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+ - Delusions theorized to be brain's mechanism for explaining the inexplicable->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Using a trick called the rubber hand illusion to make a subject's hand appear to move when it didn't, researchers have induced strange and odd delusions in normal patients including reports of 'outside forces' manipulating hands providing a theory on the origin of delusions in patients with Schizophrenia."
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+ - Could IBM's Watson Put Google in Jeopardy? 1

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Over at Wired, Vashant Dhar poses a provocative question: What If IBM’s Watson Dethroned the King of Search? "If IBM did search," Dhar writes, "Watson would do much better than Google on the tough problems and they could still resort to a simple PageRank-like algorithm as a last resort. Which means there would be no reason for anyone to start their searches on Google. All the search traffic that makes Google seemingly invincible now could begin to shrink over time." Mixing supercomputers with a scalable architecture of massive amounts of simple processors and storage, Dhar surmises, would provide a formidable combination of a machine that can remember, know, and think. And because the costs of switching from Google search would not be prohibitive for most, the company is much more vulnerable to disruption. "The only question," Dhar concludes, "is whether it [IBM] wants to try and dethrone Google from its perch. That’s one answer Watson can’t provide.""

+ - Hidden Message from Weather Service

Submitted by Holistic Missile
Holistic Missile (976980) writes "CNN Reports a hidden message from the folks working (without paychecks) at the NWS in Anchorage:

"Sometimes, it pays to read between the lines. At least that may be the message --and, more accurately, the hope — of workers at the National Weather Service office in Anchorage, Alaska.

The message can be found in an official forecast put out at 5 a.m. (9 a.m. ET) that seems, at first glance, routine with its discussion of air pressure, wind speeds and weather systems.

But if you line up the first letters of each word from top-to-bottom in the forecast, under the heading "Analysis and Upper levels," there's something else there: P-L-E-A-S-E-P-A-Y-U-S...."

The text of the forecast is on their web page. Some of the comments in the story's discussion are rather interesting, including a few people sending their own similar messages."

+ - Attitudes towards time of Facebook users predict Problematic Internet Use

Submitted by vrml
vrml (3027321) writes "A study that has just appeared on the Personality and Individual Differences Journal has linked specific attitudes towards time (TIme Perspective) of Facebook users with their level of Problematic Internet Use, by applying Phil Zimbardo's psychology of time. More specifically, a negative view of the past (Past Negative) and a fatalistic view of the present (Present Fatalistic) turned out to be the two time perspectives that predict pathologic Internet use in Facebook users. A full copy of the paper can be downloaded at this link ."

Comment: Re:Polygraqph + drugs for death row inmates (Score 1) 308

by ArgumentBoy (#43159749) Attached to: Using Truth Serum To Confirm Insanity
In a word, yes. Re-opening the case would at least make it possible to identify incompetent defense, confessions by frightened intimidated or learning-challenged people, and so forth. Lots of polygraph-cheating involves taking various drugs like beta blockers, and that's why I mentioned blood tests. Psychopaths who are emotionally flat are identifiable by a competent polygraph test, so you just re-open, investigate, and re-instate. And I'm perfectly willing to include various "truth drugs" to the protocol, given the stakes here and the apparent forfeiture of lots of privacy rights by the death row inmates. I'd rather leave a couple of these people in jail for the rest of their lives than execute innocent, frightened, confused people.

Comment: Polygraqph + drugs for death row inmates (Score 1) 308

by ArgumentBoy (#43158559) Attached to: Using Truth Serum To Confirm Insanity
This is a little off topic but I've had a somewhat relevant thought over the years: I think every death row inmate should be required to take a polygraph (with or without any drugs and blood tests you like) before they can be executed. If the inmate passes the exam, there should be an automatic indefinite delay in execution, and the case should be re-opened. There are dozens of documented cases of wrongful executions, the people on death row usually (yes, I read "usually" somewhere) get public defenders who have been or will be disbarred, many are unable to help themselves intelligently, and some are intimidated into confessions. I'm not keen on execution to begin with, but if we're going to have it, a redundant test of guilt would be a very good thing.

