from the world's big
The Chemistry of Social Networks
Nicholas Christakis: Well I mean for \r\nthousands of years people have been concerned with very basic questions \r\nabout how and why humans form societies, how and why people form groups,\r\n but the social networks are different than groups in that in addition \r\nto a collection of individuals a network has a specific set of ties that\r\n you add to the individuals. And not just ties, but a specific pattern \r\nof ties. So, for example... the simplest example of this would be if you\r\n take a group of a hundred people that are waiting in line to get into a\r\n theater, for example. That’s a group of people, but it’s not a network.\r\n If you assemble those people into the simplest possible network, a \r\nlinear network, like a bucket brigade to put out a fire for example now \r\nyou have these hundred people and you’ve added 99 ties between these \r\npeople, so and a specific pattern of ties. Each individual is connected \r\nto one individual on the left and one on the right. And now this network\r\n is capable of doing something which the group was not capable of doing,\r\n namely, putting out a fire rather more efficiently than a group of \r\npeople. Or you could take the same group of people and take the same 99 \r\nties, but organize them totally differently in where each individual \r\nnow... in the form of a telephone tree for example, so each person calls\r\n two people, so you take the first person. They call two people. Each of\r\n those two people call two people and then you would get a completely \r\ndifferent sort of branching pattern. Now instead of a linear network you\r\n have a more complicated network.
In fact, the same kind of \r\nstructure, archetypical structure was used by Bernie Madoff in a kind of\r\n a Ponzi scheme, but instead of distributing information outwards, money\r\n was sucked up and drawn inwards towards the center, so these would be \r\nartificial human networks. They have constituent individuals and they \r\nalso have a specific pattern of ties. You add something more to the \r\nindividuals, these ties. And in fact, as we argue in the book it’s the \r\naddition of these ties that makes the whole greater than the sum of its \r\nparts. It’s the addition of the ties that makes the population of people\r\n within it, the network, capable of doing things like putting out a fire\r\n or distributing information rapidly in the telephone tree example, that\r\n it wasn’t previously able to do. So a network of people is a collection\r\n of individuals and a collection of ties between them and a specific \r\npattern of ties at that.
One of the key ideas about human social \r\nnetworks is that in the addition of ties between people and specific \r\npatterns of ties that obey particular mathematical rules the whole \r\nbecomes greater than the sum of its parts. The collection of human \r\nbeings have properties that do not reside within the individuals, and \r\nthis collection of human beings is now able to do things that they \r\npreviously were not able to do. And one of the illustrations or examples\r\n that I most like to give about this is something that most people are \r\nfamiliar with from high school or college chemistry and that is the \r\nexample of carbon. So you can take carbon atoms and you can assemble the\r\n carbon atoms into graphite and here we put particular hexagonal pattern\r\n of ties and you get sheets of graphite and this graphite is soft and \r\ndark. Or we can take the same carbon atoms and assemble them differently\r\n into a kind of a perimetral structure with the ties between them, the \r\nbonds between the carbon atoms and we get diamond, which is hard and \r\nclear and these properties of softness and darkness or hardness and \r\nclearness first of all differ dramatically, not because the carbon is \r\ndifferent. The carbon is the same in both, but rather because of the \r\nties between the carbon atoms. And second these properties are not \r\nproperties of the carbon atoms. They’re properties of the group, \r\nproperties of the collection of carbon atoms. Therefore, when we take \r\nconstituent elements and assemble them to a larger whole, this larger \r\nwhole can have properties that we could not have foreseen merely by \r\nstudying the individual elements and properties which do not reside \r\nwithin the individual elements.
And the same thing happens with \r\nhuman beings. We can take human beings and assemble them in different \r\npatterns and depending on the pattern in which we assemble human beings \r\nthey have properties that we could not have understood just by studying \r\nhumans. For instance, individual human psychology is not enough to \r\nunderstand some of these bigger properties and second these individuals \r\ndepending on how they’re assembled can have different properties, so you\r\n take the same group of people and you assemble them one way and you get\r\n a bucket brigade, which has particular properties or you assemble them a\r\n different way and you get a telephone tree, which has yet again \r\ndifferent properties. And so the pattern of ties between individual \r\npeople is actually a kind of a resource that we all can use. It’s \r\nactually a reservoir of value. It’s a kind of social capital, actually.
