The sovereignty of the Ouija board

We sovereign professionals are a strong-willed lot, always completely in control and aware of the forces acting on us. So, I love this psychology study on Ouija users.

Psychologists at Aarhus University tracked the eye movements of users in the normal, involuntary, spirit-driven state and when using the planchette (pointer) to deliberately spell out words in a “voluntary” state.

Spoiler alert!

The experimenters found that:

when looking to see whether at least one participant in a pair made a predictive eye movement, the rates of prediction were just as high as for individuals in the voluntary condition (i.e. for any given move of the planchette, at least one person usually knew where it was going); second, rates of prediction increased in the Ouija board condition, but not the voluntary condition, presumably as the participants became increasingly aware of the diminishing number of meaningful options available.

Read the full spookiness, here.

 

Photo by dragonoak on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

A place to live and work – late addition

A late, but essential,  addition to the previous post.

Apparently, singer Tori Amos is selling her Ballywilliam House, her home in Kinsale, Ireland.

I feel I could both live and work quite happily there.

I love Georgian architecture and this looks amazing. I particularly like how the lawn rolls up to the front door.

The asking price is €1.45 million. More details here.

According to Neil Gaiman, in a recent tweet, “This is where I finished American Gods, where I wrote a lot of Anansi Boys, and where I got flu and completely failed to write any of the Graveyard Book. It’s the most peaceful and magical place. I hope it finds a new person who cherishes it.”

Beyond Binary – Ipsos MORI on Generation Z

Ipsos MORI publishes a fascinating new report on Generation Z, specifically the 5-15 year-old age group: Beyond Binary – the lives and choices of Generation Z.

It summarises seven findings:

  1. Increasingly fluid – “What we mean is that things are more open, less set, because people do have more ways to connect, see and experience more things.”
  2. No turning point on trust – “Our new analysis shows no real differences in levels of trust among the young with regards to all sorts of traditional institutions.”
  3. Just as caring – “But this does not mean that Gen Z are a cohort of activists.
    Neither are they selfish snowflakes, too busy watching YouTube videos of people eating Tide Pods. The evidence suggests they are just as active in social causes as previous generations, sometimes in different ways (using technology), but just as often in traditional ways, such as volunteering.”
  4. Inflection point on health – On obesity: “it’s not getting better either. A lot of this is arguably to do with the environment around young people which is shaped to make it harder to keep a healthy weight – the people they see, the shops they shop at, the food they have available, all create a social norm, and are often geared to make them fat.”
  5. Importance of digital skills – “In some ways, Generation Z already have an
    innate advantage over other generations, just through growing up fully integrated with technology – they are much more discerning of online sources than Millennial children ever were.”
  6. Danger is different – “Generation Z are not the teenage rebels of ages past. Generational declines in youth crime, smoking, drinking and sexual activity reflect a significant behavioural shift.”
  7. And digital is double-edged – “There is a growing body of evidence of the downsides from unfettered use of technology, prompting more strident statements from politicians and officials, including the head of the NHS in the UK. Social media use has correlations with anxiety, bullying, peer pressure, lower self-esteem, alongside much more positive outcomes.
    We’re only in the infancy of understanding the full impact.”

Also, some fascinating data points (in no particular order):

  • In 25 EU countries, the number of young people detained by the police dropped by 42% between 2008 and 2014.
  • In the US in 2015, 22% of high schoolers had been in a physical fight that year compared with 36% in 1999.
  • 66% of Generation Z think of themselves as exclusively heterosexual
    compared with 71% of Millennials, 85% of Gen X and 88% of Baby Boomers.
  • Just 30% of teenagers feel the things they own say a lot about how well they are doing in life, compared with 42% in 2011.
  • Only 39% of teens prefer to buy gender-specific shoes, compared with
    57% of Millennials.
  • 40% of 12-15 year olds in 2010, felt that things they saw on social media were either entirely or mostly true; just 24% of Gen Z 12-15 year olds think that now.

The full report is here.

The Register has a (typically styled) summary here.

 

Photo by David Calderón on Unsplash

Settled science – the Cultural Offering of @HardenKurt

Pressed for time but eager to keep pace with the latest scientific developments?

Cultural Offering brings you Settled Science:

All this plus inspiration and more music than you can shake a stick at (as they say, but as I’ve never quite understood).

And, via Cultural Offering, here’s Steve Morse and the Dixie Dregs:

 

Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash

Is your social media addiction changing your perceptions – Jaron Lanier

Here’s the always thoughtful and excellent Jaron Lanier in a 20-minute interview on Channel 4 News, talking about the effect of social media.

Lanier is a fascinating, new-Renaissance man: a writer on computer-philosophy, a computer scientist and programmer of very high regard (one of the fathers of VR), an artist and a musician.

His theme here builds on a point raised in his 2010 book You Are Not A Gadget:  that our perspective on the world is imperceptibly shaped and limited by the tools we use to perceive it: if your spectacles are the wrong prescription, you don’t see things far away; if your search engine tailors results to your tastes, you don’t see what you don’t know. Here, he adds the impact of social media algorithms tailoring your world view based on your response to what you see.

Fascinating.

 

Image: LAVREB University of Siena

Amuse-bouches for the brain – @execupundit

Amuse-bouches for the brain: a fresh batch of random thoughts from Execupundit, including:

  • Meetings favor people who do not like to read.
  • Secret worries far outnumber the open ones.
  • A good guide can turn an old trail into a new path.
  • Those looking into a room often see more than those who are seated.

Read the rest, and search for older thoughts, here.

 

Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash

Entrepreneurs, parasites, fat cats and mice

Here’s a fascinating piece from the Times.

A few years ago, I was intrigued to read how the toxoplasmosis parasite modified the behaviour of mice it infected so that they were more likely to be caught and eaten by cats, thus achieving the parasite’s (presumed, none have been interviewed) goal of moving up the food-chain and perpetuating its species.

The parasite increases risk-taking behaviour in infected mice: they are less scared of cats and more likely to explore unfamiliar spaces. I read somewhere else that they are more likely to be seen during the day, too.

The Times’ Tom Whipple reports on a study by Stefanie Johnson at the University of Colorado, Boulder to see if the parasite had a similar effect on human behaviour:

To investigate that theory, they looked at three groups. The first was a sample of 1,500 US students who were studying biology or business. Those on the business course were almost 50 per cent more likely to have the parasite. The second was 200 people attending entrepreneurship events. There, infected people were 80 per cent more likely to have started their own business.

Finally, they investigated how global infection rates — which range from 9 per cent in Norway to 60 per cent in Brazil — correlated to an index of entrepreneurial activity. Again, the presence of the parasite was linked to being more orientated towards starting a business, and less troubled about a fear of it failing.

Stefanie Johnson, of the University of Colorado, Boulder, said that she was not surprised by the findings. “Other data has looked at autopsy results from people who died doing risky things — riding a motorcycle without a helmet or skydiving,” she said. They were more likely to have toxoplasmosis than people who died from less risky causes.

The Times article is here.

The University of Colorado’s piece is here.

As we so often find, we are never quite the masters of our fate that we like to think.

Thus, I confidently predict that we sovereign professionals are a parasite-ridden bunch. Happy Friday!

 

Photo by Mikhail Vasilyev on Unsplash