Comment: Smith is easy to underestimate (Score 2) 292

I met this guy once in a real meeting with genuine conversation. He's actually very bright. He went to Yale for instance. I know that's no guarantee you haven't been infected with some ideology virus, but ask yourself: if you had been to Yale and wanted a lot of red meat eating, capital punishment cheering, cousin marrying Texans to send you to Congress, what sort of stuff would you have to say in public? I really think that thought is at the bottom of a lot of his stuff. I think that he'll be okay as long as the spotlight isn't too bright. We just won't see a lot of progressive science leadership from him.

Comment: Outrageous patent (Score 1) 232

by ArgumentBoy (#41397973) Attached to: Apple's Secret Plan To Join iPhones With Airport Security
A truly outrageous patent. How in the world can a company patent a way to communicate with the U.S. government? The government has to design the socket and that controls what the plug has to be. Not just for this reason alone, the patent system has to be blowtorched and started up again from scratch.

Comment: Re:USB Microscope (Score 1) 118

by ArgumentBoy (#40274625) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Advice On Child-Friendly Microscopes?
Years ago when my girls were little, we had one of these from Logitech. It worked fine (came with some software). It was essentially just a camera with some close-up capability. I can also recommend little $10 portable microscopes from, among others, Edmund Scientific. They're about the size of a cigar case. They're a small hassle to get focused but you can take them anywhere. They even have a little light.

Comment: Re:Power Analysis (Score 1) 315

No, I didn't read the paper. But I've done power analyses plenty of times and I know that with tiny expected effects 40 or 50 isn't enough. It's enough if you're expecting moderate or large effects, but you can't seriously propose that if you're trying to prove that the effect size is zero. You can't take Bem's effects as proper estimates of what to expect in your power analysis if you've got theoretical reason to suppose that Bem's results were overstated in his data set. If you're actually setting out to prove a null you can't skimp on sample size. Their idea was to refute the original paper, not just jab at it, and they needed a killer case to do that. N of 50 won't do, and even N of 150 won't do. If you're going to prove nothing is going on, you have to stomp on the finding, and N = 500 and upwards is going to be what's required. This sort of minimalist study design is just going to keep things going.

Comment: Power Analysis (Score 2) 315

by ArgumentBoy (#39389465) Attached to: Psychic Ability Claim Doesn't Hold Up In New Scientific Experiments
I don't think ESP is real either, but the journal editors had first class reasons to reject the replication-failure paper. The sample size of each replication was 50. They tried 3 times, for a total of 150. It is very hard to prove a null hypothesis--this is not the same as failing to support a research hypothesis. Roughly, the quality of support for a research hypothesis is measured in terms of Type I error, which is assessed by p levels (e.g., p LT .05). The quality of support for a null hypothesis (and not everyone agrees that this is possible in principle) is measured in terms of Type II error, or the power of a statistical test. The power of a test depends on the sample size, the expected effect size, and which statistic (e.g., r, t) is in use. A replication test of the original ESP paper must have substantial power because the expected effect size is, well, zero. To find a tiny effect size, which would be the fair design, requires more than N=50. Doing the same underpowered study three times doesn't help very much, but even N=150 wouldn't be decisive. The journal in question is one of the most prominent in psychology. Whether they publish replications or not (and they do--replications aren't done for their own sake, they are implicit in follow-up studies), they certainly shouldn't publish bad ones.

Comment: People are interested in themselves (Score 3, Insightful) 291

by ArgumentBoy (#39384547) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Give IT Presentations That Aren't Boring?
Organize the talk by their jobs. Show them how it all works when they do what they do, and where it's most likely to fail or slow down when they do various things. You'll probably go back to a couple of key slides frequently as you move from one major job type to another, but you'll adapt to your listeners. Everybody is interested in themselves. For a big finish show them how all their jobs move together in the common system. Avoid the natural mistake of organizing it by your own job.

You can tell how far we have to go, when FORTRAN is the language of supercomputers. -- Steven Feiner

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