Tag Archives: cognition

Flat Earther

Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the Earth without leaving Egypt. He knew that at local noon on the summer solstice in Syene (modern Aswan, Egypt), the Sun was directly overhead. He knew this because the shadow of someone looking down a deep well at that time in Syene blocked the reflection of the Sun on the water. He measured the Sun’s angle of elevation at noon on the same day in Alexandria. The method of measurement was to make a scale drawing of that triangle which included a right angle between a vertical rod and its shadow. This turned out to be about 7°, or 1/50th of the way around a circle. Taking the Earth as spherical, and knowing both the distance and direction of Syene, he concluded that the Earth’s circumference was fifty times that distance.

His knowledge of the size of Egypt was founded on the work of many generations of surveying trips. Pharaonic bookkeepers gave a distance between Syene and Alexandria of 5,000 stadia (a figure that was checked yearly).  Some say that the distance was corroborated by inquiring about the time that it took to travel from Syene to Alexandria by camel. Carl Sagan says that Eratosthenes paid a man to walk and measure the distance. Some claim Eratosthenes used the Olympic stade of 176.4 m, which would imply a circumference of 44,100 km, an error of 10%,[16] but the 184.8 m Italian stade became (300 years later) the most commonly accepted value for the length of the stade,[16] which implies a circumference of 46,100 km, an error of 15%.[16] It was unlikely, even accounting for his extremely primitive measuring tools, that Eratosthenes could have calculated an accurate measurement for the circumference of the Earth. He made three important assumptions (none of which is perfectly accurate):

  1. That the distance between Alexandria and Syene was 5000 stadia,
  2. That the Earth is a perfect sphere.
  3. That light rays emanating from the Sun are parallel.

Eratosthenes later rounded the result to a final value of 700 stadia per degree, which implies a circumference of 252,000 stadia, likely for reasons of calculation simplicity as the larger number is evenly divisible by 60.[16] In 2012, Anthony Abreu Mora repeated Eratosthenes’ calculation with more accurate data; the result was 40,074 km, which is 66 km different (0.16%) from the currently accepted polar circumference of the Earth.

Seventeen hundred years after Eratosthenes’ death, while Christopher Columbus studied what Eratosthenes had written about the size of the Earth, he chose to believe, based on a map by Toscanelli, that the Earth’s circumference was one-third smaller. Had Columbus set sail knowing that Eratosthenes’ larger circumference value was more accurate, he would have known that the place that he made landfall was not Asia, but rather the New World.

cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost

November 11, 2010

By Steve Bradt, Harvard Staff Writer

People spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy. So says a study that used an iPhone Web app to gather 250,000 data points on subjects’ thoughts, feelings, and actions as they went about their lives.

The research, by psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbertof Harvard University, is described this week in the journal Science.

“A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind,” Killingsworth and Gilbert write. “The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”

The Act of Creation

Published on Apr 26, 2016
How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies “originals”: thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this talk, learn three unexpected habits of originals — including embracing failure. “The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most,” Grant says. “You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.”

The Act of Creation is a 1964 book by Arthur Koestler. It is a study of the processes of discovery, invention, imagination and creativity in humour, science, and the arts. It lays out Koestler’s attempt to develop an elaborate general theory of human creativity.

From describing and comparing many different examples of invention and discovery, Koestler concludes that they all share a common pattern which he terms “bisociation” – a blending of elements drawn from two previously unrelated matrices of thought into a new matrix of meaning by way of a process involving comparison, abstraction and categorisation, analogies and metaphors. He regards many different mental phenomena based on comparison (such as analogies, metaphors, parables, allegories, jokes, identification, role-playing, acting, personification, anthropomorphism etc.), as special cases of “bisociation”.

The concept of bisociation has been adopted, generalised and formalised by cognitive linguists Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner, who developed it into conceptual blending theory

Conceptual blending, also called conceptual integration or view application, is a theory of cognition developed by Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner. According to this theory, elements and vital relations from diverse scenarios are “blended” in a subconscious process, which is assumed to be ubiquitous to everyday thought and language.

The development of this theory began in 1993 and a representative early formulation is found in the online article Conceptual Integration and Formal Expression. Turner and Fauconnier cite Arthur Koestler´s 1964 book The Act of Creation as an early forerunner of conceptual blending: Koestler had identified a common pattern in creative achievements in the arts, sciences and humor that he had termed “bisociation of matrices.”[1] A newer version of blending theory, with somewhat different terminology, was presented in their book The Way We Think.

 

Cognitive reflection

The Cognitive Reflection Test is a short psychological task designed to measure a person’s tendency to override an initial “gut” response that is incorrect, and to engage in further reflection to find a correct answer. More succinctly, it attempts to measure how reflective participants in the study are in regards to their own mental state. It has been found to correlate highly with measures of intelligence, such as the Intelligence Quotient test. It also correlates highly with various measures of mental heuristics. The Cognitive Reflection Test was first described in 2005 by psychologist Shane Frederick.[1][2]

According to Frederick, there are two general types of cognitive activity. The first is executed quickly without reflection, the latter requires conscious thought and effort. These are labelled “system 1” and “system 2” respectively. The Cognitive Reflection Test consists of three questions that each have an obvious response that activates system 1, but which is incorrect. The correct response requires the activation of system 2. However, in order for system two to be activated, a person must note that their first answer is incorrect, which requires them to reflect upon their own cognition.[1]

The test has been found to correlate with many measures of economic thinking, such as temporal discounting, risk preference, and gambling preference.[1] It has also been found to correlate with measures of mental heuristics, such as the gambler’s fallacy, understanding of regression to the mean, the sunk cost fallacy, and others.[2]

The following questions are known as the Cognitive Reflection Test. They come from the paper Cognitive Reflection and Decision Making by Shane Frederick (2005).

