Best Of the Web: Talking To Children, Belly Fat, Uber For Snitching and more…

I come across so many great articles on the web, so I thought I’d try to regularly share the best ones. Let me know if you like the selection or if you like more (or less) of certain types.

Personality and Self-Help (6)

How Emotional Intelligence Boosts Your Endurance
A new paper has found that those who were better at recognizing and regulating their emotions ran faster races. Runners who agreed with statements like “Expressing my emotions with words is not a problem for me” or “I often pause and think about my feelings.” turned out to be the strongest predictor of their race time the next day

The “beautiful mess” effect: other people view our vulnerability more positively than we do
Studies find that showing vulnerability is seen positively by others even though we see it negatively in ourselves.

Science Says There’s One Way to Know if Someone Is Truly Trustworthy
New study finds that people who anticipate feeling guilty tend to be most trustworthy. This trait out-predicts others like extraversion and agreeableness. Guilt-proneness differs from guilt as the latter follows a transgression rather than occurring before.

The most relaxing vacation you can take is going nowhere at all
An ode to staying home for vacation. Love it

Smart teams care about diversity, but truly excellent teams feature “cultural brokers”
Diversity in teams can hinder performance as cultural misunderstandings increase. However, having a cultural broker who can straddle the cultures within the team can turbo-charge performance.

Mr. Rogers Had a Simple Set of Rules for Talking to Children
Fred Rogers fronted a long-running US children’s’ TV show called “Mister Roger’s Neighbourhood”. Through his work with kids, he refined his method of communication with children. His approach could be reduced to 9 rules. It could easily be applied to adults too.

Health and Nutrition (5)

The Most Effective Personal Anti-Aging Program
Scientist Josh Mitteldorf is setting up a study to assess all the main approaches to extending life. The blog contains a comprehensive list of these from relationships to anti-inflammatories to fasting. Great primer.

A tiny tweak to sugar is about to make the world’s sweets a lot healthier
Sugary foods like cake and cookies are very inefficient at delivering the sensation of sweetness. Only 20% of the sugar molecules reach the sweet-sensing receptors on the tongue, its tip. But a new start-up DouxMatok may have found a solution by using sugar-loaded silica which would deliver more of the sugar molecule to the tip of the tongue. So less, but sweeter, sugar.

The Effect of Cold Showering on Health and Work: A Randomized Controlled Trial
An experiment on 3,000 participants found that ending your shower with 30 seconds or more of cold water reduces the intensity of any sickness you experience.

Health Check: should I take vitamin C or other supplements for my cold?
Apparently, Vitamin C doesn’t help much, zinc and probiotics may help, but chicken soup appears to help most.

Measure of belly fat in older adults is linked with cognitive impairment
Study on 5000 Irish adults finds that a high waist-hip ratio is associated with reduced cognitive function in older adults (60yrs+) which in turn is linked to dementia.

Tech (5)

Why Westerners Fear Robots and the Japanese Do Not
Japan’s Shinto heritage results in the belief that humans are not particularly “special” rather spirits are in everything from rocks to tools to people. And robots. The essay goes on to talk about the evolution of western attitudes to nature, where farming led to humans believing they were superior to nature and hence the dichotomy between man and robot.

Uber but for snitching
A new app that allows users to report crimes or suspicious activity to the police. It has run into racial profiling issues.

Are Smartphones Speeding Up Gentrification?
New research finds that apps like Yelp and Foursquare are making it easier for people to discover out-of-the-way shops and restaurants and maybe encouraging people to move to these neighbourhoods. Mobile data from these sources are also being used for developers to plan where to open mixed use buildings.

Why so many data scientists are leaving their jobs
Sobering account of how data scientists struggle in their roles from unrealistic expectations to misreading corporate politics to becoming the all data person.

Evolving Floorplans
I’m always intrigued by how tech can be applied to “non-tech” industries like construction. This research project uses genetic algorithms to optimise floor plans according to things like minimised walking distances, uses of hallways and so on. Another recent storycovers how Ai is being used to predict construction worker safety.

Science (4)

What If Earth Turned into a Giant Pile of Blueberries?
A dramatic reduction of gravity, “you might notice a sensation in your gut like an elevator dropping as your weight dropped by 87 percent”, huge bubbles would burst from the surface, flinging matter into space even as the interior of the planet coalesced into a thick blueberry jam.

Queen bees and the microbial fountain of youth
Worker bees and queens have identical genes but worker bees live for a few weeks, while queens live for years. The difference could be due to differences in their gut bacteria (microbiomes). A growing body of research suggests humans are also deeply affected by gut bacteria.

Atomism is basic: emergence explains complexity in the Universe
Useful summary of the latest thinking on emergence the idea that the behaviour of larger systems cannot be explained by knowing the behaviour of their individual components. For example, the behaviour of a mob cannot be understood by knowing each individual in the mob, but rather it has its own dynamics.

Despite Deforestation, Earth Is Gaining Trees As Land Use Changes 
Satellite imaging is showing that the earth is gaining trees. Tropical areas have lost trees, but subtropical, temperate and boreal climate areas have gained. The bulk of the gains have come from human activity.

Economics and Politics (5)

Why the Most Important Idea in Behavioral Decision-Making Is a Fallacy
Provocative new study that argues that loss aversion, the idea that losses are more psychologically impactful than gains, could be wrong.

Poor education associated with widening inequality in US vs Europe
The latest World Inequality Report shows that the top 1% in the US and Western Europe had a 10% share of national income in 1980, but now they have over 20% in the US, while it has stayed about the same in Europe (page 8). The main reasons for the difference in the US are “due to massive educational inequalities, combined with a tax system that grew less progressive despite a surge in top labor compensation since the 1980s, and in top capital incomes in the 2000s”. Another blog finds that health inequality is not connected to income inequality but rather determined by healthcare systems.

The Three Languages of Politics
A good summary of the book with this title. It argues that the left-right spectrum is less useful to understand politics than before. Instead, it should be filtered through three lenses: oppressor-oppressed (progressives, helping underprivileged), civilisation-barbarism (conservatives, western tradition is good), liberty-coercion (libertarians, individual rights paramount).

 Global Supply Chains: See No Evil
Excellent essay on the global supply chain. Argues that it depends on modularity where each part of the chain is modular, interchangeable and invisible to the next part of the chain. This results in it being very difficult to have a global view of a product. Blockchain, internet of things and machine learning will not change that.

Could computers help close partisan divides?
New computer analysis is finding words that have different connotations for liberals and conservatives – words like “regulation”.