Books I have read in 2021

Here is the list of books I have read in 2021:

1. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
2. Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
3. The Little Book of Investing in Nature by John Tobin-de la Puente and Andrew W. Mitchell
4. Very Important People: Status and Beauty in the Global Party Circuit by Ashley Mears
5. The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time by Jim McKelvey
6. The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design by Roman Mars
7. The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy by Michael Lewis
8. Social Chemistry: Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection by Marissa King
9. Regression and Other Stories by Andrew Gelman, Jennifer Hill and Aki Vehtari
10. Køb og salg af aktier og obligationer by Jens Christensen
11. Electoral Shocks: The Volatile Voter in a Turbulent World by Edward Fieldhouse, Jane Green, Geoffrey Evans, Hermann Schmitt, Cees van der Eijk, Jonathan Mellon and Christopher Prosser
12. Better Data Visualizations: A Guide for Scholars, Researchers, and Wonks by Jonathan Schwabish
13. Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life by Zena Hitz
14. Brexitland: Identity, Diversity and the Reshaping of British Politics by Maria Sobolewska and Robert Ford
15. Deep Learning with R by Francois Chollet
16. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates
17. Learning the Pandas Library: Python Tools for Data Munging, Analysis, and Visualization by Matt Harrison
18. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
19. The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills by Jesse Singal
20. Drink? The New Science of Alcohol and Your Health by David J. Nutt
21. Pathologies of Rational Choice Theory: A Critique of Applications in Political Science by Donald P. Green and Ian Shapiro
22. Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons by Mike Reiss
23. High Growth Handbook by Elad Gil
24. The Forest Passage by Ernst Jünger
25. Beyond Order: 12 More Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson
26. Tidyverse Skills for Data Science by Carrie Wright, Shannon E. Ellis, Stephanie C. Hicks and Roger D. Peng
27. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
28. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
29. Hjernen bag Astralis by Markus Bernsen
30. Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony and Cass R. Sunstein
31. Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry
32. The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach
33. Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen
34. Om de fleste – og det meste by Lars Løkke Rasmussen
35. Jytte vender tilbage: Den umoderne guide til at skabe forandringer imod alle odds by Morten Münster
36. The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking
37. Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain by Sathnam Sanghera
38. Casper by Martin Kongstad
39. Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber
40. Woody Allen: A Photographic Celebration by Ward Calhoun
41. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker
42. The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock
43. Pseudoarbejde: Hvordan vi fik travlt med at lave ingenting by Dennis Nørmark and Anders Fogh Jensen
44. The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker
45. Complex City: London’s Changing Character by Jane Manning, Lionel Eid, Daniel Elsea, George Garofalakis and Antony Rifkin
46. An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang
47. Breaking the Social Media Prism: How to Make Our Platforms Less Polarizing by Christopher A. Bail
48. Reporting Public Opinion: How the Media Turns Boring Polls into Biased News by Erik Gahner Larsen and Zoltán Fazekas
49. Theory and Credibility: Integrating Theoretical and Empirical Social Science by Scott Ashworth, Ethan Bueno De Mesquita and Christopher R Berry
50. The A-Z History of London by Philip Parker
51. Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence by Kate Crawford
52. 1913: Der Sommer des Jahrhunderts by Florian Illies
53. Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer by Steven Johnson
54. Applied Spatial Data Analysis with R by Roger S. Bivand, Edzer J. Pebesma and Virgilio Gómez-Rubio
55. The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review by Partha Dasgupta
56. Besættelsestiden i Esbjerg by Orla Baggesen
57. Not Born Yesterday: The Science of Who We Trust and What We Believe by Hugo Mercier
58. The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell
59. Go Figure: Things you didn’t know you didn’t know by Tom Standage
60. Uncommon Knowledge: the Economist Explains by Tom Standage
61. The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson
62. The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous by Joseph Henrich
63. Ned til hundene by Helle Helle
64. Sex, Lies and Politics by Philip Cowley and Robert Ford
65. Something’s Off by Virgil Abloh
66. The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker
67. London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd
68. Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation by Kevin Roose
69. Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
70. Modern Psychometrics with R by Patrick Mair
71. Drive-In Digte by Dan Turèll
72. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Feel free to follow me at Goodreads where I rate most of the books I read.

Skaber sociale medier ekkokamre? #5

I 2017, 2018, 2019 og 2020 skrev jeg om, hvorvidt og i hvilket omfang sociale medier skaber ekkokamre. Nu hvor 2021 så småt er ved at gå på hæld, tænkte jeg, at det ville være relevant at belyse et par af de nye studier, der direkte eller indirekte kigger på, hvorvidt sociale medier skaber ekkokamre.

Lad os begynde med et interessant studie af Fletcher et al. (2021), der stiller et vigtigt, deskriptivt spørgsmål: Hvor mange borgere opholder sig rent faktisk i politiske ekkokamre? Deres empiriske analyse bygger på data fra syv lande, inkl. Danmark, og kigger på hvilke nyhedsmedier borgerne anvender. Resultaterne her viser, at meget få borgere opholder sig i politiske ekkokamre, og i en dansk kontekst er det helt ned til få procentpoint af borgerne, der gør dette. Der er således ingen evidens for i en dansk kontekst, at sociale medier har ført til, at borgerne lever i politiske ekkokamre.

Chris Bail gennemgår i bogen Breaking the Social Media Prism: How to Make Our Platforms Less Polarizing en lang række af studier (herunder studier, jeg tidligere har gennemgået), der viser, at sociale medier ikke nødvendigvis skaber ekkokamre. Og for de mennesker, der befinder sig i et ekkokammer, vil det at tage dem ud af deres ekkokammer ikke gøre dem mere moderate (tværtimod). Bogen fokuserer også på løsninger på de udfordringer, der er, herunder at der er brug for flere “moderate” mennesker på sociale medier.

Det er værd at kigge nærmere på et par af de nye studier, der viser, at sociale medier kan spille en positiv rolle. Asimovic et al. (2021) foretog et eksperiment i Bosnien-Hercegovina, hvor de bad brugerne om at deaktivere deres Facebook-profil i en periode. De fandt – mod deres forventning – at sociale medier kan mindske polarisering. Dette fordi ekkokamre kan være stærkere offline end online. Dette harmonerer fint med evidens fra USA, hvor Brown og Enos (2021) har vist, at en stor del af vælgerne bor i fysiske omgivelser, hvor de ikke møder vælgere af anden partipolitisk observans.

Stier et al. (2021) finder ligeledes, at online medier – herunder sociale medier – indirekte eksponerer brugere til nyhedsindhold, de ikke nødvendigvis ville have haft klikket på. Sociale medier er dermed også et sted, hvor borgerne eksponeres for indhold, de normalt ikke ville klikke på alene ud fra deres politiske observans. Sociale medier kan dermed facilitere, at borgerne i mindre grad lever i ekkokamre.

