29 October 2015

Benedetta Berti: The surprising way groups like ISIS stay in power

In her very short presentation, Berti uses very catchy Lego graphics to explain some of the surprising non-violent activities "terrorist" organizations participate in in order to maintain power (for example, setup profitable companies to generate income).

Benedetta Berti: The surprising way groups like ISIS stay in power

20 October 2015

David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization

I first read McCandless's, Information is Beautiful, in college. I loved that it was a book full of knowledge but with comparatively few words. In his TED talk, McCandless states that well made graphics facilitate "information compression" and explains how this compression can help us better understand the world. Additionally, he shows some compelling reasons we should be more worried about ratios and not absolute numbers.

David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization

14 October 2015

"Against Fairness" by Stephen Asma

In an unusual position, Asma argues that we are not benefited by our strong pursuit of "fairness" (which is, in part at least, evidenced by the lack of clear definition of what is universally "fair"). Instead, he discusses the well know recognition of "tribes" (person who share similar attributes) in social science and suggests that embracing our tribal nature, and thus our natural inclination to favoritism, we can then leverage that connectedness in a way that "fairness" can only dream of. For example, consider that a community that embraces favoritism will help its struggling community members because they are part of the same "tribe" even if it might not be "fair" to do so.

Note: "Tribe" is a social science term used to describe bonds, usually tight-knit bonds formed through common experience or attributes. Some examples of "tribes" include person who grew up together (often considered family regardless of relation or lack thereof), a small group of coworkers and old neighbors.

Interesting tidbit: I have struggled writing an essay for years on the topic of fairness. After reading this book, I have finally retired those drafts. Asma made the argument much better than I.

08 October 2015

Talithia Williams: Own your body's data

Williams uses humorous and sobering examples from her life to argue why we, individually, should gather data about our bodies  so we can make better decisions about our health with our doctors.

Talithia Williams: Own your body's data

06 October 2015

Stewart Brand: 4 environmental 'heresies'

In an unusual twist, Brand reverse his decades long position on several "green" initiative including nuclear power and genetically modified foods. His explains his reasons with data.

Stewart Brand: 4 environmental 'heresies'