Extended Cognition and the Reason for Two Operating Systems

As I am writing a master thesis right now, I have decided to get a bit more extreme and try to create an environment, where I would be forced to work on it. Really, I now finally understand, why people have traumas, when writing their thesis, though for me it is not on that level yet.

One thing that I did was to make sure, that the operating system, where I was productive, does not have any kind of distraction on it. I already had two operating systems on my computer before (Arch Linux and Windows 7) and I have made the distinction on what I am doing on which computer before. For example, in Bratislava, when I wanted to be more productive, I gave up the internet cable, and every time I wanted to get internet, I would need to go to the church, we had in the student hall and use theirs. And it helped, that I uninstalled the Wi-Fi from one of my operating system, so one was more associated with mindless browsing (Windows 7) and the other with doing other stuff (Arch Linux).

But here home, even if I get rid of the cable, there are many other cables running around the house. So, this was not a tenable solution. Each time, I could just find a cable and installed a game or something else to distract me. So, what I did, was make sure, that at least on one operating system, even if I plug the cable in, I cannot connect to the internet. In the last week, if I needed another R package for statistical analysis for my master thesis, I needed to use a CD version, boot to this CD version and then install what I needed through the command line (and here I can thank the Arch Linux community, that they did not ship with graphical interface, when I got my CD).

Sure, the alternative could still be, that I would simply spend way too much time on the Windows. Well, for one, I don't really like Windows interface anymore. It can be way too slow and if anything goes wrong, the error messages are not that helpful. So, this is one reason. But even I could see on the beginning, that this is not going to be enough. So, what I did was use LeechBlock addon, to block all internet connection until 14:00 in the afternoon.

For one, it is a bit after 10:00 in the morning now, and I have already done more than half of the things one my To-Do list. After finishing this blog, there are only two things, that I can do without internet. Partly this could be, that I no longer put a lot on my To-Do list, but there were days, that I did less in the whole day, then I did today already.

But why does this work? My current hypothesis is, that the reason it works is the extended cognition. This is the thesis, that we use the objects and people around us to do our thinking and they also shape how we think and basically our whole cognition. One trivial example would be using a pen and paper to either help us think or to help us remember something. And what we use, for example in writing, do we use a computer, a pen or a typewriter can affect how we write. The original article is quite accessible to non-research oriented public, so you can read it here.

So, by making sure there are no games or access to the internet right now, it helps shape my mind and makes it easier to simply do something else. I can no distract myself by watching the series in the arrowverse the whole day, which is what I would likely do, if I gave myself this chance.

Another Political Test

A couple of weeks ago, my sister had shown me another political test. This one was more US oriented, and since I am not as well versed in the US politics, I am not sure, how accurate the results are. But still, there were a couple of things in the results, that were interesting.

The most interesting was the part, which they named themes. There were some popular political dichotomies, and based on the answers, they try to see, which side a person leans more on. Here are these political dichotomies:

Dichotomy Leaning
Populism vs. Elitism Populism
Decentralization vs. Centralization Decentralization
Capitalism vs. Socialism Capitalism
Pacifism vs. Militarism Pacifism
Multilateralism vs. Unilateralism Center
Isolationism vs. Imperialism Isolationism
Secular vs. Religious Secular
Libertarian vs. Authoritarian Libertarian
Big Government vs. Small Government Big Government
Globalism vs. Nationalism Globalism
Privacy vs. Security Privacy
Progressive vs. Traditional Progressive
Globalization vs. Protectionism Globalization
Tender vs. Tough Tender
Keynesian vs. Laissez-Faire Keynesian
Collectivism vs. Individualism Center
Assimilation vs. Multiculturalism Assimilation
Right-wing vs. Left-wing Right-wing
Deregulation vs. Regulation Center
Politically Correct vs. Politically Incorrect Politically Correct
Environmentalism vs. Anthropocentrism Environmentalism

Sure, this table can be a bit misleading. I am a lot more extreme on things, like pacifism, but I am quite close to the middle with the assimilations, for examples. So, this does not really tell the complete picture, but it does tell about, which side am I leaning to.

There were a couple of things that surprised me as the result. These results were Big Government vs. Small Government, Collectivism vs. Individualism and Politically Correct vs. Politically Incorrect. I thought that I am more for political incorrectness, for the small government and that I am strongly for individualism. I guess these are still the themes that then I need to think about it more carefully. The rest of the results are more or less in the direction that I expected. Which should not be surprising, since this should measure my opinions.

