The weekly link roundup is where I list links for the links that I liked for the week. Remember that I don’t necessarily agree with everything stated in every article. Feel free to comment or ask. Lastly, it may be worth noting that I do try to sort these links in the order that I like them, descending. You can see the other roundups via the category page.
- How Personal Should Your Giving Be?: “A commonplace among fundraisers is that “people take action and give for deeply personal reasons.” This can mean many different things, but one of the implications is that people give to extremely specific, personal causes: diseases that loved ones have suffered from, local charities in areas where they live or grew up, charities that serve their particular ethnicity or nationality. There are obvious benefits to giving in this way, but I think the costs are underlooked.”
- Wild Animal Suffering – An Introduction: “Wild animals matter too. This is an area often overlooked in calculcations about the effectiveness of our actions to reduce suffering. It is an under-researched, under-emphasized issue which may be crucial to evaluate the effectiveness of certain actions we may take, both now and in the future. There are far more animals in the wild than on factory farms and in laboratories, and many of them die in excruciating pain after living very short lives.”
- Our Research On How To Find A Job You Love: “Many people aren’t as satisfied as they could be with their careers. This is a big problem: not only is the person less happy, they also end up making less difference in society. The even bigger problem is that people don’t seem to know what to do about this – how to find a job that they’ll find satisfying. There’s a lot of psychology research on happiness that could be really useful, but people don’t seem to be aware of it or at least aren’t applying it. So we decided to start collecting together the research that seems most useful to job satisfaction, and explain how it applies to your career decisions.”
- Animal Rights Advocate Eats Cheeseburger, So… What?: “Ethicist: ‘What I personally believe is beside the point, as long as the arguments are sound. But in any case, I do believe that what I am doing is morally wrong. I don’t claim to be a saint. My job is only to discover moral truths and inform the world about them. You’re going to have to pay me extra if you want to add actually living morally well to my job description.’ My question is this: What, if anything, is wrong with the ethicist’s attitude toward philosophical ethics?”
- Morality Inside-Out: “Most moral enquiry – particularly metaethical enquiry – is conducted in an arse-backwards way. Most philosophers appear to look at morality from the inside-out. And I’d suggest this inside-out view of morality is hampering our ability to understand the nature of morality in all its glorious messy complexity. What we need to do is turn this perspective around and look at morality outside-in. This is a crucial step in my overall argument in my thesis, as it explains why I choose to depart from the metaethical canon and draw on a range of empirical tools in an attempt to explain what morality is all about.”
- The Science Behind Those Obama Campaign E-Mails: “One fascination in a presidential race mostly bereft of intrigue was the strange, incessant, and weirdly overfamiliar e-mails that emanated from the Obama campaign. [...] But they worked. Most of the $690 million Obama raised online came from fundraising e-mails. During the campaign, Obama’s staff wouldn’t answer questions about them or the alchemy that made them so successful. Now, with the election over, they’re opening the black box. [...] The appeals were the product of rigorous experimentation by a large team of analysts.”
- Interview With Brian Tomasik: “Brian Tomasik is a member of 80,000 Hours who has spent many years thinking and writing essays about how to most effectively reduce suffering in the world. Research Director Robert Wiblin sat down with Brian (metaphorically) to learn about his intellectual journey and at times unusual conclusions.”
- A Five-Minute Intelligence Test for Kids: “Imagine seven cards laid out on a table in front of you, each card two inches square, with vertical lines of different lengths in the middle of each card. [...] Your task is to move the cards around and put them in order so that the longest line is on the left, and the shortest is on the right. [...] Now what if I told you I wanted to use this simple test─and only this test─to screen all 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds to determine whether they should be enrolled in gifted programs or admitted to fancy private schools. [...] You would think I was absolutely crazy. [...] But the two tasks I’ve described are a real test for children, developed in Switzerland. They are phenomenally accurate at predicting full-scale intelligence scores. On 5- and 6-year-old kids, this simple test is virtually synonymous with a 90-minute intelligence test of their full cognitive capacities; the two tests have a 99 percent correlation.”
- Biblical Errancy Problem – Too recent dates for Creation, Flood, Exodus: “Everyone agrees that Jerusalem was sacked in 586 B.C. Using this event as an anchor, it is possible to use the Bible’s vast chronological data to determine (roughly) when it places the Creation, the Flood, and the Exodus. Doing the calculations for myself, I got dates of approximately: 4163 B.C. for the Creation, 2507 B.C. for the Flood, 1495 B.C. for the Exodus[. ...] In any event, these dates are hard to reconcile with what we know of history.”
- Social Drinking Helps People Get Along: “A total of 720 people participated in this research. One set of participants drank about 3 drinks over a 30 minute period. The drinks were a mixture of vodka and cranberry juice. The second set drank 3 placebo drinks. The placebo was a mixture of flat soda and cranberry juice. Before participants entered the lab, though, the glasses were wiped with vodka to give them an alcohol taste. The third set drank cranberry juice and was told that they were given no alcohol. The reasoning behind these three groups is that it helps to distinguish between the effects of alcohol and the effects about the belief that you are drinking.”
- Email Addiction: “So, what do food pellets have to do with e-mail? If you think about it, e-mail is very much like trying to get the pellet rewards. Most of it is junk and the equivalent to pulling the lever and getting nothing in return, but every so often we receive a message that we really want. Maybe it contains good news about a job, a bit of gossip, a note from someone we haven’t heard from in a long time, or some important piece of information. We are so happy to receive the unexpected e-mail (pellet) that we become addicted to checking, hoping for more such surprises. We just keep pressing that lever, over and over again, until we get our reward.”
- Second- vs. Third-Person Presentations of Moral Dilemmas: “Is it better for you to kill an innocent person to save others than it is for someone else to do so? And does the answer you’re apt to give depend on whether you are a professional philosopher? Kevin Tobia, Wesley Buckwalter, and Stephen Stich have a forthcoming paper in which they report results that seem to suggest that philosophers think very differently about such matters than do non-philosophers. However, I’m worried that Tobia and collaborators’ results might not be very robust.”
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