Weekly I/O #15
Cheerleaders Effect, The But and Therefore Rule, Alive Scientists, Quadruple Knowledge, Cowardice and Morality
Weekly I/O is a project where I share my learning Input/Output. Every Sunday, I write an email newsletter with five things I discovered and learned that week.
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The below is extracted from the email sent on Mar 07, 2021.
1. Cheerleaders Effect: People look better when they are in groups
The cheerleader effect is the cognitive bias that makes people think individuals are more physically attractive in groups than in isolation.
The effect doesn’t result from that group photos give the impression that individuals have more social or emotional intelligence. This effect is proved by using individual photos grouped together in a single image (collages of people alone), rather than photos taken of people in a group.
In the research Hierarchical Encoding Makes Individuals in a Group Seem More Attractive, the authors claimed that this effect arises because our asymmetries and disproportionalities tend to “average out” amid a group of faces, and our weird faces are perceived as slightly less weird.
In another paper A Group’s Physical Attractiveness Is Greater Than the Average Attractiveness of Its Members: The Group Attractiveness Effect, the authors proved that the Cheerleaders Effect (they called GA-effect in the paper) occurs in female, male and mixed-gender groups. Furthermore, they found that the Cheerleaders Effect (GA-effect) is more likely to occur in a larger group (six or more group members) than in smaller groups.
However, a replication study failed to show any significant results for the Cheerleaders Effect. The research team hypothesized that this may be due to cultural differences since the replication was conducted in Japan.
Special thanks to Bryten Foongsathaporn for introducing the concept to me!
2. The But and Therefore Rule for Storytelling
This article is about the creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, sharing their storytelling advice: The But & Therefore Rule. Write our stories with words like “but” and “therefore” to replace “and then”.
If we can put the words “and then” in-between each plot or description of the story we want to tell, “We’re fucked” as Trey Parker would say. Stories without cause-and-effect tend to be boring.
In contrast, if we put “but” and “therefore” in-between the scenes, we create a chain of events that reacts to each other and links the story together. Therefore, as Nathan Weller explained in the article, “the story/plot builds momentum and tension based on everything else that has happened previously, not because of the arbitrary whims of the writer.”
You can also find an example of swapping the “and then” with “but & therefore” here.
3. Almost 90% of the scientists who ever lived are now alive.
Since about Issac Newton’s time (1642–1727), knowledge has doubled almost every 17 years. The growth of the number of scientists generally has similarly been exponential, and it is said that currently, almost ninety percent of the scientist who ever lived are now alive.
In the book, Richard Hamming had a detailed demonstration on how he proved the statement to be true by solving the Exponential Growth Model equation y(t) = ae^(bt) where y(t) is the number of scientists at any time t and assuming the average scientist can live up to 55 years old.
4. The technical knowledge involved in your life will quadruple in 34 years.
It is claimed by many that the half-time of the technical knowledge we learned in school is about 15 years. In other words, half of them will be obsolete in 15 years. Either we will have gone in other directions or they will have been replaced with new material.
With the aforementioned phenomenon, knowledge has doubled almost every 17 years, we can estimate that the technical knowledge involved in our life will quadruple in about 34 years. Therefore, thirty years later when some of us may be near the high point of the career, we may be faced with quadruple involved knowledge with much of our learned knowledge obsolete.
5. People who don’t commit crimes aren’t necessarily moral. It may be due to cowardice but not morality.
If a person doesn’t have the courage to commit a crime, it doesn’t mean he is moral for not doing it. It just means he is afraid.
A moral person doesn’t commit a crime even when they know they won’t get caught. Therefore, we perhaps should be even more respectful to people who have the power or ability to harm others but choose not to, such as the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
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