How Access to Instant Information Plays to Our Bad Side
The omnipresence of instantaneous technology has made us more likely to make snap decisions and judgements, often with bad consequences. Scientists have found a solution, though.
What's the Latest Development?
In a rush to report the Supreme Court's decision on the new national health care law, which will take months, if not years, to fully comprehend, both CNN and Fox News got it wrong, announcing that five justices had struck down the law when in fact the opposite was true. This kind of rapid, and incorrect, response is all too common in our age, when "e-mail, social media and the 24-hour news cycle are informational amphetamines, a cocktail of pills that we pop at an increasingly fast pace—and that lead us to make mistaken split-second decisions." Our most immediate responses reflect our evolutionary biases, not values like fairness and temperance.
What's the Big Idea?
Fortunately, there is a simple remedy to the biased outcomes of quick judgements. Scientists have found that by taking conscious pauses and considering how we are likely to react to a given situation, we can overcome the negative effects of our hard-wired responses. In one experiment which tested doctors' treatment bias against black patients, those doctors who realized what the experiment was testing for, and therefore reflected on how they would treat a black patient, made fairer prescriptions. "Although technology might change the way we react, it hasn’t changed our nature. We still have the imaginative capacity to rise above temptation and reverse the high-speed trend."
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Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.
- Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
- To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
- They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.
- The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
- Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
- As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
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