Humans Excel at… Please Wait… Patience

first_imgHere’s another thing that distinguishes humans from animals: patience.  Current Biology usually has a “Quick Guide” feature on some aspect of biology.  In the latest issue, patience was the patient.  First of all, what is it?Humans and other animals often make decisions that trade off present and future benefits.  Should a monkey eat an unripe fruit or wait for it to ripen?  Should I purchase the iPhone at its debut or wait for the price to drop in a few months?  In these dilemmas, large gains often require long waits, so decision makers must choose between a smaller, sooner reward and a larger, later reward.Animals experience these tradeoffs all the time, particularly when foraging for food.  A Clark’s nutcracker (a Western bird) can, for instance, store 33,000 seeds for later consumption, “that is 33,000 decisions to delay gratification.”  But being impulsive can have its payoffs, too.  “He who hesitates is lost,” a proverb says.  If you don’t snatch at the seed in front of you, it could fall into the river.    Following several questions and answers about patience (how it is measured, how animals measure up, etc.) came the question of interest to the human animal: “Are humans uniquely patient?”The most extreme examples of nonhuman animal patience pale in comparison to the levels of patience seen in humans.  Rather than waiting for only seconds or minutes, humans will wait days, weeks, months or even years for gains.  Is this a true cognitive divide?  The answer is yes and no.  In one sense, comparing the human and nonhuman experimental work is like comparing apples and oranges because the methodologies differ so greatly.  Repeated choices with all real rewards and time delays may yield different results from one-shot choices with hypothetical rewards and delays.  When tested in a manner similar to other animals, human subjects look similar to (or sometimes even more impulsive than!) chimpanzees.    Thus, in certain situations humans show similar levels of patience as other primates.  Yet, clearly situations exist in which humans are much more patient than other animals.  It is difficult to imagine even chimpanzees investing in the future in a way comparable to depositing money into a retirement account 30-40 years before receiving a return.  Nonetheless, we know that, for instance, many species show impressive abilities for future planning.  Western scrub jays can plan for their breakfast in the morning.  Monkeys and apes, especially chimpanzees, strategically invest in relationships with group members to climb the political ladder of their dominance hierarchies.  Though these species lack the complex language and symbolic systems (such as money and legal contracts) that allow humans to work over vast temporal horizons, they do demonstrate a flexible means of dealing with the future.  Perhaps the recent surge in interest in animal patience will tell us whether long-term patience is a uniquely human virtue.In short, put your money into an IRA instead of investing in a Monkey Bank. 1.  Jeffrey R. Stevens and David W. Stephens, “Quick Guide: Patience,” Current Biology, Volume 18, Issue 1, 8 January 2008, Pages R11-R12.They missed the whole point.  Human patience is a virtue, not a trait.  The fact that animals (and humans) may have instincts that work in a raw-biological context tells us nothing about the rationality and virtue behind human patience.  If it were merely instinctive, it would not require training and education and conscious choice.  If it were a biological trait, we would not see so many exceptions.    Humans have the capacity for long-term gratification because we were made in the image of God.  That is the only explanation that makes sense for the ability to wait for payoff for decades, or a lifetime.  That is what explains parents denying their gratification for the sake of their children, so that they will be able to have opportunities they never had.  And that is what enables a soul to deny itself till death for a joy in a future life, following the example of Christ, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).    We are animals, but we are not mere animals.  All theists recognize we are rational animals; it’s not like they believe humans float above the ground.  We have stomachs and sex organs and biological urges like the rest of biology.  That curious blend of body and soul is what makes our lives so interesting and challenging.  We were made for an unseen reality that can override our natural urges.  That is why we have need of patience.  That is why we are admonished to “consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (v.3).    Having a biological propensity like the animals to weigh the costs and benefits of immediate vs delayed gratification does in no way diminish the unique capacity of humans for patience, nor does a listing of the misdeeds of impulsive or diseased individuals who act only according to their animal natures.  Indeed, try to imagine a chimpanzee investing in an IRA for 40 years.  Without a soul, with its rational capacity for language, choice and wisdom, such capabilities would be unexplainable.  Current biology demonstrates it.(Visited 58 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Bok squad bolstered for home tests

