Non-Equilibrium Social Science
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Non-Equilibrium Social Science
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A study with erroneous claims about the impacts of global warming has finally been corrected

A study with erroneous claims about the impacts of global warming has finally been corrected | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

A journal article claiming that moderate amounts of global warming have overall positive benefits has been quietly corrected after Bob Ward pointed out a number of errors. The updated analysis now claims “impacts are always negative”, but the erroneous findings have been used to inform a recent report by the IPCC which still needs to be corrected. This episode underlines the need for greater transparency from academic journals and by researchers.

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Follow the Leader: Herding Behavior in Heterogeneous Populations

Here we study the emergence of spontaneous leadership in large populations. In standard models of opinion dynamics, herding behavior is only obeyed at the local scale due to the interaction of single agents with their neighbors; while at the global scale, such models are governed by purely diffusive processes. Surprisingly, in this paper we show that the combination of a strong separation of time scales within the population and a hierarchical organization of the influences of some agents on the others induces a phase transition between a purely diffusive phase, as in the standard case, and a herding phase where a fraction of the agents self-organize and lead the global opinion of the whole population.

 

Follow the Leader: Herding Behavior in Heterogeneous Populations
Guillem Mosquera-Donate, Marian Boguna

http://arxiv.org/abs/1412.7427


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5 reasons 2015 will be the year of Big Data | ITProPortal.com

5 reasons 2015 will be the year of Big Data | ITProPortal.com | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

Big data has been one of the biggest trends over the last couple of years. Yet while companies seem to have gained a better understanding of the concept in 2014, there is still confusion about how to unlock its true business potential.

In 2015, I expect to see companies explore, and get to grips with this in a variety of areas. Some of my key predictions for the year ahead include:

(...)

 

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The Emerging Science of Human-Data Interaction

The Emerging Science of Human-Data Interaction | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
The rapidly evolving ecosystems associated with personal data is creating an entirely new field of scientific study, say computer scientists. And this requires a much more powerful ethics-based infrastructure.

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Evelyn Ruppert: "Social consequences of Big Data are not being attended to"

For the second interview in Philosophy of Data Science series, Mark Carrigan interviews Evelyn Ruppert on creating an interdisciplinary forum to discuss the major changes in our relations to data, as subjects, citizens and researchers. The journal Big Data and Society will investigate how data is generated as a part of everyday digital practice and how it is curated, categorised, cleaned, accessed, analysed and acted upon. While many diverging tensions exist in the study of big data, Ruppert finds as we are at a moment of discovery and experimentation, there is greater openness to different ways of thinking.


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Scientific Misbehavior in Economics: Unacceptable research practice linked to perceived pressure to publish.

Upholding research integrity depends on our ability to understand the extent of misconduct. Sarah Necker describes her landmark study on economists’ research norms and practices. Fabrication, falsification and plagiarism are widely considered to be unjustifiable, but misbehaviour is still prevalent. For example, 1-3% of economists surveyed admit that they have accepted or offered gifts, money, or sex in exchange for co-authorship, data, or promotion. Economists’ perceived pressure to publish is found to be positively related to their admission of being involved in several rejected research practices.

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In praise of complexity economics

The Economist's ranking of the most influential economists of 2014 has been derided, and Tyler Cowen provides a more sensible list. But I wonder: which economists should be more influential than they are?

The glib answer here is: whoever corroborates my prejudices. A less glib answer would be the countless economists who are doing good work which is insufficiently appreciated by the public: I try to publicise some of this in both here and in my day job.

But there's another answer I'd like to offer: those economists who have been working in the field of complexity economics. Perhaps the pioneer here is Brian Arthur, who has written a great short introduction (pdf) to the subject. But I'd also mention Eric Beinhocker*, Cars Hommes, Alan Kirman and, in financial economics, Andrew Lo, whose theory of adaptive markets I find an attractive alternative to the efficient/inefficient markets hypothesis. (...)

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Lessons from Argentina on economic decline

Lessons from Argentina on economic decline | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
New evidence suggests that financial development and institutional change are two main factors behind the unusual growth trajectory of Argentina.
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Data Mining Reveals How Social Coding Succeeds (And Fails)

Data Mining Reveals How Social Coding Succeeds (And Fails) | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
Collaborative software development can be hugely successful or fail spectacularly. An analysis of the metadata associated with these projects is teasing apart the difference.
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The Social Laboratory

The Social Laboratory | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
The Social Laboratory Singapore is testing whether mass surveillance and big data can not only protect national security, but actually engineer a more harmonious society.…
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Some 13 years after Enron, auditors still can’t stop managers cooking the books

Some 13 years after Enron, auditors still can’t stop managers cooking the books | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

NO ENDORSEMENT carries more weight than an investment by Warren Buffett. He became the world’s second-richest man by buying safe, reliable businesses and holding them for ever. So when his company increased its stake in Tesco to 5% in 2012, it sent a strong message that the giant British grocer would rebound from its disastrous attempt to compete in America.

