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  • November 22, 2015
  • 11:45 PM

Radicalization, expertise, and skepticism among doctors & engineers: the value of philosophy in education

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

This past Friday was a busy day for a lot of the folks in Integrated Mathematical Oncology here at the Moffitt Cancer Center. Everybody was rushing around to put the final touches on a multi-million dollar research center grant application to submit to the National Cancer Institute. Although the time was not busy for me, […]... Read more »

Gambetta, D., & Hertog, S. (2009) Why are there so many Engineers among Islamic Radicals?. European Journal of Sociology, 50(02), 201. DOI: 10.1017/S0003975609990129  

  • October 14, 2015
  • 09:53 AM

Feel Our Pain: Empathy and Moral Behavior

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

"It's empathy that makes us help other people. It's empathy that makes us moral." The economist Paul Zak casually makes this comment in his widely watched TED talk about the hormone oxytocin, which he dubs the "moral molecule". Zak quotes a number of behavioral studies to support his claim that oxytocin increases empathy and trust, which in turn increases moral behavior. If all humans regularly inhaled a few puffs of oxytocin through a nasal spray, we could become m........ Read more »

De Dreu, C., Greer, L., Van Kleef, G., Shalvi, S., & Handgraaf, M. (2011) Oxytocin promotes human ethnocentrism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(4), 1262-1266. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1015316108  

Shalvi S, & De Dreu CK. (2014) Oxytocin promotes group-serving dishonesty. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(15), 5503-7. PMID: 24706799  

Xu X, Zuo X, Wang X, & Han S. (2009) Do you feel my pain? Racial group membership modulates empathic neural responses. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 29(26), 8525-9. PMID: 19571143  

  • July 29, 2015
  • 02:09 PM

The “Invisible Web” Undermines Health Information Privacy

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

What do the third parties do with your data? We do not really know because the laws and regulations are rather fuzzy here. We do know that Google, Facebook and Twitter primarily make money by advertising so they could potentially use your info and customize the ads you see. Just because you visited a page on breast cancer does not mean that the "Invisible Web" knows your name and address but they do know that you have some interest in breast cancer. It would make financial sense to sen........ Read more »

  • June 25, 2015
  • 12:43 PM

The Long Shadow of Nazi Indoctrination: Persistence of Anti-Semitism in Germany

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Voigtländer and Voth examined the results of the large General Social Survey for Germany (ALLBUS) in which several thousand Germans were asked about their values and beliefs. The survey took place in 1996 and 2006, and the researchers combined the results of both surveys with a total of 5,300 participants from 264 German towns and cities. The researchers were specifically interested in anti-Semitic attitudes and focused on three survey questions specifically related to anti-Semitism. Survey........ Read more »

Voigtländer N, & Voth HJ. (2015) Nazi indoctrination and anti-Semitic beliefs in Germany. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 26080394  

  • June 23, 2015
  • 01:40 PM

Justice system chips away at women’s rights

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Arrests of women increased dramatically in the past two decades, while domestic abuse laws meant to protect female victims have put many behind bars for defending themselves, a new paper argues. These trends suggest evidence, at least in the justice system, of a “war on women” — a term coined during the 2012 election that refers to attempts to limit women’s rights.... Read more »

  • June 18, 2015
  • 01:02 PM

How ‘science popularizers’ influence public opinion on religion

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Two prominent scientists with drastically different views on the relationship of science and religion – Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins – have an equally different influence on these views among people who are unfamiliar with their work, according to new research from Rice University and West Virginia University.... Read more »

  • May 20, 2015
  • 05:35 AM

Further support for the Gradual Audiomotor Evolution (GAE) hypothesis?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Four chimpanzees born at the Primate Reserach Institute, Kyoto University recently participated in a finger-tapping experiment much like those that have been done for decades with humans (Repp, 2005). Two of them, Chloe and Cleo, showed signs of synchronization, according to a study that just came out in Scientific Reports.... Read more »

