13 posts tagged election2012
Human beings do not have very many natural defenses. We are not all that fast, and we are not all that strong. We do not have claws or fangs or body armor. We cannot spit venom. We cannot camouflage ourselves. And we cannot fly. Instead, we survive by means of our wits. Our minds are quick. We are wired to detect patterns and respond to opportunities and threats without much hesitation.
“This need of finding patterns, humans have this more than other animals,” I was told by Tomaso Poggio, an MIT neuroscientist who studies how our brains process information. “Recognizing objects in difficult situations means generalizing. A newborn baby can recognize the basic pattern of a face. It has been learned by evolution, not by the individual.”
The problem, Poggio says, is that these evolutionary instincts sometimes lead us to see patterns when there are none there. “People have been doing that all the time,” Poggio said. “Finding patterns in random noise.”
The human brain is quite remarkable; it can store perhaps three terabytes of information. And yet that is only about one one-millionth of the information that IBM says is now produced in the world each day. So we have to be terribly selective about the information we choose to remember.
Nate Silver gets the (unofficial) Shepard Fairey treatment.
(We’re also thrilled Silver’s book The Signal and the Noise is currently #3 on Amazon!)
“Right and left; the hothouse and the street. The Right can only live and work hermetically, in the hothouse of the past, while outside the Left prosecute their affairs in the streets manipulated by mob violence. And cannot live but in the dreamscape of the future.”
-Thomas Pynchon, V.
With respect to foreign policy and the military, what have the candidates not been talking about?
With tonight’s presidential debate in mind, Thomas E. Ricks (Fiasco, The Gamble, The Generals) talks to Steve Inskeep on “Morning Edition” about Obama and Romney’s defense plans, and the cognitive dissonance between what the candidates say the military wants and what the military itself has requested.
We’re hosting a live discussion of the Presidential Debate at Reuters.com immediately afterward via Google Hangout. Join us!
The roundtable will be hosted by Chrystia Freeland, author of Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, Pulitzer Prize-winner Dan Yergin, author of The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World, and David Nasaw, bestselling author of The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy.
(In other words, an expert on income inequality, an expert on energy, and a biographer of cultural history.)