Mike Kueber's Blog

May 1, 2014

Poker faces

Filed under: Science — Mike Kueber @ 12:29 am
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Earlier this week, an article in the New York Times reported that a computer had been programmed to be more accurate than humans in detecting whether a person was in real pain or was only pretending to be in pain.    According to the article, this development is significant because it has widespread potential applications, such as use as a lie detector or airport screening or diagnostic aids for doctors:

  • People generally excel at using nonverbal cues, including facial expressions, to deceive others (hence the poker face). They are good at mimicking pain, instinctively knowing how to contort their features to convey physical discomfort. And other people, studies show, typically do poorly at detecting those deceptions.”

These findings provide further support for Daniel Kahneman’s assertion that people need to energetically overrule their oft-mistaken, intuitive System 1 thinking.

February 27, 2014

Road rage

Filed under: Culture,Philosophy,Science — Mike Kueber @ 6:41 pm
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With various questionnaires, surveys, and profiles, I’ve admitted to having a problem with road rage.  But I also claimed that I’m making progress in controlling the rage.  Today, while returning home from the gym, I suffered a relapse.

I was driving about 70 mph in the left lane of Loop 1604, closely following another car going the same speed.  A pickup pulled slightly ahead of me in the right lane and suddenly turned on his blinkers and squeezed into the four or five car lengths between me and the car in front of me.  After his move, he was about one car-length behind the car in front of me and about two car lengths in front of me.

By necessity, I backed off to four or five car lengths again, and a minute or two later, another vehicle pulled the same maneuver.

When the first vehicle cut me off, my immediate instinctual reaction was consistent with “fight or flight,” and it wasn’t flight.  My blood pressure or adrenaline or something went through the roof, and I so felt like ramming the truck.  Instead I just blasted my horn for about 5 seconds.

Inexplicably, by the time the second vehicle did the same thing, I had calmed and controlled myself, and didn’t make a peep.

So, obviously, I still have a problem.  But as I continued my drive home, I wondered how most people would react if they were standing in line at a movie theater and some bully pushed him aside and jumped the line.  I think most men would immediately instinctually reclaim their position.

It’s in our DNA.

April 12, 2013

Too old to be a Dad?

Filed under: Culture,Science — Mike Kueber @ 9:46 pm
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An article in Time magazine this week had a title that was bound to catch my eye – “Too Old to be a Dad?”  As a 59-year-old single guy who loves large families, I have always thought, “Never say never,” but the article succinctly suggests, “The biological clock, science has found, ticks for both sexes.”

The science reported in the article has three sources:

  1. An April 2012 study in Nature found older fathers are more likely to sire autistic kids.
  2. A May 2012 study in American Journal of Men’s Health linked a father’s age to preterm birth, low birth weight, and stillbirth.
  3. An August 2012 study in Nature found old fathers have a significantly increased risk of producing kids with autism or schizophrenia. 

This information is becoming more relevant because, as the article points out, men in America and around the world are, for a variety of reason, becoming older when they have their kids.

The article makes two major points, one of which I agree with and the other I don’t.  I agree that both sexes, not just the women, should be cognizant of the fact that increased age results in increased health risks for the child. 

I disagree, however, with the following thinking, as expressed by a medical clinician:

  • Even if you’re Paul McCartney’s child, you get ripped off if your father dies when you’re in your early 20s.” 

That reminds me of the self-absorbed, liberal do-gooder who declares that today’s world is so evil that he doesn’t want to bring a child into it.  What do you think the to-be child would say about that?  What do you think Paul McCartney’s actual child would say about that?

Incidentally, the article, which does an excellent job in describing some practical pros and cons to being an older parent, listed the following older parents in addition to McCartney, who was 61 when his youngest was born – Clint Eastwood (66), Steve Martin (67), Rod Stewart (68), Tony Randall (78), and Rupert Murdoch (72).