Would a younger president be more productive?

Originally posted on Fusion:

No one wants to be ageist. But given the almost quarter-century age gap between presidential contenders Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton, it’s impossible not to consider the role of age in performing one of the most difficult jobs in the world.

If Rubio, 43, gets elected president next year, the Florida senator will be among the youngest to ever hold the office—and if Clinton, 67, gets the nod, she’ll be among the oldest. But who has the advantage? Does youthful energy trump experience, or the other way around?

According to productivity experts, Ms. Clinton has the edge. Sorry, youngs.

Older workers make fewer serious mistakes

Alex Wong/Getty Images Alex Wong/Getty Images

True, older workers are often considered by prospective employers as curmudgeonly, unwilling to embrace new ideas, and expensive—but studies have shown they’re a wise investment. For example, researchers from the University of Mannheim found that in a study of Mercedes assembly line workers, older…

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‘Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation’ can be preordered

‘Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation’ can now be preordered from:

Amazon (.com)

Amazon (.co.uk)

Harvard University Press

Torture is banned because it is cruel and inhumane. But as Shane O’Mara writes in this account of the human brain under stress, torture should never be condoned because it does not work the way torturers assume it does.

In countless films and TV shows such as Homeland and 24, torture is portrayed as a harsh necessity. If cruelty can extract secrets that will save lives, so be it. CIA officers and others conducted torture using precisely this justification. But does torture accomplish what its defenders say it does? For ethical reasons, there are no scientific studies of torture. But neuroscientists know a lot about how the brain reacts to fear, extreme heat and cold, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, and immersion in freezing water, all tools of thetorturer’s trade. These stressors create profound problems for memory, mood, and thinking, and sufferers predictably produce information that is deeply unreliable—and, for intelligence purposes, even counter-productive. As O’Mara guides us through the neuroscience of suffering, he reveals the brain to be much more complex than the brute calculations of torturers have allowed, and he points the way to a humane approach to interrogation, founded in the science of brain and behavior.

Torture may be effective in forcing confessions, as in Stalin’s Russia. But if we want information that we can depend on to save lives, O’Mara writes, our model should be Napoleon: “It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile.”

Bio

Shane O’Mara is Professor of Experimental Brain Research at Trinity College, Dublin, and Director of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience.

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I have an ISBN! 9780674743908 (preorder details for: Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation)

My forthcoming book (Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation, Harvard University Press, November 2015) now has an ISBN (9780674743908) and the book is starting to appear on searches in prepublication (see this) format. It even has a page on Amazon’s Japanese site! It is also available to pre-order via Amazon UK and Amazon USA.

Amazon (.com)

Amazon (.co.uk)

Harvard University Press

Blurb:

Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation

Shane O’Mara

Torture is banned because it is cruel and inhumane. But as Shane O’Mara writes in this account of the human brain under stress, torture should never be condoned because it does not work the way torturers assume it does.

In countless films and TV shows such as Homeland and 24, torture is portrayed as a harsh necessity. If cruelty can extract secrets that will save lives, so be it. CIA officers and others conducted torture using precisely this justification. But does torture accomplish what its defenders say it does? For ethical reasons, there are no scientific studies of torture. But neuroscientists know a lot about how the brain reacts to fear, extreme heat and cold, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, and immersion in freezing water, all tools of the torturer’s trade. These stressors create profound problems for memory, mood, and thinking, and sufferers predictably produce information that is deeply unreliable—and, for intelligence purposes, even counter-productive. As O’Mara guides us through the neuroscience of suffering, he reveals the brain to be much more complex than the brute calculations of torturers have allowed, and he points the way to a humane approach to interrogation, founded in the science of brain and behavior.

Torture may be effective in forcing confessions, as in Stalin’s Russia. But if we want information that we can depend on to save lives, O’Mara writes, our model should be Napoleon: “It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile.”

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The Connected Hippocampus, 1st Edition | Shane O’Mara, Marian Tsanov | ISBN 9780444635495

The Connected Hippocampus, 1st Edition | Shane O’Mara, Marian Tsanov | ISBN 9780444635495

The purpose of this volume is to encourage researchers to situate the hippocampus as part of a network connected to the rest of the brain and not to consider it in isolation. We therefore present a selection of chapters that concentrate on understanding the functions of the hippocampus in terms of the connectivity of the hippocampus itself: in other words, in terms of its cortical and subcortical inputs and outputs.

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modified version of http://brainmaps.org/ajax-viewer.jpg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Stereotype lowers math performance in women, no one noticed

Originally posted on Lunatic Laboratories:

stereotypes

Stereotypes about people can affect how we look at a person, but sometimes it causes other problems. Gender stereotypes about women’s ability in mathematics negatively impact their performance. And in a significant twist, both men and women wrongly believe those stereotypes will not undermine women’s math performance — but instead motivate them to perform better.

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Interview with a Torturer

Originally posted on Longreads Blog:

Rithy Panh with Christophe Bataille | Translated by John Cullen | The Elimination: A survivor of the Khmer Rouge confronts his past and the commandant of the killing fields | Other Press | February 2013 | 44 minutes (12,355 words)

Below is an excerpt from the book The Elimination, by Rithy Panh, as recommended by Longreads contributor Dana Snitzky.

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Radical embodied cognition: an interview with Andrew Wilson

Originally posted on Mind Hacks:

adw_headshot_squareThe computational approach is the orthodoxy in psychological science. We try and understand the mind using the metaphors of information processing and the storage and retrieval of representations. These ideas are so common that it is easy to forget that there is any alternative. Andrew Wilson is on a mission to remind us that there is an alternative – a radical, non-representational, non-information processing take on what cognition is.

I sent him a few questions by email. After he answered these, and some follow up questions, we’ve both edited and agreed on the result, which you can read below.

Q1. Is it fair to say you are at odds with lots of psychology, theoretically? Can you outline why?

Psychology wants to understand what causes our behaviour. Cognitive psychology explanations are that behaviour is caused by internal states of the mind (or brain, if you like). These states are called mental representations, and they…

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