On another note, down below there are results, there was also a more traditional representation, with right-left wing and libertarian-authoritarian scales. No matter, which test do I take, I am always in the same quadrant, which is right wing-libertarian. Even when taking other tests about this, I always end up in that quadrant.

Which is a bit sad, because last year we had the presidential elections. So, they asked each one of the candidates, to position themselves on the same coordinate system. While two refused, each of the other seven candidates did. And they made such a nice diagonal from the left-libertarian to the right-conservative. Out of the 7 candidates that did this, none of them position themselves on the right-libertarian or left-conservative coordinate. So, I did not really have a candidate last year.

But on the funnier note, I also watch Yu-Gi-Oh anime, and on Tumblr, I found the following picture. I guess I am in the right place, since I apparently, at least politically, most associate with Seto Kaiba. :)

Yu-Gi-Oh Kaibas as Right-Left and Libertarian-Authoritarian Coordinates

Differences and Similarities between People and the Political Stance

When I was reading a thesis, I came across a pretty interesting idea. They connected the philosophies of two different philosophers (Rousseau in Nietzsche) to the differences between the right and left-wing politics.

Not, that I have read much about them, but I like the idea anyway, so I am noting it here, in case it would be interesting to somebody else as well.

The differences between the left and right wing is what they think is responsible for differences and similarities between people. So, Rousseau thinks that we are born the same, and then the society makes us unequal. On the other hand, Nietzsche thinks that we are born different, but the society makes us more equal or same. Since the passage is in Slovenian, I am not sure, if here they are talking about the quality or similarities.

This made me think, which one of them do I subscribe to. On one side, I am a big proponent of personality being, at least in part, defined before we are born, so I don't believe that we are all born the same. The same with many other things, from beauty to intelligence and so on.

But the role of the society is a bit more complicated. I do believe that society makes us more similar. Just think about how we all act in some situations. The social roles that we subscribe to give rise to a very limited amount of variation to the behavior in some situation. For example, when a student listens to a teacher, they generally don't stand up and jump through the window, or start singing a song, or have sex in front of them. We can discuss the reasons for this, but I think we can all agree, that we simply don't do some things in some situations. Which does makes us more similar.

On the other hand, depending on the environment of growing up, things like social mobility, intelligence and many other things can be affected. So, these differences can make the already existing differences even bigger in some case.

I might go with the former version of the argument, for one reason only. And this is the gender differences. The more the country tries to be egalitarian, the bigger the gender differences are. But it is a very one-dimensional argument, I just don't have better yet.

So, in this way, I am much more like Nietzsche then Rousseau.

Laver and Budge Political Categories

I am just here posting the political categories for left and right wing, that I have found in the thesis that I had read. I guess, the more a person agrees with one side, the more likely they are to lean to that side.

Right-Wing Attitude Right-Wing Category Left-Wing Attitude Left-Wing Category
Positive Army Negative Army
Negative Protectionism Positive Protectionism
Positive Limiting Social State Positive Expanding Social State
Positive Free Entrepreneurship Positive Market Regulations
Positive Economic Incentives Positive Economic Planning
Positive Orthodox Economics Positive Planned Economy
Positive Freedom and Human Rights Positive Nationalization
Positive Constitution Positive Workers Groups
Positive Political Authority Positive Democracy
Positive Law and Order Positive Peace
Positive Traditional Morality Positive Anti-imperialism
Positive Nacional Lifestyle Positive Internationalism
Positive Social Harmony Positive Expanding Education

Website without JavaScript

Yesterday, I have attended the Python Meetup in Ljubljana. There have been more talk around JavaScript then Python this time. Which, I guess, was not that bad.

But I am not a JavaScript person. The most that I have done is to write a couple of lines of code in it. So, after the second speaker told a story how a removal of a small JavaScript program named left-pad apparently broke the internet (which I did not notice at all at the time), I started thinking. I may not be programming in the JavaScript, but I know that my blog uses a htmly platform, and during testing I noticed that it does pull some of the JavaScript files as well.

So that made me thinking, can I remove these JavaScript references, and would that make the website still work? Well, so far so good. Though I hope that I have managed to catch all of the JavaScript used. The one blog post, which had a couple lines of JavaScript was replaced by a similar css alternative.

So far, there are no problems yet. Either way, if this made my website a bit lighter and quicker, then it was worth it.

Politics, Emotions and Personality

Ever since we had the parliamentary elections here in Slovenia, I have been thinking, reading and in some cases discussing the politics with other people. The main reason behind this was to understand, why did I vote the way I did and to figure out, what is the difference between me and the people that voted differently than me. For example, even though I have voted right-wing option, most of my classmates, that I talked to, seems to support the left-wing options. On the other hand, change the mayor of people from cognitive science to mechanical engineering, and most people there voted the same way I did.