Can you answer them correctly?

  1. A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? _____ cents.
  2. If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets? _____ minutes.
  3. In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake? _____ days

In a survey of 3,428 people, an astonishing 33 percent missed all three questions. Most people–83 percent–missed at least one of the questions.

Even very educated people made mistakes. Only 48 percent of MIT students sampled were able to answer all the questions correctly.

Published on Oct 8, 2015

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Sources
Cognitive reflection test
http://cbdr.cmu.edu/seminar/Frederick…

Cognitive reflection test and cognitive biases
http://www.keithstanovich.com/Site/Re…

Font in cognitive reflection test
http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~aalter/in…

Fonts in school
https://web.princeton.edu/sites/oppla…

Fonts and cognitive strain
http://rady.ucsd.edu/faculty/seminars…

Affective neuroscience

People drew maps of body locations where they feel basic emotions (top row) and more complex ones (bottom row). Hot colors show regions that people say are stimulated during the emotion. Cool colors indicate deactivated areas. Image courtesy of Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, and Jari Hietanen.

People drew maps of body locations where they feel basic emotions (top row) and more complex ones (bottom row). Hot colors show regions that people say are stimulated during the emotion. Cool colors indicate deactivated areas.
Image courtesy of Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, and Jari Hietanen.

Mapping Emotions On The Body: Love Makes Us Warm All Over

December 30, 20134:04 PM ET
MICHAELEEN DOUCLEF

Affect is the experience of feeling or emotion.[1] Affect is a key part of the process of an organism‘s interaction with stimuli. The word also refers sometimes to affect display, which is “a facial, vocal, or gestural behavior that serves as an indicator of affect” (APA 2006).

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Linguistics as a Window to Understanding the Brain

The ability to communicate through spoken language may be the trait that best sets humans apart from other animals. Last year researchers identified the first gene implicated in the ability to speak. This week, a team shows that the human version of this gene appears to date back no more than 200,000 years–about the time that anatomically modern humans emerged. The authors argue that their findings are consistent with previous speculations that the worldwide expansion of modern humans was driven by the emergence of full-blown language abilities.

The researchers who identified the gene, called FOXP2, showed that FOXP2 mutations cause a wide range of speech and language disabilities (ScienceNOW, 3 October 2002). In collaboration with part of this team, geneticist Svante Pääbo’s group at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, set about tracing the gene’s evolutionary history.

As a uniquely human trait, language has long baffled evolutionary biologists. Not until FOXP2was linked to a genetic disorder that caused problems in forming words could they even begin to study language’s roots in our genes. Soon after that discovery, a team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, discovered that just two bases, the letters that make up DNA, distinguished the human and chimp versions ofFOXP2. To try to determine how those changes influenced the gene’s function, that group put the human version of the gene in mice. In 2009, they observed that these “humanized” mice produced more frequent and complex alarm calls, suggesting the human mutations may have been involved in the evolution of more complex speech.

When humanized mice and wild mice were put in mazes that engaged both types of learning,the humanized mice mastered the route to the reward faster than their wild counterparts, report Schreiweis, Graybiel, and their colleagues

The results suggest the human version of the FOXP2 gene may enable a quick switch to repetitive learning—an ability that could have helped infants 200,000 years ago better communicate with their parents. Better communication might have increased their odds of survival and enabled the new version of FOXP2 to spread throughout the entire human population, suggests Björn Brembs, a neurobiologist at the University of Regensburg in Germany, who was not involved with the work.

“The findings fit well with what we already knew about FOXP2 but, importantly, bridge the gap between behavioral, genetic, and evolutionary knowledge,” says Dianne Newbury, a geneticist at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford, U.K., who was not involved with the new research. “They help us to understand how the FOXP2 gene might have been important in the evolution of the human brain and direct us towards neural mechanisms that play a role in speech and language acquisition.”

Chomsky critiqued the field of AI for adopting an approach reminiscent of behaviorism, except in more modern, computationally sophisticated form. Chomsky argued that the field’s heavy use of statistical techniques to pick regularities in masses of data is unlikely to yield the explanatory insight that science ought to offer. For Chomsky, the “new AI” — focused on using statistical learning techniques to better mine and predict data — is unlikely to yield general principles about the nature of intelligent beings or about cognition.

 

Published on Oct 6, 2012

Steven Pinker – Psychologist, Cognitive Scientist, and Linguist at Harvard University

How did humans acquire language? In this lecture, best-selling author Steven Pinker introduces you to linguistics, the evolution of spoken language, and the debate over the existence of an innate universal grammar. He also explores why language is such a fundamental part of social relationships, human biology, and human evolution. Finally, Pinker touches on the wide variety of applications for linguistics, from improving how we teach reading and writing to how we interpret law, politics, and literature.

The Floating University