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Love, Kashmir and the value of life January 1, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in geo-politics, life, science.
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1. BBC has quite a brilliant presentation here on the Kashmir Problem – all the solution scenarios, stakeholders and the likes. Click on each of the 7 maps on the top of the page and read through.

2. Paul Kedrosky has a challenge. He asks :

Physicist Richard Feynman once said that if all knowledge about physics was about to expire the one sentence he would tell the future is that “Everything is made of atoms”. What one sentence would you tell the future about your own area, whether it’s entrepreneurship, hedge funds, venture capital, or something else?

What is my area ? I dont know – data mining, statistics, speech processing. I will sidestep that question for the moment ( and maybe forever 🙂 ). But one thing I have lately been realizing is that almost everything is ( and needs to be ) negotiable because almost everything has a price. Unfortunately, even human life, as this article points out :

You have 100 doses of a vaccine against a deadly strain of influenza that is sweeping the country, with no prospect of obtaining more. Standing in line are 100 schoolchildren and 100 elderly people.

The elderly are more likely to die if they catch the flu. But they also have fewer years left to live and don’t get out enough to easily spread or catch the disease. The kids are more likely to act like little Typhoid Marys, sneezing virus over anyone they encounter, and have almost their whole life ahead of them. But they’re also less likely to die if they get sick.

Whom do you vaccinate?

And almost everything has a price because you have to give up something to get something else. A fundamental reality of life is scarcity – expect it in the worst places.

3. Falling in love – Misattribution effects.

Social Psychologists A. Aron and D. Dutton used a natural setting to induce physiological arousal in their test of the Two Factor Theory of Emotion. In their study, an attractive female experimenter asked male passersby to complete a brief survey. She intercepted potential subjects either at the end of a bridge or on the bridge itself. The footbridge used was long, narrow, and spanned a deep ravine. Following the survey interview, the experimenter gave the subjects her telephone number in case they had further questions. The dependent variable in this experiment was the number of telephone calls received from the subjects after the experiment.

The theory predicted that more subjects would call if they were interviewed on the bridge itself. By being in a state of arousal (due to the bridge height) at the time of the interview, it was predicted that subjects would misattribute their physiological response as an attraction to the experimenter. This is exactly what was found. Approximately 50% of the male subjects telephoned the experimenter if they were interviewed on the bridge while approximately 15% of the subjects interviewed on the side actually called.

Not ofcourse to suggest that this is always wrong and misleading or that there is a right way to fall in love. But its good to be aware of the possibilities.

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