Most people describe it as eerily cold, but I love it. Articles like the this one on the other hand, while excellent, bury their valuable information under a lot of fluff. And most people like that kind of writing, but I just find it annoying.
Good article, I just wish it was more direct.
He still wraps the information, but not to the extent he does for other publications and he frequently separates the substance into its own paragraphs. It's a great blog and I recommend it.
Two other cognitive biology blogs that I recommend are http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/ and http://merzenich.positscience.com/
I find Oliver Sacks, Douglas Hofstadter, Stephen Pinker, etc. fascinating, but when I want the direct data (rather than commentary), I still go to primary sources. That's what they're for.
Most modern psychological research is surprisingly rigorous and depend on sophisticated statistical methods. The results may not be as strong or conclusive as those of, say, chemistry, but for a discipline that has to study something as mercurial as human behavior, it is certainly a useful and worthwhile.
For a good example of a milestone in modern psychology, consider the Rescorla-Wagner Model--an attempt to model classical (Pavlovian) conditioning in a quantitative manner--which essentially implies that organisms only learn from unexpected events. It not only predicts the degree to which an organism would react to stimuli, but also compensates for something called the "blocking effect," which occurs when something stimulates more than one association and one of those associations overpowers a weaker association, prevent conditioning of the weak association. It is similar to the Widrow-Hoff Least Mean Squares (LMS) learning algorithm that you might learn in a neural networks class. This model is something that has been tweaked and tested under many different conditions and experiments, and the results have been distilled through thorough statistical analysis.
The R-W Model is one part of a dramatic change in our understanding of learning that has occurred in the last couple decades. For a summary of some of these results, Rescorla has an article published about 20 years ago called "Pavlovian Conditioning: It's Not What You Think It Is," [http://jsackur.free.fr/classiques/Rescorla1988.pdf] which should be pretty accessible.
I have no dislike of the social sciences. I just like this piece by Feynman.
Reading, or skimming?
Walter Mischel is a slight, elegant man... SKIP
Mischel was born in Vienna... SKIP
The family settled... SKIP
The two key techniques for doing this effectively are to 1) eliminate subvocalization while reading, and 2) expand your field of vision so that you are reading sentences and paragraphs instead of words.
Of course, if you're reading contracts you're going to sign, you probably want to spend more time on each word.
Why do you say that? Might it be that people have gotten accustomed to that style, and while they would prefer something more direct, have come to accept it as just being how magazine articles are? Or have people adapted their reading style to skim past the "color" fluff and pull out the essential details?
Do people take the time and trouble to complain to editors about these things? Are people more inclined to write to praise than to criticize?
Of course! The problem with this approach is that professional writers are paid by the word, and it's easier to write fluff than come up with more ideas. This is symptomatic of the greater issue: mainstream culture's preference for quantity over quality.
The kid who decides to open the drawer to find the toys: that's the guy I want on my team. I'm more than willing to farm out grunt work to the 'successful' high delayers.
It's about people who fail since they consistently choose to spend time getting wasted or playing WoW rather than studying, practicing, or other things that pay off in the long-term. This isn't about conformity, because it specifically includes people who have trouble meeting their own goals.
In life, delaying gratification often pays off - but only to the extent that the provider of said gratification is competent and trustworthy. There are also times when it is genuinely better to take the money and run. Your bank, for example, has little interest in giving you a fair deal, but instead offers financial instruments with superficially attractive terms while burying numerous modifying clauses in the fine print. An employment contract from a major corporation can be similarly unfair. My first cubicle job came with an employment contract that asserted ownership of any intellectual property I produced during my term of employment.
One example that springs to mind is Shuji Nakamura, who has been a major innovator in the field of LED diodes (specifically, he's the engineer who made high-intensity blue light available on the cheap, so if you've got a Blu-ray player you should thank him). For this, his grateful employers bestowed upon a bonus of...$180. He sued and eventually ended up getting $7 million.
Good example, by the way. I hadn't picked up on it reading the article, but the study really does assume an immediate observer is going to be rewarding the child, rather than more abstract forces such as the job market. The latter is hard to duplicate in a self-contained experiment, of course.
Constantly railing against conformity sounds like a teenager attempting to be "edgy".
You'll never get that from a conformist, because (in my experience) they are too afraid of failing to start something. They spend too much time analyzing risk and not enough time acting if left to their own devices.
Conversely, someone who is too much of a risk taker spends too little time analyzing the risks of an action.
The sweet spot is right down the middle, and is extremely rare.
The sweet spot is context dependence, which isn't rare at all. A champion boxer submits to his coach's criticism and his trainer's discipline so he can dominate and control other boxers. A smart entrepreneur with an innovative product doesn't gratuitously innovate in his accounting or his contracts.
And contrary to what you say, successful risk takers are often obsessive about risk.
This is a pat phrase that means nothing. If you assume there are extremes on either side of a desired trait you can say it's in the middle, but it's not a useful criteria.
PS: What you really want is someone who is more innovative than 95% of people out there, but still capable of functioning within the context of a company.
You do want someone who processes both conformist tendencies and initiative in about equal percentage share. Yes, that is unlike a vast majority of people.
Here are the choices 1) Do as you are told and get another marshmallow 2) Eat as many marshmallows as you want with no punishment. That doesn't seem to be a very hard choice. I personally like the kid that checks to make sure that no one is looking then eats the inside of the Oreo and returns it.
I'm not arguing with the results. I would imagine that on average those that do as they are told and conform do better on average. But I doubt those are the same people that make big discoveries or become successful entrepreneurs.
So what happened to the kid that split the Oreo and returned it? That seems like a much more interesting question.
I would. Who is he harming by eating the middle of an Oreo? You imply that his solution to the problem is wrong because it's deceptive. But it's the testers and parents that put him in that situation. I definitely wouldn't hold it against the kid. I think the solution is more unique and out of the box than just sitting there waiting and getting all worked up over it.
Recognizing this behavior as clever and out of the box is similar to saying lazy programmers are good programmers. Everyone knows a truly lazy programmer is no good. It's the inclination to do work in a more efficient way that they are really after. So while the kid being potentially deceptive and stealing is bad, his inclinations and temperament may not be.
That being said I imagine I would have been the kid that ate the center of the Oreo and put it back... so I may be biased.
The best folks in any field are super bright.
I'm not impressed by 95% of psychologists (but then again, I'm not impressed by 85% of coders...).
Does anyone here have good hacker-relevant tips for self-control?
(For instance: when tackling a large problem, approach it bottom-up by starting with utility functions.)
Short interview with the author here: http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2007/08/10-questions-for-greg-clark...
In the follow up they looked at several factors: Scholastic Aptitude Test scores, sensitivity to rejection, overall functioning, educational attainment, drug use, ratings of self-esteem, and more. It looks like they checked the correlation of each factor separately.
Besides experiment sample issues (which the linked document touches on) it looks the the experimenters were pretty rigorous in attaining valid results.
If you really want to read the primary literature, you've got the name of the researcher and his university. PubMed is your friend.
Ah, one of my favorite four-letter words: "Just".
You just add a second database to the system. You just write the slow parts in C. You just learn how to control your attention and thoughts.
It was a little bit interesting, but way, way too long...
edit: I don't know much about Brain Gym, but Pamela Paul has a whole chapter in Parenting Inc. comparing the different ECE programs, which might answer your question.
This game claims to train this ability ( but I cannot vouch for its effectiveness) http://games.lumosity.com/brain_shift.html