En grund til dette er blandt andet, at algoritmerne på de sociale medier ikke forstærker borgernes valg, som man ellers kunne foranlediges til at tro. Hosseinmardi et al. (2021) viser eksempelvis, at YouTubes anbefalingsalgoritme ikke sender brugerne i retning af mere radikalt indhold, og Chen et al. (2021) finder ligeledes ingen biases i hvilket nyhedsindhold, der anbefales på Twitter. Der er dog nogle indikationer i det pågældende studie på, at konservative brugere bliver eksponeret til mere højreorienteret indhold. Et andet studie af Huszár et al. (2022) finder evidens for, at algoritmerne på Twitter favoriserer højreorienterede nyhedskilder over venstreorienterede nyhedskilder, men ingen evidens for, at algoritmer favoriserer ekstreme grupper (hverken højre- eller venstreorienterede). Det er dermed ikke tilfældet, at algoritmer er neutrale (tværtimod), men at de ikke per definition er med til at skabe, endsige underbygge, ekkokamre på sociale medier.

Hvorfor er det så, at vi ser politisk polariserede grupper opholde sig i bestemte grupper på Facebook? En væsentlig forklaring på dette er, at borgere opsøger bestemte grupper snarere end at bestemte grupper gør borgerne ekstreme. Nordbrandt (2021) anvender paneldata fra Holland til at undersøge, hvordan borgernes brug af sociale medier påvirker politisk polarisering. Dette studie finder, at politisk polarisering påvirker brugen af sociale medier – og ikke at sociale medier fører til politisk polarisering. Vi har dermed, i det omfang der er en korrelation mellem brugen af sociale medier og ekkokamre, ikke styr på den kausale sammenhæng.

Waller og Anderson (2021) kommer frem til en lignende konklusion ved at studere milliarder af kommentarer på Reddit. Deres studie finder ingen evidens for, at subreddits på Reddit polariserer brugerne, men at brugere med ekstreme holdninger melder sig ind i disse grupper. Eksempelvis var der en masse nye brugere i 2016, der allerede havde ekstreme holdninger, der meldte sig ind i diverse subreddits, snarere end at moderate brugere meldte sig ind og blev ekstreme. Der er således ingen evidens for, at det er de sociale medier, der i og for sig selv skaber ekkokamre.

Et studie af Tokita et al. (2021) viser ligeledes, at polarisering på sociale medier (i dette tilfælde Twitter) ikke kun kan opstå ved at folk selekterer sig ind i bestemte fællesskaber, men også ved at man sletter forbindelser. Dette sker ved at folk stopper med at følge folk, de ikke bryder sig om. I det omfang sociale medier styrker folks eksisterende holdninger, sker det således ikke nødvendigvis gennem en ekkokammermekanisme, men snarere en tavshedsmekanisme.

Hvorfor er det så, at det virker intuitivt, at sociale medier skaber ekkokamre? Altså at det nærmest er en selvfølge, at andre borgere bliver påvirket af sociale medier og lever i ekkokamre? Yair (2021) viser i et studie i USA, at demokrater og republikanere mener, at Facebook er biased til modstanderens fordel. Det vil sige at demokrater mener, at Facebook favoriserer republikanere – og vice versa. Derfor er det også nemmere at tro på, at sociale medier får ens politiske modstandere til at være i ekkokamre på sociale medier.

Min læsning af litteraturen er, at der ikke er nogen overbevisende evidens for, at sociale medier skaber ekkokamre. Ingen af de ovennævnte studier skal dog læses således, at sociale medier ikke kan skabe ekkokamre – hverken nu eller i fremtiden, eller at der ikke er talrige eksempler på, hvordan borgere har fundet deres vej ind i ekkokamre på sociale medier.

Dette såvel som mine forrige indlæg forsøger at kigge på de bedste studier på området, men der er selvsagt ikke tale om en systematisk meta-analyse. Hvad jeg håber vi vil se mere af i fremtiden er forsøg på at aggregere og kvantificere den evidens, der nu foreligger i litteraturen. Dette vil forhåbentlig kunne rykke os videre fra en simpel debat om hvorvidt sociale medier skaber ekkokamre til en debat omkring, i hvilket omfang sociale medier gør det – og hvordan det kan og bør adresseres.

Potpourri: Statistics #80

– Data Vis Dispatch: June 22, June 29, July 6, July 13, July 20, July 27, August 3, August 10, August 17, August 24, August 31, September 7, September 14, September 21, September 28, October 5, October 12, October 19, October 26, November 2, November 9, November 16, November 23, November 30, December 7, December 14
A beginner’s guide to Shiny modules
Fill the region between two lines in ggplot2
Custom {ggplot2} point shapes with {gggrid}
An Exploratory Introduction to the Plotly Package
Lessons on ML Platforms — from Netflix, DoorDash, Spotify, and more
– Advanced Data Visualisation with R: R Graphics using grid, ggplot2 internals, Writing ggplot2 extensions, Overview of tools for interactive plots, Digging deeper into reactive elements in shiny, Web apps to deliver effective data visualisation
A new dataviz+streaming project all about The Office!
Top 21 #RStats tweets of 2021
Survival Analysis in tidymodels
Survival Analysis in Python
Comparing Distributions
The minimum post-stratification weight in a simple-random-sample equals the response rate
R Markdown Lesser-Known Tips & Tricks #1: Working in the RStudio IDE
Declutter and Focus: Empirically Evaluating Design Guidelines for Effective Data Communication
Get coordinates from fictitious maps
Efficient and beautiful data visualisation
Making Waves in ggplot: An Rtistry Tutorial
Learning to code
What do you need to do to make a matching estimator convincing? Rhetorical vs statistical checks
Obtaining consistent time series from Google Trends
Tidy Data Tutor helps you visualize data analysis pipelines
Linear Algebra Done Right
The Science of Pie Charts – Why We Don’t Read them By Angle
Estimating mood from existing surveys
How not to be lost with VSCode when coming from RStudio?
making maps with R
Estimating correlations adjusted for group membership
Animated map and lineplot with R
Spatial Data Programming with Python
The Open Handbook of Experience Sampling Methodology
How to extract speeches held at Austria’s parliament
Row-wise operations with the {tidyverse}
Using deep learning to generate offensive license plates
A brief tour of tabbycat
6 simple Shiny things I have learned from creating a somewhat small app
Doing maps in R
Clarity and Aesthetics in Data Visualization: Guidelines
Winners of the 2021 Table Contest


