Thursday, July 8, 2010

Icons and Branding

Our minds can interpret visual abstractions better than they can interpret written (or typed) words. In an evolutionary explanation, written words are a relatively new technology and there is no reason why our minds would be able to process words easily compared to more useful inputs (more useful concerning survivability for our evolutionary ancestors). Pictures were probably more useful (hence the cave paintings) because the human mind can naturally interpret a 2D image as representing 3D objects in the real world—no clumsy and time-consuming-to-learn alphabet needed. In other words, we are born with picture-reading ability, not with word-reading ability.

In graphic design, icons are little pictures that can supplement written words. Icons can be a powerful part of the visual vocabulary of a brand because they are more (1) more interesting and eye catching, and (2) more easily memorable than words. According to cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, "The two most vivid forms of working memory are mental images, also called a visiospatial sketchpad, and snatches of inner speech".

Above are some icons that I did for a company called BerryPlus. The name of the company is rather bad in my opinion because it lacks clarity. However, based on the icons, can you tell what kind of company it is?

Imagine how much more interesting it is to look at these icons as opposed to written words that describe the company. I can't imagine anything written that would be as eye-catching as icons that communicates as much as the icons do. However, if one does take the time to read written copy, it can be more memorable than icons if the copyrighter engages the imagination by creating a more vivid mental images.

Icons can have great extendability and flexibility in a brand such as in the following pattern:


For Clothes:





And graphic shape:


And Brochure:


And equations:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Beautiful "Lo-Res" images



A shoe company started by Rem Koolhaas' nephew called United Nude has been manipulating objects with 3d software as a fun side project. I think that the work is beautiful and noteworthy. Check our more pictures here:
http://www.loresproject.com/



"This is a Lamborghini Countach. It was created by taking a hyper-accurate 3-D model of an actual Lamborghini (made up of millions of polygons), then gradually decreasing the resolution of the model with 3-D software until the object is lo-resed down to its stealthy essence." —From Popular Science



I think I like this Panton stacking chair better than the original.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Libertarians, Independence, and War

In my experience, Ron Paul style libertarians tend to believe that the US should not engage in any war at all unless it is only for protecting America directly. They say that America should not be involved because "we shouldn't be the policeman of the world". While there may be some scenarios where this philosophy is justified, libertarians tend to apply this philosophy with a blanket approach to any war abroad. They tend to take a categorical stance which seems rather simplistic.

If this philosophy was applied consistently, then no other country should engage in helping other countries with their struggles as well. Therefore, taken to it's logical conclusions, the French should not have aided the Americans in the Revolutionary war. There was little in it for the French. The war damaged France's relations with Austria and other countries. It was very detrimental to France's financial situation. They gained back some territories, but in the end, it is my understanding that they spent more on helping America than they gained.

On this Independence Day, I am grateful that the French were not libertarians.

Friday, May 28, 2010

What can language tell us about Human Nature?

Human nature is the innate disposition that everyone is born with which seems to significantly influence thoughts, desires, and behavior. Human nature is very interesting to me because beliefs about human nature are the main core assumptions that lead to systems of political beliefs. According to a book that I am currently reading called "The Stuff of Thought", language can shed light onto how the mind works which has implications for human nature.

When a baby listens to language, he automatically starts to associate the words he hears with the objects the words are referring to. It seems that this could not happen unless the baby was born with a mechanism in his brain that allows him to make associations. Therefore, the mind has an innate ability to learn language.

On top of learning words and then memorizing them, babies also analyze language through induction and make generalizations. They do not know that they are using logical induction, but they seem to be born with the natural ability to so. When a child says something like, "Don't tickle me, I'm laughable" or "The kitten is wake-upped" they are not simply parroting something they heard before, because adults do not speak like that. What the talking baby is doing(unknowingly of course) is making assumptions about how the ingredients of language may combine. Through induction they have guessed at the how the rules of suffixes, verbs, etc. work.

In order to learn language, the mind must be constrained to pick out generalizations from the words we hear. In the next few days I will post several examples of how the mind is born to understand language, showing that the mind is not born as a blank slate, but as a device that is prepackaged with constraints that allow us to learn language.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Things to write about in the future

This blog is the story of my personal intellectual development. I have purchased gavinomics.com to post a more professional looking wordpress blog with other pages to put more permanent ideas and images. Still coming soon...

I have been studying about a lot of things lately that I want to write about on my blog. Do any of these topics sound interesting to you?

