With regard to psychopaths, “We think the ‘uhs’ and ‘ums’ are about putting the mask of sanity on,” Hancock told LiveScience.
Psychopaths appear to view the world and others instrumentally, as theirs for the taking, the team, which also included Stephen Porter from the University of British Columbia, wrote.
As they expected, the psychopaths’ language contained more words known as subordinating conjunctions. These words, including “because” and “so that,” are associated with cause-and-effect statements.
“This pattern suggested that psychopaths were more likely to view the crime as the logical outcome of a plan (something that ‘had’ to be done to achieve a goal),” the authors write.
And finally, while most of us respond to higher-level needs, such as family, religion or spirituality, and self-esteem, psychopaths remain occupied with those needs associated with a more basic existence.
The Department of Homeland security is field testing a system that will attempt to predict which passengers on an airline are planning terrorist activity, according to Nature. The system, called Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) looks at a number of factors, including your pulse, the steadiness of your gaze and the way you walk and calculates the probability that you’re planning to commit a crime. It’s a bit like a polygraph, but it doesn’t require subjects to be connecting to a polygraph.
DHS claims that the system is 70% effective in lab tests.
But DHS isn’t the only law enforcement agency looking to statistic modeling to predict crime. Earlier this year Slate ran a story on how police departments, including the LAPD and Chicago PD, are researching predictive policing. This projects aren’t about predicting the actions of one individual, Minority Report style, but instead are designed to help decide how best to allocate police resources.
The “wisdom of the crowd” has become a bit of a pop cliché, but it’s backed up by real-world evidence. When groups of people are asked to provide estimates of obscure information, the median value of their answers will often be remarkably close to the right one, even though many of their answers are laughably wrong. But crowds rarely act in the absence of social influences, and some researchers in Zurich have now shown that providing individuals information about what their fellow crowd-members are thinking is enough to wipe out the crowd’s wisdom. […]
Compared to the control setup, the additional information changed the crowd’s collective behavior dramatically. In what the authors term the “social influence effect,” the panels that were provided with information about their peers quickly narrowed their focus onto a fairly limited set of values, meaning the diversity of their answers decreased. In contrast, the control group retained its initial diversity throughout the repeated rounds of questioning.
Worse still, the panels that were provided with social information narrowed in on answers that were more likely to be wrong.
The New York Times asked Gallup to come up with a statistical composite for the happiest person in America, based on the characteristics that most closely correlated with happiness in 2010. Men, for example, tend to be happier than women, older people are happier than middle-aged people, and so on.
Gallup’s answer: he’s a tall, Asian-American, observant Jew who is at least 65 and married, has children, lives in Hawaii, runs his own business and has a household income of more than $120,000 a year. A few phone calls later and …
Global environmental problems are not, and will not, be mainly a problem of overbreeding Indians or Africans. First, their birthrates are coming down fast, with Indian women, for instance, having fewer than three children on average today; and even African women have falling fertility. And secondly, because overbreeding — in the sense of women having more than replacement levels of children — is almost entirely in countries with a very low per-capita footprint on the planet. For instance, the carbon emissions of one American is the same as that of 20 Indians, 30 Pakistanis, 40 Nigerians and 250 Ethiopians. If, as economists suggest, the world economy will grow by 400 percent by 2050, then no more than a tenth of that will be a result of population growth. The issue is consumption, and that puts the onus right back on the conspicuous consumers to do something about their economic systems, not least before more developing countries follow the same model.
So these worries about overpopulation are unfounded?
When Paul Ehrlich wrote his famous book [“The Population Bomb”], women were having an average around the world of five or six children; now they’re having an average of 2.6. Fertility rates around the world have halved. That’s not just true in Europe and North America; they’re way below replacement levels in most of East Asia now. Not just China but Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Burma have replacement rates of fertility or below. Around the world, fertility rates have been coming down really sharply. So the population bomb as we’ve conceived it before really isn’t there. There’s still population growth going on, but that’s going to stabilize. […]
If chaos theory taught us anything, it’s that societies head off in all kinds of directions we couldn’t predict. Fifty years ago, if we had taken a slightly different path in industrial chemistry and used bromine instead of chlorine, we’d have burned out the entire ozone layer before we knew what the hell was going on, and the world would have been very different. There’s always scary stuff out there that we may not know about. You can’t predict the future. You can just try and plan for it.