Recommended Reading 20th July

Adorable Ducklings Have Abstract Thoughts
John Locke thought that humans were unique in their ability to abstract meta-level concepts from object-level examples. The observation that ducklings can do just this (often better than human children) suggests Locke was wrong. Ducklings were able to recognise the relatedness of different objects: when shown two similar objects they abstracted the concept of “sameness” and when shown two different objects they abstracted that difference. These experiments may suggest that abstraction is not as essential for higher intelligence as previously thought.

Who blames the victim? 
People who value loyalty, obedience and purity are more likely to engage in victim-blaming than people who prioritise care and fairness. People who have read Haidt’s ‘The Righteous Mind’ will recognise that these groups correspond to conservatives and liberals respectively. Intriguingly the authors also found that focusing people’s attention on the perpetrator of a crime is actually more effective at reducing the subject’s tendency to victim-blame than focusing their attention on the victim.

The GOP’s Original Sin
Paul Krugman suggests that the adoption of supply-side policies in 1980 is what catalysed the GOP’s move to the so-called “post-truth” phase. I don’t really understand economics and I know Krugman is pretty partisan so his claim that supply-side economics never had any academic support might not be 100% true but at the same time, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if it was true.

New AI can predict when two people will kiss
Discussion of a deep learning algorithm that watches a lot of TV shows to figure out how likely a “lean-in” is to lead to a kiss. The headline probably overstates it (the AI only gets it right 43% of the time) but humans were only 71% successful so it’s a good start. Further evidence that there’s nothing special about humans “emotional intuitions”.


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