Research posted by Techcruch estimates that, worldwide, $112 billion was spent on televisions in 200, accounting for 205 million televisions. Of those, 141 million were LCDs. Of those, one was an LCD I purchased. I guess I'm just one of the herd, but damn do I like watching Blu-Ray movies!
On the other hand, I suppose this does not bode well for the global expansion of waist lines...
There is a fantastic article in the latest issue of Wired entitled, "Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up." The article discusses, in a very readable way, the real-world problems of scientific research, and provides a neurological explanation for why researchers often make very-human mistakes when considering data and results that do not conform to their pre-existing expectations. Several historical examples are offered, ans research by psychologist Kevin Dunbar into the process of research illuminates how preconceived notions about what "should" happen often negatively impact the interpretation of unexpected results - often leading to a conclusion that there must have been a mistake, rather than considering alternatives. From the article:
Dunbar came away from his in vivo studies with an unsettling insight: Science is a deeply frustrating pursuit. Although the researchers were mostly using established techniques, more than 50 percent of their data was unexpected. (In some labs, the figure exceeded 75 percent.) “The scientists had these elaborate theories about what was supposed to happen,” Dunbar says. “But the results kept contradicting their theories. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to spend a month on a project and then just discard all their data because the data didn’t make sense.” Perhaps they hoped to see a specific protein but it wasn’t there. Or maybe their DNA sample showed the presence of an aberrant gene. The details always changed, but the story remained the same: The scientists were looking for X, but they found Y.
One suggestion for avoiding non-inquisitive thinking: diversity, primarily of attitude and scientific background. That is, individuals who don't already "know" the material at hand may well bring a fresh perspective. In addition, outsiders are often less constrained by what is "settled" in the field in question, and might be more willing to challenge orthodoxy. I recall in When Life Nearly Died, it took several non-paleontologists (I believe their background was physics, though I can't recall for sure) to break down the century-old taboo against suggesting a meteor might have caused a mass extinction of the dinosaurs.
I highly recommend you read the whole thing, both for the discussion of the research into the scientific processes of research, as well as the neurological discussion into how the brain handles disparate data. Great stuff, and one of the best articles I've read in Wired in some time.
" Global amnesia refers to a dense and circumscribed deficit in memory in the context of otherwise preserved intelligence. It encompasses the acquisition of events and facts encountered postmorbidly (anterograde amnesia), as well as the retreival of information acquired premorbidly (retrograde amnesia). Patients with amnesia are capable of holding a limited amount of information in mind for a very brief period of time, but with increased retention interval or increased interference, their recall and recognition of the information inevitably fails. Anterograde amnesia is usually global, in that memory for all new information is affected - regardless of the nature of the information (i.e. verbal or nonverbal) or the modality in which it is presented (i.e. auditory or visual). In most patients, anrerograde amnesia is associated with some degree of retrograde loss, although its extent is more variable. The reverse, however, is not necessarily the case, as some patients have been described who demonstrate relatively focal retrograde amnesia in the absence of anterograde memory loss (Kapur, 1993; Kopelman, 2000)."
I've had several cases recently in which some degree of memory impairment has been reported. As a result, I've contined to focus on various aspects of memory impairment, which explains the recent posts on memory-related topics. I thought this paragraph effectively described the issues associated with the two general types of amnesia: 1) Anterograde - from the point of onset, a person cannot form new memories, and; 2) Reterograde - a person cannot recall memories from a particular time period in the past, but is able to form new memories.
With respect to anterograde amnesia, two movies that have portrayed this issue are: 1) 50 First Dates, in a lighthearted, comedic manner, and; 2) Memento, in a darker, film noir manner. In each case, a head injury impairs the individual to the point where they can no longer form long-term memories; once time passes, or new information is presented (interference), the preceeeding stimuli is lost. Memento is particularly effective in demonstrating the impact this sort of problem can have, utilizing a clever time-sequencing device to impart the memory problem onto the audience. If one is interested in reading a fascinating portrayal of this type of problem, I highly recommend the chapter "The Last Hippie" from Oliver Sacks' An Anthropologist on Mars .
Retrograde amnesia has been shown in film as well. In the case of a brain injury, Overboard with Goldie Hawn presents a woman who loses memory of her past after a fall and subsequent hit on the head. More common in the movies (liely due to theatrical potential) is psychogenic retrograde amnesia (amnesia for past events for psychological, not medical, reasons). In The prince of Tides, Nick Nolte works through a childhood trauma for which he cannot recall the event; many movies will portray memory loss of this type as a result of a traumatic event (including the comission of a crime), often using this set up as a plot device.
As time and interest permits, I'll keep posting stuff I think might be interesting!
Yes, I know this is a stunning finding, but nevertheless, I shall link to it. The gist of the research is that individuals who are better able to focus on larger, long-term payoffs with respect to their choices are typically better off, including in areas related to health. The study focused on determining whether people were more "present-minded" (i.e. focused on immediate results), or "future-oriented" (i.e. Seeing the longer-term consequences). From the article:
Daugherty and Brase found that it was possible to predict participants' health behaviours according to whether they were future-minded or present-minded.
For example, they found that "delay discounting and time perspective significantly improved the incremental prediction of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use, exercise frequency, eating breakfast, wearing a safety belt, estimated longevity, health concerns ...".
They also found that participants who gave future-minded answers were more likely to report healthy behaviours.
