Tuesday, November 13, 2018

White dreams (feeling of having had a dream experience without being able to specify this experience any further): What studying contentless dreams can teach about the neural basis of dreaming & conscious experiences

White dreams are made of colours: What studying contentless dreams can teach about the neural basis of dreaming and conscious experiences. Peter Fazekas, Georgina Nemeth, MortenOvergaard. Sleep Medicine Reviews, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2018.10.005

Summary: Reports of white dreams, the feeling of having had a dream experience without being able to specify this experience any further, make up almost one third of all dream reports, yet this phenomenon—until very recently—had not yet been in the focus of targeted investigations. White dreams are typically interpreted as forgotten dreams, and are sidelined as not being particularly informative with regard to the nature of dreaming. In this review article, we propose a paradigm shift with respect to the status of white dreams arguing that focusing on this phenomenon can reveal fundamental insights about the neural processes that occur in the dreaming brain. As part of this paradigm shift, we propose a novel interpretation of what white dreams are. This new interpretation is made possible by recent advancements in three different though interrelated fields focusing on dreaming, mental imagery, and wakeful perception. In this paper, we bring these different threads together to show how the latest findings from these fields fit together and point towards a general framework regarding the neural underpinnings of conscious experiences that might turn out to be highly relevant not just for dream research but for all aspects of studying consciousness.

Use investigative powers to dramatize how policy rollbacks on clean air and water are hurting children’s health, leading to thousands more deaths and increased chronic pulmonary and heart disease

By Paul Bledsoe, PPI Strategic Advisor

By all accounts, House Democrats return to Washington this week to begin planning their priorities for 2019 in an aggressive frame of mind. But on climate change and energy issues, rather than simply responding to Trump’s latest provocation (like those regarding California wildfires), they must step back and take a strategic approach.
This means Democrats must have the discipline to subordinate all other considerations to the key goal of creating the political and policy conditions needed to enact landmark energy and climate legislation after 2020, when they may well win back the White House and Senate. Indeed, how they handle energy and climate in the next two years will play a critical role in determining whether they gain the power to act.

Despite bright spots in Nevada and several Governors races, the mid-term elections held some cautionary lessons. The defeat in Washington State of a carbon tax referendum and several other climate-related measures in Arizona and Colorado, along with apparent state-wide losses in “ground-zero” climate impacts states of Florida and Texas, should be sobering.
The politics of climate change are complex, even for voters already suffering from its impacts. Swing voters will not respond to far-left ideological crusades or simple-minded attempts to rigidly impose “best” climate policies from above. Such approaches have largely failed as political matter for nearly 30 years now.
The good news is that winning House control allows Democrats to develop economically-framed climate change messages and policies that are powerfully in America’s self-interest and also popular with voters. Democrats must starkly contrast their cost-effective climate policies with the nihilistic and defeatist policy rollbacks of Trump Republicans, rollbacks that are putting our people, economy and security at risk.
But making climate action a popular mainstream political issue will require a strategy that integrates climate policies more coherently into broader economic, public safety and security messages and goals that the American people already share, setting the stage for policy action in 2021.
With these goals in mind, House Democrats should establish a set of basic principles to guide their approaches on climate and energy over the next two years, including:
Frame climate change as a kitchen table issue of rising economic costs, public safety and national security. Climate impacts are here and now, already costing thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars. Stop “debating” proven climate science, and focus less on technical issues. Discuss climate change in immediate, human, local, economic, safety and security terms. More dollars and sense, fewer charts and graphs.  Here and now, not about 2050.
Hold Trump accountable for policy rollbacks and the climate change impacts that are costing taxpayers billions, harming public health and worsening climate change. Focus oversight attention on the huge economic and human costs of climate impacts, including larger storms, bigger wildfires, sea-level rise, infectious disease and other impacts. Use investigative powers to dramatize how policy rollbacks on clean air and water are hurting children’s health, leading to thousands more deaths and increased chronic pulmonary and heart disease, and how freezing fuel economy is hitting drivers at the pump. Shine a spotlight on Trump’s arbitrary and capricious rollbacks of sensible regulations on super climate pollutants like methane and HFCs.
Integrate climate policy into infrastructure, tax reform, national security, and disaster-response bills, instead of standalone “climate” proposals. When climate action is included as part of overall pro-growth economic and security policies that benefit middle class and working-class Americans, it will be more popular. For example, do not pursue standalone carbon taxes legislation; such taxes should only be included as part of overall pro-growth tax reform proposals (and be voted on no earlier than 2021). Repeal the Republican tax giveaway and replacing it will tax policies that benefit the middle and working class. In other words, undertake climate action as part of pro-growth economic, job creation, infrastructure and security policy, not just environmental policy.
Don’t force Democrats to take purely symbolic but politically problematic votes. Keep your power dry. Save difficult votes for 2021 or whenever Democrats next have the actual power to make key climate legislation become law.
Invoke a can-do Democratic spirit: America can meet the energy and climate challenge and lead the world, if Democrats are in charge. Trump and Republicans are climate defeatists, who deny the very existence of climate change because they have no solutions to deal with it. Simply put, Trump and Republicans are climate wimps—the problem is just too tough for them. But not for Democrats. The party of John Kennedy’s Space Race and the Apollo Project must embrace the opportunity to create American Energy Abundance and Climate Protection together. We have the technology; now Democrats must inspire the country to provide the political will.
Most of all, create a DEMOCRATIC brand of economically-focused energy and climate action—separate and apart from national environmental groups. For too long, Democrats have ceded their climate messaging to green groups and alienated huge parts of the electorate. Embrace the full U.S. energy economy miracle that occurred under Obama, including renewable energy, efficiency, new advanced technologies and well-regulated natural gas and oil production. Use the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Climate Change to gain attention to the role of Democratic policies in creating the US remarkable clean energy economy boom, cutting US oil imports, creating millions of good new jobs, while transitioning to a much lower carbon economy.
The focus must be on creating policy measures and the political conditions that together will allow climate change to play a far larger, more advantageous role in the 2020 campaign against Trump, and that will lead to enactment of effective climate policy when Democrats win back all levers of federal power.
Just as war is too important for generals alone, climate change is far too sweeping and important an issue to be dealt with by far-left environmentalists. It is not, ultimately, even an “environmental issue” as we classically think of them. Instead, it is about protecting our safety, security, and economy, and providing ourselves and our children the more hopeful future that all Americans desire. Democrats have a chance to deliver on this promise in the near future, if they will be politically strategic, now.

