Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Impact of Media Censorship: Evidence from a Field Experiment in China

The Impact of Media Censorship: Evidence from a Field Experiment in China. Yuyu Chen and David Y. Yang. Stanford University, October 25, 2017. https://stanford.edu/~dyang1/pdfs/1984bravenewworld_draft.pdf

Abstract: Media censorship is a hallmark of authoritarian regimes. We conduct a field experiment in China to examine whether providing access to an uncensored Internet leads citizens to acquire politically sensitive information, and whether they are affected by the information. We track subjects’ media consumption, beliefs regarding the media, economic beliefs, political attitudes, and behaviors over 18 months. We find 4 main results: (i) free access alone does not induce subjects to acquire politically sensitive information; (ii) temporary encouragement leads to a persistent increase in acquisition, indicating that demand is not permanently low; (iii) acquisition brings broad, substantial, and persistent changes to knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and intended behaviors; and (iv) social transmission of information is statistically significant but small in magnitude. We calibrate a simple model to show that, due to the low demand for, and moderate social transmission of, uncensored information, China’s censorship apparatus may remain robust for a large number of citizens receiving unencouraged access to an uncensored Internet.

Keywords: censorship, information, media, belief
JEL classification: D80, D83, L86, P26


Check also how propaganda can be effective at changing the behavior of all citizens even if most do not believe it: Propaganda and credulity, by Andrew T. Little. In Games and Economic Behavior, Volume 102, March 2017, Pages 224–232. http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/06/propaganda-can-be-effective-at-changing.html

Thirty-four Inspiring Quotes on Criticism (and How to Handle It)

34 Inspiring Quotes on Criticism (and How to Handle It) -- EXTRACT

  1. – Dale Carnegie
  2. “The pleasure of criticizing takes away from us the pleasure of being moved by some very fine things.”
    – Jean de La Bruyère
  3. – Aristotle
  4. – John Wooden
  5. “Criticism is an indirect form of self-boasting.”
    – Emmet Fox
  6. “When virtues are pointed out first, flaws seem less insurmountable.”
    – Judith Martin
  7. – Neil Gaiman
  8. – Norman Vincent Peale
  9. “When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.”
    – Unknown
  10. “It is much more valuable to look for the strength in others. You can gain nothing by criticizing their imperfections.”
    – Daisaku Ikeda
  11. “The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews.”
    – William Faulkner
  12. “If we judge ourselves only by our aspirations and everyone else only their conduct we shall soon reach a very false conclusion.”
    – Calvin Coolidge
  13. “I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.”
    – Charles Schwab
  14. “I criticize by creation, not by finding fault.”
    – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  15. “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”
    – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  16. “Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.”
    – Elvis Presley
  17. – Frank A. Clark
  18. “People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.”
    – Gary Chapman
  19. “Criticism is the disapproval of people, not for having faults, but having faults different from your own.”
    – Unknown
  20. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.
    So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
    – Theodore Roosevelt
  21. “Before you go and criticize the younger generation, just remember who raised them.”
    – Unknown
  22. “Who do you spend time with? Criticizers or encouragers? Surround yourself with those who believe in you. Your life is too important for anything less.”
    – Steve Goodier
  23. “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
    – Winston Churchill
  24. “He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”
    – Abraham Lincoln
  25. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  26. – Eleanor Roosevelt
  27. “One mustn’t criticize other people on grounds where he can’t stand perpendicular himself”
    – Mark Twain
  28. “That was excellently observed’, say I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.”
    – Jonathan Swift
  29. “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.”
    – Benjamin Franklin
  30. “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you.”
    – William Arthur Ward
  31. “A man interrupted one of the Buddha’s lectures with a flood of abuse.
    Buddha waited until he had finished and then asked him:
    If a man offered a gift to another but the gift was declined, to whom would the gift belong?
    To the one who offered it, said the man.
    Then, said the Buddha, I decline to accept your abuse and request you to keep it for yourself.”
  32. – Joseph Joubert
  33. – Abraham Lincoln
  34. – Michel de Montaigne

"Si une fille de treize ans a droit à la pilule, c'est pour quoi faire?"

Louis Aragon, Roland Barthes, Simone de Beauvoir, Gilles et Fanny Deleuze, André Glucksmann, Bernard Kouchner, Jack Lang, Jean-Paul Sartre, René Schérer, and many others: "si une fille de treize ans a droit à la pilule, c'est pour quoi faire?"
http://web.archive.org/web/20050404190912/http://www.decadi.com/dignaction/Fpetit.html

Quelques pétitions ou lettres ouvertes pas sans équivoque 
Le Monde du 26 janvier 1977
mai 1977
Libération, mars 1979
Libération, 1er mars 2001
Libération, 1er mars 2001 (19/08/2001)