And\r\n it’s not just the pattern of ties between people that matters. It’s \r\nalso what is flowing across those ties, so if you inhabit a network with\r\n a particular structure of ties, but it’s a trusting network versus a \r\nmistrustful network it has different implications for your life, or if \r\nyou’re inhabiting a network where a pathogen is spreading versus where a\r\n pathogen is not spreading—different implications for your life. \r\nSomething is spreading through the network. You’re connected to others \r\nand it affects you.
And we have been looking, James Fowler and \r\nI, at a variety of sort of counter intuitive examples of these kinds of \r\nphenomenon. For instance, we’ve looked at how things like obesity or \r\nyour emotions, like happiness, spread through human networks. And we \r\nfind that a lot of deeply personal things, things that people might not \r\nthink of as being under the influence of others are affected, not just \r\nby their friends, but by their friends’ friends and even their friend's \r\nfriend's friends. So people are used to think of things like fashions, \r\nfor example. Like their taste in music or clothes might be affected by \r\ntheir friends or perhaps even they have this image that fashions can \r\nspread through the network or people might be used to thinking that \r\ngerms, that right now they’re not sick, but their friend's friend's \r\nfriend has a germ and that germ is going to spread to their friend’s \r\nfriend and then to their friend and then eventually inexorably to them, \r\nbut what they may not realize is that other sorts of phenomenon like who\r\n they vote for or how big their body is or even how happy they are also \r\ncan behave in similar ways, and that is what James and I have been \r\nworking on trying to understand over the last few years.
Recorded March 31, 2010
\r\nInterviewed by Austin Allen
Like atoms in a molecule, we’re all linked together. Studying the complex matrix that results can illuminate everything from bucket brigades to Bernie Madoff.
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SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.
- The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
- Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
- Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Is focusing solely on body mass index the best way for doctor to frame obesity?
- New guidelines published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal argue that obesity should be defined as a condition that involves high body mass index along with a corresponding physical or mental health condition.
- The guidelines note that classifying obesity by body mass index alone may lead to fat shaming or non-optimal treatments.
- The guidelines offer five steps for reframing the way doctors treat obesity.
A new 5-step system for treating obesity<p>To help primary care practitioners better treat obesity, the doctors outlined five steps:</p><ol><li>Recognition of obesity as a chronic disease by health care providers, who should ask the patient permission to offer advice and help treat this disease in an unbiased manner.</li><li>Assessment of an individual living with obesity, using appropriate measurements, and identifying the root causes, complications and barriers to obesity treatment.</li><li>Discussion of the core treatment options (medical nutrition therapy and physical activity) and adjunctive therapies that may be required, including psychological, pharmacologic and surgical interventions.</li><li>Agreement with the person living with obesity regarding goals of therapy, focusing mainly on the value that the person derives from health-based interventions.</li><li>Engagement by health care providers with the person with obesity in continued follow-up and reassessments, and encouragement of advocacy to improve care for this chronic disease.</li></ol><p>Insider noted that some health professionals and body-positive advocates don't think the guidelines go far enough in reframing obesity treatment. The update still points "to individual bodies as the problem, not culture," registered dietitian <a href="https://www.bodykindnessbook.com/" target="_blank">Rebecca Scritchfield</a>, told <a href="https://www.insider.com/canada-doctors-obesity-should-be-defined-by-health-not-weight-2020-8" target="_blank">Insider</a>.</p><p>But it's also possible to see how some health professionals may worry this new model could discourage patients from taking the initiative to tackle weight-loss on their own, through exercise and dieting.</p><p>In a 2020 opinion piece published in <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2020.00002/full" target="_blank">Frontiers in Nutrition</a>, Dr. <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/people/u/69229" target="_blank">Elliot M. Berry</a> argued that misplaced "medical and political correctness" may lead to the abrogation of the physician's responsibility to properly care for patients.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"For example, some doctors are now even reluctant to raise the issue of obesity lest they be accused of fat shaming by not accepting their patients' proportions (despite the quote at the head of this opinion piece), and thereby receive poor approval ratings in an atmosphere where popularity is equated with good healthcare."</p><p>Berry offers a list of nine steps that he thinks could help the healthcare industry better treat obesity, without shaming patients or falling prey to political correctness.</p>
Here's why you might eat greenhouse gases in the future.
