Friday, 9 November 2018

Podcast: Tinder lies

Lies damn lies and profiles! You're going to exaggerate, that's a given. So what's the best strategy?

Deception in Mobile Dating Conversations, Markowitz & Hancock, 2018

The Elephant in the Brain, Simler & Hanson, 2018


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Saturday, 3 November 2018

Podcast: Film Remakes

Why do we have so many remakes? Why are some movies remade and others are not? Why are some so bad?
stephenfollows.com/



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Friday, 26 October 2018

Podcast: Future History

Why did it take 100 years to find the #49? In a world where everything is digitized, will we ever lose anything? If things don't have a digital record, will they may as well not exist?



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Friday, 19 October 2018

Podcast: Humorless Professionalism

Can you be both interesting while being professional? Will humor always offend someone?



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Friday, 12 October 2018

Podcast: Innovation in big firms

Can big firms be innovative? 

Peter, Nick and Fraser are joined by a special guest Roland Harwood.

Things mentioned in this podcast:

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Friday, 5 October 2018

Podcast: Heroes

What makes a hero?






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Saturday, 29 September 2018

Podcast: Elon Musk

What is up with Elon Musk? Is he OK? How bad for a business is it if the CEO goes off the rails?

Some things mentioned in this podcast:




Image: JD Lasica via Flickr

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Saturday, 22 September 2018

Podcast: Fun

What is fun? Is organised fun actually fun? Can fun be manufactured?

 
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Friday, 14 September 2018

Podcast: Media Balance

What is balance in media? Why is it important? How do we find it? Should we give air time to climate change deniers?

Thinks mentioned in this episode:


 
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Friday, 7 September 2018

Podcast: Digital Dementia

Do you suffer from digital alzheimer's? Are young folk wired differently? Does instant communications on many platforms impact productivity?


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Friday, 31 August 2018

Podcast: Gentlemen's Disagreements

What are 'Gentlemen's agreements'? How binding are they? What happens if they are broken? Why do the hold sometimes, but not others?


Things mentioned in this podcast:


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Friday, 24 August 2018

Podcast: Flat Earthism

Flat Earthism, what is that all about? Why do people with strange beliefs bother us so much? Do they really mean it or are they joking?

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Friday, 17 August 2018

Podcast: Cults

What makes a cult? What makes a cult different from a religion? Are they damaging or dangerous?


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Friday, 10 August 2018

Podcast: Nostalgia

Are the British stuck in the past? Why do we keep going on about old victories and defeats? Do we look back more than other nations?

 
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Friday, 3 August 2018

Podcast: Political Capital

What is political capital? Can you touch it, measure it? How does it work?


Things mentioned in this podcast:



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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Podcast: Dated Films

Why do some films age better than others?



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Friday, 20 July 2018

Podcast: Schedule vs Schedule

Which type of english is best? Why do we prefer the sound of some language over others?



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Friday, 13 July 2018

Podcast: Ticket Touting

Is ticket touting wrong? Why? Is there a better way of deciding ticket pricing?



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Sunday, 8 July 2018

Podcast: Football Cheats

Why is there a culture of cheating in some games and not others? Do some teams cheat more than other?



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Friday, 29 June 2018

Podcast: Red Bad

Colour and meaning: Why do some colours seem to have some inherent meaning? How is it that we have cultural standards for colour to indicate meaning?



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Friday, 22 June 2018

Podcast: Virtually Limitless Reality

Virtual Reality promises great things. Headline often read along the lines of "VR will make any world possible". Is this true?



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Friday, 15 June 2018

Podcast: Friendly Computers

Why are computer interfaces always so friendly?



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Friday, 8 June 2018

Podcast: Language of immigration

How does use of language affect our attitude to immigration?



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Friday, 1 June 2018

Podcast: Democracies versus dictatorships

In light of the recent summit between North and South Korea, and the on-off bromance between President Trump and Kim Jong-Un, we ask the question whether democracies or dictatorships offer more certainty.

Image: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen via Wikipedia


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Podcast: Phew!

Future dread and hindsight relief. Why do we experience dread and relief for some events?


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Saturday, 19 May 2018

Podcast: What's in a name?

Men who change their surname when they get married are still unusual. Why is it important to some?


