"Dusty Boots Line, The Sahara" by Richard Long (1988).

Do smart people have better intuitions?

We hypothesized that intuitive processes may differentiate high- and low-capacity reasoners
July 29th, 201

Via  National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine: "There is much evidence that high-capacity reasoners perform better on a variety of reasoning tasks (Stanovich, 1999), a phenomenon that is normally attributed to differences in either the efficacy or the probability of deliberate (Type II) engagement (Evans, 2007). In contrast, we hypothesized that intuitive (Type I) processes may differentiate high- and low-capacity reasoners. To test this hypothesis, reasoners were given a reasoning task modeled on the logic of the Stroop Task, in which they had to ignore one dimension of a problem when instructed to give an answer based on the other dimension (Handley, Newstead, & Trippas, 2011). Specifically, in Experiment 1, 112 reasoners were asked to give judgments consistent with beliefs or validity for 2 different types of deductive reasoning problems. In Experiment 2, 224 reasoners gave judgments consistent with beliefs (i.e., stereotypes) or statistics (i.e., base-rates) on a base rate task; half responded under a strict deadline. For all 3 problem types and regardless of the deadline, high-capacity reasoners performed better for logic/statistics than did belief judgments when the 2 conflicted, whereas the reverse was true for low-capacity reasoners. In other words, for high-capacity reasoners, statistical information interfered with their ability to make belief-based judgments, suggesting that, for them, probabilities may be more intuitive than stereotypes. Thus, at least part of the accuracy-capacity relationship observed in reasoning may be because of intuitive (Type I) processes. (PsycINFO Database Record."

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Image from the pilot episode from the 1960's TV show "Mission Impossible!" (1966)

Sawubona

"Today, too, I experienced something I hope to understand in a few days." –Jørgen Leth: The Perfect Human and The Five Obstructions
June 16th, 2018

Via Africa Knows: "The Zulu greeting, Sawubona means I see you and the response Ngikhona means I am here. Inherent in the Zulu greeting and in the grateful response, is the sense that until you saw me, I didn’t exist. By recognizing me, you brought me into existence. A Zulu folk saying clarifies this, Umuntu ngumuntu nagabantu, meaning A person is a person because of other people."

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“The Inflammatory Essays” (detail) by Jenny Holzer, (1979-1982), offset posters on colored paper, 17 x 17 inches.

Brand New

The Decade that Changed the Art World
May 13th, 2018

Via Hyperallergic: "If there’s one work emblematic of the entire show, it is surely Gretchen Bender’s (1951–2004) extraordinary 1984 installation Dumping Core, an 'electronic theater' of rapidly cut and cascading film footage, corporate logos, computer animations, and crashing noise presented across 14 television screens. The work debuted at The Kitchen in 1984, where the artist described it as a response to the 'corporatization of culture.' Bender operated beyond the sphere of fine art, editing music videos for New Order, R.E.M. and Megadeth. She also produced the frenzied and nightmarish title sequence for Fox television’s America’s Most Wanted. 'Today legal questions concerning movies are generally related to pornography' a female voice declares during Dumping Core, '… but the violent cry over movie content continues.' The voices sampled in Dumping Core are frequently interrupted by audio glitches and violent sounds including crashing glass, broken synth music, and gun shots. The work is as engrossing as it is unnerving.

The primary takeaway of Brand New is how high the stakes of representation became during a decade of proliferating imagery and technology. Much of the work on display sought to disrupt the mass media’s ability to perpetuate and normalize discrimination. Julia Wachtel’s 1983 painting, Love Thing isolates cartoon characters from two separate greeting cards: a young Native American woman with an arrow shot into her buttocks, and a well-coiffed white woman brandishing a pair of scissors. Each are bent over suggestively, with their buttocks prominently raised. The decontextualization of each character emphasizes their respective stereotypes while also amplifying the underlying violence of each image. [...]

It is extraordinary how current Brand New feels, whether it’s the ongoing relevance of Holzer’s The Inflammatory Texts or the remarkable prescience of Bender’s Dumping Core. The ’80s were a political decade and Brand New is a political show. The art world as we recognize it today was largely manufactured by the decade’s commercial prowess, and we’re still grappling with its fallout. Jetzer’s exhibition is by no means perfect. It stumbles with its coverage of collectives and often foregrounds blue-chip work whose thematic relevance is obvious. It remains however, an engrossing exploration of art and commerce that deserves far more critical attention. The exhibition indelibly contributes to ’80s scholarship by foregrounding the talents of the decade’s less-appreciated artists."

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Peter Saville on Richard Hamilton's "Toaster" (1967).

