Monthly Archives: February 2010

CCSS’09 Complete Video Lectures

by Yunkyu Sohn

A great collection of talks done in International Workshop on Coping with Crises in Complex Socio-Economic Systems are all available at The conference features the finest set of complex systems scientists including Ernst Fehr, Shlomo Havlin, Didier Sornette and Neil F. Johnson.

ps: Havlin’s talk covers influential spreaders article introduced below.


Judicial opinion-writing

By Yonatan Lupu

Those interested in judicial politics and/or citation networks might want to check out this new article by Stephen Choi, Mitu Gulati and Eric Posner.  Here’s the abstract:

We report evidence from a dataset of federal district judges from 2001 to 2002 that district judges adjust their opinion-writing practices to minimize their workload while maximizing their reputation and chance for elevation to a higher court. District judges in circuits with politically uniform circuit judges are better able to predict what opinions will get affirmed by the circuit court, leading to higher publication rates and a higher affirmance rate. In contrast, district judges in circuits with politically diverse circuit judges are less able to predict the preferences of the reviewing circuit court panel, leading district judges to publish fewer but higher quality opinions in an effort to maximize their affirmance rate.

Seems artists are interested in human nature, as well…


Random, but intriguing:

ArtPower Exhibit: “one-of-a-kind custom art from your DNA”

We should have an HNG cultural excursion!

Experimental Methods Section in APSA: Please Sign the Petition

Saw this over at the Monkey Cage:

A group of experimentalists (including Eric Dickson, Don Green, and Rebecca Morton) have set up a web site for members of APSA to sign a petition for a new organized section of APSA for experimental research. The section would support experimental research in the lab, field, and all other variants in research in comparative, American, political economy, and international politics. You can read the petition and sign it at this location. We need to have at least 200 members of apsa sign the petition by the end of the month or it will fail. So, if you are a member of apsa, and are supportive of experimental research, please sign the petition. We believe having an organized section will benefit many who do experimental research and we hope to succeed in our effort.

Recent Abstracts

By Darren Schreiber

A number of interesting pieces in this set of articles. As ever, the default mode network continues to be garnering attention with a new article looking at the influence of heredity on the functional connectivity of the network (1). We also learn that this network can be robustly reproduced (17). Given how important this network appears to be for social cognition, future extensions of this line of research will be of great use to political science. And, we have a couple of other pieces using functional connectivity analysis of subcortical regions (15, 16). We also get a fascinating view of an entire network of cells in the brain that had usually been thought of as acting individually (12). On the topic of networks, the piece showing that an amoeba can effectively design a rail system is pretty fascinating (10, 11).

Ernst Fehr’s new paper on the role of testosterone shows how misconstrued it has been in common understanding and how it can play a prosocial role (7, 8). And, a bit more evidence on the antisocial role that amphetamines can play (2).

The most interesting “big idea” in the set is Karl Friston’s attempt to develop a unified theory of the brain based upon the minimization of free-energy (20-23). One of my concerns about how the neuroscience literature develops is that usually researchers are focused on leaves and not trees or forests. It is great to see a luminary like Friston attempting a big picture view.

Finally, let me draw your attention to a review of some of the work on race and the brain (24).

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Blue Brain Documentary

By Patrick Rogers

We’re all familiar with the Blue Brain Project, which is attempting to computationally replicate a mammalian brain, at this point they’ve already succeeded in building the first cellular-level neocortical column based entirely on biological data.

There’s now a documentary short covering the project called “BLUEBRAIN – Year One”. It’s a little over 16 minutes, and pretty cool.

Bluebrain | Year One from Couple 3 Films on Vimeo.

Identifying influential spreaders in complex networks

By Chris Fariss

Check out this interesting new paper posted at “Identifying influential spreaders in complex networks” that attempts to model the individuals within a network that spread information the most efficiently.

Here is the abstract:

Networks portray a multitude of interactions through which people meet, ideas are spread, and infectious diseases propagate within a society. Identifying the most efficient “spreaders” in a network is an important step to optimize the use of available resources and ensure the more efficient spread of information. Here we show that, in contrast to common belief, the most influential spreaders in a social network do not correspond to the best connected people or to the most central people (high betweenness centrality). Instead, we find: (i) The most efficient spreaders are those located within the core of the network as identified by the k-shell decomposition analysis. (ii) When multiple spreaders are considered simultaneously, the distance between them becomes the crucial parameter that determines the extend of the spreading. Furthermore, we find that– in the case of infections that do not confer immunity on recovered individuals– the infection persists in the high k-shell layers of the network under conditions where hubs may not be able to preserve the infection. Our analysis provides a plausible route for an optimal design of efficient dissemination strategies.