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Friday, 11 May 2018

Podcast: Off-pitch referees

What's wrong with off-pitch referees? Do they make the game less beautiful? Do off-pitch refs make better or worse decisions? What effects does devolving decision-making have?

Image: KeithJJ via Pixabay


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Friday, 4 May 2018

Podcast: Seagulls

Why do we get so worked up about our territory? Where does the sense of what is ours come from? What is ownership anyway?

Image: irenne56 via Pixnio



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Saturday, 28 April 2018

Podcast: Driving Licences

Are older drivers less safe than younger drivers? Does just having a licence indicate you are more able to drive? What is the point of certification?

Image: ArtsyBee via Pixabay



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Friday, 20 April 2018

Podcast: Optimized Fruit

What does tastiness tell us about fruit choice? Could we engineer the perfect fruit? Or are we just comparing apples and oranges?

Image: Malte Sörensen via Flickr



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Friday, 13 April 2018

Podcast: Nostalgia isn't what it used to be

In a world were everything is available on demand, will we miss out on the pleasure of nostalgia? What Is Nostalgia Good For? Quite a Bit, Research Shows

Why the Past Always Seems Happier Than the Present

Image: Pixabay via Pexels



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Friday, 6 April 2018

Podcast: National Identity

What are the giveaways that tell you you're in another country? What is national identity?

Image: Jorge Royan via Wikipedia

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Friday, 30 March 2018

Podcast: Gun control and ideological tribalism

What does the gun control debate tell us about ideology? Do peoples beliefs cluster into similar groups? If I tell you I'm pro-life, what can you predict about me?

Evolution Explains Why Politics Is So Tribal - https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/evolution-explains-why-politics-tribal/

Image: Randall Goya via Flickr

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Friday, 23 March 2018

Podcast: Condiments

The culture of condiments: Why don't we find wasabi in fish and chip shops? What do they tell you about national culture? Why salt and pepper and not cumin and nutmeg? Why is ketchup the king of the sauces? What determines the optimal condiment arrangement?

Image: Wonderlane via Flickr

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Friday, 16 March 2018

Podcast: Animal Music

Why do some animals like music, even though they don't make it? Why do we like music? Does it have a purpose?

https://www.cornwalllive.com/news/cornwall-news/watch-seal-pups-being-soothed-954976

Image: Howcheng via Wikipedia

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Friday, 9 March 2018

Podcast: Alpha Zero

What does it mean? Is it a big step or a small one? How could we know? Is Artificial Intelligence becoming a massive anticlimax? Is it inevitable that AI will be better than us?

Image: geraldford via Flickr

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Friday, 2 March 2018

Podcast: Universality

What is the most universal science? What will be true where ever you go?

Philosophical reductionism: plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-reduction

Image: ESO/M. Kornmesser via Wikipedia

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Friday, 23 February 2018

Podcast: Animal Sentience

Are animals sentient? How do we measure sentience? What is sentience anyway?

Image: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Cow-Livestock-Nature-Head-Animal-Cow-Head-1715829

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Friday, 16 February 2018

Podcast: Better off

Are we really no better off than we were ten years ago? What is all the free stuff worth to us?

Image Clapspremiere via Wikipedia

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Friday, 9 February 2018

Podcast: Micro transactions

In game purchases. Why do we hate them? Is the a moral repulsion to buying an advantage justified?

Gamer backlash against EA: gizmodo.com/congratulations-to-…st-hated-1820391000

Relational models theory: www.rmt.ucla.edu

‘Premium mediocre’ - firms trying to hide their business model: www.ribbonfarm.com/2017/08/17/the-…aya-millennial

Image by Hachimaki


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Sunday, 4 February 2018

Podcast: Multitasking

Are we as unproductive as we feel with modern technology?

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Monday, 29 January 2018

Podcast: Fake Whisky

How do you guarantee provenance? Why are evidence trails difficult?

