Author Archives: Lascap

Vector projections

Hopefully, this will clear up some confusions regarding vector projections onto basis vectors.   Via Matlab, powered by @pascallisch          

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What should we call science?

The term for science – scientia (knowledge) is terrible. Science is not knowledge. It is simply not (just) a bunch of facts. The German term “Wissenschaft” is slightly better, as it implies a knowledge creation engine. Something that creates knowledge, … Continue reading

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Predicting movie taste

There is a fundamental tension between how movie critics conceive of their role and how their reviews are utilized by the moviegoing public. Movie critics by and large see their job as educating the public as to what is a good movie and explaining … Continue reading

Posted in In eigener Sache, Journal club, Psychology, Science | Leave a comment

Revisiting the dress: Lessons for the study of qualia and science

When #thedress first came out in February 2015, vision scientists had plenty of ideas why some people might be seeing it differently than others, but no one knew for sure. Now we have some evidence as to what might be going on. … Continue reading

Posted in Journal club, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science | 5 Comments

Autism and the microbiome

The incidence of autism has been on the rise for 40 years. We don’t know why, but the terrible burden of suffering has spurred people to urgently look for a cause. As there are all kinds of secular trends over … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Nutrition, Psychology, Science | 1 Comment

A primer on the science of sleep

I’ve written about sleep and the need to sleep and how sleep is measured before, but in order to foster our #citizenscience efforts at NYU, I want to bring accessible and actionable pieces on the science of sleep together in one place, here. 1. How … Continue reading

Posted in Life, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science | Leave a comment

Beyond free will

Some say that every time philosophy and neuroscience cross, philosophy wins. The usual reason cited for this? Naive and unsophisticated use of concepts and the language to express them within neuroscience. Prime exhibit is the mereological fallacy – the confusion … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Pet peeve, Philosophy | 1 Comment

Explaining color constancy

The brain is using spectral information of light waves (their wavelength mix) to aid in the identification of objects. This works because any given object will absorb some wavelengths of the light source (the illuminant) and reflect others. For instance, plants … Continue reading

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The neuroscience of violent rage

Violent rage results from the activation of dedicated neural circuitry that is on the lookout for existential threats to prehistoric lifestyles. Life in civilization is largely devoid of these threats, but this system is still in place, triggering what largely … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Psychology, Science | 1 Comment

Brighter than the sun: Introducing Powerscape

Statistical power needs are often counterintuitive and underestimated. This has deleterious consequences for a number of scientific fields. Most science practitioners cannot reasonably be expected to make power calculations themselves. So we did it for them and visualized this as … Continue reading

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Tracking the diversity of popular music since 1940

This is a rather straightforward post. Our lab is doing research on music taste and one of our projects involves sampling songs from the Billboard Hot 100. It tracks the singles that made it to the #1 in the charts in … Continue reading

Posted in Science, Social commentary | 4 Comments

Mary revisited: The Brian problem

Generations of philosophers have been fascinated what has been termed the “Mary problem“. In essence, Mary is the worlds foremost expert on color vision and knows everything that there is to know about it. The catch is that she is … Continue reading

Posted in Pet peeve, Philosophy | 6 Comments

Pascal’s Pensees, 5 years on

Before October 25th, 2010, I had no social media presence whatsoever – I wasn’t on Twitter, didn’t have a blog and G+ wasn’t around yet. Frankly, it hadn’t occurred to me before, but it was one of the requirements to … Continue reading

Posted in Conference, In eigener Sache, Neuroscience | 3 Comments

Did a 6th century Hebrew fortuneteller accidentally do the first documented experiment?

Who did the first experiment? 13th century scholastics like Roger Bacon are usually credited with the invention of the modern scientific method – in particular with regard to doing experiments. Bacon expanded on the work of Robert Grosseteste, who revived … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy, Science | 1 Comment

Why “dressgate”* matters

At this point, we have probably all reached “peak dress”, been oversaturated by all matters dress and are ready to move on. But there is more. There is no question that “the dress” is the most viral image relevant to … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Psychology, Science, Social commentary | 9 Comments

Lessons from the dress: The fundamental ambiguity of visual perception

The brain lives in a bony shell. The completely light-tight nature of the skull renders this home a place of complete darkness. So the brain relies on the eyes to supply an image of the outside world, but there are … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Psychology, Science | 4 Comments

Why I am not continuing this online argument

I started our exchange in a spirit of friendship and respectful exploration. I hoped that we could maybe learn something. The reason I’m now discontinuing it is that I realize that this specific communication can no longer be meaningfully characterized … Continue reading

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Shadowy but present danger: A primer on psychopathy

In the age of social media, it is hard to avoid exposure to popular culture. This is a problem because most of the bugbears that are popular in this culture – like zombies or vampires – do not actually exist. … Continue reading

Posted in Psychology, Science | 15 Comments

Positive thinking about positive thinking might just be wishful thinking

Bringing about positive changes in your life is hard. Everyone knows this. But everyone also desires them. So it is seductive to believe – particularly if you have no credible way to actually bring them about – that merely wishing … Continue reading

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On the insinuation of bad intentions

Intentions matter. When assessing the merit or moral value of an action, we do not do so solely based on their outcomes, but take intentions into account. For instance, we consider it worse if someone breaks one cup in an attempt to … Continue reading

Posted in Pet peeve, Psychology, Social commentary, Technology | 1 Comment