Found 5 comments on HN
qlk1123 · 2019-04-16 · Original thread
> I’ve always found it fascinating how organizational structure and pressure can take really brilliant and motivated people and beat them into making such poor decisions.

I get your sentiment, but there are more stories to tell in NASA events. Robert Trivers wrote a book [1] about his research on human behavior, specifically, how self-deception plays a role in the event.


tokenadult · 2014-10-29 · Original thread
The article reports, "Minerva toys with the notion that in a world where information is never more than a click away, what matters most is not what you know off the top of your head, but how you analyze and interpret everything you learn. And so, the school takes a hard stance against teaching hard skills." And that tells me that the program founders need to learn more hard facts themselves about the failure of efforts to teach thinking skills without also teaching content about the real world. Critical thinking requires deep knowledge of a factual domain.[1] Knowledge is important: it speeds and strengthens reading comprehension, learning, and thinking.[2] There are good books about critical thinking in general,[3] but the best of those books only have a lot of influence on the thinking of readers who are well informed with facts when they read the books. If the Minerva Project doesn't do something on campus to make sure that the learners are gaining knowledge of the world as they participate, the project is doomed to failure.

The article also reports, "Its students take all their classes online, and after their first year in California, they spend each semester in a new country of their choosing." This I call burying the lede. That's the really interesting and educational aspect of this program. If the students are funded to study abroad, moving from country to country as they go through the program, the program cannot help but be educational. Living in another country can't help but get a learner unstuck from the learner's earlier prejudices. "The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land."[4] What I learned from living overseas is that there are a lot of things people think that they just know from observation of the world that people with other cultural backgrounds do not assume to be true, and people from different cultural backgrounds often talk past one another until they examine their hidden "factual" assumptions about how the world works. Getting a group of learners to go all over the world while learning sounds like a very productive idea for a better education.

On the whole, it's good that the non-system of higher education in the United States allows experimentation like this. The people who are running the project aren't sure that they will produce graduates who end up getting jobs, but they will try something new and different while they have funding and see what happens.




[4] G. K. Chesterton, "The Riddle Of The Ivy"

tokenadult · 2012-12-14 · Original thread
The main problem with human memory is that read operations are also write operations.

Human memory is continually being reshaped, and is not a reliable archive of anyone's experience.

The other problem with the human brain's large capacities in general is that bandwidth to and from the brain constrains the brain's interaction with the environment. I have read (I'm sorry I don't remember the source off-hand) that human sensory organs have a huge information capacity, and the human brain has a huge capacity both to process and to store information, but the nervous system's connections between sensory nerves for input or between motor nerves for output are strictly limited in bandwidth, so you always have to ignore much of what you could perceive or do. A really good book about the built-in capacity for human self-deception is The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life by Robert Trivers,

which is full of interesting information about limitations of the thinking of all organisms, especially human beings.

tokenadult · 2012-09-07 · Original thread
Because the submitted article mentions the placebo effect, in the usual manner of popular articles, perhaps I should share here some links that are helpful for understanding what placebo effects are all about. Some of these online links cite quite a few useful scholarly publications.

"In other words, the best research we have strongly suggests that placebo effects are illusions, not real physiological effects. The possible exception to this are the subjective symptoms of pain and nausea, where the placebo effects are highly variable and may be due to subjective reporting."

The statement in the article kindly submitted here, "Someone suffering from a low-level infection will recover just as nicely whether they take an active drug or a simple sugar pill" should be interpreted as "Animals have a lot of capacity for recovering from infections, and some treatments for infections are indistinguishable in outcomes from doing nothing" until a citation for a specific study involving infection in HUMAN subjects is brought into the discussion. Usually the "placebo effect" is just the no-op effect of the body healing over time with the body's own healing mechanisms, and the ONLY reliable findings of placebo effects in human medicine, according to the sources I am citing here, are self-reported subjective symptoms like pain and discomfort, not physiologically verifiable improvement in disease states.

So let's not rush too fast to assume an explanation for a phenomenon until the phenomenon is better defined. The submitted article goes on to discuss some animal studies related to seasonal patterns of light and darkness. These studies are related to the idea that the immune system is costly to maintain, drawing on many physiological resources of the living organism. That's a reasonably important point and is indeed the subject of much ongoing research. But human beings, with their very complicated behavior patterns for adaptation to many environments, probably have a system for regulating immune response that is harder to observe. I note for the record and for your reading enjoyment that the recent book he Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life by Robert Trivers

includes a chapter, with some citations to scientific studies, about immune system interaction with the brain suggesting a theory of self-deception in the aid of bodily healing, on evolutionary grounds. The whole book is interesting, and there is better established findings in it, so it is well worth a read whatever other science says about placebo effects.

tokenadult · 2012-07-26 · Original thread
An interesting experiment (for a company that actually has a job and is not leading people on) would be to distinguish a job posting that says

"Hiring for this position will be based in large part on a work-sample test during a half day at our office"


"Previous experience . . . preferred, but will train the right candidate."

We can tell that the United States economy is in recession (as is the case in many other countries with Hacker News participants) because we keep seeing new stories submitted every day or so about the hiring procedures of companies, with multiple comments. In a long FAQ post I've posted recently

here on Hacker News, based on many helpful comments from other participants, I summarize a LOT of research on company hiring procedures. If you want to hire someone good in the United States, make a work-sample test part of your hiring procedure. Work-sample tests are much better than biographical reviews of resumes for finding good workers. If you want to get a good job in a well managed company, develop the skills to get past a realistic work-sample test for the position you seek. Many more details appear in the FAQ,

which is quite long but well worth a read if you are looking for a job or if you are a business manager trying to hire someone who will do a good job.

P.S. I still hear of young people who are gaining full-time, full-benefits jobs in today's economy. In the usual case, they are getting those jobs by showing what they can actually do as part of the hiring process, degree or no degree.

After edit: I recently read the VERY interesting book The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life

(I wonder if this book has been discussed here on HN yet?) and that reminded me of one of the main reasons that hiring by screening resumes is demonstrably less effective than hiring by giving work sample tests: many people lie on their resumes. The author of the interesting submitted blog post was of course posting a fake job ad, and several comments here on HN point out that many job ads may just be fronts for recruiters rather than postings by actual employers. Participants here gave examples (NUMEROUS examples) of job ads getting responses that don't appear at all to fit the job, but an employer also has to worry about "false positives," applicants who look like they fit the job but who are inflating their educational credentials or multiplying their years of actual work experience. The only way to know what an applicant can do is to test. Perhaps announcing up front that the hiring process includes actual testing of job-related skills MAY screen out some of the poseurs from even sending in their fake resumes (although the many shotgun applicants who don't even read the job ad closely will still be sending resumes all over the place only to waste the time of anyone who receives the resumes).

One way the author of the blog post could have demonstrated statistical acumen is by labeling his data presentations "Self-Reported Experience" rather than "True Experience" and "Self-Reported Credentials" rather than "Education." He has NO idea what the actual educational credentials or work experience (or other aspects of biography) of any of his applicants really are. He would have been aware of this point if he had taken a good statistics course in college, but alas good statistics classes are very rare in the United States.

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