Science-Based Secrets for Reading Other People’s Minds.


Imagine you’re really excited about a new idea for a collaborative project. You send an e-mail about it to a friend who you just know is going to be as excited as you. You’re waiting on pins and needles for a response, checking your inbox every hour. A couple of hours pass, then a couple more. You’re getting stressed and anxious, waiting on the edge of your seat for a reply. The next day goes by, and another day. You’re very confused about why you haven’t received a response. Why isn’t your friend writing you back? Doesn’t she like you? Is she upset with you? What’s wrong?

Has this ever happened to you? It’s happened to me many times. My Autopilot System goes into overdrive, imagining various negative scenarios and sending out stress-inducing hormones. Suchcatastrophizing is a common type of thinking error, one that research shows undermines mental and physical wellbeing.

Another thinking error in this scenario is that one’s friend will share the same opinion that you do about your new idea. Studies on a cognitive bias called the “false consensus effect” indicate that ourAutopilot System significantly overestimates the extent to which others agree with our opinions. This is especially true for those close to us, such as our friends and family. As a result, we make mistakeswhen we use our intuitions to predict the behavior of others around us, including our immediate social circle.

However, the false consensus effect applies more broadly as well. Our gut reactions tend to perceive“the public” as a whole as sharing our perspective. This problem is especially problematic when it causes us to overrate substantially the extent to which others will agree with ourpolitical opinions. Such overestimation undermines our ability to engage in healthy political discussions and contributes to political polarization. No wonder we don’t do well as intuitive psychologists!

So how can we work against the false consensus effect? First, remember a previously-discussed strategy, namely that our mental maps never match the territory of reality. And our mental maps certainly do not match the mental maps of others!

To keep the latter fact in mind, here is a very useful mental habit to adopt: avoiding “failing at other minds.” What does that mean in practice? Essentially, when trying to imagine how other people think about the world, take a moment to stop and remember that their perspective is inherently different from your own. This is a specific case of a broader de-biasing strategy of imagining the opposite, in this case taking the perspective of the other person. And why is this helpful? Well, our intuitive theory of mind, the way we understand the minds of others, tends to model others as ourselves. Our Autopilot System perceives others as understanding the world and having the same idea of what is trueas we do. Avoiding falling for this trap helps remind us of this problematic tendency, and work against it. Through developing this mental habit, we can beelephant whisperers and retrain our Autopilot System to have a more intentional approach to predicting the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of others. Thus, we can evaluate reality more clearly and gain greater agency by makingmore effective decisions that help us reach our goals.
Now, what are the strategies for most effectively learning this information, and internalizing the behaviors and mental patterns that can help you succeed? Well, educational psychology research illustrates that engaging with this information actively, personalizing it to your life, linking it toyour goals, and deciding on a plan and specific next stepsyou will take are the best practices for this purpose. So take the time to answer the questions below to gain long-lasting benefit from reading this article:
  • Are there any instances where catastrophizing has negatively influenced your wellbeing?
  • Has the false consensus effect ever steered you wrong in personal interactions? What about in your predictions of public opinions and political engagement?
  • In what ways, if any, do you think the mental habit of avoiding assuming others understand the world in the same way you do can help you have a better life and gain greater agency?
  • If you think it can be beneficial for you, what kind of plan can you make and what specific steps can you take to internalize this mental habit?

The Best Teas for Sleep, Anxiety, Bloating, Cramps, and More


Photo: Getty Images

Got a bloated belly? There’s a tea for that. And also one for the jitters, insomnia, even crippling period cramps. It turns out that herbal brews can help remedy more than a few common health complaints. Read on to find the right sip to ease your discomfort.

For bloat

Fennel tea is a hero to the digestive tract: It contains a compound that relaxes gastrointestinal spasms, allowing gas to pass and relieving bloat, according to Health‘s nutrition editor, Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD.

Photo: Amazon.com

For a pesky cough

Marshmallow tea, made from the leaves and roots of this medicinal herb, has been used for hundreds of years to quiet coughs and sooth irritated throats.

 

Photo: Amazon.com

For nerves

Chamomile tea may help calm your jitters before a stressful event. Certain compounds in the herb bind to the same receptors in the brain as drugs like Valium. A study done at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center found that people who suffered from generalized anxiety disorder experienced significant relief from symptoms after taking chamomile supplements for eight weeks, compared to folks who took a placebo.