Merchant, H., & Honing, H. (2013) Are non-human primates capable of rhythmic entrainment? Evidence for the gradual audiomotor evolution hypothesis. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7(274). info:/

  • May 16, 2015
  • 01:22 PM

The relationship between CEO greed and company performance

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

That gut feeling many workers, laborers and other underlings have about their CEOs is spot on, according to three recent studies which all suggest that CEO greed is bad for business.But how do you define greed? Are compassionate CEOs better for business? How do you know if the leader is doing more harm than good? And can anybody rein in the I-Me-Mine type leader anyway?... Read more »

  • April 28, 2015
  • 09:40 AM

Murder Your Darling Hypotheses But Do Not Bury Them

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

There is surprisingly little data on how and when scientists reject hypotheses, but John Fugelsang and Kevin Dunbar at Dartmouth conducted a rather unique study "Theory and data interactions of the scientific mind: Evidence from the molecular and the cognitive laboratory" in 2004 in which they researched researchers. They sat in at scientific laboratory meetings of three renowned molecular biology laboratories at carefully recorded how scientists presented their laboratory data and how........ Read more »

Fugelsang, J., Stein, C., Green, A., & Dunbar, K. (2004) Theory and Data Interactions of the Scientific Mind: Evidence From the Molecular and the Cognitive Laboratory. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue canadienne de psychologie expérimentale, 58(2), 86-95. DOI: 10.1037/h0085799  

  • April 22, 2015
  • 12:00 PM

Memory Hack: Manipulating the Brain’s Memory Cache

by knowingneurons in Knowing Neurons

Imagine having a memory that haunts you, sneaks into your daily thoughts and turns over on itself in your dreams.  Escape seems impossible.  Now imagine you are injected with a virus that blocks the expression of a certain protein known to reactivate memories.  With minimal side effects and the small chance of erasing or altering … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • March 30, 2015
  • 11:32 AM

Gut Feelings

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

This boy may be influencing who he will marry when he grows up. Photo by Orrling at Wikimedia Commons.Animals (including humans) are swarming with microorganisms both on and in our bodies. Humans harbor so many different microorganisms that we have over 150 times more microbial genes than mammalian genes, and it is reasonable to suspect that this scenario is similar for most animals. But before you run to soak in a tub of hand sanitizer, you should realize that many of these microorganisms are a........ Read more »

Ezenwa, V., Gerardo, N., Inouye, D., Medina, M., & Xavier, J. (2012) Animal Behavior and the Microbiome. Science, 338(6104), 198-199. DOI: 10.1126/science.1227412  

  • March 28, 2015
  • 11:00 AM

Misbeliefs, evolution and games: a positive case

by Sergio Graziosi in Evolutionary Games Group

A recurrent theme here in TheEGG is the limits and reliability of knowledge. These get explored from many directions: on epistemological grounds, from the philosophy of science angle, but also formally, through game theory and simulations. In this post, I will explore the topic of misbeliefs as adaptations. Misbeliefs will be intended as ideas about […]... Read more »

Kaznatcheev, A., Montrey, M., & Shultz, T.R. (2014) Evolving useful delusions: Subjectively rational selfishness leads to objectively irrational cooperation. Proceedings of the 36th annual conference of the Cognitive Science Society. arXiv: 1405.0041v1

  • March 24, 2015
  • 07:00 AM

A Universal Translator By Any Other Name…

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Star Trek wouldn’t have been possible without the universal translator. Who would want to watch a show where characters don’t understand each other – of course, that doesn’t stop people from watching political debates. The technology of a universal translator is easy, we have camera phones that will show you a foreign sign in your own language. It’s the software to decipher a previously unencountered language that’s proving tough to overcome. Are there any uni........ Read more »

Rao, R., Yadav, N., Vahia, M., Joglekar, H., Adhikari, R., & Mahadevan, I. (2009) Entropic Evidence for Linguistic Structure in the Indus Script. Science, 324(5931), 1165-1165. DOI: 10.1126/science.1170391  