The game

Also known as the White Bear Principle
April 28th, 2018

Via my favorite blog the new sheldon wet/dry: "‘The trouble with comparing yourself to others is that there are too many others.’ –Sarah Manguso"

Via Wikipedia: "The Game is a mental game where the objective is to avoid thinking about The Game itself. Thinking about The Game constitutes a loss, which must be announced each time it occurs. It is impossible to win most versions of The Game. Depending on the variation of The Game, the whole world, or all those aware of the game, are playing it all the time. Tactics have been developed to increase the number of people aware of The Game and thereby increase the number of losses. [...]

The origins of The Game are uncertain. In a 2008 news article, Justine Wettschreck says The Game has probably been around since the early 1990s, and may have originated in Australia or England. One theory is that it was invented in London in 1996 when two British engineers, Dennis Begley and Gavin McDowall, missed their last train and had to spend the night on the platform; they attempted to avoid thinking about their situation and whoever thought about it first lost. Another theory also traces The Game to London in 1996, when it was created by Jamie Miller 'to annoy people'. Journalist Mic Wright of The Next Web recalled playing The Game at school in the late 1990s.

However, The Game may have been created in 1977 by members of the Cambridge University Science Fiction Society when attempting to create a game that did not fit in with game theory."

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Jee-ook Choi for Rimowa.

It’s all about reputation now

Say goodbye to the information age
April 8th, 2018

Via Aeon: "Gloria Origgi is an Italian philosopher, and a tenured senior researcher at CNRS (the French National Centre for Scientific Research) in Paris. Her latest book is Reputation: What It Is and Why It Matters (2017), translated by Stephen Holmes and Noga Arikha.

There is an underappreciated paradox of knowledge that plays a pivotal role in our advanced hyper-connected liberal democracies: the greater the amount of information that circulates, the more we rely on so-called reputational devices to evaluate it. What makes this paradoxical is that the vastly increased access to information and knowledge we have today does not empower us or make us more cognitively autonomous. Rather, it renders us more dependent on other people’s judgments and evaluations of the information with which we are faced.

We are experiencing a fundamental paradigm shift in our relationship to knowledge. From the ‘information age’, we are moving towards the ‘reputation age’, in which information will have value only if it is already filtered, evaluated and commented upon by others. Seen in this light, reputation has become a central pillar of collective intelligence today. It is the gatekeeper to knowledge, and the keys to the gate are held by others. The way in which the authority of knowledge is now constructed makes us reliant on what are the inevitably biased judgments of other people, most of whom we do not know. [...]

The paradigm shift from the age of information to the age of reputation must be taken into account when we try to defend ourselves from ‘fake news and other misinformation and disinformation techniques that are proliferating through contemporary societies. What a mature citizen of the digital age should be competent at is not spotting and confirming the veracity of the news. Rather, she should be competent at reconstructing the reputational path of the piece of information in question, evaluating the intentions of those who circulated it, and figuring out the agendas of those authorities that leant it credibility.

Whenever we are at the point of accepting or rejecting new information, we should ask ourselves: Where does it come from? Does the source have a good reputation? Who are the authorities who believe it? What are my reasons for deferring to these authorities? Such questions will help us to get a better grip on reality than trying to check directly the reliability of the information at issue. In a hyper-specialised system of the production of knowledge, it makes no sense to try to investigate on our own, for example, the possible correlation between vaccines and autism. It would be a waste of time, and probably our conclusions would not be accurate. In the reputation age, our critical appraisals should be directed not at the content of information but rather at the social network of relations that has shaped that content and given it a certain deserved or undeserved ‘rank’ in our system of knowledge.

These new competences constitute a sort of second-order epistemology. They prepare us to question and assess the reputation of an information source, something that philosophers and teachers should be crafting for future generations."

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Petit Biscuit “Presence” Album cover by Quentin Deronzier.

A list of 25 Principles of Adult Behavior

by John Perry Barlow (October 3, 1947 – February 7, 2018)
February 11th, 2018

Via Kottke: "Silicon Valley visionary John Perry Barlow died last night at the age of 70. When he was 30, the EFF founder (and sometime Grateful Dead lyricist) drew up a list of what he called Principles of Adult Behavior. They are:

1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn’t say to him.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don’t risk it frivolously.
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Admit your errors freely and soon.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
21. Remember that love forgives everything.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.
25. Endure.

Here’s what these principles meant to Barlow:

'I don’t expect the perfect attainment of these principles. However, I post them as a standard for my conduct as an adult. Should any of my friends or colleagues catch me violating one of them, bust me.'

