Michael Lewis on Exposing Wall Street’s Biggest High-Tech Swindle Author Michael Lewis’ newest book, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, topped The New York Times bestseller list a week after release, and a screen version is rumored to be in the works with bigwig film producer Scott Rudin, whose long list of credits includes There Will Be Blood, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Lewis’ book about the Oakland A’s, Moneyball. Flash Boys explores the world of high-frequency trading, a scheme in which traders use ultra-fast network connections to sniff out the intentions of other, slower traders, thereby acting … Continue reading Can high-frequence trading be regulated?
That beard is only hot because it’s not cool Every hipster knows that something is only cool before it becomes popular. There’s no point in liking a band once it hits the big time. That shirt is no good once it’s no longer ironic. And it’s certainly not enough to go clean shaven or grow a short beard — that’s much too mainstream. Recent years have seen a resurgence of moustaches, mutton chops and Fu Manchus. A style that really stands out sticks it to conformity. It turns out that when people buck the facial hair trend, they may end … Continue reading Do we prefer unusual and distinctive looks?
Empathy and Stress – Women Are the Stronger Sex I learned many of life’s great lessons while watching Audrey Hepburn movies with my grandmother. To this day, I cannot hear the word “empathy” without being reminded of the first time I heard that word in the movie Funny Face. Empathy is difficult to study, owing to its many dimensions and facets, but it is essential to human interaction. And new evidence suggests that women may be better at it than men. In the movie, Audrey Hepburn plays Jo, a shy bookkeeper who wants to spend her days studying the theories … Continue reading Are stressed women more “prosocial” than men?
Should at-risk patients be paid to receive interventions? It is hard to think of a study that is more definitive, ostensibly valid, practical, or relevant to public health than that reported by Tim Weaver and colleagues in The Lancet. Their study addressed the global problem of how to reduce the spread of hepatitis B virus (HBV) by drug users,2 and in particular the practical problem of increasing full compliance with the recommended regimen of three HBV vaccinations spread over a 3 month period.3 In a cluster randomised trial done in the UK, the investigators showed that modest, contingent financial rewards … Continue reading Monetary incentives for vaccinations
Apps that might help nudge you into financial health Willpowering up. The Web site StickK, co-founded by two Yale University professors, is designed for those times when willpower isn’t enough to achieve your goals. On the site, you might commit to repaying credit card debt, keeping track of your spending or saving money by bringing your lunch to work. To add motivation, you can put money on the line. If you fail, it goes to charity. For even more motivation, you can commit to having it sent to a political organization you hate. You also can choose a “referee” — … Continue reading Tips for fighting bad financial habits
The Irrationality of Irrationality: The Paradox of Popular Psychology In 1996, Lyle Brenner, Derek Koehler and Amos Tversky conducted a study involving students from San Jose State University and Stanford University. The researchers were interested in how people jump to conclusions based on limited information. Previous work by Tversky, Daniel Kahneman and other psychologists found that people are “radically insensitive to both the quantity and quality of information that gives rise to impressions and intuitions,” so the researchers knew, of course, that we humans don’t do a particularly good job of weighing the pros and cons. But to what degree? … Continue reading We should try to avoid jumping to conclusions
Happiness and Its Discontents What does it mean to be happy? The answer to this question once seemed obvious to me. To be happy is to be satisfied with your life. If you want to find out how happy someone is, you ask him a question like, “Taking all things together, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole?” Are you satisfied with your life? How are you feeling? Does either question tell us what we really want to know? Over the past 30 years or so, as the field of happiness studies has emerged from social psychology, … Continue reading What exactly is “feeling good”?