first_img23 September 2013Springbok coach Heynecke Meyer has bolstered his squad ahead of South Africa’s upcoming Castle Lager Rugby Championship home tests against Australia and New Zealand.Lock Pieter-Steph du Toit returns to the Bok camp having overcome the sternum injury that forced him out of the South African squad earlier this year. He has recently played two full matches for The Sharks.Centre Juan de Jongh, after failing to crack the nod for the trip to Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, is also back in the line-up.‘Great’“It’s great to see Pieter-Steph back in action and I have to commend The Sharks for the good work they’ve done on getting him back to full match fitness,” Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said in a statement on Sunday.“He has always been part of our long-term plans and we’re looking forward to welcoming him back into the Springbok fold.“Juan is an experienced player and will slot back into the squad with ease as we start our preparations for the test against Australia at DHL Newlands on Saturday.”Fourie du PreezScrumhalf Fourie du Preez, who was superb when he came on as a substitute in the Boks’ 73-13 thrashing of Argentina in Soweto, is once again in the squad. The agreement with his Japanese club Suntory Sun Goliath is that he is he is available for South Africa’s home tests.After the Springboks’ highly controversial 29-15 defeat to New Zealand in Auckland, which subsequently resulted in the International Rugby Board withdrawing the red card handed to Bismarck du Plessis that forced the Boks to play 50 minutes with only 14 players, they trail the All Blacks by four points in the Championship standings.The Kiwis, after four wins in four outings, have 18 points. South Africa has 14 points from three wins, while Australia is on four points after edging Argentina 14-13 in Perth last time out. The Pumas prop up the table with two points.Potential deciderWhat it means is if both the Springboks, who take on Australia in Cape Town, and All Blacks, who face Argentina away from home, win this coming weekend, the test between the world’s top two teams at Ellis Park on 5 October could decide the winners of the title.Depending on the outcome of the game in La Plata, the Boks might also need another bonus point win over Australia.Given the unfortunate nature of their loss in New Zealand, South Africa will, no doubt, be hugely motivated to show they could have won with 15 men playing 15 men.The clash in Auckland was on its way to becoming a classic before Du Plessis’ sending off. That sets up the Johannesburg showdown as another potential doozy. Beating Australia, though, is the only focus for coach Meyer and his charges right now.The Springbok squad starts preparing for the test against the Wallabies on Monday in Cape Town.SPRINGBOK SQUADForwards (17): Lourens Adriaanse, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Juandre Kruger, Francois Louw, Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Gurthro Steenkamp, Adriaan Strauss, Flip van der Merwe, Duane VermeulenBacks (13): Bjorn Basson, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (captain), Fourie du Preez, JJ Engelbrecht, Bryan Habana, Zane Kirchner, Patrick Lambie, Willie le Roux, Ruan Pienaar, Jan Serfontein, Morne Steyn, Jano VermaakSAinfo reporter and SA Rugbylast_img read more

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Banyana in 4-0 win over Zambia

first_img25 August 2014Banyana Banyana outplayed Zambia in an international friendly at the Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka on Sunday, recording a convincing 4-0 victory.Shiwe Nongwanya gave the South African national women’s team the lead at the break, while veteran striker Portia Modise netted a hat-trick in the second half to ensure coach Vera Pauw’s charges’ triumph in the contest.African Women’s Championships’ preparationThe match was the fifth match the Sasol-sponsored team has played as part of its preparations for the African Women’s Championships, which will take place in Namibia from 11 to 25 October.The home side enjoyed most of the possession in the opening 10 minutes of the match and put Banyana Banyana under pressure by forcing them to play in their own half.Great saveSouth African goalkeeper Roxanne Barker was forced into making a great save by tipping the ball over in the fifth minute as she denied “She-polopolo” the opening goal.In the 22nd minute, South Africa came close to breaking the deadlock, but the Zambian goalkeeper reacted well to get her hands on a cross from Simphiwe Dludlu to stop the danger.Opening goalSasol Banyana Banyana then hit the front on the half-hour mark after Nongwanya received a great pass from Refiloe Jane, before scoring from inside the box.Pauw made her first substitution of the match at the start of the second half, replacing youngster Thembi Kgatlane with Silindile Ngubane.With Banyana Banyana changing the pace of the game in the second stanza, they enjoyed the better of the ball possession.Modise’s firstModise doubled the score for Sasol Banyana Banyana in the 63rd minute after receiving a hard and low cross from Nongwanya, which she finished with an easy tap-in.With the 2012 African Women’s Championships runners-up now comfortably in charge of the match, Modise completed her brace in the 73rd minute and a hat-trick in the 90th minute as South Africa ended the match handsome 4-0 winners.Forthcoming friendlySasol Banyana Banyana travel back to South Africa on Monday afternoon to continue with their camp ahead of their next assignment in Polokwane against Tanzania on Saturday, 31 August.SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

