NYT — The Year in Ideas

As usual, I read through the entirety of this survey.

Here is one good bit on how people can be too far-sighted and not party enough.

Here is the hidden fee economy; here is an earlier MR take on the same.

Read this on shipping containers.

I liked this article: "”It’s not that we enjoy disliking people,” Bosson, a social
psychologist at the University of South Florida, says. “It’s that we
enjoy meeting people who dislike the same people.”"


The trick to this is how you define partying. I regret not spending another month backpacking around Europe more than I regret not attending another months of college party in the US. Quality of parties matters, too.

There's a real problem with selection bias: did they survey anyone with cirrhosis or in prison for drunk driving?

I'm suspicious of the Hyperopia argument. The problem with the survey is that it asks people with an approzimately equal amount of success - they are all students at Columbia University. The study might be different had they asked a completely random sample of the population at large. That isn't saying the partying didn't come at a large cost - perhaps some of those who partied could have gotten scholarships/gone to better schools - but that they were still relatively succesful seems to skew the survey.

The NYT actually featured one of my ideas this year - psychological neoteny.

This was of course quite an ego-boost; but the interesting thing, from my perspective, was that I publish dozens of ideas of all kinds per year (it's what I do) and I would never have predicted that this would be the one that made it big. I did nothing to push this - indeed the article (which was a short editorial in the journal I edit) was picked-up off PubMed by Discovery News before it even reached print.

Over the years, several other theories I thought were sure-fire media-fodder, and tried hard to promote, have sunk without trace.

Is media success purely random, or just that authors have no idea of the quality/ interest of their own work?

You single out some of the good ones, but what about the bad ones?
Cohabitation Is Bad for Women's Health
The study notes that women who start cohabiting with men gain weight and posit that this is because women pick up some of the bad eating habits of their partners. My first thought about the data was that the women have less of an incentive to try to limit their eating, now that they were cohabiting. I.e. the weight gain was not from more pressure to eat badly but from less pressure to stay thin.


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