 

But it turned out that even the Oracle of Omaha can fall victim to dodgy accounting. On September 22nd Tesco announced that its profit guidance for the first half of 2014 was £250m ($408m) too high, because it had overstated the rebate income it would receive from suppliers. Britain’s Serious Fraud Office has begun a criminal investigation into the errors. The company’s fortunes have worsened since then: on December 9th it cut its profit forecast by 30%, partly because its new boss said it would stop “artificially” improving results by reducing service near the end of a quarter. Mr Buffett, whose firm has lost $750m on Tesco, now calls the trade a “huge mistake”.

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Want to influence the world? Map reveals the best languages to speak

Want to influence the world? Map reveals the best languages to speak | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

Speak or write in English, and the world will hear you. Speak or write in Tamil or Portuguese, and you may have a harder time getting your message out. Now, a new method for mapping how information flows around the globe identifies the best languages to spread your ideas far and wide. One hint: If you’re considering a second language, try Spanish instead of Chinese.


The study was spurred by a conversation about an untranslated book, says Shahar Ronen, a Microsoft program manager whose Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) master’s thesis formed the basis of the new work. A bilingual Hebrew-English speaker from Israel, he told his MIT adviser, César Hidalgo (himself a Spanish-English speaker), about a book written in Hebrew whose translation into English he wasn’t yet aware of. “I was able to bridge a certain culture gap because I was multilingual,” Ronen says. He began thinking about how to create worldwide maps of how multilingual people transmit information and ideas.

New method of measuring cultural transmission suggests some tongues spread ideas better than others
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Book Review: Sharing Our Lives Online: Risks and Exposure in Social Media by David R. Brake

Book Review: Sharing Our Lives Online: Risks and Exposure in Social Media by David R. Brake | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

The growth of social media sees us heading towards a radically open society. David R. Brake aims to provide an overview of the harms that can be posed by unwary social media use for both adults and children. He then draws on in-depth interviews, and a range of related theories of human behaviour to consider why this happens. This is an interesting resource for students and scholars in the fields of digital media and interpersonal communication, concludes Stefania Vicari.

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Computational Aspects of Ancient Social Heterarchies: Learning how to Address Contemporary Global Challenges

As hierarchically and centrally controlled computational systems, contemporary political systems have limitations in their information processing and action capacities to face the current social crises and challenges. In contrast, some older cultures whose political structure was more heterarchically organized, such as found in pre-Hispanic Colombia, were adaptive even without advanced scientific knowledge and without powerful top-down control. In this context, we propose that creating and analyzing computer models of their decentralized processes of management can provide a broader perspective on the possibilities of political organization. In terms of self-optimization, this approach seeks the promotion of social systems with a balance of flexibility and robustness, i.e., systems that do not rely on the current ideal of rule-based control of all systemic aspects.

 

Computational Aspects of Ancient Social Heterarchies: Learning how to Address Contemporary Global Challenges
Nathalie Mezza-Garcia, Tom Froese, Nelson Fernández

Journal of Sociocybernetics Vol 12, No 1/2 (2014) 

https://papiro.unizar.es/ojs/index.php/rc51-jos/article/view/797

 


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How much data do you need? Like documentary film-making, research requires far greater coverage than the final cut.

How much data do you need? Like documentary film-making, research requires far greater coverage than the final cut. | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

It can be difficult to determine how much data is required for research analysis. Kerim Friedman compares the process to documentary film-making where they typically shoot sixty times the amount that makes the final cut. The concept of a “shooting ratio” underlines the necessity of collecting a lot of data in order to find that one choice nugget upon which hinges the analysis. But collecting data isn’t just about learning, it is also about collecting material that can be used to flesh out a story and make it come alive.

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The Fundamental Scale of Descriptions

The complexity of a system description is a function of the entropy of its symbolic description. Prior to computing the entropy of the system description, an observation scale has to be assumed. In natural language texts, typical scales are binary, characters, and words. However, considering languages as structures built around certain preconceived set of symbols, like words or characters, is only a presumption. This study depicts the notion of the Description Fundamental Scale as a set of symbols which serves to analyze the essence a language structure. The concept of Fundamental Scale is tested using English and MIDI music texts by means of an algorithm developed to search for a set of symbols, which minimizes the system observed entropy, and therefore best expresses the fundamental scale of the language employed. Test results show that it is possible to find the Fundamental Scale of some languages. The concept of Fundamental Scale, and the method for its determination, emerges as an interesting tool to facilitate the study of languages and complex systems.

by Gerardo Febres

arXiv:1412.8268 [cs.IT]

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The War on Learning: Gaining Ground in the Digital University

The War on Learning: Gaining Ground in the Digital University | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

In The War on Learning, Elizabeth Losh analyses recent trends in post-secondary education and the rhetoric around them. In an effort to identify educational technologies that might actually work, she looks at strategies including MOOCs, the gamification of subject matter, remix pedagogy, video lectures, and educational virtual worlds. Losh’s work is valuable reading for students and parents trying to make sense of when current technologies provide venues for meaningful assignments and assessments, rather than serving as ‘add ons’ to conventional education that leave everyone feeling cheated, writes Susan Marie Martin.


