Predicting the stock market from photographs in the financial-press (new study)

March 18th, 2019

If you’re inclined to make bets on the stock market, you’ll be at a considerable disadvantage if you don’t have a tight grip on so called ‘investor sentiment’ – in other words a reliable way of being able to judge the current ‘mood’ of the market. But, in practice, it’s notoriously difficult to gauge accurately. A team from Missouri State University, US, have come up with a novel method. Why not just analyse photos in the financial press to see if people look happy (or not) ? They’re calling it ‘Photo Sentiment’.

The researchers say that their machine-learning algorithms, which analysed photos in The Economist (that had been published over a period of 10 years) out-performed other more traditional methods by 2.6%.

Photo Sentiment is found to predict short-term return reversal, trading volume and market volatility, and explain flows between equity and money market funds. A trading strategy based on Photo Sentiment outperforms the market index by 2.6% on an annual basis while assuming less risk.”

See: Obaid, Khaled and Pukthuanthong, Kuntara, A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: Market Sentiment From Photos (December, 2018). Available at SSRN

The Economist cover above is from July 1998

Tuesday: Ig Nobel in Graz!

March 18th, 2019

Tuesday evening, the Ig Nobel EuroTour arrives at Karl Franzens University, in Graz—featuring psychos, beer, and peeing dogs:

March 19, Tuesday, 6:00 pm—University of Graz, Austria, at Aula of Karl Franzens University Universitätsplatz 3TICKETS TICKETS TICKETS—The show will be conducted (almost) entirely in the English language—Marc Abrahams and

  • Ig Nobel Prize winner Minna Lyons (Comparison of psychopathic traits in night owls versus early risers)
  • Ig Nobel Prize winner Hynek Burda (Free-roaming dogs, when urinating, align themselves with earth’s magnetic lines)
  • Ig Nobel Prize winner Stephan Bolliger (Is it better to be hit on the head with a full bottle of beer, or a with an empty bottle of beer?)

Tour Subsequent Events

After that, the Ig Nobel EuroTour will move on to The Czech Republic, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Poland, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Germany, and Italy (again).

SATURDAY: Ig Nobel at Imperial College London, paired with BAHFest!

March 15th, 2019

Saturday afternoon The Ig Nobel EuroTour arrives at Imperial College London:

March 16, Saturday, 3:00 pm—Imperial College London, UK, in the Great Hall—This is the first half of a special double-event day, together with BAHFest London (BAHFest begins at 7:00 pm). TICKETS TICKETS TICKETS are on sale; there is the option to purchase tickets for both events, or for  just one.]Marc Abrahams and

Both these events will (probably) be livestreamed on the Imperial College Youtube channel.

Tour Subsequent Events

After that, the Ig Nobel EuroTour will move on to Austria, The Czech Republic, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Poland, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Germany, and Italy (again).

Smell-and-Hair and Sounds-and-Cheese Experiments

March 15th, 2019

Smells have effects on hair follicles and sounds have effects on the taste of cheese, sometimes, suggest two recent—but not necessarily related studies.

The sound-and-hair study is described in LiveScience (thanks to Francesca Bewer for bringing this to our attention):

Like your nose, your hair can detect odors. In a new study, researchers found that hair follicles contain olfactory receptors — the same kind of chemical receptors that lie deep in the nasal passages. In the nose, these receptors bind to odor molecules that waft in, sending signals to your brain to alert you that something reeks — or smells delicious.

What’s more, the researchers found, these hair-follicle receptors can be activated by synthetic sandalwood to stimulate hair growth, according to the study, published Sept. 18 in the journal Nature Communications….

The sound-and-cheese experiment is described, so far as we are aware, only in press accounts. (Thanks to Reto Schneider for bringing those to our attention.) The SwissInfo web site says:

A quirky experiment that exposed Swiss cheese to different kinds of music found that hip-hop made it taste the best.

Eight wheels of “Muttenglück” Emmental cheese from World Cheese Championship winner Antony Wyss were subjected separately to different musical stimulus – Mozart, A Tribe Called Quest, Yello, Led Zeppelin, techno and three sinusoidal sounds – round-the-clock for eight months. The experiment was part of a collaboration between students of the University of Arts Bern and veterinarian Beat Wampfler who came up with the idea…..

Skull-Penetration Interventions to Combat Zombies

March 14th, 2019

An article in the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, February 2019, Volume :51 Number 1, discusses the question of evidence in assessing traumatic brain injuries (TBI) by using the example of Zombies.

The article begins :

“Despite anecdotal evidence seen on television and in movies, there is zero actual research to support penetrating traumatic brain injury (TBI) as an intervention to kill zombies (eg, walkers). For the moment, we shall dispense with the obvious conundrum that one cannot kill (end the life of) someone or something that is already dead. Rather, we shall focus on the concept of evidence.”

And concludes :

“Again, it can be noted that there are difficulties involved with evidence collection regarding the issue of the definition of death on a nonliving being. Perhaps, the limitation is that this is not an intervention with adequate preclinical data, or perhaps the theory is flawed. Because of the lack of research data, the only evidence available is expert opinion. Thus, we conclude that, if we were attacked by a horde of walkers, our best evidence-based practice option would be to use a skull-penetration intervention (class of evidence, level IIB; strength of recommendation, level C).”

It can be read, in full, here : Of Zombies and Evidence

The photo is a still from the film ‘Night of the Living Dead’, 1968.

[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]

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