The findings could shed light on how people deal with negative health behaviours: Brase said they could help people make better health decisions. A person with a present-minded time perspective would find it easier to make changes if they could see the rewards sooner rather than later.
The article also offers suggestions regarding how to improve the decision-making processes of those who are more present-minded. It is in this vein I chose to link to this article; while the importance of developing the ability to delay gratification is readily apparent in a wide variety of areas, the trick (both in personal efforts as well as in therapy, where this issue comes up in many different clinical goals) is how to go about improving one's ability to delay gratification. That is, we all know it's important; the question is, how do we do it?
The article suggests that one way to improve decision-making for those who are present-minded is to emphasis the relatively quick pay-offs for the future-oriented behavior. For example, starting an exercise regimen may be extremely important for a person with high cholesterol levels; however, the benefits may not be readily apparent in that regard. A more present-oriented person might respond better to the associated weight-loss (or other benefits that occur more quickly), even though the primary goal is lowering cholesterol level. This is certainly one technique that may be useful in improving an individual's decision-making processes, especially early in therapy where a focus can be on certain basic, behavioral changes. Over time, a person may develop more future-oriented thinking through practicing in this manner (in addition to utilizing other behavioral techniques), and some cognitive techniques may also help in this regard. As the process unfolds, the even-larger benefits of better choices made during the initial stages will become apparent, further reinforcing the smarter decisions.
1) This post addresses the question: "Who is the best Batman of all-time?' Voice portrayals are included. Amazingly, George Clooney is not ranked first.
2) The kids of the Geekdads made their picks for "Best of the Decade" in categories such as movies, books, comics, and games. A good list for anyone with kids, as there are a few items I know my kids would like, but I had not heard of them. Also, lots of Lego-love!!!
3) Here is a list of the top 5 PS3 games of 2009, including downloadables. I haven't played with my PS3 much (I use it mostly for the Blu-Ray), but I did download Comet Crash, and I've really enjoyed it.
4) This is a really nice review of the game Carcassonne, a game I've been eyeing for quite awhile, but I've yet to pull the trigger on. Sounds like I need to get it.
"These tests of attention require intact short-term memory. Most patients with brain disorders have intact short-term memory when recall follows repetition immediately, with neither delay nor interference. When their attention is directed away from tasks by an interpolated activity, retention, even for relatively brief intervals, becomes tenuous. Patients with actual short-term memory impairment do exist but it is relatively rare (e.g. Vallar & Shallice, 1990; Warrington & Shallice, 1984), so this possibility should be evaluated. Poor performance on a simple digit span task is more likely to be representative of an attentional impairment rather than a true memory impairment.
Attentional capacity is resistant to the effects of many brain disorders. It may be restricted in the first months following head trauma but it is likely to return to normal during latter states (Bazarian et al., 1999; Lezak, 1979; Ponsford & Kinsells, 1992). Most mildly demented Alzheimer's patients have normal capacity for reciting a string of digits (Pachana et al., 1996; Rubin et al., 1992). However, when the information becomes more complex, as in sentence span tests, or more information is presented than can normally be grasped at once, as in supraspan tests (Benton et al., 1983; Milner, 1970; see also Lezak, 1995), the reduced attentional capacity of many brain-injured persons becomes evident."
- See also this link for some information regarding the concept of attention, as it relates to the issues noted above.
Basically, what this passage indicates is that organic brain issues typically do not impact short-term memory; to the extent an individual is displaying problems with short-term memory, the actual issue is most likely related to attention.
An interesting post over at Marginal Revolution discusses, in part, whether younger scientists tend to be more innovative than older scientists, and if so, should this issue be considered in terms of implementing policy. I have found this issue fascinating ever since I read Greatness: Who Makes History and Why by Dean Simonton (a fantastic book, by the way). I recommend going over to the post and reading both the main article, as well as the comments (several of which are excellent). In particular, I agree with a comment by "Agnostic," who also cites Simonton:
The go-to source is Dean Simonton. See his *Creativity in Science* (lots of data). In sum, the more fluid intelligence is required to excel -- physics or math -- the younger the scientist tends to produce their greatest work. Where success is more based on crystallized intelligence (having a large store of facts to examine) -- medicine or history -- they flourish later.
And of course that'll vary within a field. More naturalist types of biologists like E.O. Wilson do their best work later in life. Physicist imperialists like Francis Crick will do their best stuff very early on.
Really, just look up your heroes and see when they did their best work -- if they were fluid intelligence types, you'll get pretty depressed. Einstein's "miracle year" of groundbreaking work was 1905 -- when he was 26 years old.
Intelligence research shows that fluid IQ starts to decline after 30, and really plummets in middle age. No time for dilly-dallying!
If I recall correctly, this breakdown tends to hold in other areas of achievement as well, when all else is equal. For example, in terms of literary achievement, poets tend to produce their most innovative, ground-breaking work at the youngest average age of any writers, while literary criticism is often writen at its best by older writers. Poetry is a visceral, instinctive form that is often at its best when it is deeply personal, and defies "accepted standards." Non-fiction, criticism, etc., on the other hand, generally depends on a well-developed knowledge of the field in question. Poetry is much more of a fuild intelligence endeavor, while theory and criticism is much more of a crystallized intelligence activity. You can probably make the same argument for songwriters as well; in most cases, the most innovative stuff comes early, the more polished (but conforming) stuff comes later.