Le Monde du 26 janvier 1977
"Les 27, 28 et 29 janvier, devant la cour d'assises des Yvelines vont comparaître pour attentat à la pudeur sans violence sur des mineurs de quinze ans, Bernard Dejager, Jean-Claude Gallien et Jean Burckardt, qui, arrêtés à l'automne 1973 sont déjà restés plus de trois ans en détention provisoire. Seul Bernard Dejager a récemment bénéficie du principe de liberté des inculpés. Une si longue détention préventive pour instruire une simple affaire de "moeurs " où les enfants n'ont pas été victimes de la moindre violence, mais, au contraire, ont précisé aux juges d'instruction qu'ils étaient consentants (quoique la justice leur dénie actuellement tout droit au consentement), une si longue détention préventive nous parait déjà scandaleuse. Aujourd'hui, ils risquent d'être condamnés à une grave peine de réclusion criminelle soit pour avoir eu des relations sexuelles avec ces mineurs, garçons et filles, soit pour avoir favorisé et photographié leurs jeux sexuels.
Nous considérons qu'il y a une disproportion manifeste d'une part, entre la qualification de "crime" qui justifie une telle sévérité, et la nature des faits reprochés; d'autre part, entre la caractère désuet de la loi et la réalité quotidienne d'une société qui tend à reconnaître chez les enfants et les adolescents l'existence d'une vie sexuelle (si une fille de treize ans a droit à la pilule, c'est pour quoi faire?) La loi française se contredit lorsqu'elle reconnaît une capacité de discernement d'un mineur de treize ou quatorze ans qu'elle peut juger et condamner, alors qu'elle lui refuse cette capacité quand il s'agit de sa Vie affective et sexuelle. Trois ans de prison pour des caresses et des baisers, cela suffit. Nous ne comprendrions pas que le 29 janvier Dejager, Gallien et Burckhart ne retrouvent pas la liberté."

Ont signé ce communiqué :
Louis Aragon, Francis Ponge, Roland Barthes, Simone de Beauvoir, Judith Belladona, docteur Michel Bon, psychosociologue, Bertrand Boulin, Jean-Louis Bory, François Chatelet, Patrice Chéreau, Jean-Pierre Colin, Copi, Michel Cressole, Gilles et Fanny Deleuze, Bernard Dort, Françoise d'Eaubonne, docteur Maurice Erne, psychiatre, Jean-Pierre Faye, docteur Pierrette Garrou, psychiatre, Philippe Gavi, docteur Pierre-Edmond Gay, psychanalyste, docteur Claire Gellman, psychologue, docteur Robert Gellman, psychiatre, André Glucksmann, Félix Guattari, Daniel Guérin, Pierre Guyotat, Pierre Hahn, Jean-Luc Henning, Christian Hennion, Jacques Henric, Guy Hocquenghem, docteur Bernard Kouchner, Françoise Laborie, Madeleine Laïk, Jack Lang, Georges Lapassade, Raymond Lepoutre, Michel Leyris, Jean-François Lyotard, Dionys Mascolo, Gabriel Matzneff, Catherine Millet, Vincent Montail, docteur Bernard Muldworf, psychiatre Négrepont, Marc Pierret, Anne Querrien, Grisélédis Réal, François Régnault, Claude et Olivier Revault d'Allonnes, Christiane Rochefort, Gilles Sandier, Pierre Samuel, Jean-Paul Sartre, René Schérer, Philippe Sollers, Gérard Soulier, Victoria Therame, Marie Thonon, Catherine Valabrègue, docteur Gérard Vallès, psychiatre, Hélène Védrines, Jean-Marie Vincent, Jean-Michel Wilheim, Danielle Sallenave, Alain Cuny.


mai 1977
Lettre ouverte à la commission de révision du Code pénal, qui évoque la confusion des actes commis sur des moins de 15 ans par des adultes ou par des mineurs de 15 à 18 ans et exige que cette «infraction» ne soit plus un crime et qu'on tienne compte «essentiellement du consentement du mineur».
Signée par : Françoise Dolto, Louis Althusser, Jacques Derrida, André Glucksmann, ...
NB - Le texte intégral et la liste des signataires ne sont pas en notre possession.

Libération, mars 1979
mars 1979, pour soutenir Gérard R., un pédophile qui attend depuis dix-huit mois son procès, une lettre publiée dans la page Courrier de Libération accuse la «morale d'Etat»: «Ce que vise l'ordre moral, c'est le maintien de la soumission des enfants-mineur (e) s au pouvoir adulte.»
L'auteur de la lettre appelle les lecteurs, en particulier les femmes, apparemment rétives, à signer le texte suivant: «L'amour des enfants est aussi l'amour de leur corps. Le désir et les jeux sexuels librement consentis ont leur place dans les rapports entre enfants et adultes. Voilà ce que pensait et vivait Gérard R. avec des fillettes de 6 à 12 ans dont l'épanouissement attestait aux yeux de tous, y compris de leurs parents, le bonheur qu'elles trouvaient avec lui.» Au bas de ce texte, 63 signatures. Parmi elles, Pascal Bruckner, Georges Moustaki, Christiane Rochefort et d'autres, plus attendus ou moins connus. (L'Express, 7 mars 2001)

