Friday, 19 August 2011

How do you whip procrastination?

Over the summer, while I was in the field, I was listening to a book called "Predictably Irrational." It was a great book about behavioural economics, a sort of wedding between the findings of psychology, and what it should tell us about economic decision making by individuals and large groups of people. It's a very good book, and a very practical book, because it's full of gems about how to use innate human tendencies against themselves so we can do what we actually want to do - exercise more, save more money, be more honest, and so on. Here's a great example from the author himself, explaining how procrastination can be gamed.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Bear safety while hunting

Some sage advice from Rick Sinnott summarizing the research on bear attacks on Alaskans, and the best defence against them:


Is a firearm better protection than bear spray? Bear spray -- a concoction of propellants and capsaicin (from red pepper) that burns the eyes and mucous membranes -- is effective up to about 30-35 feet. Dr. Tom Smith, Herrero and others assessed the effectiveness of bear spray in 72 incidents in Alaska where someone used it in defense. Bear spray was effective in 92 percent of the 50 cases involving grizzlies and 90 percent of the 20 cases involving black bears. No one who used bear spray was killed. In the nine instances where a grizzly charged a person, the bear broke off the encounter after it was sprayed, and only one person was injured. The injury was relatively minor, deep scratches requiring stitches. Eventually, someone who uses bear spray will be severely injured or killed by the bear. But it seems clear that bear spray promises to be at least as effective at preventing maulings as a firearm.
I would actually go further than he would, and say that despite my earlier critique of of research on the subject, bear spray is more effective than firearms. I've been sprayed before, and even with my puny human nose, it was incapacitatingly painful. And I only got a short burst. When I hunt, I always carry bear spray too, despite the fact that I obviously have a gun, and have it at the ready.

Of course, the best deterrent is the one you actually use. Bear spray is uesless if it's at the bottom of your pack, or you don't spray the bear...