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The day Nelson Mandela walked out of prison

first_imgTwenty-five years ago today, on 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela walked out of jail and into a South Africa on the verge of becoming a new, transformed nation. We recall the events of that historic day. “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others,” Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography. (Image courtesy of Graeme Williams. To see more of Wlilliams’ photography, visit the Media Club South Africa image library and go to his website.) • South Africa cries for Mandela • Places to visit on Madiba’s Journey • Mandela’s peers reflect on his legacy • Mandela Day has improved South Africa’s generosity • Nelson Mandela: A final goodbye before life goes on Sulaiman PhilipThe world waited. And waited. The last images of the man they were waiting for were flickering black and white footage from a TV interview conducted in 1961 while he was on the run. Or news photographs from his trial in 1964. In both he looks confident, stout and healthy – obviously charismatic, and still a physically imposing man in his prime.Twenty-seven years later, except for friends and family – and his guards – no one knew if he had aged well. So South Africa waited, glued to their televisions or among the estimated 50 000 people gathered on the Grand Parade in Cape Town to hear his first speech as a free man. Even the population who considered him a terrorist watched, knowing that South Africa was about to enter a new era. And Nelson Mandela was the man who would lead the way.A week before, on 2 February 1990, then-president FW de Klerk had announced in Parliament that Mandela would be released, unconditionally, without setting a date. On the evening of 10 February De Klerk visited Mandela in the cottage in the gardens of Victor Verster Prison in Paarl to tell him he would be released the next day.Madiba would write later, in Long Walk to Freedom: “I deeply wanted to leave prison as soon as I could, but to do so on such short notice would not be wise. I thanked Mr De Klerk, and then said that at the risk of appearing ungrateful I would prefer to have a week’s notice in order that my family and my organisation could be prepared.”In 1985 De Klerk’s predecessor PW Botha offered ANC political prisoners their freedom, on condition that they renounce violence. For the prisoners, led by Mandela, the choice was easy. As long as the apartheid government continued its violence – in townships and neighbouring states – the ANC could not renounce it.It was a calculated decision by Mandela. No matter the moral justification for an armed struggle, the regime still held the military advantage. Mandela needed to show the ANC in exile that he was still the leader convicted in 1964.Mandela also understood that the waves of strikes, boycotts and insurrection in the townships by the internal resistance, led by the United Democratic Front, would eventually force the government’s hand. When Mandela asked De Klerk for more time, he was showing solidarity with that struggle, refusing to have the terms of his release set by his jailer.A puzzled De Klerk, after discussions with his advisers, went back to Mandela that same evening and held firm. Mandela had to leave prison the next day. Over a glass of whiskey Mandela relented. And so, on 11 February 1990, 25 years ago today, South Africa and the world waited. As the day dawned, with so little notice, Mandela’s his wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and other ANC heavyweights were still on the road rushing to Paarl.Later that day, 12 hours after waking, Mandela walked out of prison, hand in hand with Winnie. His full head of hair was now grey and he walked stiffly, but unbent. Thinner than he was in the last pictures published of him, he looked less like than firebrand of the 1960s and more like the elder statesman he was about to become. His first public wordsThe massive crowds gathered in Paarl and Cape Town to celebrate his release delayed Mandela’s convoy as they made their way to the Grand Parade. Finally, at 8 o’clock in the evening, he appeared on the balcony of Cape Town’s City Hall to speak to the crowd dancing in the square below him. He began to speak, but his first public words as a free man were drowned out by the roar of the crowd.He stopped and listened in the solemn way that would become familiar: chin down, mouth turned down at the corners. His wife’s spectacles perched on his nose, he started again to read to his speech.“Comrades and fellow South Africans, I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom,” said Mandela. “I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you the people.“Today, the majority of South Africans, black and white, recognise that apartheid has no future. It has to be ended by our decisive mass action. We have waited too long for our freedom.”last_img read more