Libération, 1er mars 2001
Cohn-Bendit et Mai 68: quel procès? Nos lecteurs réagissent à sa mise en cause.
Société de paranoïa
Par VÉRONIQUE DUBARRY, STÉPHANE LAVIGNOTTE, GUILHEM LAVIGNOTTE, ERWAN LECOEUR, CHRISTINE VILLARD, THOMAS GIRY, JULIEN LECAILLE, ARNAUD WASSON-SIMON, IRÈNE STEINERT (PAYS-BAS), SU FRIEDRICH (NEW YORK), SILVIA CARACCIOLO (ROME), GILLES COLLARD (BELGIQUE), JOHN SYMONS (BOSTON), PIERRE FAY (CAP COD, ETATS-UNIS), ETC.
SOUTIEN (GÉNÉRATION DES PARENTS): ANNE COPPEL, SERGE QUADRUPPANI, ALAIN DUGRAND, ALAIN LIPIETZ...
(Contact: stephane@lavignotte.org).
Le jeudi 1er mars 2001

Nous sommes les enfants de la révolution sexuelle. Nous avons aujourd'hui des enfants, ou nous espérons en avoir, ou nous en côtoyons et nous disons merci à la génération de nos parents. Nous entendons les médias clouer Cohn-Bendit au pilori en l'accusant de pédophile. Nous entendons ce qu'il dit, nous entendons ce qu'il décrit et dans ses mots nombre d'entre nous ont l'impression d'entendre et de revoir leurs propres parents. Sommes-nous des enfants de pédophiles ?
Nombre d'entre nous ont eu des parents qui se sont promenés nus devant eux, sans doute nous ont-ils laissés toucher leurs seins, leur sexe. Ils ont été heureux quand nous sommes tombés amoureux à la maternelle, quand nous avons embrassé d'autres enfants sur la bouche. Ils nous ont laissés jouer à «touche-pipi». Que dit Cohn-Bendit? A-t-il évoqué le désir qu'il aurait pu éprouver pour des enfants ? A-t-il eu l'intention de les pénétrer ? Leur a-t-il demandé des fellations ? Non. Ce qu'il raconte, c'est ce que nous ont laissés vivre nos parents - ou que nous aurions aimé que nos parents nous laissent vivre - et c'est ce que nous voulons vivre avec nos enfants. Des enfants qui ont une vie sexuelle - qui l'ignore encore aujourd'hui? - qui éprouvent des désirs, qui ont des questions, des séductions. Bref, non pas des enfants objets pour les adultes, mais bien des enfants sujets dans toutes leurs dimensions, y compris celles qui excitent tant les esprits. Les années 70 ont fait des enfants - de nous - des sujets. La révolution sexuelle - y compris dans le domaine de l'enfance - nous a d'abord appris que notre corps nous appartenait. Que nous avions le droit d'en faire ce que nous voulions, avec qui nous voulions. Que, parce que devenus sujets, nous avions le droit de dire «non» à ceux qui désiraient faire autre chose de notre corps et de nos désirs que ce que nous, nous voulions.
Accuser la révolution sexuelle - qui a fait de l'enfant un acteur, un sujet de son corps - d'être à l'origine de la pédophilie est autant un contresens que d'accuser la révolution (y compris sexuelle) des femmes d'être à l'origine des viols dont elles sont encore aujourd'hui victimes. La révolution sexuelle a d'abord appris aux enfants, aux adolescentes, aux femmes à dire «non».
Nous remercions la génération de la révolution sexuelle d'avoir déverrouillé la vieille famille où l'enfant et la femme étaient - et restent encore trop souvent - des objets, y compris des violences sexuelles de leur entourage. Parce que la famille qu'ils ont fait éclore n'est plus celle des années 50, nous sommes heureux d'en créer aujourd'hui, ou nous pensons en créer demain. Ecrits ou propos scandaleux, ceux de Cohn-Bendit? Non, ceux d'une nécessaire explosion de parole qui permettait de dire «je», de dire «non». C'est le contraire de la pédophilie, de la loi du silence. Si aujourd'hui, de plus en plus, la parole se libère sur les horreurs subies, ces curés qui abusent, ces parents qui violent, ces familles qui étouffent, ne le doit-on pas à cette déflagration initiale?
Nous nous inquiétons de cette société de paranoïa qui crie si vite à la secte, au pédophile, mais qui ne se donne jamais les moyens - en paroles, en personnels, en structures, en changements de fond - qui permettraient vraiment de lutter contre ces violences et leurs origines. Qui se trouve des boucs émissaires pour éviter de se donner les moyens d'agir.

Libération, 1er mars 2001
Cohn-Bendit et Mai 68: quel procès? Nos lecteurs réagissent à sa mise en cause.
La danse du scalp
Par MALIKA AHMED, FRANÇOIS DEVOUCOUX, DAVID MARTIN CASTELNAU, MEMBRES DE GÉNÉRATION RÉPUBLIQUE.
Le jeudi 1er mars 2001