So far, I have not found the clear connection between the natural and social sciences and the voting patterns. There are some articles, that point out the problem of social sciences are so left-wing, that the people having different political leanings feel excluded. The economics, the mayor I originally come from, is a bit more diverse, but there are still more left-leaning people than others. It is just, that instead of being 10:1 or even 20:1 ratio, it is more like 4:1 ratio. I cannot remember right now ever reading the study made on the natural science researchers, like mathematicians, computer sciences or engineers.

My hypothesis is, that it is in connection to the care pillar of the moral foundations. The left-leaning people have this a lot higher than the right-leaning people. And when put this together with the empathizing–systemizing theory, it might explain it a bit. People that are high on empathizing are more likely to lean in the direction dealing with people, which in the academia would mean social sciences and humanities. While people which are high on systemizing are more likely to go in the STEM direction, since they prefer dealing with things and systems. Men are on average higher on systemizing and women are on average higher on empathizing. Women are also, on average, higher on objective tasks dealing with recognizing emotions. And they are higher on agreeableness. So, this part might make them more likely to put a higher value on the caring of other people.

Which is interesting, because left-wing is normally connected to openness dimension of the Big Five, not the agreeableness.

The other interesting connection is between the conscientiousness, disgust and right-wing leanings. People higher on disgust then to be more right-wing. This can be disgust at touching something, well disgusting, or just moral disgust, like for example at the person who would eat a chicken, after using it for masturbation.

But people higher on conscientiousness are also higher on disgust. These are the people that are more orderly and more hard working. The conscientiousness seems to be connected with the circuit in the prefrontal cortex responsible for the inhibition. So, they have an easier time to delay the immediate reward for a longer long-term reward. If this reminds anybody of the marshmallow experiment, don't worry, it reminds me of it as well.

And conscientiousness seems to be connected to the right-leaning political opinions and behaviors as well.

Why this is like that, I am not entirely sure yet. And how would inhibition and disgust be connected to having the opinion that are more right-leaning? I mean, there are some possible connections, like people that are better at postponing rewards would not see as much point in the government support for the people that are more careless. And the disgust can be connected to being less open to experiencing new people, so there could be the connection with the immigration policies. But there are so many other aspects, so I am not sure, if an ad-hoc explanation like that would suffice.

But there is, at least for me, even more interesting question. What does the inhibition have in common with disgust? In what circumstances would these two be connected? The only place that I had seen them connected are in the NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) techniques. But since these techniques never worked on me, I just kind of ignored them. Maybe I should not dismiss them as quickly? But otherwise, I don't really see the connection. Which I guess it is what makes it more interesting.

Putting VHS Tapes on the Computer

I really need to learn, how to keep my mouth shut. As I was talking to somebody, I don't remember what we were talking about, but the conversation somehow came to the point of putting the VHS tapes to the computer. And I was, of course, a smart ass, and I was like 'sure, as long as it is on the television, it can be put on the computer' (yes, I had no idea at the time, what I was talking about). And then the conversation came, that I am always just talk (quite true) and that I should sometimes do something. So, leading this, I should digitize the VHS tapes, that were lying around.

Now, I am around 25 EUR lighter and a couple of hours of work wiser. Still, for the learning experience, it was worth it.

So the first thing that I needed to do, was find a VHS player (which I did) and television. And I put together all the old cables, that I managed to find. Also, I started googling, so I figured out, what was I supposed to do.

The first thing that I tried was putting a USB in the USB port. The problem was, that I could not find the function for recording on the television and the one of the remote did not work. Or maybe the remote simply did not work on my television. I did not spend a lot of time with this one. Knowing what I know now, I doubt that I would really work.

On the beginning, I was trying to connect the television with the computer. The main reason for this was, that the VHS player that I had available did not have many ports. Not counting the one used for power source, there was Belling-Lee (which in my head I call the antenna cable) and scart and nothing else (I also learnt a lot of names for different cables). I had no cable, that would be able to connect this to the computer. I had both cables, but none of them would be able to go to the computer. On the other hand, there were a lot of options, when I was looking at the computer.

A lot of articles talked about sort of convertor, that it is needed. In the pictures in the articles, it usually looked like a USB or a box. Thankfully, I was able to find something like this in BigBang. Though, this led to an awkward conversation in the store. I found it on the internet, but since I live close to the BigBang, I figured that I am going to just go there and buy it. As I was perusing the cables, the person came there. I had no idea, how to explain, what I was looking for, and on the end I got a recommendation to buy a HDMI cable or to photograph the ports on the television and computer.

