar levels are directly related to impulse control, which is in turn directly related to crime. Here's a section from the book Willpower by psychology professor Roy Baumesiter:
One study found below-average glucose levels in 90 percent of the juvenile delinquents recently taken into custody.
Other studies reported that people with hypoglycemia (i.e. low blood sugar) were more likely to be convicted of a wide variety of offenses: traffic violations, public profanity, shoplifting, destruction of property, exhibitionism, public masturbation, embezzlement, arson, spouse abuse, and child abuse.
In one remarkable study, researchers in Finland went into a prison to measure the glucose tolerance of convicts who were about to be released. Then the scientists kept track of which ones went on to commit new crimes.
Obviously there are many factors that can influence whether an ex-con goes straight: peer pressure, marriage, employment prospects, drug use. Yet just by looking at the response to the glucose test, the researchers were able to predict with greater than 80 percent accuracy which convicts would go on to commit violent crimes.
More Suspicious of Online Education
The combination of Coronavirus and reduced immigration policies are likely going to lead to an apocalypse for small and mid-tier universities, both in the US and abroad. Though Harvard etc will always have a queue of potential students, smaller schools are not so lucky.
So where do we go? One idea is to rely more on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) like Coursera, EdX, and Udemy. I'm strongly philosophically in favor of opening up access to education in the way MOOCs attempt to do.
But the truth is that, at least right now, they are a poor substitute for real-world education. Here's the eye-popping stats: as of Dec 2018, enrolled Udemy students watched an average of 44 seconds of content, and only 5% of students ever complete a course (source: Bhaumik Patel). Not great.
It's not to say online courses can't work, but they need a serious evolution from where they are currently.
More Malicious Robot Cars
Here's the basic idea: if future driverless cars always yield when a pedestrian appears in front of them, the roads will be clogged.
People can and will blindly cross the street whenever they please, knowing there is no risk to them. This will result in the autonomous cars stopping suddenly, nauseating riders and creating jams.
To prevent this, some scientists are proposing that autonomous cars should occasionally fail to stop in time and (gently!) strike pedestrians. Not enough to injure them, but an angry "bump" that sends a clear message.
If the driverless cars of the future can be trusted 100% to never hit a person, people will act like jerks. We need our robot cars to be a little jerk-ish themselves. In other words, just like with humans, if our robots are 100% predictable, they're easy to "hack". (source: David Perell)
More Cautious Before Trying to Change Things
One of the most important concepts before you try giving advice or fixing a problem at work is revealed by an idea called "Chesterson's Fence".
"Imagine there is a fence or gate erected across a road. No cars can get by.
The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away."
To which the more intelligent type of reformer should respond: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."
In other words: before you try to make a reform, you have to understand the reasoning behind the existing state of affairs.
More Appreciative of Splooshes (and Other Sound Effects)
This 6 minute video will change the way you watch movies.
It gives a quick introduction to the unsung heroes of modern cinema, Foley Artists. These are the people that create sound effects to make the movie more realistic.
A few of their tricks include using:
- Frozen romaine lettuce for bone or head injury noises.
- Cellophane for crackling fire effects.
- Acorns, small apples and walnuts on a wooden parquet surface for bones breaking
- Canned dog food for alien pod embryo expulsions and monster vocalizations.
It's one thing to read it, another to see/hear it. Check out the video to get a proper appreciation of the craft behind the sound effects.
"If you must be idle, be not solitary. If you must be solitary, be not idle" - Samuel Johnson
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