Qui lui donnera le coup de grâce? Pas nous. Nous avons l'âge d'être filles et fils de Daniel Cohn-Bendit et nous voulons dire ici à quel point nous déplorons le mauvais traitement dont il est l'objet.
Cohn-Bendit n'a commis d'autre crime que d'écrire quelques terribles bêtises, qu'il regrette amèrement. Cela devrait suffire à clore le dossier. Eh, bien non : la danse du scalp continue. Nous sommes pourtant loin d'être des groupies de cette génération 68, qui s'est construite sur des slogans aussi ineptes qu'«Il est interdit d'interdire» ou «La révolution sera sexuelle ou ne sera pas». Nous n'avons jamais cru que l'aspiration à la liberté et au progrès pouvait se résumer à la faculté de baisouiller, y compris de baisouiller à la faculté. Des aristocrates libertins à Paul Morand, il a été amplement démontré qu'on pouvait être un ardent avocat du plaisir et, par ailleurs, parfaitement réactionnaire. La gauche ne se réduit pas à la libido. La question sociale, l'articulation entre identités privées et collectives, la réflexion sur la conjugaison de l'Etat-nation et de la mondialisation nous paraissent largement aussi essentielles. Pour nous y être intéressés d'un point de vue «républicain», nous avons subi les foudres excommunicatrices de certains esprits délicats. «Nationaux-ceci», «souverainisto-cela» : tout était bon pour nous disqualifier.
Mais les temps changent, et le rusé Goupil voit juste: une nouvelle gauche émerge, qui va de Bové à Technikart, en passant par le Monde diplomatique et Chevènement, avec laquelle la génération de nos aînés devrait, c'est un fait, «discuter avant qu'il ne soit trop tard» (Libération du 23 février). Car nous réclamons à ces mêmes aînés un droit d'inventaire. Directement, sans passer par les bons offices de madame Vichinsky et monsieur Kenneth Starr. Mais ce faisant, nous n'avons nul besoin de transformer une vache sacrée en bouc émissaire: Dany vaut mieux que cela. Nous ne lui disons pas «Adieu!», nous n'invitons pas à «le chasser de nos têtes», nous ne lui conseillons pas «de prendre sa retraite». Il sera pour nous, dans les mois qui viennent, un interlocuteur générationnel, et à certains égards, un adversaire idéologique indispensable pour que l'époque aille au bout de sa mue. Peut-être, d'ailleurs, Dany sera-t-il désormais le premier à montrer l'exemple et, pour en avoir été la victime ahurie, incitera-t-il ses copains à renoncer à la diabolisation tous azimuts?

College students are assigned higher grades when in a classroom with peers who are rated as very attractive - Effect is strongest for female students

Physical appearance and peer effects in academic performance. Rey Hernández-Julián & Christina Peters. Applied Economics Letters, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13504851.2017.1380282

Abstract: A large literature examines the role of peer effects in shaping student academic outcomes. This article adds to that literature by introducing a new kind of peer effect – the effect of classmate physical appearance. We document that college students are assigned higher grades when in a classroom with peers who are rated as very attractive. This effect is strongest for female students and appears to be concentrated among the courses of younger and male instructors.

KEYWORDS: Peer effects, appearance, grades, classmate appearance

West Point cadets are more risk averse & programs aimed at increasing women & minorities are likely to increase the risk aversion

Bell, Patrick and Engel, Rozlyn and Hudson, Darren and Jamison, Julian C. and Skimmyhorn, Bill, Risk Preferences in Future Military Leaders (March 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3055387

Abstract: Although hundreds of studies have demonstrated that risk preferences shape people’s choices under uncertainty, the complexity of how attitudes toward risk play out across various pivotal settings and key populations leaves considerable gaps in knowledge. We study a unique sample of a cohort of future military leaders at the United States Military Academy (West Point), nearly all of whom now hold commissions in the US Army officer corps. Using a hypothetical instrument to elicit preferences across a variety of domains, we find that cadets are risk averse, on average, which has potentially important implications for future management of military conflicts and programs. Our results also show that diversity programs aimed at increasing the number of women and minorities at West Point are likely to increase the average level of risk aversion within the officer corps. This finding suggests that working with officers to strengthen cognitive flexibility and to be attuned to a possible wedge between their innate preferences and the needs of the situation may be important, particularly for those who wish to enter occupational fields where the willingness to take risks is critical.

Keywords: risk preferences, risk aversion, uncertainty, occupational risk, leadership


Investigating the Masturbatory Behaviours of Canadian Midlife Adults

Investigating the Masturbatory Behaviours of Canadian Midlife Adults. Kovacevic, Katarina; Milhausen, Robin; Beaton, John; McKay, Alex. Univ. of Guelph, http://atrium.lib.uoguelph.ca/xmlui/handle/10214/11607?show=full

Abstract: Previous research indicates that masturbation is a common and pleasurable activity related to sexual satisfaction and sexual health outcomes (Herbenick, Reece, Sanders, Dodge, Ghassemi & Fortenberry, 2009; Phillippsohn & Hartmann, 2009; Hulburt & Whittaker, 1991; Pinkerton, Bogart, Cecil & Abramson, 2003; Shulman & Horne, 2003). This study examined masturbatory frequency, pleasure and approaches and potential impact for sexual health and satisfaction in a national sample of Canadian men (N= 1111) and women (N= 1010) aged 40-59. Gender differences in masturbation frequency and pleasure were robust: men were almost 7 times more likely than women to report masturbating 4+ times per week and women almost 2.5 times more likely than men to report no masturbation in the last year. Further, women were more likely than men to report vibrator use and report that masturbation was very pleasurable. Men who reported more frequent masturbation reported lower levels of sexual satisfaction in their relationship, whereas women’s masturbation frequency was not related to their sexual satisfaction in relationships. Men and women’s masturbation frequency was not related to sexual health. The limitations and implications of the results are discussed.