- The company's protein powder, "Solein," is similar in form and taste to wheat flour.
- Based on a concept developed by NASA, the product has wide potential as a carbon-neutral source of protein.
- The man-made "meat" industry just got even more interesting.
Seriously sustainable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDIzNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjM4NTMzMX0.BCEfYnn6C3z1zUHIS38xOWjXktgamNBi5iyqklSMYK8/img.png?width=980" id="ea524" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="50533380eeb18eb5833b6b6aa3abec38" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>Solar Foods makes Solein by extracting CO₂ from air using <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90356326/we-have-the-tech-to-suck-co2-from-the-air-but-can-it-suck-enough-to-make-a-difference" target="_blank">carbon-capture technology</a>, and then combines it with water, nutrients and vitamins, using 100 percent renewable solar energy from partner <a href="https://www.fortum.com" target="_blank">Fortum</a> to promote a natural fermentation process similar to the one that produces yeast and lactic acid bacteria.</p><p>When the company claims its single-celled protein is "free from agricultural limitations," they're not kidding. Being produced indoors means Solar Foods is not dependent on arable land, water (i.e., rain), or favorable weather.</p><p>The company is already working with the European Space Agency to develop foods for off-planet production and consumption. (The idea for Solein actually began at NASA.) They also see potential in bringing protein production to areas whose climate or ground conditions make conventional agriculture impossible.</p><p>And let's not forget all those <a href="https://www.bk.com/menu-item/impossible-whopper" target="_blank">beef-free burgers</a> based on pea and soy proteins currently gaining popularity. The environmental challenge of scaling up the supply of those plants to meet their high demand may provide an opening for the completely renewable Solein — the company could provide companies that produce animal-free "meats," such as <a href="https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/" target="_blank">Beyond Meat</a> and <a href="https://impossiblefoods.com" target="_blank">Impossible Foods</a>, a way to further reduce their environmental impact.</p>
The larger promise<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDI0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NjU4MTg2OX0.7dZZYT5WEV_EupBuLVFwHynarTiz8RYR9aJtC6Ts2C4/img.jpg?width=980" id="3415d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2e6eebe06d795f844752f9e9d30040d7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>The impact of the beef — and for that matter, poultry, pork, and fish — industries on our planet is widely recognized as one of the main drivers behind climate change, pollution, habitat loss, and antibiotic-resistant illness. From the cutting down of rainforests for cattle-grazing land, to runoff from factory farming of livestock and plants, to the disruption of the marine food chain, to the overuse of antibiotics in food animals, it's been disastrous.</p><p>The advent of a promising source of protein derived from two of the most renewable things we have, CO₂ and sunlight, <a href="https://solarfoods.fi/environmental-impact/" target="_blank">gets us out of the planet-destruction business</a> at the same time as it offers the promise of a stable, long-term solution to one of the world's most fundamental nutritional needs.</p>
Solar Foods' timetable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MTEzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5OTU1OTMwMn0.wnXh56iO_77x2XKV2uIPf78BKw4AJLUpmiyq_JBVGvo/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=172%2C146%2C62%2C135&height=700" id="0297c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="125c9a98ec818f5c241fa28ef1423e67" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Lubsan / Shutterstock / Big Think<p>While company plans are always moderated by unforeseen events — including the availability of sufficient funding — Solar Foods plans a global commercial rollout for Solein in 2021 and to be producing two million meals annually, with a revenue of $800 million to $1.2 billion by 2023. By 2050, they hope to be providing sustenance to 9 billion people as part of a $500 billion protein market.</p><p>The project began in 2018, and this year, they anticipate achieving three things: Launching Solein (check), beginning the approval process certifying its safety as a Novel Food in the EU, and publishing plans for a 1,000-metric ton-per-year factory capable of producing 500 million meals annually.</p>
The protein powder Solein. Image source: SOLAR FOODS
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