Very happy for my friend Doug Vakoch, President and founder of METI International, and personally proud to have played a very small role in helping him and other colleagues launch this initiative. Since the earliest potential reply date from planet GJ273b is June 21, 2043, I might just get an interesting present on my 80th birthday! (But I won't hold my breath.)…

Douglas Vakoch of METI announced messages were sent to the GJ273 system over three days in October.
If we want to affect the behaviors and beliefs of the person in front of us, we need to understand what goes on inside their head.
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The Economist

Whatever politicians say, the world needs more immigration, not less

Another good article, this one on an effective strategy to help ourselves and others overcome confirmation bias, or the tendency to interpret all evidence as supporting our preconceived beliefs: "The moral for making better decisions is clear: wanting to be fair and objective alone isn't enough. What's needed are practical methods for correcting our limited reasoning – and a major limitation is our imagination for how else things might be. If we're lucky, someone else will point out these alternatives, but if we're on our own we can still take advantage of crutches for the mind like the "consider the opposite" strategy."…/20170131-why-wont-some-people-listen-t…

How do you persuade somebody of the facts? Asking them to be fair, impartial and unbiased is not enough. To explain why, psychologist Tom Stafford analyses a classic scientific study.

Great article on how the availability heuristic shapes our irrational fears of small risks, from terrorism to GMOs to nuclear power. "From 2005 to 2015, over 300,000 Americans were killed by guns; 94 were killed by jihadists. The math is simple: Americans are over 3,000 times more likely to be killed by a firearm than by terrorism."

You’re over 3,000 times more likely to be killed by a firearm than a jihadist.
The latest edition of a report from the World Economic Forum updates its annual lists of global threats
The global rise of populism is a dangerous threat to democracy and human rights. And if it goes unchecked, the rollback of Western values could…
Economic inequality, societal polarization and intensifying environmental dangers are the top three trends that will shape global developments over the next 10 years, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2017. In the annual survey, some 750 experts assessed 30 global risks, as...

Never heard of this before. There really is a sucker born every minute.

Some spa-like clinics will inject an expensive mix of water and vitamins into your bloodstream, ostensibly to ward off illness and boost energy. But can't drinking fluids offer the same benefit?

Proud to see my previously published work on risk perception and communication and its relationship to SETI cited favorably in the October issue of Nature Physics.

Nature Physics | doi:10.1038/nphys3897
Contract theory is all about putting incentives in the right place

No, you can't get the flu from the flu vaccine. Influenza leads to more deaths and hospitalizations among children than any other vaccine-preventable disease. And the vast majority of children who die from the flu are not vaccinated.…/why-parents-don-t-get-their-children-v…

Parents decline to vaccinate kids against the flu because they don't think they need it. Influenza leads to more hospitalizations and deaths among children than any other vaccine preventable disease.
The two economists — professors at Harvard and MIT, respectively — were awarded the prize "for their contributions to contract theory."

Good read on the relevance of behavioral economics to retirement planning.…/this-is-why-most-people-dont-s…

56% of adults say saving for retirement is like saving for a stranger, so they don’t do it
A viral video released in February showed Boston Dynamics' new bipedal robot, Atlas, performing human-like tasks: opening doors, tromping about in the snow, lifting and stacking boxes. Tech geeks cheered and Silicon Valley investors salivated at the potential end to human manual labor.
Our species just stepped into a cosmic future, yet we still starve and fight each other
Echoing the concerns of Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, an ethicist has proposed measures to protect humanity as artificial intelligence develops