 

Photo: Amazon.com

For trouble sleeping

Lavender tea may be just want you need to nod off. Research shows that just the scent of lavender has slumber-induce properties: It has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate.

 

Photo: Amazon.com

For menstrual cramps

Ginger tea was found to be just as effective in treating painful period cramps as Ibuprofen in a 2009 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 

 

Photo: Amazon.com

For stomach pains

Peppermint tea calms the muscles of the GI system, aiding digestive processes. But if your pain is the result of acid reflux, best to skip peppermint tea. It also has a relaxing effect on the lower esophageal sphincter, which may allow more stomach acid to slip back into the esophagus.

 

Photo: Amazon.com

This is Where the ‘Lost’ Fat Goes When You Exercise.


Very often it is felt that whenever we make efforts and lose weight, it is due to exercise and diet control or medical reasons. However the fact is, we breathe out the major portion of fat during exhaling. Exhaling fat in the form of carbon dioxide is a function carried out by the lungs and a minor portion of fat is removed through body fluids. However, exhaling fat in the form of CO2 sounds unbelievable as it is an invisible gas leaving the body, The water formed may be excreted in the urine, faeces, sweat, breath, tears, or other bodily fluids and is readily replenished by drinking water.

why-losing-2lbs-per-week-isnt-realistic-2

Studies have been carried out and it has been shown that when fat is broken into its constituents, the chemical bonds separate to release heat and fuel to energize the body and muscles for action. Triglycerides or body fat is made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and these form the molecules of water and carbon dioxide. Also the number of Carbon dioxide to water is in the ratio of 4:1. Drinking water or juices easily replaces the fluid loss of the body while the exhaled CO2 is restored by eating more food. Also if it is believed that fat loss is due to CO2, breathing more than the metabolic rate will lead to hyper ventilation and cause dizziness and palpitation and in severe cases, loss of consciousness.

The human body is already a fat burning machine. Fat burning is based on the metabolic rate of the body which implies that it is dependent on all the reactions and processes happening within the body. The consumed food undergoes multiple reactions during the day while the heart beats, liver produces bile, and lungs transfer oxygen and intestines discharge the waste. The metabolic rate which accounts for 60 to 70 percent of fat burning occurs when the body is doing its internal routine functions and external functions like lying on the bed, watching tv and just relaxing.

A few tricks to tweak the metabolic rate and improve the fat burning are

Gradually reduce the calorie intake. Crash diet make the body go into famine mode and body clings onto the stubborn fat. Gradual reduction helps the body to release the stored fat gradually.

Changing the diet pattern.  Keep the body in suspense as to the calories it is going to get. Fluctuating the intake of calories prevents the plateau of weight loss. This also helps avoid the dreaded weight-loss plateau as the body will get confused and stop regulating fat burning process and end up burning more.

Regulate the carbohydrate. Ketosis is the burning of fat and fuel for the body. Cutting down on bad carbohydrates like sugars and adding the good ones like oat meal and egg whites help. Try not to eat carbohydrates about 3 hours before bedtime as it starts converting the same to fat and storing it.

Increase the protein. Proteins are building blocks and used by body for muscle building. The lean meats, fish, soy and pulses are a good source. However, care may be taken not to overload the liver and kidneys by having more protein.

Small and frequent meals. Do a favor to the body by having small meals every 3 to 4 hours instead of consuming large portion of food twice or thrice a day. This will reduce the hunger pangs and tendency to over eat will reduce.

Low Sex Drive? What Your Hormones Have To Do With It + How To Improve Libido


Dr. Sara Gottfried is a Harvard-trained MD, best-selling author, and leading expert on hormones. That’s why we’re thrilled to team up with her for a new series this week on balancing your hormones for better health. If you’re inspired to learn more, check out her new course, How to Balance Your Hormones for Glowing Skin, Deeper Sleep & Better Digestion.

How Your Hormones Really Affect Your Sex Drive + What To Do About It Hero Image

This statistic troubles me: 57 percent of women prefer Facebook to sex. While the data doesn’t come from a scientific source (Cosmopolitan), it reflects a general feeling of “meh” that many of my patients have toward sex.

I see it daily in my functional medicine practice, and the symptom points to a larger, more disturbing problem.

