So-Called “Altruism” An Artefact of Experiment Mistakes


these findings suggest that the case for altruistic punishment in humans—a view that has gained increasing attention in the biological and social sciences—has been overstated. Continue reading

Content May Change Real Behavior: Neuromarketing Insights


There has been a recent emphasis on content but little research supporting it — here is some.  Also support for neuromarketing.

Take Aways

  • “An ad is only as strong as its central argument, which matters more than its audiovisual presentation
  • This is the first time research has shown an association between cognition and brain activity in response to content and format in televised ads and behavior.
  • If you give someone an unconvincing ad, it doesn’t matter what format you do on top of that. You can make it sensational. But in terms of effectiveness, content is more important.” 

Anti-Smoking Ads With Strong Arguments, Not Flashy Editing, Trigger Part Of Brain That Changes Behavior Apr. 23, 2013 

Researchers…have shown that an area of the brain that initiates behavioral changes had greater activation in smokers who watched anti-smoking ads with strong arguments versus those with weaker ones, and irrespective of flashy elements, like bright and rapidly changing scenes, loud sounds and unexpected scenario twists.

This is the first time research has shown an association between cognition and brain activity in response to content and format in televised ads and behavior.

Even ads riddled with attention-grabbing tactics, the research suggests, are not effective at reducing tobacco intake unless their arguments are strong. However, ads with flashy editing and strong arguments, for example, produced better recognition. Continue reading

Marketing and Thermodynamics: (Buying) Behavior and Entropy


Marketers need to think a lot more about the behavioral and optimizing mechanics of buying and thus, principals of thermodynamics!

Recent advances in fields ranging from cosmology to computer science have hinted at a possible deep connection between intelligence and entropy maximization, but no formal physical relationship between them has yet been established. Here, we explicitly propose a first step toward such a relationship in the form of a causal generalization of entropic forces that we find can cause two defining behaviors of the human “cognitive niche”—tool use and social cooperation—to spontaneously emerge in simple physical systems. Our results suggest a potentially general thermodynamic model of adaptive behavior as a nonequilibrium process in open systems.

An ambitious new paper published in Physical Review Letters seeks to describe intelligence as a fundamentally thermodynamic process…(…describes intelligent behavior as a way to maximize the capture of possible future histories of a particular system…)… Continue reading

Avoid Depressed and Cognitively Vulnerable People? They Could Be Contagious, Yikes!!


“Using a natural experimental design with three time points, we found that:

  • when people change from a home context to a college context they are susceptible to the influence of the cognitive styles of those around them, even when the others are initially strangers
  • This effect was shown at both 3 and 6 months
  • and the results cannot be explained by a depression contagion effect or by increased stress.

Moreover, the contagion effect has depressive consequences.  Those who experienced an increase in cognitive vulnerability had increased risk for future depressive symptoms.”

Cognitive Vulnerability to Depression Can Be Contagious — April 16, 2013
Gerald J. Haeffel, Haggar Hall, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame

Cognitive vulnerability is a potent risk factor for depression. Individual differences in cognitive vulnerability solidify in early adolescence and remain stable throughout the life span. However, stability does not mean immutability. We hypothesized that cognitive vulnerability would be susceptible to change during major life transitions when social milieus undergo significant changes (e.g., moving to college). Continue reading

“It appears from exploring the history of Science that the deepest insights elucidate the “real simplicity“ that underlies the “apparent complexity“ of a set of observations. The larger the set of observations that can be explained simply – and therefore the more succinct the level of comprehension – the more certain one feels that some fundamental “ground truth” has been unearthed.”


from – Musical beauty and information compression: Complex to the ear but simple to the mind?  Nicholas J Hudson

Parents Scientific Talking to Children


How children learn scientific thinking from their parents

The key finding is that parents’ greater use of an evaluativist stance was strongly related to the amount that their children talked about evidence, explaining 49 per cent of the variance.

Researchers in California have uncovered preliminary evidence for the way children acquire scientific “habits of thought” from their parents…

Parents’ comments on these topics were categorised according to whether they were:

  • “absolutist” (one side of an argument is stated dogmatically as fact)
  • “multiplist” (a relativist stance, where each side’s view is equally valid)
  • “evaluativist” (a scientific stance that integrates evidence to decide on an issue)… Continue reading

Science Denialism Tactics – Rhetorical Tricks + Abusive Ad Hominem


“Individuals or groups who reject propositions on which a scientific or scholarly consensus exists can engage in denialism when they use rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none…

Continue reading