Consistent Lying Decreases Belief in the Truth: Consistent false assents increased belief in those false events & consistent false denials decreased belief in those true events

Liar Liar: Consistent Lying Decreases Belief in the Truth. Danielle Polage. Applied Cognitive Psychology, accepted article, https://doi.org/10.1002/acp.3489

Summary: This study investigated the effects of lying on belief ratings for autobiographical childhood events. Participants lied by trying to convince the experimenter that likely events had not happened and that unlikely events had happened. Participants consistently lied, consistently told the truth, and alternated lying and truth telling across two sessions. Results showed that consistent false assents increased belief in those false events and that consistent false denials decreased belief in those true events. False denials had a larger influence on belief than did false assents. False assents that were told first were more likely to increase in belief than were false assents told in the second session. False denials decreased belief in the true event regardless of when they were told. These results suggest that lying influences confidence ratings both by increasing belief in a lied about event and by decreasing belief in a true event.

The discomfort regarding sex between one’s partner & robot competitors is not explained by personal characteristics (self-esteem, subjective physical attractiveness) but rather by technology-related variables (negative attitude towards robots, anthropomorphism)

Jealousy 4.0? An empirical study on jealousy-related discomfort of women evoked by other women and gynoid robots. Jessica M. Szczuka and Nicole C. Krämer. Paladyn, Journal of Behavioral Robotics, https://doi.org/10.1515/pjbr-2018-0023

Abstract: While first empirical studies on sexual aspects of human-robot interaction mostly focus on male users’ acceptance, there is no empirical research on how females react to robotic replications of women. To empirically investigate whether robots can evoke the same kind of jealousy-related discomfort as do other women, we conducted an online study in which 848 heterosexual female participants from Germany reacted to the idea that their partner had sexual intercourse with either another woman, a human-like female-looking robot, or a machine-like female-looking robot. The results revealed dimensions in which the jealousy-related discomfort was higher for female competitors compared to the robotic ones (e.g., discomfort caused by the idea of sexual intercourse), whereas in others the robots evoked the same or higher levels of jealousy-related discomfort (e.g., discomfort caused by feelings of inadequacy, discomfort caused by shared emotional and time resources). The variance in the discomfort regarding sexual interactions between one’s partner and robotic competitors could not be explained by personal characteristics (such as self-esteem, subjective physical attractiveness) but rather by technology-related variables (e.g., negative attitude towards robots, a tendency towards anthropomorphism) and the attitude towards sexual non-exclusivity in relationships. The study provides first empirical insights into a question which is of relevance for a responsible handling of sexualized technologies.

Keywords: jealousy, human-robot interaction, sex robots

Role of relative intelligence in mate preferences: Equally intelligent partners were satisficing mates; women wanted long-term partners who were smart, men wanted short-term partners who were less smart

Is smart sexy? Examining the role of relative intelligence in mate preferences. Peter K. Jonason et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 139, 1 March 2019, Pages 53-59, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2018.11.009

•    Manipulated level of relative intelligence in potential partners
•    Equally intelligent partners were satisficing mates.
•    Women wanted long-term partners who were smart.
•    Men wanted short-term partners who were less smart.
•    Women's mate value predicted preferences for intelligence.

Abstract: There has been a recent surge of research on the role of intelligence in mate preferences. To advance this area of research, in two online studies (N = 743), we manipulated relative, as opposed to absolute, intelligence and examined desirability in long-term and short-term relationships. In Study 1, we also examined the role of mate value towards understanding differences in desirability and, in Study 2, we also manipulated target's level of physical attractiveness. The sexes found less intelligent partners less desirable, a more intelligent partner was no more desirable than partner who was equal in intelligence, and intelligence was particularly valued as a long-term mate. In addition, mate value was correlated with rejecting less intelligent mates and desiring more intelligent ones in women only. And, last, we found that once men and women found sufficient rates of attractiveness for their short-term partners, they care about the intelligence of their partner.

People Make the Same Bayesian Judgment They Condemn and Punish in Others

People Make the Same Bayesian Judgment They Criticize in Others. Jack Cao, Max Kleiman-Weiner, Mahzarin R. Banaji. Psychological Science, https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797618805750

Abstract: When two individuals from different social groups exhibit identical behavior, egalitarian codes of conduct call for equal judgments of both individuals. However, this moral imperative is at odds with the statistical imperative to consider priors based on group membership. Insofar as these priors differ, Bayesian rationality calls for unequal judgments of both individuals. We show that participants criticized the morality and intellect of someone else who made a Bayesian judgment, shared less money with this person, and incurred financial costs to punish this person. However, participants made unequal judgments as a Bayesian statistician would, thereby rendering the same judgment that they found repugnant when offered by someone else. This inconsistency, which can be reconciled by differences in which base rate is attended to, suggests that participants use group membership in a way that reflects the savvy of a Bayesian and the disrepute of someone they consider to be a bigot.

Keywords: judgment, accuracy, fairness, social cognition, base rates, open data, open materials