I consider sex drive to be the canary in the coal mine of overall physical and mental health—and sadly, the state of women’s health, longevity, and happiness is declining in many ways. As a result, low libido is common, but few understand that the root cause is hormonal, not some intrinsic problem or lack of love and connection. Or people know hormones and sex go together but don’t really know which hormones matter or how they interact to create sexual interest, toe-curling orgasms, or robust health. Or even more important: what to do about it.

I believe that sexuality is a portal to other areas of your life, and when you optimize your sex life, there are many downstream benefits that you may not realize. You’ll find freedom in other aspects of your life where there once was struggle. And when you upgrade your sexual energy, you heal from the inside out, which is far better and more sustainable than seeking the latest Band-Aid. This is true for single folks as well as people in long-term relationships.

After years of working with people who want to get their mojo back, I know that low sex drive, poor energy, lousy sleep, skin problems, and bloating aren’t diseases that can be fixed fast with a pill or shot. These are usually hormonal problems, meaning our bodies are trying to tell us that something is wrong.

The Root Causes of Low Sex Drive

I’d estimate that 70 percent of low sex drive cases are due to misfiring hormones. Of course, there are other considerations, such as communication and intimacy, emotional currency, sexual variety, mismatch of expectations and style, frequency and type of sexual connection. For a healthy, deepening sexual connection, these areas need to be explored, mined, and renegotiated.

Many women believe as I did that they don’t have to worry about their hormones until menopause, but the truth is that your hormones start to change in your 20s. DHEA and testosterone begin to decline. Cortisol, the main stress hormone, can start to climb and rob your other sex hormones. For some women, estrogen and/or progesterone can drop, leading to estrogen dominance or PMS. You may experience high testosterone (such as with polycystic ovarian syndrome) or low testosterone (as a result of excess stress or aging). Or your thyroid may start to sputter.

Other hormones get in on the act—including oxytocin, insulin, and ghrelin—but these are the main hormonal problems I see daily as part of the story of low libido. Here, I’ll share what symptoms you might experience with each hormone. Note that I’ve included only a partial list for each—to learn more, check out my new mindbodygreen course.

1. Cortisol is too high, too low, or a combination.

It’s important to understand that dysfunctional stress in the body is the root cause of most, if not all, hormone imbalances. You may or may not be aware of how stress is being generated in the body, and one of the earliest signs can be lower sexual interest or desire.

The underlying reason for wayward cortisol varies from person to person, but it’s important to know if cortisol is off for you. For me, cortisol crashed in my mid-30s after having a baby—I was trying to be all things to all people, running myself ragged as a working mom and OB/GYN, and chasing a dream that didn’t belong to me as a surgeon and academic. My poor husband felt neglected and rejected as my libido tanked, and it took taking on my own hormones to understand the central role of cortisol in sex drive and my more global energy.

Signs of unbalanced cortisol:

  • Feeling wired but tired
  • Running from task to task, feeling overwhelmed
  • Sugar or carb cravings
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Feeling burned out or fatigued, particularly under stress
  • Increased belly fat or weight gain
  • Unstable blood sugar—too high, too low, or both
  • Skin conditions, such as eczema

2. Estrogen is too high, too low, or a combination.

Estrogen is the main female hormone. It causes the female body to grow breasts and hips (in men, too much can lead to man boobs and estrogenic fat deposits at the hips). When it’s in balance with its counter hormone, progesterone, your period arrives on time, your skin is clear, and your mood is stable. When it’s too high or low, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms.

Signs of unbalanced estrogen:

  • Bloating or water retention
  • Abnormal Pap smears
  • Heavy or excessively light (even absent) periods
  • Breast tenderness or cysts
  • Mood swings or PMS
  • Rapid weight gain, particularly at the breasts or hips
  • Migraines
  • Red flush of the face, or rosacea
  • Vaginal dryness or atrophy

3. Thyroid is too low.

When your thyroid gland in your neck is underperforming, you feel flat and lackluster in most areas. Your hair thins, particularly eyelashes and the outer third of the eyebrow. The origin varies from person to person, and could stem from autoimmune destruction (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) or be secondary to high cortisol, or even result from exposure to endocrine disrupters like bisphenol A or flame retardants.