---
No study to date has explored whether pleasure or sexual satisfaction is enhanced when
stimulation of women’s external genitalia is incorporated into penile-vaginal penetration
(whether by themselves or by a partner). It would be particularly relevant to investigate whether women enjoy, receive, perform, or feel restricted to perform clitoral stimulation during partnered sexual activity given their reported preference for clitoral stimulation over penetration during masturbation. We propose that future researchers consider investigating the relationship between self-stimulation of the external genitalia during partnered sex with orgasmic reliability during sex and sexual satisfaction in a current relationship.

Finally, we investigated the relationship between masturbation frequency and perceived sexual health, versus objective sexual health, observing that masturbation frequency was not at all related to perceived sexual health for both men and women. Investigations into causal relationship between masturbation and objective health outcomes warrant further investigation, as some authors have suggested potential links between masturbation and prostate cancer risk in men (Aboul-Enein, Bernstein & Ross, 2016) and masturbation as a means of overcoming sexual dysfunction in both men (Kunelaki, 2017) and women (Andersen, 1981).

Check also Lange L, Zedler B, Verhoff MA, Parzeller M. Love Death—A Retrospective and Prospective Follow-Up Mortality Study Over 45 Years. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/09/love-deatha-retrospective-and.html

And: Sexual diversity in the United States: Results from a nationally representative probability sample of adult women and men. Debby Herbenick et al. PLoS One, July 2017, http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/08/sexual-diversity-in-united-states.html

Altruistic Behavior among Twins Willingness to Fight and Self-Sacrifice for their Closest Relatives

Altruistic Behavior among Twins Willingness to Fight and Self-Sacrifice for their Closest Relatives.
Encarnacion Tornero et al. Human Nature, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12110-017-9304-0

Abstract: According to kin selection theory, indirect reproductive advantages may induce individuals to care for others with whom they share genes by common descent, and the amount of care, including self-sacrifice, will increase with the proportion of genes shared. Twins represent a natural situation in which this hypothesis can be tested. Twin pairs experience the same early environment because they were born and raised at the same time and in the same family but their genetic relatedness differs depending on zygosity. We compared the degree of willingness to fight and sacrifice for the co-twin among monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) pairs in a sample of 1443 same-sex and opposite-sex twins. We also analyzed the effect of the subject’s gender and that of the co-twin on those altruistic behaviors. Results partly supported the postulated explanation. MZ twins (who share nearly their entire genome) were significantly more likely than DZ twins (who on average share half of their segregating genes) to self-sacrifice for their co-twins, but zygosity did not affect willingness to fight for him/her. The genders of the subject and of the co-twin, not genetic relatedness, were the best predictors of aggressive altruistic intentions.

The blind mind: No sensory visual imagery in aphantasia

The blind mind: No sensory visual imagery in aphantasia. Rebecca Keogh, Joel Pearson. Cortex, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2017.10.012

Abstract: For most people the use of visual imagery is pervasive in daily life, but for a small group of people the experience of visual imagery is entirely unknown. Research based on subjective phenomenology indicates that otherwise healthy people can completely lack the experience of visual imagery, a condition now referred to as aphantasia. As congenital aphantasia has thus far been based on subjective reports, it remains unclear whether participants are really unable to imagine visually, or if they have very poor metacognition - they have images in their mind, but are blind to them. Here we measured sensory imagery in subjectively self-diagnosed aphantasics, using the binocular rivalry paradigm, as well as measuring their self-rated object and spatial imagery with multiple questionnaires (VVIQ, SUIS and OSIQ). Unlike, the general population, experimentally naive aphantasics showed almost no imagery-based rivalry priming. Aphantasic participants’ self-rated visual object imagery was significantly below average, however their spatial imagery scores were above average. These data suggest that aphantasia is a condition involving a lack of sensory and phenomenal imagery, and not a lack of metacognition. The possible underlying neurological cause of aphantasia are discussed as well as future research directions.

Keywords: Aphantasia; Visual Imagery; Individual Differences; Cognition

Food choice of main dishes occurs outside of awareness, matching the choice of the person ahead of oneself

Vegetarian or meat? Food choice modeling of main dishes occurs outside of awareness. Chelsea D. Christie, Frances S. Chen. Appetite, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2017.10.036

Abstract: It is well established that the amount eaten by other people affects how much we eat, but unanswered questions exist regarding how much the food choices of other people affect the types of food that we choose. Past research on food choice modeling has primarily been conducted in controlled laboratory situations and has focused on snack foods. The current research examines the extent to which food choice modeling of a main dish occurs in a real-life context and whether people are aware of being influenced by others. The lunch orders of café patrons were surreptitiously tracked and participants were recruited after they paid for their lunch. Participants were asked what they ordered, whether they were influenced by the prior order, and what their relationship was to the person ahead of them in line. We analyzed the data of participants who were not acquainted with the person ahead of them (N = 174). As hypothesized, participants’ main-dish lunch orders matched the choice of the person ordering ahead of them in line at rates significantly higher than chance. A significant modeling effect was observed even among participants who reported that their order was not influenced by the prior order. This research provided evidence of main-dish choice modeling occurring in real-life eating situations and outside of conscious awareness - demonstrating a powerful social influence on eating behaviours.