Previous posts: #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17 #18 #19 #20 #21 #22 #23 #24 #25 #26 #27 #28 #29 #30 #31 #32 #33 #34 #35 #36 #37 #38 #39 #40 #41 #42 #43 #44 #45 #46 #47 #48 #49 #50 #51 #52 #53 #54 #55 #56 #57 #58 #59 #60 #61 #62 #63 #64 #65 #66 #67 #68 #69 #70 #71 #72 #73 #74 #75 #76 #77 #78 #79

Assorted links #10

271. The misuse of colour in science communication
272. Click
273. 52 things I learned in 2021
274. 52 Snippets from 2021
275. If Marx or Freud had never lived?
276. How we became weekly
277. How To Learn Stuff Quickly
278. An Ex-Drinker’s Search for a Sober Buzz
279. Using spider-web patterns to determine toxicity
280. Field notes: Miami
281. A digital museum of video game levels
282. Mise-en-Place for Knowledge Workers: 6 Practices for Working Clean
283. Why did men stop wearing high heels?
284. Why the title of your paper matters
285. Everything You Might Want to Know about Whaling
286. The 25 Most Iconic Book Covers in History
287. Why simplicity works
288. Emoji to Scale
289. Which Singers Have the Biggest Vocabularies?
290. Remarkable Trees Throughout The World
291. Hollywood Age Gap: The age difference in years between movie love interests
292. The Phrase “No Evidence” Is A Red Flag For Bad Science Communication
293. The Most Frequently Used Emoji of 2021
294. The 50 Best Albums of 2021
295. How Radiohead Wrote the Perfect Bond Theme
296. Visualizing the Length of the Fine Print, for 14 Popular Apps
297. List of lists of lists
298. J Dilla x Marvin Gaye
299. The History of Command Palettes: How Typing Commands Became The Norm Again
300. The problem of evil: An economic approach


Previous posts: #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9

The psychological underpinnings of policy feedback effects

There has been a lot of scholarly attention devoted to explaining why policies have feedback effects on public opinion. In my review of the policy feedback literature, I made the following observation on the attention to potential explanations in the literature (p. 374):

Soss and Schram (2007), for example, elaborate that policies change basic features of the political landscape by affecting the political agenda and shaping interests as well as identities in the public; influence beliefs about what is possible; desirable, and normal; define incentives; and so on. Ingram, Schneider, and deLeon (2007) describe that the design of a policy shapes the allocation of benefits and burdens, problem definitions, types of rules, tools, rationales, causal logic, and “messages” (see also Pierce et al., 2014). Mettler and Soss (2004) describe that policy feedback effects “include defining membership; forging political cohesion and group divisions; building or undermining civic capacities; framing policy agendas, problems, and evaluations; and structuring, stimulating, and stalling political participation” (p. 55). In other words, to fully capture and understand policy feedback effects, it is not possible to delimit an adequate review of the policy feedback literature to a single mechanism.

I end up concluding that “future research should pay close attention to testing the mechanisms of different micro- and macro-level characteristics in shaping policy feedback effects”. This relates to the point Campbell (2012) made in her review, i.e., that there has been too much focus on the policy feedback effects and not on policy feedback mechanisms. In my view, not much has changed since 2012.

The predominant focus in several policy feedback studies has been on the economic incentives provided by policies to support these policies. The argument made by Paul Pierson in the early literature on policy feedback effects is that beneficiaries of welfare programs never voluntarily would give up their social rights, but protect them unless something prevents the political mobilization of the group of recipients. Hence, the policies implemented by governments act as institutions that impose certain resources upon citizens with implications for their attitudes toward such policies. To change such policies would involve huge opportunity costs. Similarly, research by Theda Skocpol has showed how Civil War pensions led veterans to organize and demand improved benefits. Again, the underlying assumption in this perspective is that beneficiaries of policies will participate in politics due their role as beneficiaries.

However, Pierson (1993) also outlines how policies can have interpretive effects by providing cognitive templates for interpretation. In other words, policies provide information and cues that matter beyond the economic/resource effects. Despite this focus, there has been very limited focus on potential psychological explanations. Accordingly, what I should have expanded upon in my review is that I find it interesting that we do not know what potential psychological mechanisms are at play.

It is not because we do not have research from other fields that can guide our thinking. On the contrary, there are basic psychological explanations for why people favour existing policies. Eidelman and Crandall (2012) outline different explanations for this, such as loss aversion, regret avoidance, and repeated exposure. In doing this, they cover the status quo bias, system justification, the existence bias, the naturalistic fallacy, endowment effect, and the longer-is-better phenomenon (see also Eidelman and Crandall 2014).

What I would like to see is that political scientists begin to read more of this research to better understand how policies matter for public opinion. This is not to say, that you can’t find these arguments in the literature. Gusmano et al. (2002), for example, talks about how exposure to a policy (i.e., the more a person interacts with a policy), in line with a “mere exposure” explanation, the greater the habituation and acceptance of that policy.

Interestingly, what these theories can help us understand is not only explain policy feedback effects, and in particular why people favour existing policies, but also help us understand the limitations of policy feedback effects. I was reading The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker. It is a great book and it provides a strong case for why people are not always and solely shaped by the environment. Luckily, this is not a controversial statement to make within political science in 2021. Recent studies on motivated reasoning, political identities, individual differences, etc. can all help us understand why people do not always respond to policies, or why people do not respond to policies in a homogeneous manner.

The post with answers to the book of questions

I was reading The Book of Questions (the revised and updated 2013 edition) by Gregory Stock and I decided to answer all of the questions. Here they are – in the order the questions are asked in the book. Of course, I can’t provide the questions in this post but I have formulated the answers in such a way that most of them can be read without knowing the question. In some ways this post is also a test: If you read through all of the answers, you need a hobby.

Some of the questions are ridiculous, and I give ridiculous answers to ridiculous questions. There are follow-up questions for some of the questions that I do not always consider. My answers are honest but not too honest, and in most cases rather trivial. Maybe I’ll pick up the book again when (if?) I get old (older?) and see whether my answers will differ.

Here goes nothing:

1. I would rather lose one of my hands than not having access to any technological devices.

2. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t have a daughter.

3. I would rather be obsessed with food than money, sex, sports or religion.

4. I will rather spend the next five years in an urban mecca than a beautiful, isolated town.

5. I would find the Olympics much more interesting to watch if it embraced performance-enhancing drugs.

6. I would be fine if I figured out that a poem I like was actually written by a computer. I would actually be quite disappointed if machine learning can’t provide a poem that would touch me deeply.

7. I will never publicly admit to have broken the law.

8. I would never do anything to anonymously and safely destroy a person’s reputation online.

9. I believe the people visiting the Louvre in Paris on a typical Sunday is worth more than the art hosted there. Mona Lisa is also very overrated.

