"From this moment on you are a rock. You absorb nothing, you saying nothing, and nothing breaks you."

Francis Underwood. 2013.

(TitleHouse of Cards, S1E06)

"Middle age is a strange time. People go funny in middle age, men go funny they get into hobbies and weird shit. (…) My thing was I got addicted to action films, very stupid modern thrillers. Not the old fashion James Bond type were the guy looks like he always knows what’s going on and there is a smart lady beside him in a frock, and they have an antique car that they go around in and he clicks the pen and somebodies feet fall off. Not one of those. Modern ones were you don’t know whats going on. Everybody has amnesia and foreign accent syndrome. It begins with him running across the desert plucking cubes out of the bellies of snakes because the cubes have symbols that will explain who he is and what he is supposed to do. And then suddenly he is on a boat and he kills 40 people with a slice of turkey. And he’s got a 100 passports, he speaks 300 languages. and he can do things he doesn’t understand. He can control continents by looking at them. And he is an amazing accordant lad. Even better if it’s got Jason Statham involved in it somehow. Those films are unimprovably stupid because they begin with him being on fire, being thrown out of an airplay with one wire going between his arse and his heart, and the other one going from his brain to his bullocks. And if he pulls the wrong wire he swallow his eyes and vomits his liver. But because he is such a man he always makes the right decision. You see he pulls the whole lot out. And if you are watching this as a man what you’re doing is you’re outsourcing your masculinity. You’re like: ‘Go on Jason brake his collar bone I got a parking ticket this morning.’ Because most men know they’re useless. They can not make decisions. They get poleaxed by indecision walking into a fucking spa. You know you’re a lump."

Dylan Moran. 2012

(TitleDylan Moran at The Róisín Dubh)

"Think for example about something like global warming. If you were going to design the problem that people would not care about, it would be global warming. It has all the elements for human apathy. Long term in the future, will happen to other people first, we don’t see it progressing, we don’t see any other individuals suffering, and anything we would do is a drop in the bucket. All the element that create human apathy rolled into one."

Dan Ariely. 2010.

(TitleTemptations and Self-Control.)

"Would you be able to take on the short term consequences of a loss, for potential probabilistic longterm gain? If you think about it this is kind of an ancient problem for human behavior. (…) Think about dieting, really good for the long term, not fun right now. Exercising, not so good now, good for the long term. Financial savings, not fun now, good for the long term. Safe sex. The same applies. And it turns out that when we face these problems we just fail regularly, systematically and consistently. Here is one way to think about it. Imagine I offered you a choice between half a box of chocolate right now and full box of chocolate in a week. (…) The majority said ‘Give me the Chocolate now!.’ (…) Now imagine I push the choice to the future, and I said what would you rather have, half a box of chocolate in a year, or a full box of chocolate in a year and a week? Now notice it’s the same question. It’s the question whether you are willing to wait another week for another half a box of chocolate. How many people are now willing to wait? Everybody! Because in the future we are wonderful people! We will exercise, we will diet, we will save! The problem of course is we never live in the future. We always live in the present. And in the present we are very, very different people."

Dan Ariely. 2010.

(Title: Temptations and Self-Control.)

"Darwin’s fundamental insight was brilliant; an idea of such stunning power and simplicity that it has been called ‘the best idea anybody ever had’. It is this: - if living things vary in ways that affect how well they can survive, and if they produce more offspring than can possibly survive, and if the few survivors pass on their characteristics to the next generation, then the characteristics that helped them survive will be more common in the next generation. That is, the members of the next generation will have evolved in some way compared with the previous one – they will be better adapted to the environment in which the selection took place. This, as Darwin saw, is an inevitable process that simply must occur if the conditions are fulfilled. Dennett has called this the evolutionary algorithm. If you have variation, heredity, and selection, then you must get evolution. You get ‘Design out of Chaos without the aid of Mind’ (Dennett, 1995, p 50).
There are two important features to notice about this process. First, it simply must happen if the three functions are in place. There is no magic here, nor any incomprehensible theories. Once you understand the effects of variation with selective copying the result is obvious – it is beautifully simple. Second, the process requires no designer and no plan. It is not heading inexorably towards anything in particular because all the changes are the product of chance and necessity. This is because selection is not carried out by anyone with a plan or scheme or project in mind but is shaped by wind and weather, lack of food or oxygen, and the appetites of predators. Biology needs no God. Evolution has no project. This is what Dennett calls ‘Darwin’s dangerous idea’. It is often said that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of this theory of evolution."

Susan Blackmore. 2002

(TitleThe Evolution of Meme Machines)

"Sensory systems define an animal’s capacity for perception and can evolve to promote survival in new environmental niches. We have uncovered a noncanonical mechanism for sweet taste perception that evolved in hummingbirds since their divergence from insectivorous swifts, their closest relatives. We observed the widespread absence in birds of an essential subunit (T1R2) of the only known vertebrate sweet receptor, raising questions about how specialized nectar feeders such as hummingbirds sense sugars. Receptor expression studies revealed that the ancestral umami receptor (the T1R1-T1R3 heterodimer) was repurposed in hummingbirds to function as a carbohydrate receptor. Furthermore, the molecular recognition properties of T1R1-T1R3 guided taste behavior in captive and wild hummingbirds. We propose that changing taste receptor function enabled hummingbirds to perceive and use nectar, facilitating the massive radiation of hummingbird species."

Baldwin MW, et al. 2014

(TitleEvolution of sweet taste perception in hummingbirds by transformation of the ancestral umami receptor)

"In manufacturing, advanced robotic technology has opened up the possibility of integrating highly autonomous mobile robots into human teams. However, with this capability comes the issue of how to maximize both team efficiency and the desire of human team members to work with robotic counterparts. We hypothesized that giving workers partial decision-making authority over a task allocation process for the scheduling of work would achieve such a maximization, and conducted an experiment on human subjects to test this hypothesis. We found that an autonomous robot can outperform a worker in the execution of part or all of the task allocation (p < 0.001 for both). However, rather than finding an ideal balance of control authority to maximize worker satisfaction, we observed that workers preferred to give control authority to the robot (p < 0.001). Our results indicate that workers prefer to be part of an efficient team rather than have a role in the scheduling process, if maintaining such a role decreases their efficiency. These results provide guidance for the successful introduction of semi-autonomous robots into human teams."

Gombolay MC, et al. 2014.

(Title: Decision-Making Authority, Team Efficiency and Human Worker Satisfaction in Mixed Human-Robot Teams)

"More than 20 years ago, researchers proposed that individual differences in performance in such domains as music, sports, and games largely reflect individual differences in amount of deliberate practice, which was defined as engagement in structured activities created specifically to improve performance in a domain. This view is a frequent topic of popular science writing—but is it supported by empirical evidence? To answer this question, we conducted a meta-analysis covering all major domains in which deliberate practice has been investigated. We found that deliberate practice explained 26% of the variance in performance for games, 21% for music, 18% for sports, 4% for education, and less than 1% for professions. We conclude that deliberate practice is important, but not as important as has been argued."

Macnamara BN, et al. 2014.

(Title: Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis)*

"Atheists are obsessed w/ religion the same way CDC is obsessed w/ malign infections. It’s pathological: how do we hinder harm and spreading?"

— Empirical Daily. 2014. 

"Opinions don’t affect facts. But facts should affect opinions, and do, if you’re rational."

Ricky Gervais. 2012.

(Via Twitter)