I am rereading a 1940 book, “The Big Con” - a riveting story of the classic conmen who ran the three big cons: the Wire, the Rag & the Payoff.

Conmen found flaws in our psychology that are still being exploited today. Read this part on how conmen find a mark. It still resonates!
Also the language is amazing. For example, the best way to “cool out” a mark who is going crazy was to use the cackle-bladder 👇 convincing the mark that they are an accessory to murder and sending them on the run for months. This was an actual standard way to end a con gone bad!
The book also inspired a classic sociology paper on how society “cools out” people who lose or fail.

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More from @emollick

18 Nov
Knowing true information can sometimes cause harm (think of the annoyance of seeing spoilers as a tiny example). This paper on information hazards is a preview to many of the issues we face today.

So, a 🧵 on some surprising hazards of knowledge... 1/ nickbostrom.com/information-ha…
Ideological hazards: Most people have only a little knowledge about what their ideological belief (whether religious or political) really encompasses. On the web, you can learn that your chosen belief system also includes hazardous elements that you feel you need to adopt. 2/
Evocation hazards: there may be particular information that, when people encounter it, triggers them. This is not just in the common sense of triggering past trauma, but that some conspiracy theories or memes might be unusually tempting to people in particular mental states. 3/
Read 8 tweets
8 Nov
Who needs NFTs in video games? In-game items are already doing everything they are supposed to do. In 2017, between $3-$5 billion a year was spent buying and trading decorative weapons (& opportunities to gamble on them) in the game Counterstrike. Almost all was money laundering.
Having built games & worked with the game industry a lot, I am confused about what NFT & blockchain-based ownership adds from a game developer’s perspective. The main issue is making games that people want to play for a long time; monetizing those games is a pretty solved problem
Also, item portability seems like a bad thing from a game dev perspective. I want to sell you new digital items, I don’t want you to import stuff you earned elsewhere. Again, games have experimented with this, you don’t need the blockchain, it is a business & not technical issue.
Read 6 tweets
21 Oct
Some people just don’t like being told what to do & if they feel restricted by rules, they do the opposite. Example: If you make people high in reactance sign an agreement not to cheat, they actually cheat more. This pre-COVID paper shows reactance also drives anti-vax behavior.
Incidentally, this summary of reactance research had the best possible title.
Read 4 tweets
19 Oct
Bad news: Leaded fuel reduced the IQ of everyone born before 1990 by ~4.25%. Millennials are the first to be born with unleaded gas.

Worse news: a new paper shows environmental lead levels from leaded gasoline are still around in cities today, and cause continued neurotoxicity.
Incidentally, everyone should know the story of Thomas Midgley, who oversaw the invention & spread of both leaded gas AND chlorofluorocarbons. He had, as J. R. McNeill wrote “more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in earth’s history.” interestingengineering.com/thomas-midgley…
Well, I just learned from the comments that we inexplicably still allow leaded gas for small airplanes.

And the damages to kids from lead exposure among these most-travelled routes is in the billions of dollars a year, as outlined in this paper.
Read 5 tweets
14 Oct
Key set of findings about universities using 1.7M syllabi:
👨‍🔬Classes that teach more recent academic findings are linked with higher graduation rate & income
🧑‍🏫Researchers teach more recent findings
🎓Elite schools teach more recent stuff, students at less elite ones benefit more ImageImage
(For those reading the charts, a higher gap means that material being taught is less recent & cutting edge, so lower gaps are better)
Read 5 tweets
7 Oct
My semi-regular reminder: being good at work means being good at meetings.

We spend 15% of work in meetings and managers spend 50%. Plus, post-COVID meetings are up 14%. So, spend a few minutes reviewing this research on the science of good meetings (1/): researchgate.net/publication/32…
To pull out some findings. Things to do before the meeting:
✅only meet if needed
👯‍♀️make sure to only invite people who need to be there.
🎯set clear goals & outcomes
📄have an agenda that all review in advance
⏰make it short & relevant to all invited 2/
During the meeting...
⏱arrive on time
📋follow the agenda
🙋‍♀️🙋‍♂️everyone participates
💻📱never multitask
⚔️intervene if mood turns negative
🤪humor helps performance
🙅‍♀️leave time for objections
🗳Let everyone help decision-making. If a decision is made, tell everyone 3/
Read 6 tweets

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