Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sunday Linkasaurolophus: October 9, 2011

So, welcome back to Sunday Linkasaurolophus.

Remember, if it were 700 miles South-South-East from here, it would be Lurkusaurolophus.

First, according to the China Digital Times, Beijing is now filling up with Obama Fried Chicken:

which would probably seem racist if it were not so completely bizarre.

Next, you know that show Lie to Me, where Tim Roth is really creepy and sort of a dick, but is successful and beloved because he can tell when someone is lying by reading their "microexpressions"? The show is somewhat based on the work of psychologist Paul Ekman, who developed the Facial Action Coding System for reading people's emotions.

The problem, apparently, is that the scientific literature comes down squarely on the side of "That doesn't work."

Well, as a part of civilization's ongoing slide into self-referentiality, researchers at Michigan State performed a study to see whether watching an episode of Lie to Me enhanced people's ability to tell whether or not people are lying.

Hilariously, the study found that watching Lie to Me actually makes people worse at distinguishing between people who are telling the truth and people who are lying.

You can read more about it over at Mindhacks.

Never one to miss a chance for self promotion, I thought I would use this as an opportunity to resurrect one of the early Darwin Eats Cake strips:
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In related news, people who spend all their time sitting on the sofa watching The Biggest Loser do not get any thinner.

Finally, about a week ago, the New York Times published an editorial by self-identified neuromarketing expert Martin Lindstrom, in which he explained how brain-imaging studies prove that we are not addicted to our iPhones, we are in love with our iPhones.

The only problem is that it was a huge pile of crap. It was a misleading (perhaps disingenuous) description of research that was done badly (perhaps disingenuously) in the first place.

The multitudinous flaws in the editorial have been pointed out by a bunch of folks: Here are at least some of them. If you wrote about this, but I missed you, send me an e-mail, or add a link in the comments.

Tal Yarkoni provided, I think, the most detailed point-by-point takedown of the editorial. If you want the nitty gritty of what's wrong read this.

David Dobbs covered it in a post entitled "fMRI Shows My Bullshit Detector Going Ape Shit Over iPhone Lust."

Neurocritic's post is titled "Neuromarketing means never having to say you're peer reviewed (but here's your NYT op-ed space)."

Russ Poldrack addresses the editorial in a post called "NYT Op-Ed + fMRI = complete crap."

Nathan Collins relates the logical error in the editorial to George Bush (Sr.)'s infamous 1988 Willie Horton campaign ad.

Forty prominent neuroscientists wrote a letter to the Times in response to the editorial, which was promptly whittled down. However, you can read the original letter (and see the caliber of the writers) here.

Tal Yarkoni wrapped up the aftermath here, including the weasely non-response response Lindstrom posted in several blog comment threads.

It seems like a sad and embarrassing day for the Times.

On the other hand, when you remember the role that the newspaper of record played in lying to the country in the lead up to the Iraq war, maybe it's actually a good day for the Times. I mean, misinterpreting fMRI studies hasn't killed tens to hundreds of thousands of civilians.


1 comment:

  1. Note that the Italian police and prosecutors who decided that Amanda Knox was guilty did so on the basis of superficial facial expressions and behaviours: