How Crowdsourcing Will Change Psychology Forever
For decades, the world's most prolific scientists have relied on the American college undergraduate to represent humanity. Not surprisingly, they may not be very representative.
What's the Latest Development?
Thanks to a series of websites that use crowdsourcing to gather psychological information from people across the globe, we may shortly arrive at a more complete understanding of human behavior than ever before. The most popular site among experimental psychologists is called Mechanical Turk, which can draw from a sample base of more than 500,000 people known as Turkers. "For the hard-pressed, cash-strapped psychologist, this is a godsend. ... Studies that would once have required months or years can now be done in days." Other sites popular sites include oDesk, CrowdFlower and Elance.
What's the Big Idea?
In 2010, the academic researcher Joseph Henrich popularized the acronym WEIRD, or Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic. The adjectives refer to the kinds of people which experimental psychologists typically use in their experiments. American university undergraduates are especially over-represented in the field because they are willing to do tasks in return for a meager reward and because they live among the world's most prolific scientists on American college campuses. The result, argued Henrich, is a strongly skewed view of human psychology and human nature.
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Research by neuroscientists at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory helps explain how the brain regulates arousal.
The big day has come: You are taking your road test to get your driver's license. As you start your mom's car with a stern-faced evaluator in the passenger seat, you know you'll need to be alert but not so excited that you make mistakes. Even if you are simultaneously sleep-deprived and full of nervous energy, you need your brain to moderate your level of arousal so that you do your best.
A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.
- Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
- The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
- According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
When these companies compete, in the current system, the people lose.
- When a company reaches the top of the ladder, they typically kick it away so that others cannot climb up on it. The aim? So that another company can't compete.
- When this phenomenon happens in the pharmaceutical world, companies quickly apply for broad protection of their patents, which can last up to 20 years, and fence off research areas for others. The result of this? They stay at the top of the ladder, at the cost of everyday people benefitting from increased competition.
- Since companies have worked out how to legally game the system, Amin argues we need to get rid of this "one size fits all" system, which treats product innovation the same as product invention. Companies should still receive an incentive for coming up with new products, he says, but not 20 years if the product is the result of "tweaking" an existing one.
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