Snyder, Benjamin, Regina Barzilay and Kevin Knight. (2010) A Statistical Model for Lost Language Decipherment. Proceedings of the 48th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, ACL 2010. info:/

  • March 16, 2015
  • 11:45 PM

Pairing tools and problems: a lesson from the methods of mathematics and the Entscheidungsproblem

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

Three weeks ago it was my lot to present at the weekly integrated mathematical oncology department meeting. Given the informal setting, I decided to grab one gimmick and run with it. I titled my talk: ‘2’. It was an overview of two recent projects that I’ve been working on: double public goods for acid mediated […]... Read more »

  • March 16, 2015
  • 01:57 PM

Does watching porn affect your performance in bed?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Pornography, it’s why google and other search engines have safesearch. It’s all around us and if sales are any indication, it is not going away. There have been lots of claims regarding it, but does a predilection for porn mean bad news in bed? That’s the conclusion of many clinicians and the upshot of anecdotal reports claiming a man’s habit of viewing sex films can lead to problems getting or sustaining an erection, but what does science say?... Read more »

  • March 14, 2015
  • 07:34 AM

From Consciousness to Synthetic Consciousness: From One Unknown to Another Unknown with David Chalmers

by Waseem Akhtar in Bridging the Gaps,

What is consciousness? In this podcast David Chalmers starts addressing this question by saying that “being conscious is when there is something it is like to be that being”. This argument was initially presented by an American philosopher Thomas Nagel in an influential paper “what is it like to be a bat”. This paper was first published in the Philosophical Review in 1974.... Read more »

Chalmers, David. (2010) The Singularity: A Philosophical Analysis. Journal of Consciousness Studies, , 7-65. info:/

Chalmers, D. (1995) The Puzzle of Conscious Experience. Scientific American, 273(6), 80-86. DOI: 10.1038/scientificamerican1295-80  

Nagel, Thomas. (1974) What is it Like to Be a Bat. Philosophical Review. DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781107341050.014  

  • March 5, 2015
  • 10:11 AM

Does Thinking About God Increase Our Willingness to Make Risky Decisions?

by Jalees Rehman in Fragments of Truth

Daniella Kupor and her colleagues at Stanford University have recently published the paper "Anticipating Divine Protection? Reminders of God Can Increase Nonmoral Risk Taking" which takes a new look at the link between invoking the name of God and risky behaviors. The researchers hypothesized that reminders of God may have opposite effects on varying types of risk-taking behavior. For example, risk-taking behavior that is deemed ‘immoral' such as taking sexual risks or chea........ Read more »

  • March 4, 2015
  • 12:00 PM

Ghost in the Machine: The Neuroscience of Consciousness

by knowingneurons in Knowing Neurons

Some questions cannot be addressed by science.  Like parallel universes, the consciousness of others is not something that can be directly observed, measured, or experienced.  Rene Descartes famously said, “I think, therefore I am.“ a declaration that only knowledge of one’s own consciousness is absolute.  You assume that friends and neighbors have subjective, internal experiences … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • February 28, 2015
  • 09:15 AM

Five motivations for theoretical computer science

by Abel Molina in Evolutionary Games Group

There are some situations, perhaps lucky ones, where it is felt that an activity needs no external motivation or justification.  For the rest, it can be helpful to think of what the task at hand can be useful for. This of course doesn’t answer the larger question of what is worth doing, since it just distributes […]... Read more »

Barton, N.H., Novak, S., & Paixão, T. (2014) Diverse forms of selection in evolution and computer science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(29), 10398-9. PMID: 25009183  

  • February 26, 2015
  • 03:04 PM

Dr. Frankenstein might be impressed, the human head transplant

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Sure it sounds like something from the book Frankenstein, but Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group has made it known that he intends to announce at this summer’s American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons meeting, that he believes he has put together a group of techniques that should make it possible to attach a human donor body to a head.... Read more »

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