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Showing posts from January 22, 2023

In what language do we read faces?

Often, when you read the conclusions of the psychologists in the U.S. or the Anglosphere in general, you come away feeling that psychologists treat English, or at best English and a few other European languages, as a sort of universal blueprint to feelings. Thus, in a famous study of facial expressions and emotions, Paul Ekman claimed that the Fore group in New Guinea recognized and categorized facial expressions in the same way as Americans, according to some universal menu of emotions. This research has often been criticized, and anthropologists seeking to replicate Ekman’s work claim that the Fore responses they get are different. Ekman, as a matter of fact, did not speak either the Pidgin or the Fore language. However, he didn’t seem to feel he had to: like many English speakers, he felt his native language endowed him with all the psychological knowledge he would need. I don’t think this is true. For it to be true, English would have to be an unusually hypercognized medium. I ta

what is wrong with Von Mises (Ludwig, not Richard)

  I ain’t satisfied at all, at all   with Jonathan Rée ’s London Review essay on Hayek. An essay in the form of a review, the classic LRB format. Ree starts out wrongfooting from the moment the runner is off his mark: in the first graf: “We s​ocialists like to hark back to better days, when ideals shone bright and principles stood tall: equality, fairness, democracy, internationalism, mutuality, jobs, education, food, housing, medicine, pensions, peace, friendship and love. But there is one strand of the tradition we prefer not to think about: the idea of putting an end to the wasteful chaos of capitalism by implementing a comprehensive economic plan.” “We socialists” here puts Ree on a definite side, from which he can pretty much cut away at socialism. This is the timehonored neoliberal stance of all the socialist parties that tossed themselves in the garbage in the post-Wall period – the French socialists, the Italian Olive tree, the English Labour party. In fact, of course, g

ChatGPT, Perceptual absorbance and machine dreams

  I am a great admirer of Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s “History of Train Rides: on the industrialization of space and time in the 19th century.” It is through Schivelbusch’s history that I grasped a social force that has continued up through ChatGPT: that the “modern era” is defined by a series of perceptual shocks and absorbances. Schivelbusch began researching the early response to the train and found that the speed at which trains travelled had a definite effect on the sensorium of the early riders. In the twentieth century, instruments were often dubbed the “extensions of man”. It is against this organic notion that Schivelbusch writes, since his sense of the industrial complex sees “man” divided up into different specializations: here’s the customer, here’s the conductor; here’s the coalminer, here’s the economist; here’s the victim of the accident, here’s the insurance company. The power of steam was distributed over a number of industrial branches - perceptual shock and absorbance is

Chichikov and Charlie Javice

  The story of Charlie Javice, one of Forbes 30 under 30 – along with Sam Bankman-Fried – was unrolled at length in the NYT's Sunday section. How she was a poor girl, the daughter of Didier Javice, who has worked on Wall Street for more than 35 years, with 11 years at Goldman Sachs and three at Merrill Lynch, and a mother who the NYT could not contact or find on Linked in. You know the type – her Mercedes was a hand me down from Dad, the private school she attended did not vote her prom queen, etc. She had a revelation – from God above, the ultimate billionaire – before she was out of that school, however: "Ms. Javice’s career helping others began, in her telling, on the border of Thailand and Myanmar. She spent time volunteering there one summer, between terms at her private high school in Westchester County, N.Y.” God, perhaps, directed her to Wharton. It is the Wharton that throws me off. It is a top business school, like Harvard School of Business, and it discourages its s