You can read remembrances of Barlow from the EFF and from his friends Cory Doctorow and Steven Levy."

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Visions of the past (album, 1994) by Robert Leiner.

The good of boredom

by Andreas Elpidorou
February 3rd, 2018

Via Taylor & Francis: "I argue that the state of boredom (i.e., the transitory and non-pathological experience of boredom) should be understood to be a regulatory psychological state that has the capacity to promote our well-being by contributing to personal growth and to the construction (or reconstruction) of a meaningful life."

Thanks to Elmar Hintz for the cover!

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We’d all like to be a little happier

Most unhappy people are unhappy for the exact same reason
February 2nd, 2018

 

Via Quartz: "The problem is that much of what determines happiness is outside of our control. Some of us are genetically predisposed to see the world through rose-colored glasses, while others have a generally negative outlook. Bad things happen, to us and in the world. People can be unkind, and jobs can be tedious.

But we do have some control over how we spend our leisure time. That’s one reason why it’s worth asking which leisure time activities are linked to happiness, and which aren’t.

In a new analysis of 1 million U.S. teens, my co-authors and I looked at how teens were spending their free time and which activities correlated with happiness, and which didn’t. [...]

Every year, teens are asked about their general happiness, in addition to how they spend their time. We found that teens who spent more time seeing their friends in person, exercising, playing sports, attending religious services, reading or even doing homework were happier. However, teens who spent more time on the internet, playing computer games, on social media, texting, using video chat or watching TV were less happy.

In other words, every activity that didn’t involve a screen was linked to more happiness, and every activity that involved a screen was linked to less happiness. The differences were considerable: Teens who spent more than five hours a day online were twice as likely to be unhappy as those who spent less than an hour a day.

Of course, it might be that unhappy people seek out screen activities. However, a growing number of studies show that most of the causation goes from screen use to unhappiness, not the other way around. [...]

Somewhat surprisingly, we found that teens who didn’t use digital media at all were actually a little less happy than those who used digital media a little bit (less than an hour a day). Happiness was then steadily lower with more hours of use. Thus, the happiest teens were those who used digital media, but for a limited amount of time.

The answer, then, is not to give up technology entirely. Instead, the solution is a familiar adage: everything in moderation. Use your phone for all the cool things it’s good for. And then set it down and go do something else."

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Girl and Dinosaur (1970) by Arthur Tress.

Can Machines Create Art?

by Mark Coeckelbergh
January 20th, 2018

Via Springer: "As machines take over more tasks previously done by humans, artistic creation is also considered as a candidate to be automated. But, can machines create art? This paper offers a conceptual framework for a philosophical discussion of this question regarding the status of machine art and machine creativity. It breaks the main question down in three sub-questions, and then analyses each question in order to arrive at more precise problems with regard to machine art and machine creativity: What is art creation? What do we mean by art? And, what do we mean by machines create art? This then provides criteria we can use to discuss the main question in relation to particular cases. In the course of the analysis, the paper engages with theory in aesthetics, refers to literature on computational creativity, and contributes to the philosophy of technology and philosophical anthropology by reflecting on the role of technology in art creation. It is shown that the distinctions between process versus outcome criteria and subjective versus objective criteria of creativity are unstable. It is also argued that we should consider non-human forms of creativity, and not only cases where either humans or machines create art but also collaborations between humans and machines, which makes us reflect on human-technology relations. Finally, the paper questions the very approach that seeks criteria and suggests that the artistic status of machines may be shown and revealed in the human/non-human encounter before any theorizing or agreement takes place; an experience which then is presupposed when we theorize. This hints at a more general model of what happens in artistic perception and engagement as a hybrid human-technological and emergent or even poetic process, a model which leaves more room for letting ourselves be surprised by creativity—human and perhaps non-human.

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Scene from Rabbits (2002) and Inland Empire (2006) by David Lynch.

Polish Poem (2011)

Written by David Lynch and Chrysta Bell, produced by David Lynch
January 11th, 2018

I sing this poem to you
On the other side I see
Shining waves glowing
It’s far away, far away from me,
I can see it there
The wind blows outside
And I have no breath
I breathe again and know I’ll have to live
To forget my world is ending I’ll have to live
I hear my heart beat fluttering in pain missing something
Tears are coming to my eyes
I cry
I cannot feel the warmth of the sun
I cannot hear the laughter
Choking with every thought
I see the faces
My hands are tied as I wish
But no one comes
No one comes
Where are you?
What will make me want live
What will make me want to love
Tell me tell me
I sing this poem to you
To you
Is this this mystery unfolding
As a wing floating
Something is coming true
The dream of an innocent child
Something is happening

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