1. Economics of natural selection (economic use of nutrients towards evolutionarily useful traits)

2. The benefits of self-deception (how emotions such as love and anger are self-decevieing but involve payoffs)

3. The psychology of art and design (what are the universal tastes in art?...what are the acquired tastes in art?)

4. The assumptions about human nature that have lead to artistic movements such as modernism

5. Nuclear deterrence and conflict strategy (game theory applied to war)

6. General evidences for the fact of biological evolution

7. The evolutionary history of Financial markets

8. What we can learn from the cognitive strengths of autistics (mental ordering and stepping away from thinking in stories)

9. Evolutionary psychology and how it creates/interacts with culture

10. Why people insulate their political opinions from feedback and how to turn the core assumptions that lead to political ideologies into testable scientific hypothesis

11. Male-female differences (how stereotypes of men and women underestimate their actual differences)

12. Language as a window into human nature (and why the rules of language is so crazy)

13. The psychological, economic, and political benefits of charitable giving

14. How Soviet socialism has negatively affected family structure in Russia

15. How Christianity led to the concepts of freedom and the individual which are the underlying assumptions that support capitalism

16. The effects of higher education on inequality.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Blog

Since January I have been promising a new blog. I want to focus my new blog on paradigms. A single paradigm can affect the way we act towards others as well as influence the way that we vote. I want to examine these paradigms both to point out there logical conclusions, but also to scrutinize the paradigms themselves. Examining paradigmatic assumptions concerning human nature will be the main theme of the new blog. COMING SOON!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Intellectuals and Professors

The type of professor that has been discussed here recently is one subclass of intellectuals. Intellectuals, as defined by Thomas Sowell, are persons whose only profession is the creation of ideas. A brilliant engineer or scientist has intellectual discipline but is not an intellectual in this sense since he actually builds tangible things above and beyond ideas. Intellectuals tend to follow a specific pattern of behavior and ideas that stem from a vision of how they see themselves within relation to the rest of the world.

Most people who become part of the intellectual class seem to start with the vision that man is unconstrained with regard to reason and morality. They then derive from that vision that those with the most reason and intelligence ought to deliberately effect outcomes in society by imposing their goals and crusades on society. Since they are the most intelligent, they believe that they ought to be able their preferences on everyone else.

Hence, the professors that are on a crusade to impose their prepacked political conclusions on their students are like intellectuals or are inspired by intellectuals in that they see their role as deliberately effecting society.

This vision leads intellectuals to want to make things look bad so that they can take the role of savior to everyone else. This vision also leads them to demonize those who disagree with them because their sense of self-worth is at stake.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Higher Education—Conspicuous Waste

Employers want a way to know which potential employees are good workers or bad workers. But, knowledge is not free. It is too costly to study each applicant carefully enough to know which are good and which are bad. Therefore employers will look for shortcuts and signals that convey some relevant knowledge. One of those signals is a university degree.

Much of the knowledge gained at a university is useless in the real world. I see a university degree as a form of conspicuous waste. In the light of my previous posts, it is an even greater waste when what students take away from the university are prepackaged political conclusions from liberal professors.

When too many people get a bachelors degree, a degree looses its value as a signaling device. Therefore students are pushed into masters programs to signal that they are good employers. One consequence of this inflationary process is that it increases income inequality between the non-university grads and the "good workers" even though the non-university grads are quite likely to have more real-world experience and consequential knowledge than the "special" knowledge of arrogant university grads.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Economic Illiteracy

If an economics professor proposed a new technique in brain surgery or said that he could design your company logo, we would be stupid to listen to him. But when a graphic design or a medical professor talk about how to improve the economy (by talking about trade or the environment), our skepticism stays home. Why is this?

It is because of (1) widespread economic illiteracy and (2) the arrogance of professors who think that because they are competent in one area, they should be competent in other areas as well. Arrogance and ignorance are always found together.

The following video is about real consequences (the conviction of innocent people) of people who give advice outside of their trained competencies:

http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_donnelly_shows_how_stats_fool_juries.html

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sincere Teaching

I assume that professors who share their opinions in the classroom are sincere. I think that they are insulating students from gaining intelligence, but I have no reason to believe that they are insincere.

Sincerity is a most important virtue according to liberals because man is able to and should deliberately affect outcomes. Those who are doing something contrary to the goals of liberalism must therefore be insincere (or stupid) since they did not come to the same conclusions as liberals.