10. If I needed a new heart, I wouldn’t mind it coming from a genetically engineered pig.

11. It should be required for the police to archive footage of everything they do.

12. I wouldn’t mind putting on 40 pounds for three years for $100,000. It would be a fun story (and most likely something to write about).

13. Nothing could let me choose to permanently forget the languages I speak and be cut off from friends and culture.

14. If a person I was engaged to was in a car crash and became a paraplegic, I would most likely back out of the marriage.

15. I have no preference to be famous. If anything, I would see it more as a downside to accomplish certain things in life. And I would definitely not give up on anything important in order to achieve fame.

16. If women were fundamentally smarter and harder working than men, I would not support putting rules in place to ensure that men would share equally in the best jobs.

17. If I could, I would not watch to be able to spy electronically for the next month and watch anyone, anywhere, anytime. I am sure I would feel ashamed of doing so and I would be too paranoid about people being able to do the same on me.

18. If my parents told me that they never really loved or even liked me, I don’t think it would affect my life.

19. If a crystal ball could tell me about any one thing about the future, I would like to know how it is all going to end (and when). One of the sad things about not living forever is that I will never know how it is all going to play out.

20. I believe that the power of ads to change behaviour is overrated. If they could be tailored to my personal desires and concerns, I wouldn’t mind. I would be more annoyed and concerned by the data they had to collect in order to tailor the ads.

21. Any discovery of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe would not alter my core beliefs.

22. If I could legally pay whatever income tax I wanted, I would pay none at all. If everyone else should pay the same rate, I would pay 20%.

23. To be financially secure, I do more to have enough to withstand the unexpected rather than trying to avoid risks.

24. I would never completely rewrite a person’s college application essay if it would help them get into a better school.

25. I would not like to have a high-definition nude image of myself in my physical prime (whenever that might be).

26. I would never say yes to a lot of money knowing that I would go bankrupt after two years.

27. I would like to be more intelligent than 99.9 percent of the population, and I would not be concerned about how that would affect my sense of humour.

28. If there was an interstellar journey to a planet with the first known extraterrestrial life, that wouldn’t return for a century, I would not be interested. Even if I would only age by a few years during the trip (like in Interstellar). I don’t think anything could change my mind. Maybe if I have only a few years left to live to make them seem longer?

29. If the only way I could support my family was to steal money from someone wealthy, and I could get away with it, I would most likely do it.

30. I feel envy more often than gratitude.

31. If I was locked in a time machine set for one one-way trip (to the past or the future), I would not go far. I would most likely go a few years back, buy a lot of bitcoins and do other investments. I prefer the current world and life too much to leave it behind. I think today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will be worse than today (climate change and whatnot).

32. If the U.S. was hit with a nuclear bomb, I do hope that they do not unleash their nuclear arsenal.

33. I would like to spend a week as someone of the opposite sex, preferably someone around my own age to make the counterfactual comparison as strong as possible. And I would read Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex before and after the experience.

34. As I use my real name in all online interactions, I would not change my behaviour if it was enforced that all communication should take place with people’s real names. As I also tend to ignore people not writing with their real name on social media, it would not really matter.

35. I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to compare your partner’s intelligence and look to your own. Actually, I would be slightly concerned if I could easily make such a comparison.

36. If I were to die now, I would most likely regret not having told certain people how much they have meant to me and shaped how I see the world. As I am not about to die, I don’t see any need to tell them yet, if ever.

37. If a stranger on a plane offered me $30,000, I would never accept the money independent of the requirements. Don’t trust strangers, kids.

38. For $30,000 I would go for 2 months without washing, brushing my teeth, shampooing, and using deodorant. I do not use shampoo in general so that part would be easy.

39. I have no problem with most medicine being legal as long as the risks are well-known and the individual benefits are greater than the potential negative side effects.

40. I find any questions about what I would do if I had kids too hypothetical to take seriously.

41. I can’t imagine ever doing anything that would estrange me from my family and friends.

42. I think the world will be a better place 100 years from now.

43. It is easier to be a man than a woman in our culture.

44. I would rather lose my memory of past events than no longer being able to form new memories.

45. I would never kill someone. I could not even see myself ever hitting another person.

46. I am happier with more control over what happens in my life than by having control over my response to what happens.

47. If high-tech goggles would let you see through people’s clothing, I believe they should be banned.

48. I will rather have a great private life but an uninspiring professional one than be successful professionally with only a tolerable private life. Not that I don’t care about professional success or work a lot, but I can only focus on work if/when I have a great private life.

49. I have no idea what the most outrageous thing I have ever done is.

50. It would be great if all humans were sterile by default and had to take a (free) readily available “fertility” pill in order to get pregnant.

51. I admire people who have a lot of ‘social energy’. I can spend hours in a multi-person setting (i.e., at least 3 persons), but after a few hours I can slowly feel the need to relax and recharge.

52. I don’t introduce myself to complete strangers.

53. If I had a voodoo doll that worked, I would – for several reasons – not use it on anyone.

54. If someone invited everyone who ever mattered to me, I would not be excited to see any of them. I would be much more curious about the social dynamics between all those people that – in a lot of cases – would meet for the first time.

55. I prefer people close to me to tell me the truth – even if it hurts.

56. I estimate that my character has been forged equally by success and disappointment.

57. I would rather change my profession than move to another part of the country.

58. There are no people I envy so much that I would want to trade lives with them.

59. If I got an all-expenses-paid, one-week vacation anywhere in the world, I would be willing to tear the wings off a beautiful butterfly or step on a cockroach. I don’t think it would affect my ability to enjoy the vacation.

60. If I wanted to take a new and uncertain path in my life, I would not listen to what my friends had to say unless they made a very good argument for why not.

61. If I was a role model to millions of children, I would most likely make some decisions on order to live a more anonymous life.

62. I would not be willing to murder an innocent child to end hunger in the world. (I find all of these questions to be meaningless and not even saying anything about whether I have a utilitarian worldview or not.)

63. If God appeared to me in a series of dreams, I would not think further about that once I woke up.

64. If I could have a free, unlimited service for five years, I would go with a good cook. It would be great not to have to think about cooking food for five years. The only downside would be that I would be less willing to eat out.

65. If a very close friend only had six months to live, I would make a few arrangements and spend more time with the friend.

66. My greatest accomplishment is my PhD. It didn’t mean a lot to me.

67. If my family lived in a low-lying area affected by climate change, they would most likely be forced to move.

68. If I could take a pill that would permanently alter me so that I only needed an hour of sleep a day (without any side effects), I would happily give up half on what I own.

69. If I knew that devoting myself to an all-consuming occupation for 20 years would make me one of the best in the world at it, I would not do it. I see myself as too much of a generalist to find any pleasure to master a single domain. I have one life and I don’t want to waste that in one domain, despite how much success that could lead to (or, as for most people, not lead to).