Signs of low thyroid:

  • Fatigue, particularly in the morning
  • Weight gain
  • Mood problems, such as low-grade depression
  • Headaches
  • Dry, strawlike hair that tangles easily
  • Hair loss or thinning (particularly lashes and outer third of eyebrow)
  • Decreased sweating
  • Cold hands and feet, or intolerance of cold
  • Constipation

4. Testosterone is too high, too low, or a combination.

Testosterone begins to decline in your 20s, which is why you don’t respond to weight training with the same gusto that you did as a teenager. But the worst culprit when it comes to low testosterone is taking oral contraception. The Pill raises your sex-hormone-binding globulin, which is like a sponge that soaks up the free (and therefore biologically available) testosterone in the body. As a result, you may experience low sex drive, vaginal dryness, and even pain with insertion. Even worse, the problem may not resolve when you go off the Pill: One study showed that up to one year later, your hormones may still be out of whack.

High testosterone is one of the defining characteristics of polycystic ovarian syndrome, which affects about 10 percent of American women. Low testosterone is very common with age, contributing to depression in both men and women, low sex drive, and grumpiness—but it doesn’t have to be.

Signs of unbalanced testosterone:

  • Acne or greasy skin
  • Rogue hairs, especially on face, chest, or arms
  • Skin tags
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of confidence and agency
  • Poor muscular response to high-intensity or weight training
  • Irregular menstruation (every 35 days or less often)
  • Infertility or subfertility

How to Regain Your Sex Drive

For far too long, there has been this prevailing belief that declining sex drive is simply inevitable, that it’s a part of being a modern and busy woman (or man), that it’s part of aging, that it’s part of life after childbearing years, that it’s part of long-term monogamous relationships, etc. I disagree. It’s not normal.

Nothing annoys me more than a doctor who brushes aside pain points like low libido as simply a “symptom of aging.” I believe it’s both possible and important for a woman to maintain a strong sex drive long past her childbearing years. It takes a little work—maintaining balanced hormones, trying some proven botanicals, a little self-love, and a steady diet of quality orgasms—but is more than worth it in the long run. Of course, libido will naturally wax and wane. Ultimately, it’s your choice.

Every day we hear about a different method to boost your sexual energy, your life force, your libido. Take this supplement! Read 50 Shades of Grey! Increase variety! Drink green tea. Don’t have any caffeine. Have sex in the morning only! Try this fantastic new lubricant! Eat fewer carbs. Eat more carbs. Eat carbs before protein. Eat carbs at night. Eat oysters! Drink less. Drink more. It’s totally confusing and often not based on any scientific research.

Instead, here are some of the most proven ways you can rev up a flagging sex drive:

1. Add an adaptogen.

If your cortisol is too high, too low, or both within the same day, I recommend taking a double adaptogen like ashwagandha. I mix a pure organic powder with hot water and drink it twice per day as a tonic for stress.

2. Change up a boring sexual routine.

You may need to bring in some variety along with resetting your hormones. My favorite is orgasmic meditation (OM), a cross between mindfulness and genital stroking, for 15 minutes as popularized by Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Body.

I find that OM is a wonderful practice for people who are tired of sex, or tired of how fat they feel, or just tired. It fills your tank with oxytocin, and we all need more of that! Oxytocin raises testosterone in men and lowers cortisol. In women, it raises estrogen and helps the thyroid work better.

3. Make a medicinal maca shake.

I’m a fan of occasionally drinking your nutrition, especially if you’re on the go and find it hard to eat well. I found during my hormonal recovery that my blood sugar is most stable when I started my day with yummy protein shakes. (You can hear more about my personally formulated medicinal shakes in my new mbg course.)

Maca is a libido-boosting herb native to Peru that’s proven to nourish endocrine glands. Studies show that it raises sex drive in women and reduces anxiety and depression. It’s my herb of choice for women with low estrogen.

4. Visit your health professional.

If you’d rather mop the floor than have sex, there’s a good chance there’s a hormone problem. Get help with sending a search-and-rescue operation after your lost libido by visiting a collaborative functional medicine doctor who will work with you to identify the root cause and find a natural solution.

Sometimes the culprit is overwork and high stress; sometimes it’s a medication, like the Pill or an antidepressant. Get the help you need to test your hormones and come up with a smart plan.

My hope is that you prefer sex to Facebook, and that starts with getting your hormones back on track. It’s important to your health that you make sexual pleasure a priority but not the stuff of Hollywood movies. Instead, choose the real, organic, yummy approach to sex that is your birthright and underpins optimal physiology.

