Saudi Arabia, Psychopaths, Bob Rooss, Plato, Comparisons


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Saudi Arabia Tastes Freedom

Susanne Koelbl | Der Spiegel | 17th May 2017

“Why is a word that didn’t previously exist in Saudi Arabian public debate. Suddenly, it can be heard all over the place, as if the economic crisis is forcing the country to undergo a kind of late-period enlightenment. Everything is being renegotiated, from benefits to the distribution of money, and the question of who will enjoy new freedoms and who will lose old privileges. In sum, the country’s previous social pact – prosperity in exchange for submission – is being challenged” (2,600 words)

When Your Child Is A Psychopath

Barbara Bradley Hagerty | Atlantic | 17th May 2017

Paediatricians do not generally diagnose children as psychopaths because “the term carries too much stigma, and too much determinism”. The preferred tag is “callous and unemotional traits”. But in some children the condition seems hardwired from birth, and clear by the age of three or four. “Whereas normally developing children at that age grow agitated when they see other children cry — and either try to comfort them or bolt the scene — these kids show a chilly detachment” (7,200 words)

A Statistical Analysis Of The Work Of Bob Ross

Walt Hickey | Five Thirty Eight | 30th April 2017

A lesson in the statistical concepts of conditional probability and clustering, using as a data set 381 paintings by PBS presenter Bob Ross. “We know that 44 percent of Ross’s paintings contain clouds, 9 percent contain the beach and 7 percent contain both the clouds and the beach. We can use this information to figure out two things: the probability that Ross painted a cloud given that he painted a beach, and the probability that he painted a beach given that he painted a cloud” (1,900 words)

Platonically Irrational

Nick Romeo | Aeon | 1st January 1970

Behavioural economics is “one of the major intellectual developments of the past 50 years”, but many of its insights were anticipated 2,500 years ago by Plato, whose dialogues warn against confirmation bias, availability bias, framing, loss aversion and anchoring, amongst other errors. “By dramatising the moral dimensions of cognitive biases, Plato suggests that, while susceptibility to these errors could be universal, our capacity to overcome them stems in part from the correct ethical training” (2,500 words)

Things You Can’t Compare

Brandon Emrys | Siris | 16th May 2017

In English we warn against comparing apples with oranges. In years gone by we also warned against comparing apples with herrings, eggs, pears, potatoes and oysters. Serbians warn against comparing grandmothers and toads — бабе и жабе; Romanians against comparing grandmothers and machine guns — baba şi mitraliera. But top marks for this category of idiom go to the Spanish, who say: No hay que confundir la velocidad con el tocino, “one must not confuse speed and bacon”. (500 words)

Video of the day: Galaxies

What to expect:

Time-lapse of deep-sky objects by Adrien Mauduit (4’38”)

Thought for the day

The truth is more important than the facts
Frank Lloyd Wright

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