70. I am unable to say what has been my best and worst experiences with alcohol and drugs. That is a feature that I enjoy about alcohol – making it difficult to compare an experience to that of other experiences (even experiences that also involves alcohol).

71. I would not like a rice grain-sized computer chip implant in my fingertip, even if it enabled me to throw away credit cards and keys. It would be convenient when it is working but I can also imagine multiple scenarios and potential problems where it would be less convenient.

72. If someone looked at my friends with the explicit aim of learning something about me, they would most likely (or hopefully) conclude that I am quite selective in terms of who I want to spend time with.

73. If I could have one of fingers removed surgically and that would somehow guarantee me immunity from all major diseases, I would go for that. I can definitely learn to live with nine fingers and I would enjoy never having to worry about major diseases.

74. I prefer to spend time with people who are world-wise and experienced than people who are more naïve.

75. I don’t want for the government to use more cameras, implanted sensors, and automated surveillance devices to monitor citizens – even if it is only going to be used for convicted felons after their release.

76. I would never buy a gun. Even if I lived in a place with a lot of crime and the police was slow to respond.

77. I would be more intrigued than distressed if I found out that I had four living identical twins.

78. If my flat was on fire and I could only save one thing, I would most likely save my Mac (especially if my most recent work wasn’t fully backed-up). Actually, since I first answered the question, and wrote the previous paragraph, I came close to having to deal with this question in a non-hypothetical manner. The other day I was reading a book in the evening in complete silence when someone knocked at my door. I could hear the person was also knocking on other doors in the building. I went out and the person told me that there was a lot of smoke upstairs and people should get outside. I was 99% sure that there was nothing to be worried about, but just to be on the safe side, I packed my Mac, iPad, phone, wallet, keys, face mask and a bottle of water and went downstairs. I thought that in the unlikely scenario of a full-blown fire, I would be fine with these things.

79. I had not had a violent physical clash for as long as I can remember.

80. I wouldn’t mind if I learned that my partner’s previous lover wasn’t the same sex as me.

81. I would not like to travel into any point of the future if the cost was to return a year later with whatever knowledge I could obtain.

82. I would never play Russian roulette. Or, the odds would need to be crazy unrealistic. Like 1 to 10,000.

83. I will rather play games with people slightly more skilled than I am.

84. I don’t mind euthanasia in very special cases.

85. If what I owned had no bearing on what people thought of me, I would not spend my money differently.

86. If I could pick anyone in the world as my dinner guest, I would pick Tyler Cowen.

87. I believe it is fine to give people in prison access to the Internet.

88. I often take a step back and reflect on where I am headed. If anything, I think less self-reflection would be good.

89. I would not pay anything for additional medical care. I am happy with the current services I have access to – and I don’t expect those will change in the future.

90. If I see a bird with a broken wing, I would have no clue about what to do. Accordingly, I would see if anybody near me would have a clue – or begin to google and call people.

91. I don’t think state leaders should negotiate with terrorists.

92. I wouldn’t mind giving up sex for a year if it gave certain long-term benefits.

93. If I could add an extra decade to my life and it would take that decade from a random person, I would – with no additional information – not do it. Assuming that I live long enough to turn, say, 85, I am not sure how much extra 10 years of living will be for me. Especially not having to live with the price of those 10 years.

94. If a good friend pulled a well-conceived practical joke that made me look completely ridiculous, the good friend would most likely no longer be a (good) friend.

95. I feel comfortable going to the movies alone – and to some extent to dinner alone (though I very much enjoy the social aspect of eating out).

96. If I could direct medical research funds towards finding a cure for a specific disease, I would not do it. My main concern would be that the little progress achieved on other diseases would have more negative long-term implications. There is no such thing as a free lunch. I am writing this answer in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s quite obvious that a lot of resources are already (rightfully) targeted a cure for this disease.

97. If a good friend of mine fell in love with someone I thought was deceptive and creepy, I would most likely tell my friend but not do anything else to prove my point.

98. I am fine with the fact that I will not achieve anything of real importance in life.

99. I would – for various reasons – prefer to put my parents in a nursing home than having to take care of them in my own home.

100. I don’t think it’s worth additional resources to develop technologies enabling people to travel faster between adjacent cities. If anything, I would prefer slower but better public transportation (and by better, I mean more climate-friendly – and expensive for people who want to travel in their own car/plane).

101. If I had to pick between a baby crying, someone screaming, someone cursing drunkenly, or the song “It’s a Small World” played over and over and over again every morning for the next year, I would pick the sound of a baby crying.

102. I could see myself dying if I could save someone I love deeply.

103. I would not like to travel into the past without the possibility to return.

104. I would rather die painfully and alone at age 80 than peacefully among friends at age 50.

105. My life has not changed dramatically from one second to the next because of a seemingly random influence.

106. I would be happy to work the same amount of time I do now for double the pay (rather than work half of what I do for the same pay).

107. If someone deliberately stops talking to me, I will accept that decision (independent of their reasons) and not reach out.

108. I have never borrowed money from family or friends and not paid back (as far as I remember).

109. For extraordinary wealth, I would accept having terrifying nightmares every night for a year. However, it truly had to be extraordinary wealth.

110. I would never be able to kill a cow.

111. I would not like to record everything I hear or see.

112. I don’t want someone to know every single thought and feeling I have for a week.

113. I would not enjoy a month of solitude in an isolated, beautiful natural setting. Sure, I might have a fine time, but I would not enjoy it more than not having a month of solitude.

114. If I was first being told, after a medical examination, that I only had a month to live, and I then found out after a week that it was incorrect, I am sure I would appreciate life more.

115. If I was to see a dog locked in a car next to a large shopping center suffering from the heat, I would inform security (or someone else working nearby) to look into it.

116. I don’t believe that continuous video monitoring of all roads, walkways, parks, and other public spaces is worth it.

117. If I could end cigarette smoking at a global scale, I would definitely do it.

118. If I knew that I would die of a heart attack in a year, I don’t really know what I would do. Most likely consider my retirement plans (for the first time in my life) and make some funeral arrangements and whatnot.

119. If people used tiny point-of-view cameras to record what they saw and heard, I don’t really think I would like to watch any of it.

120. If I got $2 million to leave the UK and never set foot in the country again, I would most likely accept the offer.

121. I can see very good reasons to make certain virtual yet not “real” experiences illegal.

122. When I recount experiences, I definitely do what I can not to exaggerate.

123. I would be a little more relaxed if I knew what humanity would look like 500 years from now.

124. It is hard for me to ask for help.

125. I would happily perform alone in front of a thousand people if someone agrees to make a large contribution to a charity.

126. If I died tomorrow, I have no clue what the funeral would be like. I couldn’t care less (I am dead). My only preference would be that the people that now have outlived me will arrange whatever funeral they believe I deserve.