Edmund Burke had a different vision of sincerity, "Man may do the worst of things without being the worst of men." Sincerity is an over-rated virtue. Reality is so complex that 2 men can come to opposite conclusions after examining the same data.

A more important virtue than sincerity is fidelity. Man ought to have fidelity within his own specialization. A professor should see that it is his duty to stay within his own competence and perpetuate a process of learning among his students, even if his students will end up disagreeing with him on political issues. Sincere teaching is meaningless. Even if students are parroting positive opinions from sincere teachers, their long term ability to think for themselves will be inhibited.

Stay tuned for my new blog coming soon...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Teaching Based on Core Assumptions


In my last blog, I attacked liberalism for its propensity to focus on deliberately affecting the results in teaching instead of relying on the process of teaching students how to think for themselves.

If conservative professors taught their opinions in the classroom, I would be attacking them for the same reason. But my guess is that conservative professors would not be as indoctrinary and masturbatory as liberal professors. Here is why:

Conservatives begin with the underlying core assumption that man is constrained with regards to reason, therefore man is fallible and prone to make mistakes. Therefore, processes such as the rule of law, free-markets and teaching children how to think for themselves produce better results because it is not relying on the wisdom of "the elite" to directly control the outcome.

Since (in my opinion) good teaching is a process-oriented activity instead of a results-oriented activity, conservatives must logically tend to be better teachers. This is because they tend will focus on the process which means that they will withhold their political views from the classroom. Liberals believe in deliberately affecting results, which is why they similarly favor larger government, and more direct involvement of the economy.

I do not have data on whether conservatives actually do preach less in the classroom. But, it is true in my own experience. If there was a "conservative" that was preaching his views, he would be logically inconsistent with the core assumptions of own ideology.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Unconstrained Teaching

The liberal view starts with the most basic and core assumption that man has no inherent limitations to morality and reason. This is called the unconstrained vision of human nature. The implications of this core assumption are telling. One implication is that man is not inherently (internally) limited, therefore the problems in society come from external institutions (such as poverty or racism). People who have not reached their potential are therefore victims. Fix human nature and institutions and voilá: Utopia.

Another implication of this core assumption is that man is capable, through his own reason, to directly affect outcomes in society. If man truly has no inherent limits on reason, then he can and should use his reason to create utopia by changing human nature and fixing institutions that cause problems. Since some people are prevented from realizing their intellectual potential, it logically follows that those with the most reason should make deliberate decisions on behalf of their benighted counterparts.

Essentially, the unconstrained vision grants those who hold this vision a sense of self-worth. This means that liberals who see themselves in a higher intellectual plane will tend to seek positions of power to influence others deliberately and not through some "uncontrolled" process such as the rule of law and free markets.

Hence we should expect that the position of university professor would attract liberals. I was thinking about this before I came across this graph from the New York Times:























This graph vindicates my vision of liberals and professors. They are less likely to focus on a process whereby the student will analyze arguments and think for themselves. They are more likely to want to use their "reason" to deliberately affect the outcome of the students learning experience. The arrogance of professors leads to ignorance of students—though on both (if the student is successfully indoctrinated) is bestowed an anointed status above the "benighted" masses.


Please Stay tuned for the rebloot of my blog...coming soon...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Unaccountable Teaching

Still in the process of Reblooting...

Tenure was originally given to teachers to protect academic freedom outside of the classroom. This meant that the beliefs and practices of the teachers outside of the classroom would not be taken into account when deciding to hire or fire a teacher. Academic freedom has since been interpretted to protect the teachers for any activity they do inside the classroom.

Originally, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) stated in their report on tenure that professors should not "take advantage of the student's immaturity by indoctrinating him with the teacher's own opinions before the student has an opportunity to fairly examine other opinions upon the matters in question."

This attitude has changed. A survey in 1969 found that 4 out of 5 professors agreed that "faculty members should be free to present in class any idea that they consider relevant" which includes their opinions.

Markets work when those who provide services are subject to feedback mechanisms in the market. For example, an architect who builds a building that crumbles will lose his profession. But, when a teacher hinders a student from learning how to think for himself, the teacher will carry on as usual. The notion of academic freedom has insulated professors from feedback which is perhaps the main cause of the deterioration of teaching and learning in America.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Unethical Teaching

I am still in the process of reblooting, but for now, I have been thinking about teaching and ethics.

In my opinion, the best sort of teaching is a process that helps students think for themselves. The best sort of learning is a process whereby one subjects all arguments to the systematic analysis found in various disciplines.