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Getting More Out of the Conversation: The Real Real-Time Challenge

first_imgTags:#Real-Time Web#web 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Related Posts guest author 1 Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… It has been a few weeks since the ReadWriteWeb Real-Time Web Summit. Workshops ran the gamut of real-time Web applications and services. They addressed the impact of the real-time Web on search, feeds, aggregation and even branding and marketing. But several topics and terms were not discussed as much as one might have expected: “social,” “interaction,” and “communication.” Perhaps they were assumed. But their absence from discussion spoke of something bigger; namely, our tendency to still view Web content, even real-time content, as information.This guest post was written by Adrian Chan.Of course, communication involves information. Information access and distribution are part of what makes social media interesting. Information is also an attribute of social relationships — which are another good reason to respect social media. But the tools and practices of our “status culture” are also a means of communication; communication that uses social media in personal, social and public ways and that combines both system messaging and user messages in ways that are conversational.Making Meta From Conversational MediaThis “conversational” content may look like information. But when it is the product of mediated conversation, content conceals dynamics and relationships: social forces that are by their nature implicit and tacit.The real-time Web industry is poised to go “meta” and to extract and extend greater value from the information captured, mined and repurposed in real time. But for this to occur, the implicit of social interaction and communication will need to become explicit.Consider what we can already observe and infer from content and information produced on the real-time Web: influence, social capital, attention, relationships, trending topics. We accomplish this by means of algorithms and analyses based on incomplete social information. The real-time Web doesn’t yet furnish much social meta data. Could it be restored after the fact — from interactions, relationships and social meanings read between the lines?The real-time Web’s conversational content is produced through uncoupled, or at best loosely coupled, posts. Can dialog, relationships and social structures be detected amidst monological posts?The Content Is People. Long Live the Content!Social media are the new means of production. We are no longer in the information age, but are now in the age of communication. And in this age, the attention economy may explain the disruptive impact of social media on established industries; industries, not coincidentally, built around the production and distribution of information — as well as control over its consumption.Content is king. The content of the real-time Web is people. And yet the socialized Web is much more than a Web of, by and for the people. The social world is not flat, open and transparent. It has distinctions, boundaries, biases and preferences. It is also about who chooses, what is chosen, who is chosen, who replies and why.Social Value Add“People” content produces social information, and it is relevant because it reflects the social preferences, tastes and interests of individuals, groups and communities. Communication is how we produce this information; attention is how we consume it.Real-time Web analytics and metrics already understand this. Influencer metrics count who chooses whom as well as what. Influence is contingent on the ongoing attention paid by an audience. It is not a quality owned or possessed by the influencer. It’s a relation between influencer and an “audience” willing to pay attention and help pass it forward. This is the medium’s power. That power is as much in social relations as it is in information and content.Understanding what interests a user, by means of their contributions and activities but also by means of their relationships and social interactions, is at the heart of the value that the real-time social Web holds for brands and businesses (as well as the value that the user adds to their reputation and visibility). Attention spent in communicating reproduces brand value by redistributing it socially (and free of charge).Social ContextThe real-time Web is built on uncoupled posts. But many online social interactions are at least loosely if not densely coupled. This coupling restores some degree of social context (social information). It may reveal social relationships (relational information). The speed, reach and redistribution of tweets and updates expose social organization (attention information). And when observed and analyzed over time, changes in this activity can reveal persistent interests and relationships, as well as those that are changing (historical trends and predictive information).Social contexts can be partially reconstructed out of other communication forms: chains, loops and circuits, clusters, clumps (and more). Satellite “conversations” fashioned from re-aggregated comments (see PubSubHubbub, Dave Winer’sRSSCloud and the new salmon protocol) will spark innovation in contextual analyses.But all the social analytics in the world won’t work unless the architectural and data models can capture communication. If tools and applications can increasingly provide ways to communicate in ways that also expose social context, and if data-mining efforts are enhanced with models of social action, then the world of real-time social interaction will surface immensely valuable information indeed — at which point we may be able to say that in the midst of all this information, we are also better informed.Adrian Chan is a social interaction design specialist and SNCR Sr Fellow. You can find him on Twitter @gravity7 and on his blog.last_img read more

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