127. I do not think that we need to monitor every single move made by politicians in order to reduce political corruption.

128. I will never make decisions about who should (not) have antivenom.

129. I would rather have a child that was ugly than boring or stupid.

130. If I should place myself on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is having security and comfort and goals within easy reach, and 10 is taking risks, struggling, and reaching for great achievement, I would put myself at a 5.

131. I work harder to earn praise and recognition than to avoid criticism.

132. I would like a permanent cardiac monitor that could detect telltale signs of an impending heart attack.

133. If I was aware of serious crimes being conducted by politicians, I would try to expose the crimes (even if I worked for the government).

134. I would not, out of the blue, pay for a train ticket to a stranger.

135. I don’t believe in a distinction between body and mind.

136. I strive for security through accomplishment and success.

137. If I had one shot at a 50-50 bet that would pay 10 times my wager if I won, I would most likely put down 10% of my annual salary.

138. My two most compulsive habits are checking Twitter and my phone (I don’t use Twitter on my phone). I do struggle to break them but not enough to actively trying to break them.

139. If I had to do all electronic communication with friends and colleagues using one ‘technology’, I would pick social media (and not phone, text or email).

140. I would not like to get rid of any animals or plants. I am a huge fan of biodiversity.

141. If I found out that a close friend was a heroin dealer, I would most likely end the friendship (after we had a great and interesting conversation).

142. If I was driving a car and hit a dog, I would always stop to help.

143. I have no interest in taking any drugs that will alter my motivation or preferences.

144. I would need to know how exactly I could contribute to humanity before I would even consider sacrificing my life.

145. I am not in my current job because of the pay, so I would not chance my profession if I could keep my current salary.

146. I don’t enjoy doing things for the first time. I am too concerned about failing – or at least collecting data – for me in order to enjoy something.

147. If I had an online stalker and there was nothing the authorities could do about it, I guess I would just have to live with it.

148. My family is really great.

149. I would not give anything for wonderful erotic dreams every night. In general, dreams are overrated. I am much more into the absence of nightmares than having good dreams.

150. If someone I know starts belittling a common acquaintance, I will – on average – stand up for the person.

151. I would definitely not mind having my rate of physical aging slowed significantly. Even if it meant that I could in principle live for 1,000 years.

152. I believe that my personal growth has been somewhat constant over time. Accordingly, I don’t have a specific period in my life where I have seen the most personal growth and change.

153. If I had difficulties on a critical test at school and could safely cheat by looking up answers online, I don’t know what I would do. I guess it depends upon what would be at stake.

154. If I find a dead cockroach in my salad, I would definitely stop eating.

155. For $50,000, I would not rule out putting a healthy pet I love to sleep. However, it depends upon what pet it is, age of the pet, etc.

156. It would be easier for me to leave the country and never return than never being able to travel more than 150 miles away from where I live.

157. If I could become brilliant by having a visible scar stretching from mouth to ear, I would be fine with that (though I find it difficult to understand the potential causal mechanism).

158. I don’t remember dreams (or nightmares) for more than a day or two (if they are not already forgotten when I wake up).

159. I might be willing to shorten my life by a decade for certain things in life (I am not sure about what though).

160. If 100 people I went to school with were sampled at random, I think a lot of them would be more satisfied with their lives. That being said, I would not want to switch with any of those people.

161. When I am dead, I am dead. It would not disturb me much whatever plans people have for me once I am dead.

162. If I had to pick between two virtually equivalent medicines, with the only difference being whether they were synthesized in the laboratory or harvested from a medicinal plant, I would pick the latter.

163. I will never get a tattoo.

164. There are certain things in life, small and big, I don’t keep track of.

165. There is not one thing that, if I was to be without it, life would not be worth living.

166. I don’t think there is an age beyond which it should be illegal for women to bear children.

167. I would like for my friends to honestly tell me what they think of me.

168. I would not like to wake up tomorrow in the body of someone else and assume his or her life.

169. I don’t think we need more extensive car and road sensors. We just need to get rid of cars in the first place.

170. If I was happily married, I would not leave my spouse.

171. If there was a drug that could make me extraordinarily happy, I would not use it.

172. I think it goes without saying who is the most important person in my life.

173. When I do something ridiculous, I do of course think a lot about who see it – especially if they laugh.

174. If I needed a dangerous brain surgery, I would prefer to have an extremely gifted surgeon – independent of how he or she is as a person.

175. I do not believe in capital punishment.

176. I would be concerned about the unintended effects of chancing anything about the way I was raised,

177. There is nothing I have dreamt of for a long time but hasn’t done.

178. I am not religious.

179. I have absolutely no opinions about how to punish children for wrongdoings.

180. I don’t swim.

181. Nothing I have done within the last three months (at the time of writing) has been really satisfying.

182. If I find out that someone is cheating on his or her partner, I don’t see it as my responsibility to interfere.

183. If I could help out a good friend by donating one of my kidneys, I can’t see why not.

184. I would never jump into an icy mountain lake.

185. I find it hard to say no to tasks. I am getting much better at it though.

186. I haven’t stolen anything as an adult.

187. I would rather spend a month on vacation with my parents than putting in four weeks of uncompensated overtime at work.

188. I could see myself making a substantial sacrifice that could give me fame (picture on a postage stamp, a Nobel Prize, etc.), but I would not do it for the fame itself.

189. I don’t believe it is possible (or ever will be) to clone an identical twin of a person.

190. I don’t think there is anything too serious to be joked about if the context and the intention is fine.

191. I feel real excitement and passion in my work about once a month (on average).

192. If I could know exactly when I was going to die (and nothing could change that date), I would take a look at the date.

193. I don’t spit, clean my teeth or pick my nose in public.

194. I would not want to choose the sex of my child if possible.

195. I would not seek personal revenge outside the justice system.

196. If a friend asks me to tell the truth, and I can do so in a constructive manner, I will do so.

197. I don’t have ideas about what I want to achieve that I would give a lot to accomplish.

198. I don’t know what I have brought into the world that would not be here without me. I mean, even the most ambitious inventions and accomplishments would most likely see the light of day at some point if it wasn’t for the inventor who got the credit.

199. I would like to know my risk for an illness, even if it has no effective treatment.

200. I would not do anything to satisfy whatever needs an eccentric millionaire might have.

201. If I could get an inflation-adjusted lifetime stipend of $150,000 per year, even if I couldn’t earn or inherit additional money, I would be fine.

202. The last time I cried in front of another person has most likely been while watching a sad movie.

203. If I was attracted to someone of another race, I don’t think my behaviour would change.

204. I don’t want to wear a smartwatch.

205. I don’t believe in ghosts or evil spirits.

206. I judge others by higher standards than I judge myself.

207. If I had to consider putting in the work to become the best runner in the world, I would first of all look into whether I had the best characteristics to make it (which I am 100% sure I do not have).

