A year of ideas

From the New York Times Magazine:
"This month, as in the past five Decembers, the magazine looks back on the passing year from a distinctive vantage point: that of ideas. Our editors and writers have located the peaks and valleys of ingenuity — the human cognitive faculty deployed with intentions good and bad, purposes serious and silly, consequences momentous and morbid. The resulting intellectual mountain range extends across a wide territory. Now it’s yours for the traversing in a compendium of 74 ideas arranged from A to Z."

I love these ones, but you should really take the time to read them all. Fascinating!

The Diplomat-Parking-Violation Corruption Index –"In an ingenious study published in June, however, the Columbia University economist Raymond Fisman and Edward Miguel of the University of California at Berkeley argued that culture plays a powerful role. The two scholars studied parking tickets that were racked up in Manhattan by diplomats from 146 countries who were posted to the United Nations. In a situation in which every diplomat essentially received an invitation to be corrupt, diplomats from nations with “clean” governments said, “No, thanks.”

Empty-Stomach Intelligence
— Hunger makes the best sauce, goes the maxim. According to researchers at Yale Medical School, it may make quadratic equations and Kant’s categorical imperative go down easier too. The stimulation of hunger, the researchers announced in the March issue of Nature Neuroscience, causes mice to take in information more quickly, and to retain it better — basically, it makes them smarter. And that’s very likely to be true for humans as well.

The Visage Problem — If you suffer from prosopagnosics you will find "most human faces to be about as distinguishable as stones in a driveway."

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