Keep your focus on the natural remedies, the proven potions that truly work for you and that truly stick. Then it’s a matter of keeping your hormones in balance so that you can keep the fire stoked.

Supercomputer Faster Than Humans Uses Less Power Than a Hearing Aid


Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, one of the country’s top scientific research facilities,announced the new mega machine yesterday, which is the product of the IBM and the US government. This new supercomputer for use on national security missions, makes decisions like a human brain, and uses less power than a hearing aid.supercomputer-4

supercomputer-3

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, one of the country’s top scientific research facilities,announced the new mega machine yesterday, which is the product of the IBM and the US government. This new supercomputer for use on national security missions, makes decisions like a human brain, and uses less power than a hearing aid.

Using a platform called TrueNorth, a brain-inspired group of chips, which mimics a network 16 million neurons with 4 billion synapses worth of processing power, this supercomputer is capable of recognizing patterns and solving problems much like a human does.

While, AIs thinking the same way as humans do, have been a struggle to create for quite some time now, this machine finally does the trick by learning from their mistakes like humans and adapting quickly to changing, complex situations. This system uses just 2.5 watts of power- similar to the amount needed by a LED liightbulb!

SF Gate points out that in five years or so, the TrueNorth chips could even help smartphones achieve facial recognition, or smart glasses help blind people navigate their surroundings.

The array of TrueNorth chips, which set the lab back a relatively cheap-sounding $1 million, will be used in government cybersecurity missions. It will also help “ensure the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear deterrent without underground testing,” according to the press release.

 

How do you use Facebook’s new Messenger bots?


There has been a lot of talk about Facebook’s new Messenger bots — but how and why do you actually use them?

Bots on messenger app

“Business communication is what a lot of people dread the most,” says Peter Martinazzi, director of product management on Messenger. “It’s a sucky experience.”

Bots, he says, are going to change that.

Why would you use bots?

Martinazzi and the rest of his team want Messenger bots to stand in for all of the times you have to call an airline, hunt through your email for a receipt or order a gift online.

If you say hello to the 1-800-Flowers bot, it responds and asks for the delivery address before showing you some options of flowers you can send.

Spring Bot helps you shop, Poncho will send you a real-time local weather report, send a gift card through Philz Coffee, book hotels through Expedia or read the news through CNN.

How do you use bots?

Think of it like a conversation. Just like you’d search for a friend, search for a company.

Then just say hi or ask a question. The bot will prompt you to find out what it is you need. Then follow along with its cues or type your questions into the messaging space. The bots use artificial intelligence to figure out what you’re saying, and if all goes as planned, respond appropriatly.

What companies have bots?

Right now, these thirty companies have bots: 1-800-Flowers, Bank of America, Burger King / Tim Hortons, Business Insider, CNN, eBay, Expedia, Fandango, Great Western Railway / Conversocial, HealthTap, HP, LivePerson, Mic, Operator, OwnerListens, Philz Coffee, Poncho, Rogers, Salesforce, Shopify, Sonar, Spark Central, Spring, Staples, StubHub, theScore, Thrillist, ToyTalk, Twilio, UNICEF,Zalando, Zendesk and Zingle.

Martinazzi says if your favorite store isn’t on the list, just hang tight. More bots are expected to roll out soon due to Facebook’s new release for developers that helps companies make bots of their own. “I think there are going to be a lot of submissions even tonight,” Martinazzi says.

Facebook announced that businesses would be able to start using their messenger platform to buy and sell products and offer customers support. Jefferson Graham reports from the F8 Developer conference in San Francisco. Chris Schodt for USA TODAY

6 Ways To Get Over A Breakup That Don’t Involve Binging On Ice Cream


Put down the wine and ice cream. There are far healthier ways to move on after abreakup or bad divorce that will serve you better in the long run.

Take spending time outside, for example. Studies show that getting in touch with nature improves both your self esteem and mood.

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/healthy-ways-to-get-over-a-breakup_us_570d2a89e4b0836057a27fe8?section=india

Stephen Hawking and a Russian billionaire plan to send spacecraft to Alpha Centauri in 20 years.


One of the world’s most brilliant minds has partnered up with one of the richest entrepreneurs, to announce an ambitious new project that could see human technology reach our closest star system, Alpha Centauri, within our lifetime.