208. I would not be interested in giving up on the Internet for five years.

209. I prefer to have a few great friends rather than lots of good friends.

210. The COVID-19 lockdown gave me a good sense of who I would like to spend 2 years with in a small, fully provisioned Antarctic shelter.

211. If I learned that I was going to die in a few days, I would regret not having done more to myself to not die at the age of 33. If there was nothing I could have done, I would have no regrets.

212. If I had a car I would turn off any potential features that I would collect data on me as a person (including body weight).

213. I prefer a stable level of happiness than a greater average level of happiness with more variation.

214. I would – with no hesitations – shave my head for $20,000.

215. If I knew that my child would die by the age of 5, I would want to abort.

216. If someone would commit suicide if I left them, I would do whatever I could to convince them to seek help.

217. I will never berate a server at a restaurant about some trivial problem.

218. I would not under any circumstances watch a public execution in person.

219. If advanced technologies enabled everyone to enjoy the material benefits of an upper-middle-class lifestyle without having to work, I am sure we would still continue to work in order to strive for the material benefits of the upper-class lifestyle. That’s human nature.

220. I would never accept a bribe for privileged information about one of my company’s products.

221. If I could take a one-month trip anywhere in the world, I would most likely spend it in Japan and travel a lot by train. See different places, get some work done, sleep on the train, etc.

222. I don’t like the idea of every person in the country being in a DNA databank.

223. I would not do something boring and unsatisfying for five years just to obtain inner peace for the rest of my life.

224. I wouldn’t mind being physically ugly if it meant I could live for 100 more years. However, on average, there should be a strong correlation between longevity and beauty.

225. I don’t think it makes any sense to consider life without a body.

226. There are things too personal to discuss with others.

227. If I come upon a last wallet with a name and address inside, I would return it. Especially if it contained $1,000.

228. I would rather be deaf than blind.

229. I don’t think I would be better able to raise myself than my parents would be if they had to raise me again.

230. I don’t believe in the perfect marriage.

231. I would not want to eat a bowl of live crickets for $5,000.

232. I would never take anything a fortune teller at a party told me serious.

233. I don’t think I have much impact on the lives of people whose paths I cross.

234. I have no opinions on what kind of children other people should be allowed to have (or not have).

235. I would not give up a friendship to achieve success. I have had a friend who would give up a friendship in order to get a decent academic paper into a decent academic journal though.

236. I would never – even if possible – force anyone to love me.

237. I would not want to replace any of my memories, good or bad.

238. I have not – as an adult – disliked someone for being luckier or more successful than me. I have had feelings of jealousy and whatnot, but nothing that has ever made me not like another person for that reason.

239. I believe I have experienced most new activities in life at the right time.

240. I don’t know what I like best about my life. I do appreciate the fact that I am not religious and that I am (relatively) open to new ideas.

241. If I was given $1 million to donate anonymously, I would most likely donate it to an organisation working with climate change.

242. I will rather live in a country with a social safety net than a country where it is easier to get rich if you succeed (if it even makes sense to work with such a trade-off). And I am aware of the irony of me writing this when living in the UK.

243. If I had to pick between saving 100 people where 5 will die or an even chance of saving everyone, but if it fails everyone will die, I would pick the former.

244. I have no attitudes towards child rearing.

245. I would not want to take a pill that would let me eat food without absorbing calories or nutrition.

246. I have no strong opinions towards IVF and what is possible. I would not have any problems with using artificial chromosomes to increase a kid’s life expectancy.

247. I would rather be given $25,000 for my own use than $250,000 to give anonymously to strangers.

248. Most of my friendships have lasted more than 10 years.

249. I don’t answer weird hypothetical questions about what happens in old converted mine shaft with little oxygen left.

250. I wouldn’t do anything differently if I could be more outgoing and uninhibited.

251. I wouldn’t want to be quadriplegic, paralyzed below the neck for more than a few minutes to save the extinction of the blue whale (seriously, some of these questions are … weird).

252. I seek routines in my life.

253. I would rather be unhappy and creative than happy and unimaginative.

254. People can usually count on me to do what I say I will do.

255. I would appreciate to live closer to my family than I currently do.

256. I appreciate a certain physical distance in the company of others.

257. I would not like to travel into the future if I was unable to return.

258. I don’t think any specific death among the people close to me would disturb me more. I think I would be somewhat equally disturbed (as long as you of course adjust for age and related factors).

259. I don’t think schools should have cameras that allowed parents to monitor their kids while in school.

260. I don’t cancel plans if something more exciting comes up.

261. I don’t have a specific situation, experience or failure that I consider my biggest disappointment in life.

262. If computers could think and feel, people should still be able to own them.

263. I wouldn’t react strongly if I found out that I was selected by my parents from 100 of their embryos because of my likely traits and temperament.

264. I prefer to live in the harsh realities rather than in wonderful dreams.

265. I don’t think any country should embark on a eugenics program.

266. I don’t want to be hypnotized to make my biggest worry fade away.

267. I listen more than I talk (I think).

268. I would not want to return to any previous point in my life and change a decision I made and pick up from there.

269. I like space.

270. I would not commit perjury for a close friend.

271. If a housekeeping robot could do every household task for me, I would not want to do anything myself.

272. I rate my integrity better than the population on average. However, I acknowledge that this might simply be the better-than-average effect in action.

273. Five years from now I would like to be a British citizen and … be on the same path as I am on now, I guess. What I need at this point is to not know where I will be in five years.

274. If I found out that my great-great-grandfather had done something wrong, I would most likely not try to make up for it.

275. If I had to pick among negative events, I would pick a plane crash at a local airport rather than an automobile accident that would kill a friend of mine or a large earthquake in Chile.

276. I find myself saying things I don’t mean just to be polite. I don’t see a problem with that.

277. If I had a near-perfect lie detector, I would only use it on myself.

278. I would not stop to watch a terrible highway accident just after the ambulances arrived (especially not if there is nothing I could do to help).

279. If I could be cryonically frozen after I died instead of a burial or cremation, I guess I would be fine with that, especially if the costs were identical.

280. If I had to tattoo my arm with a message to myself, I would write ” “. I don’t really want a tattoo at all and the fewer characters the better.

281. I would not want to ever monitor another person’s car.

282. If I ever break my leg on an icy sidewalk, I would not consider suing anyone.

283. If I could choose the manner of my death, I should pass away in my sleep.

284. I think it’s possible to cheat on a partner online.

285. I trust my intuition in most cases because the stakes are low. For bigger decisions, I don’t trust my intuition – even if it turns out to be right.

