Last week the New York Times published its “6th Annual Year in Ideas” in its Magazine.  81 bite-sized presentations of new ideas or trends; worth a read.  Trouble is, not much of what we read is remembered for very long.  Below I’ve listed the ones I’d like to be able to recall in a week or even a year’s time. 

  • Empty-Stomach Intelligence.  Mice think better when they’re hungry.  Maybe we do too.  “Ghrelin” is the hormone at work.
  • Eyes of Honesty. People are more virtuous when they’re being watched.  Even by obviously-fake eyes, such as on a poster.
  • Hidden-Fee Economy.  People can be sorted into “sophisticates” who seek low up-front prices and avoid hidden fees (such as exorbitant mini-bar prices in hotels), and “myopes” (or “suckers”) who are constantly shelling out.  
  • Homophily. Social websites are exploring ways to overcome “our inexorable tendency to link up with one another in ways that confirm rather than test our core beliefs.”
  • Hyperopia – an excess of far-sightedness.  In the long term, ants tend to have more regrets than grasshoppers about how they spent their time.  This quirk of human psychology doesn’t mean you should just relax and indulge now though.   
  • Low Starting Prices.  On Ebay, lower starting prices result in higher final prices – a kind of reverse anchoring effect.  This is because the anchoring effect is overcome by other effects.  A low start price results in many more bidders, enhancing the apparent value of the item, and exploiting people’s sense of commitment to create greater competition.
  • Publication Probity.  The Journal of Spurious Correlations is devoted to publishing only negative results, aiming to counteract pervasive “publication bias” whereby positive results are published much more readily than negative, distorting our understanding of the world.
  • Voting Booth Feng Shui.  How we vote is affected by where we vote.  People voting in schools are more likely to vote for state support for education.