Monthly Archives: December 2016

Doctors can save you by filling you up with cold water

The joys of modern medicine — hat tip to the think-outside-the-box people who thought about that… “why don’t we just freeze ‘em?”. From Kottke

When this patient loses his pulse, the attending surgeon will, as usual, crack his chest open and clamp the descending aorta. But then, instead of trying to coax the heart back into activity, the surgeon will start pumping the body full of ice-cold saline at a rate of at least a gallon a minute. Within twenty minutes (depending on the size of the patient, the number of wounds, and the amount of blood lost), the patient’s brain temperature, measured using a probe in the ear or nose, will sink to somewhere in the low fifties Fahrenheit.

At this point, the patient, his circulatory system filled with icy salt water, will have no blood, no pulse, and no brain activity. He will remain in this state of suspended animation for up to an hour, while surgeons locate the bullet holes or stab wounds and sew them up. Then, after as much as sixty minutes without a heartbeat or a breath, the patient will be resuscitated.

From God to big Data, the many sources of authority

Authority. Used to come from God and other religious entities. Some enlightened folks told us we had a moral compass within ourselves. So we had the power to make the best decisions. Now? Facebook. 

Yuval Noah Harari for the FT

Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data. This novel creed may be called ‘Dataism’.

What is the future?

Here’s an idea from Farnam Street

Key point number one in this memo is that the future should be viewed not as a fixed outcome that’s destined to happen and capable of being predicted, but as a range of possibilities and, hopefully on the basis of insight into their respective likelihoods, as a probability distribution.

Your willpower might be unlimited

The common idea is that willpower is limited. After 4 hours studying mathematics, you  are likely to feel like entering a coma-like state on your couch and binge on Netflix. 

However, Carol Dweck and team believe otherwise:

It appears ego depletion may be just another example of the way belief drives behavior. Thinking we’re spent makes us feel worse, while rewarding ourselves with an indulgence makes us feel better. It’s not the sugar in the lemonade that produces the sustained mental stamina, but rather the placebo effect at work.

Maybe willpower is an emotion?

Michael Inzlicht, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and the principal investigator at the Toronto Laboratory for Social Neuroscience, believes willpower is not a finite resource but instead acts like an emotion. Just as we don’t ‘run out’ of joy or anger, willpower ebbs and flows based on what’s happening to us and how we feel. Viewing willpower through this lens has profound implications.