286. I would not like to be the president of the United States.

287. I have no preference for taking a pill that would make me feel glad.

288. I don’t see governments as a force for good that should be expanded at any cost.

289. I don’t want for the military to assassinate anyone – with or without drones.

290. I look to the future more with anticipation than anxiety.

291. I don’t believe in 100% honest questions and answers. It’s possible to lie – especially to yourself.

A few reflections now that I have answered all questions. First, it has been fun to see how I could answer very personal questions in a way that is honest but also not providing too many private details of my life (that I would never post here). Second, some of these questions are stupid – and stupid questions get stupid answers. Third, I doubt my answers will change a lot over the next decades, but I will be happy to return to the questions and take a look in, say, 2041. Stay tuned.

25 interesting facts #15

351. Preservation of historical heritage increases bird biodiversity in urban centers (Bhakti et al. 2021)

352. Torturers in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq justified their actions morally by diffusing responsibility, blaming victims, and using just-cause thinking (Einolf 2021)

353. Dogs exhibit social skills and interest in human faces by 8 weeks of age (Bray et al. 2021)

354. Bullying and harassment are romanticized in food media such as “Hell’s Kitchen” (Meiser and Pantumsinchai 2021)

355. People who experience depressive symptoms tend to choose a vegetarian diet (Ocklenburg and Borawski 2021)

356. An additional year of education increases cognitive abilities of approximately 1 to 5 IQ points (Ritchie and Tucker-Drob 2018)

357. For women, unusual sexual interests relates to more psychiatric symptoms (Schippers et al. 2021)

358. How painful a honey bee sting is varies depending on body location (Smith 2014)

359. Unions reduce income inequality (Farber et al. 2021)

360. Autistic adults are less subject to sunk cost bias (Rogge 2021)

361. Historical gasoline-derived lead remains an important source of lead in the urban environment in London today (Resongles et al. 2021)

362. It is possible that Allied penicillin saved Hitler’s life during the Second World War (Wainwright 2004)

363. A single season of professional rugby union lead to cognitive decline in players (Owens et al. 2021)

364. In academia, women work less hours in libraries, offices, and labs, partially because of greater concerns about their safety (Trawalter et al. 2021)

365. The annual economic cost of foregone earnings associated with the American football season is in the neighborhood of $5 billion (Petach and Rumbaugh 2021)

366. 3.5 billion people are without access to decent electricity services (Ayaburi et al. 2020)

367. Andre K. Geim, a Nobel Prize winner in Physics, has a peer-reviewed publication with his favourite hamster as his co-author (H.A.M.S. ter Tisha) (Geim and Tisha 2001)

368. A lot of people do not know how bicycles work (Lawson 2006)

369. In 15 post-Soviet states, the body-mass index of cabinet ministers is correlated with measures of corruption (Blavatskyy 2021)

370. Pandemics initially spread among people of higher social status (Berkessel et al. 2021)

371. Young players benefited at the expense of older players from the invention of composite tennis racquets during the late 1970s (Fillmore and Hall 2021)

372. Historical collapse of ancient states are multicausal and rarely abrupt (Butzer 2012)

373. People remain on their conversation partners’ minds more than they know (Cooney et al. 2021)

374. The Dissolution of the English monasteries in 1535 led to higher levels of industrialization (Heldring et al. 2021)

375. Papua New Guinea is home to >10% of the world’s languages (Kik et al. 2021)


Previous posts: #14 #13 #12 #11 #10 #9 #8 #7 #6 #5 #4 #3 #2 #1

How should the government cut emissions?

Governments around the world need to cut emissions. However, there is not a simple template to use and, most importantly, different initiatives will not attract the same level of public support. For that reason, we need to consider how governments can most effective cut emissions with the support of the public.

In a new report by Demos and WWF, Climate Consensus, survey data is used to shed light on the package of policies that represents the commitments and trade-offs the public is prepared to make in order to reach a 42% reduction in emissions by 2030. The report considers multiple policy areas, e.g., electricity, transporation, food, and flights, and the costs of specific policies.

The report was covered by outlets such as The Guardian, The Times, and BBC. Do check it out. Full disclosure: I played a minor role in the work as I conducted the cluster analysis for the report.

New article in Journal of Hospital Infection: Nudging hand hygiene compliance

In the December issue of Journal of Hospital Infection, you will find our new article titled Nudging hand hygiene compliance: a large-scale field experiment on hospital visitors. Here is the abstract:

Background. Hospital-care-associated infections (HCAIs) represent the most frequent adverse event during care delivery, affecting hundreds of millions of patients around the world. Implementing and ensuring conformity to standard precautions, particularly best hand hygiene practices, is regarded as one of the most important and cheapest strategies for preventing HCAIs. However, despite consistent efforts at increasing conformity to standard hand hygiene practices at hospitals, research has repeatedly documented low conformity levels amongst staff, patients and visitors alike. Aim. The behavioural sciences have documented the potential of adjusting seemingly irrelevant contextual features in order to ‘nudge’ people to conform to desirable behaviours such as hand hygiene compliance (HHC). In this field experiment we investigate the effect on HHC amongst visitors upon entry of a hospital by varying such features. Methods. Over 50 days, we observed the HHC of a total of 46,435 hospital visitors upon their entry to the hospital in a field experimental design covering eight variations over the salience, placement and assertion of the hand sanitizer in the foyer, including the presence of the yearly national HHC campaign and a follow up during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings. Our experiment found that varying seemingly irrelevant features increased HHC from a baseline of 0.4%–19.7% (47.6% during COVID-19). The experiment also found that the national HHC-campaign had no direct statistically significant effect on HHC. Conclusion. Varying seemingly irrelevant contextual features provides an effective, generic, cheap and easy to scale approach to increasing HHC relative to sanitizing one’s hands at hospitals.

And here is a figure with some of the key findings on differences in hand hygiene compliance:

You can read it online here. The replication material is available on GitHub.

The table rule

Before you make a table make sure you need a table. Here is the first rule of tables: a table should have more than one row of data. That is, make sure there is a need for a table that enables the reader to easily compare entries across multiple rows and columns in a systematic manner. For example, a 2×2 table is much better than a 1×4 table even though they have the same number of cells.

I was reading this article in Political Psychology and they included the following table:

A lot of papers have summary table as ‘Table 1’. That’s all fine. My issue here is that the paper uses a full page to convey very little information. To make matters worse, the table is completely irrelevant and all relevant information is provided in the following paragraph:

The sources are 43 tweets, 13 photos, 12 hours of audio files, 18 videos, seven newspaper articles, three official reports, three academic journal articles and books, two blogposts, 12 community interviews, one police statement, and more than 13 police log entries.

I did not do the math but my guess is that the above paragraph would not take up a full page.

I am a great fan of tables and figures, but please do make sure that there actually is a clear purpose for the inclusion of a table or a figure beyond taking up valuable journal space.