February 3, 2009
Just a couple of things I want to briefly share here:
1) The Globalization of Addiction:
- Finally got around to reading this little book review (couldn’t do it at the office as the site is blocked), that has been making the rounds at my corner of the blogosphere… Check out my notes on it (and some follow-up thoughts) here (also cross-referenced on the notes page).
- I also would like to add that, if we agree with Alexander’s take on addiction as a response to a lack of “psychological integration” (which I definitely do!), then there is a rather obvious solution for achieving that integrated state. It starts out: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”
(Not a perfect definition perhaps, but definitely a good pointer!)
2) When Talking on the Phone May Endanger a Child
- Great article at the New York Times. Not necessarily because of the article’s content (although nothing against it), but more so because of the way this particular study uses simulated reality.
- It is used to test something that would be impossible to test in real life: how much more likely children are to be hit by a car if they’re talking on a phone? You couldn’t do this in real life without killing a bunch of kids, which is obviously a bad thing, yeah?
- The simulated reality is used to create a scenario that can be minutely adjusted to test for a specific set of variables in regards to a specific hypothesis. It does not try to mimic real life, which I think will never truly be possible since we don’t understand real life well enough, in real life, as it is…
- But it does allow for very precise control of certain aspects, and what it finds, while perhaps not all that surprising, is still an excellent thing to have scientific statistics of: just HOW bad are children at not getting hit by cars, if they are distracted while crossing the street?
(And a little aside on science. I am not a fan of science’s current know-it-all attitude, and I think that the scientific method is only one of many ways to interact with, understand, and attempt to predict reality. But I do think that it can be very useful, particularly when its limitations are acknowledged and accounted for. It’s like Nassim Nicholas Taleb says (to paraphrase): “when we know what we cannot know, given a certain set of information, then it becomes much easier to use that information properly.”)