Knowing When We Are Biased

See if you can solve the following problem:

A bat and a ball cost $1.10. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

Most people are tempted to say that the ball costs 10 cents. If that was your answer, think again. A few people resist the initial temptation, do some calculation, and discover that the ball in fact costs 5 cents. But however you answered, take comfort. Even at elite universities, most people get this question wrong.

What’s going on here? It’s not that the question is particularly difficult. Here is a tougher version of the original problem:

A banana and a bagel cost 37 cents. The banana costs 13 cents more than the bagel. How much does the bagel cost?

Most people get this question right. What is so challenging about bats and balls?

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The Role Of Libraries In A Metamodern Society

The year is 630 BCE. Ashurbanipal, the last ruler of the mighty Neo-Assyrian Empire, spanning from Egypt to Babylonia and Persia, has garnered through conquest and systematic collection a royal library of a scale perhaps never witnessed before. Among this selection, consisting largely of divinations, rituals and incantations, are ten to thirty thousand clay tablets, including the famous Epic of Gilgamesh.

Return to 2019 CE. At the heart of Helsinki, Finland, opposite the Parliament House, rises a colossal wooden structure, its architecture resembling that of Noah’s Ark. If this Ark, however, surfs any waves, it is those of the information age. Behold Oodi, or Ode, the new Helsinki Central Library. Like Ashurbanipal’s library, Ode too houses a collection of tablets — although these digital devices are not made of clay and are, unlike Ashurbanipal’s, open to the public.

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Ah Look At All The Lonely People

Loneliness refers to a mismatch between the types of relationships that we want to have versus the ones that we perceive that we actually have. Loneliness is on the rise, particularly in the West, with Japan being the exception where the loneliness epidemic is a serious issue. The most effective coping strategies have involved talking therapies that help individuals to reconsider their relationships more positively. Furthermore, dialogue on the subject of how we cope with loneliness is increasingly important, because it can help us to reach out in positive ways and cope ‘consciously’, rather than “reach for the bottle”, smoke, binge watch Netflix or dwell in feelings of sadness.

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Environmentalism As An Experiential Education

Half a century ago, a wave of student protests swept over Europe and the Americas. Sparked by the Vietnam War and social and racial injustice, the protests saw the widespread emergence of social, ecological and political movements and reforms.

Today, students are once again spearheading a new social and ecological revolution. A notable difference, however, to the 60’s protests is that this time the students revolting are not in college — they are schoolchildren.

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The Need For Imagining Reality

A curious trait of our time is that we so stubbornly confuse lack of imaginative capacity with realism. I was reminded of this after visiting an arts exhibition centered on metaphysical art, 'Pittura Metafisica', an early 20th century Italian movement developed by artists such as Giorgio de Chirico, Carlo Carrà and Felice Casorati.

This artistic movement, also known as magical realism, sought to illustrate the strange bind between the external world and the world of imagination. "The art of magic realists," described the curator, "is simultaneously realistic and far removed from reality." The metaphysical artists depict the world it was manifested to them, a world in movement, a world shrouded with dreamlike layers of imagination and meaning, one which invites curiosity and oftentimes evokes detachment.

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The Ecology Of Ecological Behavior

Last year, I was assigned with the task of overseeing the registration desk at an academic conference. Finding this a rather dull affair, I chose to employ my time doing what idle observers often do best: people watching.

The registration desk was preceded by a door – not just any door, but a very cumbersome door designed in the late 1930’s (which, ironically, is representative of the architectural style of functionalism). Now, the door had an obvious protrusive vertical handle, designed for grabbing and pulling. What mad the door unique, however, was the sticker next to the handle. In bold capital letters, it read: “PLEASE TURN THE HANDLE”. This pointed to another unremarkable horizontal handle hidden behind the more obvious vertical one.

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Save The PhD Or It Dies

Are you a doctoral graduate? Congratulations for making it thus far, if so. It may feel nice to add ‘Dr’ before your name. You may also feel accomplished of having written a thesis that perhaps only your supervisor will read. But what real-world value does your degree have?

PhD graduates are considered as over-qualified by most job recruiters. This means that in the non-academic job market, a Bachelor graduate with considerable experience or a Masters graduate with little or no experience will either beat a well qualified PhD holder in the process of getting hired, or end up earning the same salary.


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Much Ado About Impact

Impact. The fleeting quantity by which scientists, academic journals and universities are ranked to direct research funding. For a 21st century academic, this elusive entity should simultaneously pervade research motivation, method, output and outreach. In some it raises eyebrows and suspicion just like any other buzzword, in others it raises hope for making a difference in an increasingly complex and deranged world. There’s much ado about impact, but what exactly is it, and how, if at all, should it be measured?

To begin with, I’ll start with a disclaimer: if by impact we mean having positive and high-quality influence with our research, I’m all in for impact. In fact, as someone working in environmental research, I’d be absolutely thrilled to see our work having more impact. Unfortunately, however, “impact” isn’t always what it seems to be. Therefore, a critical dissection of the notion of impact seems to be in place.

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The Value Of Connections In The Information Age

It is without a semblance of doubt that the internet has transformed the way we communicate. We can connect and share information on a large scale from miles across in a short amount of time. This was not possible before. Online social networks allow us to engage with large groups of people. Although the world is now connected more than ever, the value of these connections is worth questioning. There are social media users with “millions of online friends”. What then warrants thinking is whether we are less lonely today in the information age than we were before the advent of the internet. 

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Why Women Are Leaving The Cybersecurity Space

In the USA, women only account for 11% of the cybersecurity workforce. 34% of doctors are women. 36% of lawyers are women. 16% of the armed forces are women. Coming from a nonprofit background, which is an industry with a pretty even proportion of men and women, to working in cybersecurity space feels so unbalanced to me. It’s disheartening and disappointing to see this happening in 2018. 

Since entering the cybersecurity space, I’ve connected with dozens of women, and many are leaving the field after spending years in cybersecurity. From their shared experiences, there seemed to be similarities in being the only woman in the room when it came to training courses within cybersecurity and networking events. This made them feel as though they were sticking out since it’s usually a male dominated space.

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