Many professors (such as my design teacher) politicize teaching by sharing their own political views (on war, environment, organic food, economics, etc). This in-vogue method goes directly counter to good teaching for 4 reasons:

1. The professor is not perpetuating a process of learning, but trying to directly affect the outcome of what is learned.
2. Various other arguments are ignored which robs the student of going through the process of analyzing those arguments to learn for himself.
3. The teacher is in a position of authority which influences students to think like him instead of for themselves.
4. Discipline is ignored when the teacher promotes prepackaged conclusions, because by definition he is teaching something outside of his competency by sharing his own value judgements at the expense of systematic analysis.

Teachers who advertising their political beliefs in the classroom are masturbatory and self-righteous. They are arrogant for believing that because they are proficient in one discipline, they are able to speak on any other discipline. Students are not paying the teacher to waste time indulging himself in sharing his political beliefs. If the students want to learn about a certain political subject, they would take a class devoted to that discipline such as economics or ethics. Teachers who focus on the outcome and not the process of teaching are not perpetuators of intelligence, but insulators from it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2010 Rebloot



For 2010 I am starting a new blog. My goal is to blog at least twice/week once I get the blog running. My new blog will be examining the most core and usually hidden assumptions that lead to general beliefs and ideas. This idea is important for many reasons. It reveals the logic and the philosophical basis behind most beliefs—beliefs that are political, social, aesthetic etc. And, it makes it easier to reveal why some beliefs last despite discordant feedback.

Please vote for the name of my new blog! Or, give me some suggestions in the comments.

In the meantime feel free to follow my thoughts from day to day on twitter at www.twitter.com/gavinomics

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Answer to Previous Question

Neither coincidence nor conspiracy can explain how each collection evolved. The most reasonable explanation is that each side begins with different premises that naturally lead to a consistent collection of ideas. People on each side of political struggles are unlikely to be able to articulate these premises which are often implicit. Most people are probably not even aware of these unifying premises that define much of what they believe. I am going to call these pre-analytic premises a vision.

Visions are abstractions of reality, our sense of how the world works. Since knowledge about reality is infinitely complex (I will discuss this later), a vision economizes on knowledge by constructing a whole out of smaller parts, or tiny pieces of information. A vision is analogous to a map. Any given map excludes all information except the specific areas it was designed to represent, such as hiking trails, population distributions, and average local temperatures. If it did not exclude and drastically simplify information, it would be just as complex and unintelligible as reality. Hence, any vision must leave many important phenomenon unexplained.

Visions precede theories. Before we construct a theory through systematic reasoning, we have vague feelings or intuitions. The economist and political philosopher, Thomas Sowell, who has written the most sweeping survey of visions, has articulated the role of visions in constructing theories this way:

A vision is a foundation on which theories are built. The final structure depends not only on the foundation, but also on how carefully and consistently the framework of theory is constructed and how well buttressed it is with hard facts. Visions are very subjective, but well constructed theories have clear implications, and facts can test and measure their objective validity. The world learned at Hiroshima that Einstein’s vision of physics was not just Einstein’s vision.

Visions of physics tend to find consensus relatively quickly. When two visions of physics are mutually incompatible, scientific testing and data will provide feedback that will vindicate one vision and discredit the other. Newton’s vision of how the world works gave way to Einstein’s, Einstein’s giving way to Bohr’s, new data providing discordant feedback to old ways of thinking. Ultimately it is not visions of physics that explain political conflicts, but it is social visions that define the unusually long-lasting collection of political beliefs. If social visions acted similarly to visions of physics, then only one vision would survive among competing visions.

Underlying social visions shape our political culture and even our personal lives. What are they? Why have conflicting visions lasted so long despite increasing feedback from data and experience?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Collections of Political Beliefs

Any observer of western politics (from Europe to America) will notice two consistent collections of contrasting political beliefs. Each collection includes ideas about military spending, monetary policy, taxation, judicial responsibility, drug laws, education, marriage, etc. But, each idea is separate and seemingly unrelated to the other ideas within each collection. For example, imagine that someone tells you of their sympathies toward homeschooling; you could predict with decent accuracy that he also supports religion and lower taxes. Likewise, imagine that someone announces their tolerance for same-sex marriage; you could anticipate that he probably favors pacifism and environmentalism. This aptness is not perfect, nor is it unsound. It seems rather bizarre that people line up on opposite sides of different issues with great consistency, since marriage and military strength, and homeschooling and tax policy do not appear to have any logical connection to each other. Why are these contrasting collections of ideas so neatly organized into two opposing sides?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bfa Project

