We extend the concept that life is an informational phenomenon, at every level of organisation, from molecules to the global ecological system. According to this thesis: living is information processing, in which memory is maintained by both molecular states and ecological states as well as the more obvious nucleic acid coding; this information processing has one overall function—to perpetuate itself; and the processing method is filtration of, and synthesis of, information at lower levels to appear at higher levels in complex (...) systems . We show how information patterns, are united by the creation of mutual context, generating persistent consequences, to result in ‘functional information’. This constructive process forms arbitrarily large complexes of information, the combined effects of which include the functions of life. Molecules and simple organisms have already been measured in terms of functional information content; we show how quantification may be extended to each level of organisation up to the ecological. In terms of a computer analogy, life is both the data and the program and its biochemical structure is the way the information is embodied. This idea supports the seamless integration of life at all scales with the physical universe. The innovation reported here is essentially to integrate these ideas, basing information on the ‘general definition’ of information, rather than simply the statistics of information, thereby explaining how functional information operates throughout life. (shrink)
Recent research suggests that many microfinance institutions increasingly focus on financial performance at the expense of the social component of their dual objectives. Existing studies typically assume that capital providers and managers mainly drive this so-called mission drift. In this study, we investigate whether ‘personal mission drift’ at the credit officer level can further explain the reduced emphasis on poorer clients among microfinance institutions. We present both qualitative and quantitative evidence that more experienced credit officers tend to serve fewer vulnerable (...) clients. Specifically, we show that all else being equal, credit officer experience is negatively correlated with the provision of small loans, loans to young clients, and loans to clients with disabilities. Our qualitative analysis suggests that perceived client risk and preferences for increased time efficiency mainly drive more experienced credit officers’ relative neglect of more vulnerable clients. This drift appears to be reinforced by the industry’s incentive schemes. Therefore, credit officer incentives and training should be designed to prevent this mission drift, which is observed at the microfinance institution level but is actually initiated at the credit officer level. (shrink)
Nelson Goodman claims to have given us a criterion for likeness of meaning that is more stringent than simple coextensiveness and yet that avoids the familiar extentionalist objections. The notion of a nominal compound plays a key role in his account. I show that Goodman's comments concerning this notion are inadequate, that his comments concerning expressions like unicorn-picture are subject to two serious objections: they don't support his claims about likeness of meaning and they make English an unlearnable language.
Clinical psychologist Richard Ryder approaches three iconic celebrities -- Horatio Nelson, Adolph Hitler, and Diana Princess of Wales -- as though they were his patients and presents a short psycho-biography of each. Beneath their obvious differences he finds striking similarities in their backgrounds and early experience, especially being deprived of their mothers' love. In a short Epilogue the author asks what lessons might be learned for the future from these three famous figures of the past.
BackgroundKinarm Standard Tests is a suite of upper limb tasks to assess sensory, motor, and cognitive functions, which produces granular performance data that reflect spatial and temporal aspects of behavior. We have previously used principal component analysis to reduce the dimensionality of multivariate data using the Kinarm End-Point Lab. Here, we performed PCA using data from the Kinarm Exoskeleton Lab, and determined agreement of PCA results across EP and EXO platforms in healthy participants. We additionally examined whether further dimensionality reduction (...) was possible by using PCA across behavioral tasks.MethodsHealthy participants were assessed using the Kinarm EXO and EP. Four behavioral tasks were performed that quantified arm sensory and motor function, including position sense [Arm Position Matching ] and three motor tasks [Visually Guided Reaching, Object Hit, and Object Hit and Avoid ]. The number of components to include per task was determined from scree plots and parallel analysis, and rotation type was decided on a per-task basis. To assess agreement, we compared principal components across platforms using distance correlation. We additionally considered inter-task interactions in EXO data by performing PCA across all six behavioral assessments.ResultsBy applying PCA on a per task basis to data collected using the EXO, the number of behavioral parameters were substantially reduced by 58–75% while accounting for 76–87% of the variance. These results compared well to the EP analysis, and we found good-to-excellent agreement values between PCs from the EXO and those from the EP. Finally, we were able to reduce the dimensionality of the EXO data across tasks down to 16 components out of a total of 76 behavioral parameters, which represents a reduction of 79% while accounting for 73% of the total variance.ConclusionPCA of Kinarm robotic assessment appears to capture similar relationships between kinematic features in healthy individuals and is agnostic to the robotic platform used for collection. Further work is needed to investigate the use of PCA-based data reduction for the characterization of neurological deficits in clinical populations. (shrink)
