Ivy League Academic Fraud Taken Down
If you’ve ever bought snacks in 100 calorie-sized packs, or used a smaller dinner plate as a psychological hack to nudge yourself into eating fewer calories, then you’ve put into practice the research findings of Cornell University Professor of Marketing Brian Wansink. In 2012, he took to the TEDxUVM stage to evangelize the lessons of his research into “mindless eating.” Here’s a look at one of his slides from that talk. Any of these solutions sound familiar?
Just one problem: all the purported science behind these ideas was junk. This Ars Technica article from last year explains how the questions about Wansink’s research began (a poor example and a throwaway joke about it on a blog post by Wansink) and what was wrong with his “science.”
If you’re not familiar with the term “p-hacking” and how it is affecting social science research well beyond just Brian Wansink, you should be. This FiveThirtyEight article illustrates how easy it is to “p-hack” data to make it say whatever you want to a degree of certainty sufficient for publication in peer reviewed scientific journals.
Would YOU Buy This From Facebook?
Facebook has justifiably earned loads of terrible press this past year or two over how they have carelessly and callously enriched themselves by printing money with the personal data of their users. When you think of a tech company who is proving itself too large for its own good and unworthy of being trusted with safekeeping the privacy of its users, is there anyone else besides Facebook in your mind?
With that in mind, Zuckerberg & Co. would like to sell you a video chat device that “will use facial recognition to tag users and follow them around the room.” Yeah, I’ve seen that movie before. I think I’ll pass.
The Jawbone Autopsy
You may not have ever heard of the company Jawbone. But, if you own a set of wireless earbuds, a bluetooth speaker, a Fitbit or an Apple Watch, you are using products that all owe their very existence to Jawbone. The company invented the technology and hardware that literally created the product categories of bluetooth enabled headsets, wireless speakers, and wearable fitness trackers. Then, despite having secured one billion dollars in venture capital, Jawbone went belly-up and left its customers and creditors high and dry.
This interview with Jawbone’s CEO Hosain Rahman by Recode’s Kara Swisher is not only an interesting look behind the rise and fall of Jawbone. It is also a great example of how an interview can politely but doggedly keep pressing for the answers to the tough questions others don’t want to actually answer head on. At the headline link, you can either listen to the audio of Kara’s podcast episode with Rahman or read the transcript.
The Tech Startup Executive I’d Love to Work For
He goes by “DHH,” and his company (co-founded with Jason Fried) is called Basecamp (formerly 37 Signals), named after their project management software. DHH — David Heinemeier Hansson — also created the popular web application programming framework known as Ruby on Rails (or just Rails for short). Whether through their original 37-point manifesto or their books (Rework, Remote, or the forthcoming It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work), DHH and Fried are not shy about declaring what’s wrong with the Silicon Valley startup culture.
In this article, DHH lays aim at –
- focusing on “beating the competition”
- the fallacy of the need to work long hours
- the corrupting effect of “growth targets”
- the dishonesty behind many of the tech industry’s famous employee perks.
Just a neat series of tweets by Phil Stepanian, a researcher at the University of Oklahoma about how normal weather radar captures the daily flight patters of birds and bugs. This tweet thread is entertaining while educating, and full of fascinating views of animated radar gifs. Surfacing cool and interesting miscellany like this is Twitter at its near level best.
So, fun fact: birds and insects show up on radar. Often. As in, pretty much every day. Can we visually delineate between migrating birds and insects on radar? Usually. Here is a bumbling threaded attempt to show some telltale signs of each using the last 24 hours of radar data. pic.twitter.com/7f7o0Xl3MO
— Phil Stepanian (@RadarAndStuff) September 22, 2018