Monday, 10 August 2009
There are probably well over a 100 million blogs on the web today. The one I'm about to start is not here for its uniqueness or profundity of its intended content, and hopefully not here (solely) to boost the authors' self-image. Somewhere in between, there comes coffee (addiction) and all the perks it brings. By which I mean, good conversation. Best at work, somewhere around 10.30 am, or any time after lunch. I have the good luck (or a mental cushion) to work in a building where there are few urgencies - no flying planes, crashing markets or crying babies around us. The few interruptions to the unplugged wanderings of the neuro-currents in the brains of us graduate students are of sentimental nature (although in the labs there's no mobile phone reception), and rarely cataclysmic events such as breaking mega expensive lasers and nanocantilevers or putting the wrong kind of transgenic flies to mate.
So we have (semi)regular coffee times, and sometimes good things come out of it. Like rules for how (straight) men in toilets choose their urinal, when there is some distribution of other men around - it seems that a model which minimises the joint effect of wanting to appear self-confident (weighting 1/3) and not wanting to appear gay (weighting 2/3) describes the resulting distribution remarkably well. I didn't do the empirical research myself, but I was given the data.
Once, there was a brave new idea. For an MHC-testing based dating website. But although we went to an enterpreneuship contest with a business plan, nothing ever came out of it... until a year later, Helen Fisher, on Goodmorning America, is dicussing the service with the founders of the brand new US company based on exactly the same idea. [Sigh]
So I thought I'd give the world a glimpse into this spooky and wonderful world of half-baked ideas, misguided beliefs and messiahanic prophecies. And we need you - the one who read this far down the page. You know who you are. The idea is to sort of keep some of these thoughts alive by putting them in electronic form and send the message in a bottle.
Unless you've control-tabbed yourself into ted.com at this point, you'll be happy to know that this blog believes in the power of scientific method. We like numbers, coding and models, and we have a love-hate relation with art (both high and low). This is to say some (one) of us find art pretentious and manipulative aimed for seduction purposes, and some are budding artists and advocates of aesthetic self-expression.
So there will be your usual dinner-table conversation menu of finance, neuro and behavioural economics and psychology, with a quantitative slant. So help yourself and I hope you'll have fun.