Keywords: Social norms; Social influence; Food choice; Modeling; Eating; Awareness


Sleep Duration, Mortality, and Heredity—A Prospective Twin Study.

Sleep Duration, Mortality, and Heredity—A Prospective Twin Study. Torbjörn Åkerstedt, Jurgita Narusyte, Kristina Alexanderson, Pia Svedberg. Sleep, Volume 40, Issue 10, October 01 2017, zsx135, https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsx135

Introduction: A number of studies have shown a U-shaped association between sleep duration and mortality. Since sleep duration is partly genetically determined, it seems likely that its association with mortality is also genetically influenced. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the influence on heredity on the association between sleep duration and mortality.

Methods: We used a cohort of 14267 twins from the Swedish Twin Registry.

Results: [full results section as first comment to this post]. In dizygotic twins, no association was significant. The heritability for mortality was 28% for the whole group, while it was 86% for short sleepers and 42% for long sleepers. Thus, the link with mortality for long sleep appears to be more due to environmental factors than to heredity, while heritability dominates among short sleepers.

Conclusions: We found that both long and short sleep were associated with higher total mortality, that the difference in mortality within twin pairs is associated with long sleep, and that short sleep has a higher heritability for mortality, while long sleep is associated with more environmental influences on mortality.

The country’s elites are desperate to figure out what they got wrong in 2016. But can they handle the truth?

On Safari in Trump's America. By Molly Ball. Extracts. Read it all on https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/543288/
The country’s elites are desperate to figure out what they got wrong in 2016. But can they handle the truth?
The Atlantic, Oct 23, 2017

It was the hippies who drove Nancy Hale over the edge. She had spent three days listening respectfully to the real people of Middle America, and finally she couldn’t take it any longer.

She turned off the tape recorder and took several deep breaths, leaning back in the passenger seat of the rented GMC Yukon. The sun had just come out from behind a mass of clouds, casting a gleam on the rain-soaked parking lot in rural Wisconsin.

Hale, who is 65 and lives in San Francisco, is a career activist who got her start protesting nuclear plants and nuclear testing in the 1970s. In 2005, she was one of the founders of Third Way, a center-left think tank, and it was in that capacity that she and four colleagues had journeyed from both coasts to the town of Viroqua, Wisconsin, as part of a post-election listening tour. They had come on a well-meaning mission: to better understand their fellow Americans, whose political behavior in the last election had left them confused and distressed.

The trip was predicated on the optimistic notion that if Americans would only listen to each other, they would find more that united than divided them. This notion—the idea that, beyond our polarized politics, lies a middle, or third, path on which most can come together in agreement—is Third Way’s raison d’etre. It is premised on the idea that partisanship is bad, consensus is good, and that most Americans would like to meet in the middle.

But these are not uncontested assumptions. And, three days into their safari in flyover country, the researchers were hearing some things that disturbed them greatly—sentiments that threatened their beliefs to the very core.

The last focus group, a bunch of back-to-the-land organic farmers and artisanal small-businesspeople, was over, and the researchers had retreated to their car to debrief. There was a long pause after Hale turned off the tape recorder on which they were recording their impressions.

“I had a very hard time with that meeting,” she finally said. “The longer the meeting went on, the more it started to feel to me like just another community that had isolated itself, and it was right and everybody else wasn’t, you know?” The hippies should have been her kind of people, but the attitudes they’d expressed had offended her sense of the way America ought to be. She had come seeking mutual understanding, only to find that some people were not the least bit interested in meeting in the middle. And now she was at a crossroads: Would she have to revise her whole worldview to account for this troubling reality?

Third Way’s researchers are far from the only Americans inspired to undertake anthropological journeys in the past year. Nearly a year after Donald Trump’s election shocked the prognosticators, ivory-tower types are still sifting through the wreckage. Group after group of befuddled elites has crisscrossed America to poke and prod and try to figure out what they missed—“Margaret Meads among the Samoans,” one prominent strategist remarked to me.

[...]

And so Hale and her colleagues began a series of visits to targeted areas, including this one, Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District, which had voted Democratic for more than two decades—until it swung more than 15 points for Trump. I was allowed to ride along on the condition that I not identify any of the focus-group participants. I was hoping to use the trip as my own focus group of sorts: I wanted to get a sense of what 2017’s many delegations of liberal anthropologists were hearing from Trump Country.

I wondered if any of the tourists from the coasts would be open-minded enough to absorb a reality that might cut against their preconceptions. Did Third Way and Zuckerberg and Huffpo and all the rest want to confront an angry and divided nation head-on, or would they settle for a series of earnest exchanges that left their core assumptions intact?

Open-mindedness was the sworn commitment of the Third Way team. The researchers were determined to approach rural Wisconsin with humility and respect. After the election, Hale told me, “You heard people saying, ‘These people aren’t smart enough to vote, they’re so stupid, if that’s what they want, they deserve what they get.’ That hit us, on every level, as wrong.” They wanted to open their hearts and their minds and simply listen. They were certain that, in doing so, they would find what they believed was true: a bunch of reasonable, thoughtful, patriotic Americans. A nation of people who really wanted to get along.