With today’s technology, it would take more than 30,000 years to make it to Alpha Centauri. But the new mission proposes using a fleet of tiny, stamp-sized ‘nanocraft’ that would be propelled by lasers to speeds of up to 20 percent the speed of light – meaning they would zoom past Pluto in just three days (!!), and could reach our neighbouring star just over 20 years after launch. The goal is to look for evidence of aliens outside our Solar System.

That’s right, people, after centuries of dreaming about it, we’re finally going to attempt to explore the stars – and we can’t think of anyone better equipped to pull off the feat than physicist Stephen Hawking and space-loving Russian billionaire, Yuri Milner.

“For the first time in human history we can do more than just gaze at the stars,”said Milner in a joint announcement with Hawking today in New York City. “We can actually reach them.”

The project has been called ‘Breakthrough Starshot’ and Milner has now invested US$100 million into creating and launching the tiny nanocraft. Last year, Milner also invested millions into helping the search for extraterrestrial life using ground-based telescopes, but now he’s taken things one step further and wants to send human technology out into the stars to track it down.

After pairing up with Hawking, Milner has also got a number of other big names involved, including Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg. The initiative will be led by Pete Worden, the former director of NASA’s AMES Research Centre.

So how will Breakthrough Starshot work? Alpha Centauri is 4.37 light-years away, or 25 trillion miles (40.2 trillion km), and using our current, propellant-fuelled spacecraft, that journey would take us around 30,000 years – not exactly a feasible recon mission.

But Hawking and Milner have something different in mind for their star-explorer. Instead of burning up heavy rocket fuel to create thrust, the tiny spacecraft will be powered by light.

The spacecraft is called the ‘Starchip’ and is around the size of a postage stamp. Weighing around a gram, the Starchip will contain cameras, photon thrusters, power supply, navigation, and communication equipment, all squeezed down into a tiny package.

This spacecraft will be attached to a metre-sized ‘Lightsail’, which will be just a few atoms thick and weigh only a couple of grams. Just like Bill Nye’s proposed spacecraft, this sail generates thrust by being ‘pushed’ by particles of light. But to speed things up a little bit, Milner and Hawking will use lasers to give their Starchip a boost.

Presenting their prototype at the launch today, Milner and Hawking calculate that blasting around 100 gigawatts of energy from ground-based lasers – a similar amount of power needed to lift the Space Shuttle off Earth – they’ll be able to accelerate the tiny spacecraft to speeds of up to 161 million km/hour (100 million miles per hour).

The idea is to launch a whole fleet of these nanocrafts, so that they can spread out and make flybys of all the planets in our neighbouring star system, to see whether or not they might potentially be habitable.

Of course, all of this is theoretical for now. It’s not the first time that scientists have proposed laser-powered spacecraft, and, on paper at least, the calculations all seem to add up. But Milner and Hawking haven’t tested their spacecraft as yet, and they admit there’s a long way to go.

“The Breakthrough concept is based on technology either already available or likely to be available in the near future,” said Milner. “But as with any moonshot, there are major hurdles to be solved.”

They’re now asking for input from the international scientific community, as well as the general public, on how they can improve their plan – all the prototypes and information will stay open access throughout the mission.

Sure it’s an ambitious move, but so was the Moon landing, and our first mission to Mars. And if anyone has the ability to pull it off, it’s the people behind Breakthrough Starshot. We’re pretty excited.

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Cause of global warming: Consensus on consensus.


A research team confirms that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is caused by humans.

Expertise in climate science is a major predictor for consensus on human-caused climate change.

A research team confirms that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is caused by humans. The group includes Sarah Green, a chemistry professor at Michigan Technological University.

“What’s important is that this is not just one study — it’s the consensus of multiple studies,” Green says. This consistency across studies contrasts with the language used by climate change doubters. This perspective stems from, as the authors write, “conflating the opinions of non-experts with experts and assuming that lack of affirmation equals dissent.”

Environmental Research Letters published the paper this week. In it, the team lays out what they call “consensus on consensus” and draws from seven independent consensus studies by the co-authors. This includes a study from 2013, in which the researchers surveyed more than 11,000 abstracts and found most scientists agree that humans are causing climate change. Through this new collaboration, multiple consensus researchers — and their data gathered from different approaches — lead to essentially the same conclusion.

