A new website called Facestat, enables you for free to upload a picture of yourself and have random individuals (what some call *crowd sourcing*) evaluate your photo for your trustworthiness. (They also guess your wealth, intelligence, age, martial status, ethnicity, weight, political orientation, state of drunkenness at time photo was taken, gender, attractiveness, and humorousness) Facestat uses an Amazon.com service called Mechanical Turk that hires individuals for a few cents per piece of work to evaluate a relatively easy task (Mechanical Turk was used to help map the surface of Mars and determine which were craters).
For a fuller story see the WSJ blog story “Do people think you look trustworthy?“
I blogged earlier about the fascinating story of a world class violinist playing in the Washington Subway (“Pearls Before Breakfast: can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let’s find out” (Washington Post, 4/8/07, p. w10, Gene Weingarten) The story was indirectly about the cocoons that we live in such that 1000 commuters in Washington, DC, almost without exception, didn’t hear or stop to listen to the sublime beauty of violin virtuoso Joshua Bell who was busking in the Washington Metro as an experiment. One has to assume that these cocoons affect not only hearing Joshua Bell but also our ability to connect with friends and strangers.
Now comes a related experiment. If you put up a world class painting (by Tuymans) on a pedestrian street in Antwerp (in Belgium) will people stop to notice it?
See the results:
The art experiment either also indicates the cocoons we live in, or indicates that we only recognize true ‘art’ when someone tells us it is art by hanging it in a museum.
Posted in antwerp, art, belgium, luc tuymans, Netherlands, pearls before breakfast, washington post, YouTube
Tagged antwerp, art, luc tuymans, pearls before breakfast, washington post, YouTube
Robert D. Putnam and daughter Lara Putnam (historian at Pitt) comment on the kerfuffle regarding Barack Obama’s inartful description of poor whites being bitter and clinging to religion in response to their bleak economic circumstances.
They note that, while much of the debate has focused on small town vs. big city respondents, the issues really relate to class gaps within the white community not city v. rural.
They asserts that the “growing disparity in formative experiences portends a more caste-like America, in which children’s life chances are increasingly dictated by their parents’ social class. The playing field is tilted more and more against the have-nots.”
As the Putnams note: “The real question is not ginned-up outrage over Barack Obama’s choice of words to describe the very real hardships facing many Americans in towns and cities of all sizes. The real question is whether his optimistic insistence that “Yes We Can” will resonate in those still-struggling Pennsylvania cities and towns that suffered a body blow with the loss of steel mills and factories a generation ago. Mr. Obama’s work as a community organizer on the streets of Chicago was predicated on the belief that even in communities beset by disinvestment, job loss and chronic frustration, self-confidence can be restored, collective bonds can be rebuilt and political efficacy regained.” They indicate that we’ll know soon enough if this message of hope resonates among white working class residents in these devastated PA communities.
The Op-Ed, which appeared Sunday (4/20/08) in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, called “The Growing Class Gap” can be found here.
Posted in Barack Obama, bitter, campaign, class gap, community organizing, election, lara putnam, pennsylvania, pitt, pittsburgh post-gazette, politics, president, religion, robert putnam, university of pittsburgh, working class, yes we can
Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers in a data rich paper conclude three things:
a) the rich are happier;
(b) rich countries are happier;
(c) economic growth is associated with greater happiness for their citizens; and
(d) they find little evidence for the “relative income hypothesis” (that happiness depends more on one’s income relative to others in one’s country or community than it does on absolute levels of income).
Justin Wolfers is blogging about the paper at Freakonomics blog. There are to be several posts, but this is the first post. The paper is also summarized in today’s New York Times, featuring a nice graphic, The authors also discussed the research on CNBC (4/16/08).
The paper by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers (both at Penn’s Wharton School) has the rather academic title of “Economic Growth and Subjective Well-being: Regressing the Easterlin Paradox“
Earlier post on this subject available here discussing paper by Angus Deaton on this topic; Deaton’s conclusions were partially the same but he found a cut-off point beyond which economic growth did not lead to increases in happiness, perhaps because of the destabilizing impact of the growth.
Posted in angus deaton, betsey stevenson, CNBC, economic growth, happiness, income, justin wolfers, new york times, penn, subjective wellbeing, university of pennsylvania, wealth