Our tour of western Wisconsin had begun two days earlier, at an imposing courthouse in the rural county seat of Ellsworth, the self-proclaimed “cheese curd capital of Wisconsin.” A farmer in the group told Third Way’s eager listeners he knew exactly what was wrong with America: his fellow Americans.

“You’ve got all these parasites making a living off the bureaucracy,” the farmer declared, “like leeches pulling you down, bleeding you dry.” We had been in the state for just a few hours, and already the researchers’ quest for mutual understanding seemed to be hitting a snag.

Others in the group, a bunch of proudly curmudgeonly older white men, identified other culprits. There were plenty of jobs, a local elected official and business owner said. But today’s young people were too lazy or drug-addled to do them.

As we proceeded to meetings with diverse groups of community representatives, this sort of blame-casting was a common refrain. Disdain for the young, in particular, was a constant, across demographic, socio-economic, and generational lines: Even young people complained about young people. “They don’t want to do the work, and they always feel like they’re being picked on,” a recent graduate of a technical school in Chippewa Falls said of his fellow Millennials.

Some of the people we met expressed the conservative-leaning view that changes in society and the family were to blame. One, a technical-skills instructor at the Chippewa Falls school, questioned whether women belonged in the workplace at all. “That idea of both family members working, it’s a social experiment that I don’t know if it quite works,” he said. “If everyone’s working, who is making sure the children are raised right?”

Others expressed more liberal-minded sentiments, seeing insufficient government action as the root of the community’s problems. A school-board official cried as she described the problems plaguing education. A group of middle-class women who met through local activism lamented the area’s lack of diversity and hidden pockets of poverty.

Politics, though, was not the focus of the Third Way interviewers, who believed there was more to be gained by asking neutral, open-ended questions. In accordance with Third Way’s ideology, they believed that political partisanship was not most people’s primary concern. But sometimes the Wisconsinites brought up politics anyway.

At the Labor Temple Lounge in Eau Claire, nine gruff, tough-looking union men sat around a table. One had the acronym of his guild, the Laborers International Union of North America, tattooed on a bulging bicep. The men pinned the blame for most of their problems squarely on Republicans, from Trump to Governor Scott Walker. School funding, the minimum wage, college debt, income inequality, gerrymandering, health care, union rights: It was all, in their view, the GOP’s fault. A member of the bricklayers’ union lamented Walker’s cuts to public services: “If we can’t help each other,” he said, “what are we, a pack of wolves—we eat the weakest one? It’s shameful.”

But their negativity toward Republicans didn’t translate to rosy feelings for the Democrats, who, they said, too frequently ignored working-class people. And some of the blame, they said, fell on their fellow workers, many of whom supported Republicans against their own interests. “The membership”—the union rank-and-file—“voted for these Republicans because of them damn guns,” a Laborers Union official said. “You cannot push it out of their head. A lot of ‘em loved it when Walker kicked our ass.”

Debriefing after this particular group, the Third Way listeners said they found the union men demoralizing. “I feel like they can’t see their way out,” Hale said.

“They were very negative,” Paul Neaville, another researcher, concurred.

They were so fixated on blaming Republicans, Hale fretted. “It was very us-and-them.”

[...]

When she heard views that challenged her sense of empathy—Muslims were bad, welfare recipients were leeches, women should not have careers outside the home—Hale reminded herself that she was there to listen, not to judge. “People have said stuff I was surprised to hear them say out loud,” Hale told me. “But we have to learn from that, too. Whatever they believe is true, because it’s true for them.”

Part of the point of the Wisconsin trip was to gather the evidence that would help them advance this agenda in intra-party debates. Understanding the mysterious ways of the elusive Trump voter had become the crucial currency of any political discussion. The face-to-face interactions they were having in Wisconsin, Hale said as we drove, were so much more valuable than any of the data-driven reports they customarily churned out for their “customers”—donors, elected officials, and the Democratic National Committee.

We sped from town to town in the rented Yukon, watching the exotic Middle American landscape fly by. At one point, a gaggle of bikers roared past us on one side. On the other side of the road, a bright-green field dotted with hay bales passed by. Looking at the bales, Hale mused, “Don’t they look like shredded wheat?”

Hale or her colleague Luke Watson, Third Way’s deputy director of strategy, began each Wisconsin focus group with a variation on the same refrain.

“We are a think tank that deals with what the plurality of Americans are thinking about—in other words, we don’t spend a lot of time on the ideological edges,” one of the two would explain. “It has started seeming like the far left and the far right were the only voice in America, but we know that’s not true. We focus on the 70 percent in the middle, because we think most of us, as Americans, are there.”

This was slightly disingenuous. Third Way, while not officially affiliated with a party, is an organization with a policy agenda, from gun control to entitlement reform, that it seeks to advance within the Democratic Party and with the broader public. Most of its funding comes from corporations and financial executives. Critics on the left call the group the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, and accuse it of advancing its donors’ interests over the greater political good. Third Way has called for cutting Social Security and Medicare and vehemently attacked the soak-the-rich economic populism of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Voters, it claims, are not interested in a party that’s all about big government and tax-and-spend.

[...]