The key factor comes down to expertise: The more expertise in climate science the scientists have, the more they agree on human-caused climate change.

Skeptic vs. Doubter

There are many surveys about climate change consensus. The problem with some surveys, Green points out, is that they are biased towards populations with predetermined points of view. Additionally, respondents to some surveys lack scientific expertise in climate science.

“The public has a very skewed view of how much disagreement there is in the scientific community,” she says. Only 12 percent of the US public are aware there is such strong scientific agreement in this area, and those who reject mainstream climate science continue to claim that there is a lack of scientific consensus. People who think scientists are still debating climate change do not see the problem as urgent and are unlikely to support solutions.

This new paper is a rebuttal to a comment criticizing the 2013 paper. Green is quick to point out that skepticism, a drive to dig deeper and seeking to better validate data, is a crucial part of the scientific process.

“But climate change denial is not about scientific skepticism,” she says.

Broader Impacts

Refuting climate change doubters is the main purpose of a website Green contributes to called skepticalscience.com. The website is run by the new study’s lead author, John Cook from the University of Queensland in Australia. He says consensus studies have helped change political dialogue around climate change.

“The progress made at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris late last year indicates that countries are now well and truly behind the scientific consensus, too,” Cook says.

Co-author Naomi Oreskes from Harvard University originally pursued consensus data about climate change in 2004 and co-wrote Merchants of Doubt, which was turned into a documentary in 2014. She says that this latest work places the findings in the broader context of other research.

“By compiling and analyzing all of this research — essentially a meta-study of meta-studies — we’ve established a consistent picture with high levels of scientific agreement among climate experts,” she says.

And among climate scientists, there’s little doubt. There is consensus on consensus.

Facebook Messenger launches chat bot economy to take on apps


Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger wants to replace all the apps on your phone

Bots are officially taking over from apps as the primary way we communicate with our phones.

Facebook Messenger boss David Marcus has announced the launch of the Messenger platform – a tool that will enable developers around the world to build chat bots for the Messenger app which now has 900m users globally.

Speaking at Facebook’s annual developer conference F8 in San Francisco, Marcus showcased three types of “bots” – entities similar to friends within the app with which you can exchange text messages to perform a task.

What a Facebook Messenger bot would look like

FB Messenger bots
How to search for bots in Facebook Messenger

A bot would appear in the app just like a friend.

“We aren’t just trying to do question and response bots like you see elsewhere, but to have a rich interactive experience inside of threads,” Marcus told the Telegraph.

This includes shopping, booking airline tickets and even reading the news.

For instance, Marcus demonstrated the CNN News Bot for those who want little snippets of news in Messenger.

You can tell the CNN Bot what you’re interested in so it can tailor topics that are sent to you, and scroll through a carousel of different news stories. You can also ask it for a specific summary of a story.

CNN bot for Messenger
CNN bot for Messenger

Marcus also mentioned the shopping concierge bot built by e-commerce site Spring.

The bot asks you what you’re looking to buy – you can just text it if you want to, or click on the buttons – say you pick shoes, you can input price, and you get a range of curated products that you can scroll horizontally.

“It’s completely automated. People at the Facebook office here have been playing it here for the last couple of days, spending way too much money on it,” Marcus said.

Spring bot in Messenger
You can buy shoes in Mesesnger via the bot

The bots will learn your preferences

Facebook hopes to build machine learning into these bots so they learn your preferences over time – what types of items you like to buy, what news stories you prefer and so on.

This rich data is a goldmine for a service like Facebook which is sustained by advertising. “We are testing if business bots can re-engage people on threads with sponsored messages, it’s a small tiny test,” Marcus said.

In other words, Facebook may ultimately let brands contact you independently through Messenger, if they think you may be persuaded – a whole new era of targeted advertising.

Facebook’s AI assistant ‘M’ will also get bots

Facebook is testing its artificially intelligent secretary, called M, within its Messenger app in the US which uses a combination of human labour and machine learning to complete tasks for you. It can purchase items, get gifts delivered, book restaurants, and make travel arrangements.

“We are opening a new ‘bot builder’ so developers around the world can build bots for M,” Marcus said. This means if you wanted your assistant M to give you a weather alert and traffic summary before your commute every day, it would. “We could build an automated bot for that that learned over time,” he said.