Shopping – more like gathering than hunting? (study)

January 18th, 2018

If you’re the type who enjoys (or otherwise takes advantage of) the January sales, you might be interested in taking a look at the work of professor Daniel J. Kruger of University of Michigan [pictured]. A news release from the university (2009) related Dr. Kruger’s take on the subject of shopping, saying :

“- it’s perfectly natural that men often can’t distinguish a sage sock from a beige sock or that sometimes women can’t tell if the shoe department is due north or west from the escalator.”

Along with Dreyson Lee Byker, Dr. Kruger published a paper in the Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 2009, 3(4): 328-342. ‘Evolved foraging psychology underlies sex differences in shoping [sic] experiences and behaviors’ which explained that :

“For the most part, contemporary stereotypes of women in modern industrial countries perceive women as enjoying shopping more than men. Our research provides evidence that this popular stereotype exists because most shopping activities have a greater similarity to women’s traditional activities of foraging and gathering than they do to men’s traditional activity of hunting. The results of our study show that shopping has significantly more in common with gathering than it does with hunting.”

Bonus Assignment [optional] Could retailers maximise their sales by making the shopping experience more like ancient hunting and gathering – if so, how?

Brendon Smith joins Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS)

January 17th, 2018

Brendon W. Smith has joined the LFHCfS – The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists. He says:

I began growing my hair in 2013, during graduate school in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois. I was dissatisfied with my clean-cut look, and was seeking a style that would express my individuality, rebelliousness, and love of rock music. As my dissertation grew, so did my hair. It developed into a flowing mane of chestnut curls. In a paramount example of my love of hair and science, I shared a video in Washington, D.C. prior to the March for Science. I defended the importance of science as my locks freely cascaded past my clavicle onto my AAAS Leonardo da Vinci t-shirt. Feast your eyes on the screenshot I have provided.

Brendon W. Smith,Ph.D., LFHCfS
Unaffiliated Nutrition Scientist and Web Developer
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The Dunning-Kruger Song

January 16th, 2018

By somewhat popular demand, here’s a video of “The Dunning-Kruger Song”:

The song honors the research study “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments,” by David Dunning and Justin Kruger, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 77, no. 6, December 1999, pp. 1121-34.

For writing that paper, Dunning and Kruger were awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for psychology, in the year 2000.

The behavior described in Dunning and Kruger’s study has become known as “the Dunning-Kruger Effect.” The Dunning-Kruger effect is on display every day, all around you.

“The Dunning Kruger Song” is the thrilling conclusion of “The Incompetence Opera,” which you can watch in its entity, if you wish.

Governing cyberspace via ‘Constructive Ambiguity’ (and Schrödinger’s cat)

January 15th, 2018

How can the vastness of cyberspace can be ‘governed’ in any practical way? Perhaps some ‘Constructive Ambiguity’ might help resolve such questions? A 2015 thesis by Professor Paul Cornish (Associate Director of Oxford University’s Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre and Research Group Director for Defence, Security and Infrastructure at RAND Europe in Cambridge, UK) suggests that useful constructive ambiguities – which might be applied to the problems of governing cyberspace – can be found in theoretical physics quantum theory. Using the example of Schrödinger’s cat, the professor explains that :

Quantum theory’s core proposition, known as the ‘superposition principle’, allows ‘the mixing together of states that classically would be mutually exclusive of each other’


In some respects, we might already have an elementary sense of super -positioning in cyberspace. For example, information is both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ in that it is made up of arrangements of digital code which have no physical substance, while at the time being sent and received electronically through machines and cabling. And as individuals with what is usually just one corporeal identity, we are nevertheless aware that we might adopt as many internet or cyber identities as we might wish. Similarly, where international cyber policy is concerned, we can identify various superpositioned ‘multiple states’ or dualities which we might wish state sovereignty to occupy at once: national and international; procedural and substantive; internal and external; intangible and physical; cultural and territorial.“

See: Governing Cyberspace through Constructive Ambiguity in the journal Survival : Global Politics and Strategy, Volume 57, 2015 – Issue 3. It’s also partly available here (you can buy the rest for £10).

Note: Although the word “Ambiguity” appears in the title, it appears not to appear in the essay itself.

Chris Christie’s “Analysis of the Indexical Values of Swearwords”

January 12th, 2018

To study how people deploy swear words, there are always more depths to be plumbed. This study plumbs:

The Relevance of Taboo Language: An Analysis of the Indexical Values of Swearwords,” Christine Christie, Journal of Pragmatics, vol. 58, 2013, pp. 152-169. The author explains:

“The assumption that the use of a particular word or linguistic resource can produce (im)politeness effects in some contexts, but not in all, is uncontroversial. For example, scholarship that addresses swearing as (im)politeness behaviour has repeatedly shown that, as a resource, taboo language can be used to generate a number of communicative effects in different contexts…. There are many questions about the indexing potential of strong swearwords, and how it relates to the location of different metadiscourses of swearing that have yet to be addressed.”