John Allen Poulos asks, “Are your friends more popular than you are?” Probably:
There doesn’t seem to be any obvious reason to suppose this is true, but it probably is. We are all more likely to become friends with someone who has a lot of friends than we are to befriend someone with few friends. It’s not that we avoid those with few friends; rather it’s more probable that we will be among a popular person’s friends simply because he or she has a larger number of them.
The rest is here. H/t Paul Hsieh.
Test-taking teaches students. This New York Times article describes research that suggests students learn more about a subject by taking tests about it than by studying it.
In the experiments, the students were asked to predict how much they would remember a week after using one of the methods to learn the material. Those who took the test after reading the passage predicted they would remember less a week later than the other students predicted — but the results were just the opposite.
. . . .
Why retrieval testing helps is still unknown. Perhaps it is because by remembering information we are organizing it and creating cues and connections that our brains later recognize.
“When you’re retrieving something out of a computer’s memory, you don’t change anything — it’s simple playback,” said Robert Bjork, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved with the study.
But “when we use our memories by retrieving things, we change our access” to that information, Dr. Bjork said. “What we recall becomes more recallable in the future. In a sense you are practicing what you are going to need to do later.”
This fits my experience. I took my share of standardized tests in grade school (I remember taking the Iowa Test of Basic Skills in elementary school). The subjects were usually not that interesting, but I would recall the subjects and silly little facts from them years later. One 7th-grade test included a passage about beriberi—a disease caused by a vitamin deficiency linked to eating polished (white?) rice—that I still vaguely recall today.
Anne Applebaum says that the Department of Homeland Security does not protect America against terrorist plots. Yes, she says, “[t]errorists have been stopped since 2001 and plots prevented, but always by other means.” She continues:
After the Nigerian “underwear bomber” of Christmas Day 2009 was foiled, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano claimed “the system worked” — but the bomber was caught by a passenger, not the feds. Richard Reid, the 2001 shoe bomber, was undone by an alert stewardess who smelled something funny. The 2006 Heathrow Airport plot was uncovered by an intelligence tip. Al Qaedas recent attempt to explode cargo planes was caught by a human intelligence source, not an X-ray machine. Yet the TSA responds to these events by placing restrictions on shoes, liquids, and now perhaps printer cartridges.
It’s short: read the whole thing.
From The New York Times’ Bits blog:
So the consensus is that Mr. McAdam will announce the iPhone on Verizon on Tuesday, and that the device will go on sale a few weeks after that. . . . [A]nother question is whether Apple executives will be on stage at the New York event. Don’t count on Steven P. Jobs, the company’s chief executive, to be there. Apple typically announces new iPhone carriers through press releases. Then again, Verizon is not any other carrier. So perhaps another Apple executive will make the trip.
God grant me the knowledge on the List of Common Misconceptions, and the wisdom never to use that knowledge at a party.