Right now I am working on a very large project. It is my senior project for my BFA. I will post on what I am writing about in the future. Eventually this blog will probably evolve and become more focused on the material I am writing about now. My senior project paper connect and answer the following questions:

Why are conservatives considerably happier and healthier than liberals?
Why conservatives give far more to charity than liberals?
Why religious democrats are 30% more likely than average among all democrats to become a republican and why secular republicans are less likely than average to become democrats?
Why 60% of Mormons are conservatives and only 10% are liberals?
Why is Mormonism the only religion that has a direct relationship to increased academic education and increased religious activity?
Why it is logically impossible for honest truth seekers to “agree to disagree”?
Why conservativism is inherently boring and liberalism is inherently exiting and easier to understand?
What causes the decline and fall of civilizations?
Why equality and the rule of law are mutually incompatible?
Why economists are 3:1 conservative to liberal?
Why chimpanzees are better at predicting political outcomes than highly specialized human experts?
Why you should be skeptical about conspiracy theorists and contrarians?
What does politics have to do with physics?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Verbal Ambiguity and the Ptolemaic View of the Universe

If one doesn't define his brand, someone else with define it for him. This is how the left seems to define the political landscape:



The left in America define themselves as right(correct) while the "right" has been left(assigned) utterly undefined. This creates a branding void in which the left has driven wedges of negative associations to all who disagree with their views. Anyone opposed to the left is said to be on the right—strongly opposed equates to "far right". This confusion makes it seem as if fascists are more extreme versions of conservatives when state control of the economy(a pretty important theme of fascism) could not be further from the conservative agenda. This vision corresponds to no empirical reality. As Thomas Sowell writes, "The only logic of such a conception is that it allows disparate opponents of the vision of the anointed to be lumped together and dismissed through guilt by association." It is a great tactic used by the left to preempt issues without having to argue them.

If one was to try and fix the abstraction of the political landscape to reflect a more accurate definition of the political right, then it might look something like this:




This is an imperfect model but it kind of works. The right would define themselves as a philosophy of minimizing the role of government in individual's lives, within limits set by a need to avoid anarchy. Fascism was the opposite in philosophy and practice, therefore it would make sense for someone on the right to position fascism on the left side of the scale with others who champion economic centralization as a means to improve society. Logically, the Ku Klux Klan would also be on the left as active supporters of the early progressive platforms. This might explain some of the Klan members(here and here) in the democratic party.

Perhaps this is a more accurate vision of the political landscape:



However, in a world of ambiguous and changing definitions, it will be impossible to get an accurate view of the political landscape. Morality has no consensus meaning across the political divide. What "liberals" are trying to accomplish today seems to be creeping up into the upper left area. Changing definitions is an obstacle to a healthy debate on the issues. Verbal inflation wouldn't be a problem just as monetary inflation wouldn't be a problem if everyone adjusted to the definitions/prices. But, because adjusting accurately requires omniscience, the costs of both are the same—confusion and uncertainty. Unfortunately, some in politics would rather gain points by misrepresenting their enemies rather than facilitating healthy debate for the country.


Inspiration: Vision of the Annointed and Liberal Fascism

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fascism and Name Calling

My past few posts about Fascism have been a reaction to the repeated misuse of the term "Fascist" as being applied to slander and marginalize the political right. Recently the word Nazi has also been used in this manner. It is ignorant to use of the word to describe the political right. If one political vision is closer to Fascistic ideals and practices, it is clearly the modern day left. However I would not call those on the left Fascists. I simply reveal the erroneous associations between Fascism and the modern right and associate what seems to be clear similarities between the modern American left and the Fascism. Clearly the left has evolved since their intellectual roots in Fascism. But, recent Townhall meetings have included people holding up signs of Obama with a Hitler mustache. This is just as immature and misguided as when some on the left showed pictures of George Bush with a Hitler mustache. I wouldn't even accuse the Obama administration of being socialist. I wish that the F-word would not be used, but correctly to make accurate comparisons (so that we can actually learn from history) and not just for slanderous purposes and meaningless ad hominem attacks.

I have one more post about Fascism coming. It will be about global warming and fascism. I want to make it clear in advance that I am not calling the global warming alarmists fascists. I am simply pointing out that they share many similarities with fascists of the past while it is very hard to find meaningful similarities between the modern right and fascism/nazism. I simply intend to use current events to learn something about the often well-meaning fascists of the early 20th century.