Psychiatry has witnessed a new wave of approaches to clinical phenotyping and the study of psychopathology, including the National Institute of Mental Health’s Research Domain Criteria, clinical staging, network approaches, the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology, and the general psychopathology factor, as well as a revival of interest in phenomenological psychopathology. The question naturally emerges as to what the relationship between these new approaches is – are they mutually exclusive, competing approaches, or can they be integrated in some way and used (...) to enrich each other? In this opinion piece, we propose a possible integration between clinical staging and phenomenological psychopathology. Domains identified in phenomenological psychopathology, such as selfhood, embodiment, affectivity, etc., can be overlaid on clinical stages in order to enrich and deepen the phenotypes captured in clinical staging (‘high resolution’ clinical phenotypes). This approach may be useful both ideographically and nomothetically, in that it could complement diagnosis, enrich clinical formulation, and inform treatment of individual patients, as well as help guide aetiological, prediction, and treatment research. The overlaying of phenomenological domains on clinical stages may require that these domains are reformulated in dimensional rather than categorial terms. This integrative project requires assessment tools, some of which are already available, that are sensitive and thorough enough to pick up on the range of relevant psychopathology. The proposed approach offers opportunities for mutual enrichment: clinical staging may be enriched by introducing greater depth to phenotypes; phenomenological psychopathology may be enriched by introducing stages of severity and disorder progression to phenomenological analysis. (shrink)
Speculations about the role of consciousness in physical systems are frequently observed in the literature concerned with the interpretation of quantum mechanics. While only three experimental investigations can be found on this topic in physics journals, more than 800 relevant experiments have been reported in the literature of parapsychology. A well-defined body of empirical evidence from this domain was reviewed using meta-analytic techniques to assess methodological quality and overall effect size. Results showed effects conforming to chance expectation in control conditions (...) and unequivocal non-chance effects in experimental conditions. This quantitative literature review agrees with the findings of two earlier reviews, suggesting the existence of some form of consciousness-related anomaly in random physical systems. (shrink)
Searching for information is critical in many situations. In medicine, for instance, careful choice of a diagnostic test can help narrow down the range of plausible diseases that the patient might have. In a probabilistic framework, test selection is often modeled by assuming that people’s goal is to reduce uncertainty about possible states of the world. In cognitive science, psychology, and medical decision making, Shannon entropy is the most prominent and most widely used model to formalize probabilistic uncertainty and the (...) reduction thereof. However, a variety of alternative entropy metrics are popular in the social and the natural sciences, computer science, and philosophy of science. Particular entropy measures have been predominant in particular research areas, and it is often an open issue whether these divergences emerge from different theoretical and practical goals or are merely due to historical accident. Cutting across disciplinary boundaries, we show that several entropy and entropy reduction measures arise as special cases in a unified formalism, the Sharma-Mittal framework. Using mathematical results, computer simulations, and analyses of published behavioral data, we discuss four key questions: How do various entropy models relate to each other? What insights can be obtained by considering diverse entropy models within a unified framework? What is the psychological plausibility of different entropy models? What new questions and insights for research on human information acquisition follow? Our work provides several new pathways for theoretical and empirical research, reconciling apparently conflicting approaches and empirical findings within a comprehensive and unified information-theoretic formalism. (shrink)
Currently, an emphasis is being placed on the integration of ethical issues into the business curriculum. This paper investigates the viability of using student group interaction to induce an upward movement in the stages of moral development as advanced by Kohlberg. The results of a classroom experiment using graduate business law students suggest that formulating groups that mix stages of moral development can provide a robust environment for upward movement. In addition, the results suggest strategies for formulating effective groups, based (...) upon entry levels as measured by the Defining Issues Test. (shrink)
Discussion of the ethics of forgoing medically provided nutrition and hydration tends to focus on adults rather than infants and children. Many appellate court decisions address the legal propriety of forgoing medically provided nutritional support of adults, but only a few have ruled on pediatric cases that pose the same issue.The cessation of nutritional support is implemented most commonly for patients in a permanent vegetative state ). An estimated 4,000 to 10,000 American children are in the permanent vegetative state, compared (...) to 10,000 to 25,000 adults. Yet the dearth of literature, case reports, and court decisions suggests that physicians and families of pediatric patients stop medically provided nutrition or seek court orders much less frequently. (shrink)
Is human cognition best described by optimal models, or by adaptive but suboptimal heuristic strategies? It is frequently hard to identify which theoretical model is normatively best justified. In the context of information search, naoptimal” models.