I ended up ordering through the internet and simply picking it up in the store.

So, this had on one side a RCA cable and on the other side USB. I had a two sided RCA cable and there was a RCA ports on the television. So it should have worked, right?

Wrong. One thing that I did not account for it, that apparently there is a difference between the input and output ports. So, some are only able to send the information, and some are only able to receive information. Well, all the ports on television, that I borrowed, were input ports. At this point, I found out that I need to rethink my strategy a bit.

Thankfully, I remembered reading something during my research. In one of the Slovenian forums (I am pretty sure, it was on https://slo-tech.com). A person was discussing using their SIOL cable box for something. Well, I still had two different boxes, that were not used. One was from the satellite television and the other was from SIOL. So I took out the boxes, checking, if I can use them for something.

The satellite one looked promising. It had the RCA output, so as long as I connect the Belling-Lee cable, it should work. The problem was, that my VHS did not want to send the picture by this cable, neither to the satellite box, or to the television. So this one was a bust.

I tried the SIOL one next. This one had SCART port as input as well, so I had no problem getting the signal there. The problem was the output. I was able to get the audio signal with the audio part of the RCA cable. The problem was, that my cable had the composite video cable, but the SIOL box only had YPbPr ports. Simply putting my yellow composite one did not really work. So I could listen to the tape of Fellowship of the Ring, but not watch the video.

As I was looking at the YPbPr to RCA converter, I found the SCART to RCA adapter. Which was even better, as I go get rid of the boxes and simply connect the VHS player to my computer. Even better, I could return the television, as it was no longer needed.

And it worked. I did some small tests, but recording small segments of the tapes. And these works. Right now, in the background, there is my first full tape, that is getting digitized.

So in the end, I needed a VHS player, SCART to RCA adapter, RCA cable, RCA to USB converter and a laptop.

What were the main lessons:

  • Don't be a smart ass (but I think I will need to repeat this lesson a couple of more times)
  • Projects like this are a good way to learn
  • There is no way to capture something from television, it needs to be captured at another place, because of the input-output differences in ports

My Master Thesis Questionnaire - The Hardest Part

I am currently writing my master thesis on the sharing behavior on social media, when it comes to the content connected with employers. So, are people willing to share the content in connection of what kind of place this is to work on, or available job spots or some information in what kind of problems or perks companies have as employers.

I am right now at the hardest part of this. I need to collect responses. And I am afraid to even post it on the social media. Or my blog. Or ask people around me to do something about it. It is embarrassing. Out of all of them, posting on the blog is the easiest part, so this is what I am doing it first. I am hoping, that this will give me the courage to then do it somewhere else as well.

The questionnaire is in Slovenian, so people that don't speak the language are sadly not able to answer it (even though for a while I was thinking of doing it in a bilingual fashion).

So this is a link: https://www.1ka.si/a/178528

If you are reading this, and you are human (and not algorithm), and you speak Slovenian, I would like to kindly ask you to fill in this questionnaire. Though I doubt that anybody is reading it :(.

My Results of the SAPA Personality Test

Quite some time ago (I think I could measure it is months), I have taken the SAPA personality test, which tests for intelligence, the big five and 27 narrow traits. I have mostly taken it, because the SAPA puts some of the data it collected available to everyone. Since for the R portion of my advance cognitive neuroscience course, I needed to use a database, that I could picked myself, I looked for personality-based ones. And they so ask a couple of other questions (gender, country, body mass index, exercise frequency,...), so this means that it made for a quite interesting exploratory analysis.

The other reason was, that I am interested in personality, and this would be another test, that I could compare to a couple of the tests, that I have taken beforehand. I will do this analysis at one point, but not today. This blog post is mostly for me to have a record of my results. And because there is a secret wish in me to test all the people around me and compare results, so I am making the things easier for people around me, who have similar secret wishes.

So, I will first provide the results for the big five. The results are in the percentiles, so how many people have lower results than I do. Which is always dependent on the type of people that were surveyed, since it is a comparable metric. But it is still useful.