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Context collapse, performance piety and civil inattention – the web concepts you need to understand in 2015

Context collapse, performance piety and civil inattention – the web concepts you need to understand in 2015 | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
Helen Lewis: Who to ignore? When to pay attention? Need help navigating online culture? Here’s a guide to netiquette
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Meet Cambridge University linguist Dr Bert Vaux - the Sherlock Homes of languages...

Meet Cambridge University linguist Dr Bert Vaux - the Sherlock Homes of languages... | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

The most-read story in the history of the New York Times isn’t news-related: it’s actually a quiz that predicts where Americans are from by the words that they use. And the man who wrote it – linguist Dr Bert Vaux – has plans to launch it here too. EMMA HIGGINBOTHAM meets him.

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On Taxis and Rainbow Tables: Lessons for researchers and governments from NYC’s improperly anonymized taxi logs

On Taxis and Rainbow Tables: Lessons for researchers and governments from NYC’s improperly anonymized taxi logs | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

When New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission made publicly available 20GB worth of trip and fare logs, many welcomed the vast trove of open data. Unfortunately, prior to being widely shared, the personally identifiable information had not been anonymized properly. Vijay Pandurangan describes the structure of the data, what went wrong with its release, how easy it is to de-anonymize certain data, and the lessons researchers and agencies should learn from this.

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Are economists superior?

Are economists superior? | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
A recent paper has caused a storm by arguing that economists’ supremacy is linked to their sense of authority and entitlement, writes Jérémie Cohen-Setton.
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Friendship and natural selection

More than any other species, humans form social ties to individuals who are neither kin nor mates, and these ties tend to be with similar people. Here, we show that this similarity extends to genotypes. Across the whole genome, friends’ genotypes at the single nucleotide polymorphism level tend to be positively correlated (homophilic). In fact, the increase in similarity relative to strangers is at the level of fourth cousins. However, certain genotypes are also negatively correlated (heterophilic) in friends. And the degree of correlation in genotypes can be used to create a “friendship score” that predicts the existence of friendship ties in a hold-out sample. A focused gene-set analysis indicates that some of the overall correlation in genotypes can be explained by specific systems; for example, an olfactory gene set is homophilic and an immune system gene set is heterophilic, suggesting that these systems may play a role in the formation or maintenance of friendship ties. Friends may be a kind of “functional kin.” Finally, homophilic genotypes exhibit significantly higher measures of positive selection, suggesting that, on average, they may yield a synergistic fitness advantage that has been helping to drive recent human evolution.

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Podcast: Joshua Angrist on Econometrics and Causation

Joshua Angrist of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the craft of econometrics--how to use economic thinking and statistical methods to make sense of data and uncover causation. Angrist argues that improvements in research design along with various econometric techniques have improved the credibility of measurement in a complex world. Roberts pushes back and the conversation concludes with a discussion of how to assess the reliability of findings in controversial public policy areas.

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Interactive data visualisation of the UK’s creative economy

Interactive data visualisation of the UK’s creative economy | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

The Creative Economy is diverse, housing artists, computer programmers, architects, designers and many more. An unfortunate by-product of this diversity is that the sector lacks a clear identity, and it can be overlooked in economic debate. But the Creative Economy is extremely important to the UK: it employs 8 per cent of all workers and is growing three times faster than the rest of the economy. 

 

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Complexity and the failure of quantitative social science

Complexity and the failure of quantitative social science | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

When I attended university in 1984 as a psychology undergraduate in the States, the pathway to scientific literacy was pure and simple: you took a research methods course, followed by a statistics course or two, and that was it – you were prepared to do social science! Okay, if you were lucky, you could also take a qualitative methods or historical methods course, but my professors were pretty clear: the real science was quantitative methods and statistics.

Later, when I moved on to graduate school in clinical psychology and then medical sociology, little changed. Certainly, the statistics got more interesting and esoteric, which I very much liked. But the same old distinctions seemed dominant, with quantitative method and statistics holding the upper hand: hard science over soft science; quantitative method over qualitative method; math over metaphor; method over theory; representation over interpretation; experiment over description; prediction over understanding; variables over cases; on and on it went.

And why? Because, my quantitative professors argued, statistics (and pretty much it alone) made ‘sense’ of the complexity of social reality – what Warren Weaver, in his brilliant 1948 article, “Science and Complexity” called the disorganized complexity problem. According to Weaver, nuances aside, the problems of science can be organized, historically speaking, into three main types. The first are simple systems, comprised of a few variables and amenable to near-complete mathematical description – clocks, pendulums, basic machines. Second are disorganized complex systems, where the unpredictable microscopic behavior of a very large number of variables – gases, crowds, atoms, etc – make them highly resistant to simple formulas; requiring, instead, the tools of statistics. Finally are organized complex systems, where the interrelationships amongst a large number of variables, and the organic whole they create, determine their complexity – human bodies, immune systems, formal organization, social institutions, networks, cities, global economies, etc.

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