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Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Alert System that Cried Wolf: Minimum Requirements for Effective Warning

On the morning of 13 January, the state of Hawaii was sent into panic by the issuing of an SMS ballistic missile warning, giving residents perhaps 10 minutes to prepare for a nuclear strike, with the helpful wording 'this is not a drill' appended to the message. Not to be outdone, three days later the Japanese national broadcaster NHK sent out a text message warning of an impending North Korean missile strike. Thankfully, both were false alarms. In the aftermath, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai warned the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency not to become the 'boy who cried wolf'.
Is it really there?
Aesop's story of the Boy who Cried Wolf is perhaps 2500 years old. Longevity in folk tales is an indicator of universal significance. The story holds two lessons. The first is that telling the truth makes you more likely to be believed; if this is important to you, you should therefore tell the truth. The second is a lesson for interpreters: even an untrustworthy signal can sometimes be veridical.

These lessons find a modern interpretation within probability theory and inference. The value of a signal - a boy crying wolf, a fingerprint at a crime scene, a car alarm ringing - is measured in terms of its likelihood ratio. This is the probability of that signal being seen if a hypothesis is true - wolves are attacking the sheep, the prime suspect is guilty, your car is being broken into - divided by the probability of that signal being seen if it's false. Good evidence is that which is highly consistent with a hypothesis's truth but inconsistent with its falsity, or vice versa.

But the final probability is also driven by prior probability; the probability you'd be right to assign to the hypothesis before taking the evidence into account. How frequent are sheep attacks? How likely is a specific individual to be guilty of a crime? What's the probability of your car being broken into, right now? The final probability is the product of the prior probability and the likelihood ratio of the signal.

The last thing to take into account is the action threshold.  At what probability does it make sense to act? Broadly, this is driven by the costs and benefits of different outcomes. How much effort does it take to run uphill to the sheepfold? How bad is it if a wolf eats a sheep - or a shepherd? If the cost of acting is low, compared to the cost of failing to act, the action threshold will be low; if it's relatively high, you'd need to be more certain before it made sense to act on the information.

All of this neatly explains the Boy who Cried Wolf. Assuming the villagers are used to highly reliable shepherds, the likelihood ratio for a cry of 'wolf' is going to be high. Wolf attacks might be rare - say 1% at any given time - but if the cry of 'wolf' is virtually certain (99%) in the event of an attack, and extremely unlikely (1%) otherwise, the final probability that an attack is happening, upon hearing the cry, would be 50%. Assuming the cost of ascending the hill is outweighed by the cost of losing a sheep, this is certainly enough to rouse the villagers to action.

But a couple of days - and false warnings - down the line, the villagers have learned more about the likelihood ratio of this new shepherd's alarm. Now, they might be justified in thinking the cry of wolf to have very low information indeed, and possibly indeed to make a wolf attack less likely than average. Whatever new likelihood ratio they assign to the signal, the tragic result is village-wide apathy vis-a-vis wolf defence.

As a general rule, the likelihood ratio of a signal, to induce action, and for most practical purposes, needs to be at least of a similar order of magnitude to the prior odds of the event happening. An event with a prior probability of 1-in-1000 needs a signal with a likelihood ratio of at least 1000:1 to become 50% probable. To put it in Carl Sagan's words, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Still improbable, thankfully.

A nuclear strike on Hawaii is improbable - improbable enough for Hawaiians to spend their days going about their business instead of lurking in shelters. Whatever the likelihood ratio assigned to the alert system was before the false alarm, it was certainly enough to raise a strike's probability to a level that justified action of some sort - filling of bathtubs, taking of shelter, making a run for it.

The false alarm, however, will significantly dilute the likelihood ratio of subsequent alerts. When alerts are so infrequent, the existence of a single false alarm constitutes a sizeable portion of the evidence. If false alarms are more frequent than nuclear wars, the final probability of an impending strike will never be higher than 50% in the event of an alarm. If they're ten times more frequent - and who is to say there are not? - then the final probability can only be 10%. Where is Hawaii's action threshold? Somewhere between 10% and 100%? Who knows. Restoring trust in the system must clearly be a salient priority. A second false alarm would be a disaster.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Podcast: Violent Entertainment

Is TV getting more violent? Are we being desensitised to horror and violence? Does something need to be done?

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Friday, 5 January 2018

Podcast: Swimming with Crocodiles

How dangerous is it to swim with crocodiles? To do so would you be the idiot of the century? Is the notoriety worth it?


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