Trait Result
Extraversion 14%
Conscientiousness 31%
Agreeableness 38%
Neuroticism 38%
Openness 69%

And now the results for the narrow traits as well:

Trait Result
Compassion 1%
Attention-Seeking 7%
Perfectionism 8%
Sensation-Seeking 12%
Authoritarianism 12%
Charisma 14%
Emotional Expressiveness 16%
Sociability 18%
Art Appreciation 24%
Impulsivity 27%
Industry 38%
Adaptability 46%
Humor 46%
Conformity 46%
Irritability 50%
Conservatism 50%
Intellect 54%
Order 54%
Self Control 62%
Well-Being 69%
Introspection 69%
Anxiety 73%
Honesty 76%
Creativity 76%
Emotional Stability 82%
Easy-Goingness 84%
Trust 92%

And intelligence:

Trait Results
Cognition 99%

I don't remember if I ever shared what I found out of a quick study of their database. I need to check this, and if I did not yet, then I need to share some of it.

Added on 2018-10-30: I forgot to add the site, where you can actually take the test https://sapa-project.org/. They also provide some of the information about how to analyze the personality data on http://www.personality-project.org/

The Political Parties in Slovenia or Why I Voted for SDS based on Numbers

A little over 2 weeks ago, we had an election in Slovenia. The results are in now and there are negotiations going on right now as to who will enter the coalition. And while watching the whole proceeding is quite fun, today I am going to be mostly concentrating on the parties itself.

In Slovenia, one of the organization send all the political parties, that participated in this election (over 20) the questionnaire about their political ideology. So, by answering a couple of questions, each party (at least the ones that answered) were positioned on a couple of continuums:

  • whenever human is mostly the result of the genetics or environment
  • whenever the criminal system is for punishment or rehabilitation
  • whenever we should hold status quo or implement the changes
  • whenever internationalism or nationalism is more important
  • whenever the property should be in the public or private hands
  • whenever the regulation or laissez-faire is better
  • whenever the ecology or productivity is more important
  • whenever to implement the changes through evolution or revolution

My results can be found both on the picture below and on the following link. The comparison of my answers with different political parties can be found here.

My results of political ideology test

Since most of my classmates (that I discussed this with) voted for the left party (Levica), and I voted for right party (SDS), I had a conversation or two about why I voted the way I did. For myself I knew that I biased myself in favor of the right party beforehand, since I think that I do live in a social country. But there were a couple of things connected to the economy, that I though needed improvement. Since I wanted to vote for somebody, that I was sure that will enter the parliament, I did not have much of the choice (SDS and NSi), and I think the leader of one is more competent than the leader of another.

But I wanted to see, if the results also hold. So, I did a couple of quick analysis, based on the data from the website that I mentioned above. So, I tried to see, which political party in the parliament has the most similar ideology to mine.

I originally wanted to use the k-nearest neighbor, but apparently the sklearn library in python demands labels, so I decided to try something else. But just like k-nearest neighbor, I calculated the distance to each of the party.

Here is the list of the parties in the parliament, from the ones that are most like me, to the ones that are the most different (there is no SDS, since they did not provide the answers):


Depending on the distance used, sometimes the SMC and SNS are exchanged and the DESUS and NSi also exchange places from time to time. But otherwise the order is quite stable. I am quite a right-winger, based on this information.

But to see, if my intuition of being a right-winger is right. Or am I misinterpreting the results. So, what I did is analyze the results of all these parties with hierarchical clustering. Here is one of the results, even though the groupings seem to be quite similar with another parameter used.

Clusters of Political Parties

Looking at the clusters, there is one cluster, where nobody came in the parliament (Zedinjena Slovenija, Stranka Slovenskega Naroda, Naprej Slovenija), so we can ignore it. On the other hand, there is a cluster of clearly left-wing parties: Levica, SAB, Pirati, SD, Solidarnost and Združena Levica in Sloga. Then there is another cluster of a mixture of right and left, even though most of the parties there are agnostic or right-leaning. There is a right+SMC sub-cluster (SNS, SMC, Kangler and Primic, Rešimo Slovenije Elite in Tajkunov). Then there is another more right-leaning sub-cluster (NSi and GAS), which the only attribute that I see different is, that they seem to have programs concentrating more on the economy. And then there is another sub-cluster, which seems to be concentrated more on helping (LMŠ, DESUS, Zeleni, Za Zdravo Družbo). It is interesting, that this sub-cluster seems to be more connected to right-wing than left, but maybe for one of my future analysis, I could check this.

Now, if I try to see how this connect to which parties I am close to. Let me copy the list again:


They are clearly ordered by clusters. I start with right-leaning parties, then I go through the helping ones, ending up on the left-leaning ones. So, on the end, my bias on the beginning might have be because these parties have more things similar with my thinking than some of the other ones. And maybe next time, I should, because of this, biased myself to the side of the left parties.

The code that I used for the analysis can be found here. The data, that I entered based on the political portret site can be found here.