Reports: U.S. President Likely to Pardon Milken, First Winner of the Ig Nobel Economics Prize

June 15th, 2018

News reports suggest that U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to pardon convicted felon Michael Milken, who in 1991 became the very first person to be awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for Economics.

That 1991 Ig Nobel Prize was awarded to Michael Milken, titan of Wall Street and father of the junk bond, to whom the world is indebted. (Milken was not physically present at that year’s Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, having a previous engagement to appear in a federal prison.)

Today, June 15, 2018, Bloomberg News reports:

Trump Insiders Seek Pardon for ‘Junk Bond King’ Michael Milken

Some of President Donald Trump’s closest confidants have urged him to pardon Michael Milken, the 1980s “junk bond king” who has unsuccessfully sought for decades to reverse his securities fraud conviction, according to people familiar with the matter….

Ripping up Milken’s conviction — the result of arguably the highest-profile inside trading case ever — would be a blow to federal prosecutors, particularly those overseeing Wall Street. It would also be a rebuke to the judge who oversaw the matter three decades ago and excoriated Milken at his sentencing….

That judgment [in that trial] was delivered by U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood in Manhattan. Wood remains in that seat, and is now in charge of reviewing evidence seized by federal agents from Michael Cohen, Trump’s long-time personal attorney.

BONUS FACT: Both Donald Trump and Michael Milken attended the Wharton School of Business.

TICKETS for the 28th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony go on sale Tuesday, July 10, exclusively from the Harvard Box Office.

Computer-Learning-Driven Exercise Suggestions During Meetings

June 15th, 2018

Yet another possible great advance in humanity’s pursuit of both artificial intelligence and meetings:

Machine learned optimizing of health activity for participants during meeting times,” US patent application 20180116599A1, Paul R. Bastide, Filiz Isabell Kiral-Kornek, Dwarikanath Mahapatra, Susmita Saha, Arun Vishwanath, and Stefan von Cavallar, filed November 2, 2016, rights assigned to International Business Machines Corp.

The system’s reliability, value, and biomedicotechnocomplexial simplicity may be obvious from this diagram:

The patent explains: “Providing heath activity for a participant in a conference call may include receiving data associated with the conference call and location data specifying a location of the participant conducting the conference call…. The participant’s fitness goal may be identified. Based on the predicted engagement level, the sensor data and the participant’s fitness goal, an exercise for the participant to perform during the conference call may be determined. A notification signal may be transmitted to the participant to perform the exercise.”

(Thanks to Falk Fish for bringing this to our attention.)

Professor, expert on losing control, loses control and retires instantly

June 14th, 2018

Professor Todd Todd Heatherton today lost control. [And if you follow the link attached to his name, you may see that his university web page has lost nearly all mention of him.]

Heatherton is co-author of the book Losing control: How and why people fail at self-regulation [Academic Press, 1994], and co-author of the study  “Self-regulation failure: An overview,” Roy F. Baumeister and Todd F. Heatherton, Psychological Inquiry, vol. 7, no. 1 (1996): 1-15.

The college newspaper The Dartmouth reports, on June 14, 2018:

Heatherton retires following sexual misconduct allegations

Psychological and brain sciences professor Todd Heatherton has elected to retire immediately following a recommendation from Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Elizabeth Smith, upheld by the faculty-elected Review Committee, that his tenure be revoked and his employment terminated. Smith’s recommendation follows a review of Heatherton by an external investigator for sexual misconduct….

The study “Self-regulation failure: An overview” reaches this conclusion:

Our review has led us to reject the model that self-regulatory failure is typically the result of irresistible impulses. Although it would be excessive to say that people freely choose to lose control, they do seem to show considerable active participation and acquiescence in the behaviors that constitute self-regulatory failure….


Comparing ‘The Leadership Hubris Epidemic’ and Frontotemporal Dementia

June 14th, 2018

What comparisons might be drawn, if any, between the grotesquely exaggerated, often self-destructive personality traits caused by damage to frontal brain regions and the behaviour of prominent characters in the world of business and politics who are suffering from ‘The Hubris Syndrome’?

Details are provided in Chapter 1 of the 2107 book ‘The Leadership Hubris Epidemic’ [£87.50, Palgrave Books] in which professor Peter Garrard (at St. George’s, University of London) writes that the effects of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) can be compared with those suffering from Hubris Syndrome (HS) – and who exhibit (amongst other things) :

“Excessive confidence in their own judgment and contempt for the advice or criticism of others” and

“[…] loss of contact with reality; often associated with progressive isolation.”

See: Frontotemporal Dementia: A Clue to the Biological Basis of Hubris Syndrome?

For: a recent example of the multi-billion dollar grief which ‘The Leadership Hubris Epidemic’ can inflict, see: ‘Recklessness, hubris and greed’ – Carillion slammed by MPs (The Guardian, 16 May 2018)

Also: don’t miss The Daedalus Trust which has been drawing attention such things since 2011.

Note: At the time of writing, some extracts of chapter 1 were available here :


Hot stuff by Cook & Berns: Why Did the Dog Walk Into the MRI?

June 13th, 2018

The question “Why?” head the menu in this research study served up by Cook and Berns:

Why Did the Dog Walk Into the MRI?Gregory S. Berns and Peter F. Cook, Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol. 25, no. 5, 2016, pp. 363-369. The authors, at Emery University, explain: “Because he was trained to.”

Peter F. Bern’s job title is “Distinguished Professor of Neuroeconomics.”

COMING SOON: A fetching look at further work by Professor Berns: NeuroMarketing for Dogs.