from the world's big
The End of Smoke-and-Mirrors Politics?
Who won big in last night's election? Data. Cold, hard data and the analytical tools to interpret it. The Obama campaign won by leveraging unbelievably detailed information about voters, as Michael Scherer describes today. And those observers who did best at predicting what voters would do (like Nate Silver, who at this writing seems to have gotten the electoral spread exactly right) succeeded the same way—by ignoring all the conventional sources of wisdom and insight and looking at the numbers. This marks, I think, a big and probably permanent shift in the way Americans see politics.
Until now, American electoral campaigns have been run more on hunches and wishful thinking than on detailed information. And people who made their living by politics, or by explaining politics—politicians and ex-pols, campaign professionals, journalists and other chatterers—could say whatever the hell they wanted. They could write mythopoeic hokum like this, or pseudo-numerical prognostications based on their decades-old personal experience, like this. They could engage in wishful thinking ("the crowds are so big!") or just change the data until it was more congenial.
The discrediting of this kind of hooey this year is a one-day story. But the source of that discrediting is a long-term big deal. The notion that political analysis should depend on data has raised the bar. Those who use cargo-cult reasoning ("Republicans haven't won since 1972 unless there was a Bush on the ticket") or unprovable bromides ("the American people seem to want divided government") are going to look less and less respectable. From now on, I suspect, pundits will have to back up their claims with actual information derived from actual voters. (Which among other things means, as Bob Wright astutely observed the other day, that we'll be paying more attention to data-gathering methods—to poll quality as well as poll results.) Nor will it be permissible any more to say, well, because I don't know anything, nobody knows anything. The reply will be, well, there is data out there, why can't you make sense of it?
Future campaigns will drive the change, I expect. Scherer's fascinating piece describes how the Obama campaign (which actually had a guy with the title "chief scientist" overseeing data operations) created a tremendous resource this cycle—a single massive database with information from "pollsters, fundraisers, field workers and consumer databases as well as social-media and mobile contacts." Want to know why the Obama campaign sent you those emails with contests for a dinner with the President? Because tests showed people liked them. Why was George Clooney included in one? Because West Coast women ages 40 to 49 really responded to anything involving Clooney. (Romney's campaign, to judge by this post, also attempted to leverage data, but didn't quite pull off the technical feats required.)
I experienced this "measure everything" approach myself yesterday, when I spent three hours as part of the Obama campaign's "ground game." I was calling people in Ohio and asking if they had voted. In 2008, we volunteers worked from paper printouts. This year we sat at netbooks linked to a central calling system, which robo-dialled numbers. Whenever the system detected a live human being (rare, given that Ohioans have been fielding these calls for months), the voter's name and gender and age would appear on my screen, and I would launch into my spiel. It was well-designed (any idiot, ie me, could master the job in 10 minutes), technologically sophisticated, and, above all, based on a constant stream of measurements and on-site reports. (For example, we called from phones with Ohio area codes—previous weeks had shown that response rates to out-of-state callers were too low.)
As the campaigns become more about data, so the chatterers must follow. Especially since the most successful among them (Nate Silver at the fore) are going the same way.
Already, some are complaining that this is a bad development because it steers people away from talking about issues and gets them thinking about the horse race. That's Jason Zengerle's argument over at Daily Intel. But this objection confuses the appearance of rational political decisions with actual rationality. Which is why I'm writing about it on this blog, which, despite what some commenters have written, is not about how cool it is to be irrational. (Rather, my subject is this: I think that faith in reason has bestowed on us a great many valuable things, like elections, courts, civil rights and markets. So we should be thinking about how to keep those things after we've concluded that our faith in reason is exaggerated.)
Voters give the appearance of rationality when they talk about issues and discuss whose positions they prefer. But the evidence for people's coherence and consistency on "the issues" is just not there. And, anyway, any campaign's discussion of "the issues" isn't a Socratic exploration of the challenges that face society. It is a collection of tools designed to win votes, based, more and more, on data about behavior. In other words, whatever people say they think and feel, the campaigns will increasingly work with what they actually do—respond to a come-on from Clooney, or an ad about outsourcing.
Therefore the real campaign is, in fact, the collection and leveraging of data about voters. It's a sign of healthy realism—of genuine rationality, which wants to evaluate actual evidence with clarity—that people want to know about the actual work of those who want their votes. So it's a healthy development that they're interested in polls and models, more than in position papers. Candidates will come and go, but data is here to stay.
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Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.