We had come to the final stop on our listening tour, and the hippies were wary. Viroqua, a town of less than 5,000 people, has in recent years become home to a tiny progressive community. Earnest college graduates toil on organic farms; a “folk school” offers classes in sustainable living, from rabbit butchering to basket-weaving. Migrants from the likes of Madison and Berkeley are attracted to a rural idyll of food and electric co-ops, alternative schools, and locally sourced everything.

[...]

With those concerns dispatched, the listening began in earnest. The Viroqua representatives were eager to extol the virtues of their community. It was an oasis of sanity, an organic farmer in a pink-and-blue plaid shirt said—unlike the dismal city where he’d grown up. “There was no culture with which to identify, just television, drinking, maybe sports,” he said. “There’s nothing to aspire to. You’re just going through life with a case of Mountain Dew in your car.”

The cafe owner—a bearded man in a North Face fleece—had recently attended a town hall held by the local Democratic congressman, Ron Kind, a Third Way stalwart and former chair of the House’s centrist New Democrat Coalition. “I’m not, like, a jumping-up-and-down Berniecrat,” the man said. “But what you see in these congressional meetings is a refusal to even play ball” with ideas considered too extreme, like single-payer health care. “All these centrist ideals,” he said, “are just perpetuating a broken system.”

This was a direct attack on the very premise of Third Way’s existence. These were not the ideas of the middle 70 percent. These were not the voices of an America that wanted to find mutual understanding with its neighbors. They were, essentially, separatists, proud of their extremism and disdainful of the unenlightened.

It was after this exchange that Hale, after she and Watson got back into the Yukon to debrief, as they did after every session in order to compose their eventual after-action report, had to stop and vent. Her problem wasn’t that people were wrong. She had managed to maintain her equanimity while hearing other groups express opinions she disagreed with. It was that they didn’t want to get along.

“I have so much hope, and it’s gotten kind of shaken from both ends, you know?” she said. “There’s an, I don’t know, blue-sky part of me that was like, ‘I’m going to go traveling around the country and see that we’re more about commonalities than differences, that we’re more about our desire to be together than to be separate.’ And I’m not saying that isn’t true. I’m just saying every once in a while it gets kicked in the ass.”

That moment of doubt does not appear in the report that Third Way released, which distills the group’s conclusions from the tour I joined. In the report, there is only one quotation from the hippie roundtable in Viroqua—a man who extols the area’s turnaround, in a section about the area’s “intense local pride.” “There’s love, beauty, and a sense of opportunity,” he is quoted as saying. “There’s been a rejuvenation of identity.”

In the moment, Hale had heard sentiments like this as disturbing, of a piece with the community’s self-satisfied separatism. In the report, it had been made to sound like a paean to localism.

The report surprised me when I read it. Despite the great variety of views the researchers and I had heard on our tour, the report had somehow reached the conclusion that Wisconsinites wanted consensus, moderation, and pragmatism—just like Third Way. We had heard people blame each other for their own difficulties, take refuge in tribalism, and appeal to extremes. But the report mentioned little of that. Instead it described the prevailing attitude as “an intense work ethic that binds the community together and helps it adapt to change.” (Third Way disputes these characterizations of its report.)

[...]

The researchers had somehow found their premise perfectly illustrated. Their journey to Trump’s America had done nothing to unsettle their preconceptions.

The Wisconsin report is the second Third Way has produced from its listening tour; still to come are its findings from Florida and Arizona. The group’s first report, on a trip to northwest Illinois, was quite a bit more pessimistic, with more emphasis on the decline of manufacturing, and more skepticism expressed about trade and immigration. Still, the Illinois report did, in the end, come to many of the same conclusions about what drove people: love of work and community, concern for the future, distrust of big government, and a desire to move past partisanship. Validating the researchers’ project, the Illinois report also found that Midwesterners felt overlooked in the national political dialogue. It quotes a local as complaining, “The coasts think we’re Jesusland or Dumbasfuckistan.”

In Wisconsin, I had seen and heard everything the Third Way researchers did—and eaten at the same restaurants, and slept at the same Hampton Inn in Eau Claire, and watched the same landscape roll by the windows of the same SUV. I heard all the optimism they did, but I also heard its opposite: that one side was right and that the other was the enemy; that other Americans, not just the government, were to blame for the country’s problems. There’s plenty of fellow-feeling in the heartland for those who want to see it, but there’s plenty of division, too. And not every problem can be solved in a way that splits the difference.

The other groups of anthropologists roaming Middle America face the same quandary. Having gotten the country drastically wrong, they have set out on well-meaning missions to bring the country together by increasing mutual understanding. They share Third Way’s basic assumption that mutual understanding is something Americans can agree to find desirable. But as hard as they try to open their minds to new perspectives, are they ready to have that basic assumption challenged?

The researchers I rode with had dived into the heart of America with the best of intentions and the openest of minds. They believed that their only goal was to emerge with a better understanding of their country. And yet the conclusions they drew from what they heard corresponded only roughly to what I heard. Instead, they seemed to revert to their preconceptions, squeezing their findings into the same old mold. It seems possible, if not likely, that all the other delegations of earnest listeners are returning with similarly comforting, selective lessons. If the aim of such tours is to find new ways to bring the country together, or new political messages for a changed electorate, the chances of success seem remote as long as even the sharpest researchers are only capable of seeing what they want to see.

[...]
    Molly Ball is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she covers U.S. politics.