Current Decisions News and Events

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Avoid repeating old mistakes
Global goals for biodiversity must apply to all member states of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) also at national level. This is one of four recommendations for improving the global strategy for biodiversity made by researchers at Nanjing Institute for Environmental Research, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU). The researchers analyse why the goals have been largely missed so far and present concrete policy options. (2021-01-26)

Navigating uncertainty: Why we need decision theory during a pandemic
Modern decision theory can assist policymakers in critical times such as the COVID-19 crisis, argue Bocconi University's Massimo Marinacci and Valentina Bosetti in a paper coauthored by Nobel laureate Lars Peter Hansen (2021-01-22)

Experts call for more pragmatic approach to higher education teaching
Millions of students around the world could benefit if their educators adopted a more flexible and practical approach, say Swansea University experts. After analysing the techniques current being used in higher education, the researchers have released a new paper calling for a pragmatic and evidence-based approach instead. (2021-01-22)

Even a small amount of gender bias in hiring can be costly to employers
Tiny amounts of gender bias in employee hiring decisions contribute to concerning rates of discrimination and productivity losses that together represent significant costs, financial and otherwise, for employers. (2021-01-19)

In shaky times, focus on past successes, if overly anxious, depressed
The more chaotic things get, the harder it is for people with clinical anxiety and/or depression to make sound decisions and to learn from their mistakes. On a positive note, overly anxious and depressed people's judgment can improve if they focus on what they get right, instead of what they get wrong, suggests a new University of California, Berkeley, study. (2020-12-22)

Traffic light system helps reduce clinical uncertainty, improve treatment decisions
A new study has found one in four clinical decisions made by physicians falls short of best practices, but when physicians reviewed a simple traffic light system prior to making a clinical decision, uncertainty was reduced by 70 per cent and treatment decisions improved. (2020-12-16)

The video referee in the spotlight
Since the 2019/20 season, controversial referee calls in the English Premier League may be technically reviewed and, if deemed necessary, corrected. Using a Twitter analysis of 129 games in the English Premier League, a research team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now determined how decisions made by video referees affect the mood of the fans. (2020-12-14)

Irrelevant information interferes with making decisions, new research reveals
According to new research from behavioral economist Ian Chadd, an assistant professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, irrelevant information or unavailable options often cause people to make bad choices. When both elements are present, the probability of a poor decision is even greater. Through an experiment involving 222 individual tests each consisting of more than 40 questions, Chadd's research revealed that decisions made in an environment of irrelevant information carry time, cognitive, and consequence costs. (2020-12-14)

'Boss' genes could save human hearts - and the reef
UQ researchers have revealed rare decision-making genes in cells, which control how cells develop and respond to stress caused by disease or their environment. Researchers hope that in the future, they may be able to block a cell's bad decisions to prevent disease. (2020-12-13)

Focus on human factor in designing systems
A new study has found one of the challenges in designing systems that involve people interacting with technology is to tackle the human trait of overconfidence. (2020-12-08)

Study finds gamblers ignore important information when placing bet
People with gambling problems are less likely to consider important information that could prevent them from losing, according to new research published today from the UBC's Centre for Gambling Research. (2020-12-03)

New tool helps predict outcomes for COVID-19
A study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine this month reports on an assessment tool developed by Kaiser Permanente researchers and physicians that helps ensure patients get the right care, when they need it, by accurately predicting the probability that patients with COVID-19 symptoms will experience severe disease or even death. (2020-11-20)

Making the best decision: Math shows diverse thinkers equal better results
A Florida State University researcher found that networks that consisted of both impulsive and deliberate individuals made, on average, quicker and better decisions than a group with homogenous thinkers. (2020-11-16)

The COVID-19 pandemic: How US universities responded
A new George Mason University study found that the majority of university announcements occurred on the same day as the World Health Organization's pandemic declaration. Timing of announcements on moving courses online, discouraging campus housing, canceling travel, closing campus, and remote working was studied. (2020-11-12)

Policy, not tech, spurred Danish dominance in wind energy
In a new study focused on Denmark, a global leader in wind energy - a relatively mature and low-cost renewable technology - researchers found that government policies have been the primary driver of that industry's growth and development. (2020-11-06)

Brain region tracking food preferences could steer our food choices
Researchers discovered that a specific brain region monitors food preferences as they change across thirsty and quenched states. By targeting neurons in that part of the brain, they were able to shift food choice preferences from a more desired reward (think: chocolate cake) to a less tasty one (think: stale bread). (2020-11-04)

Machine learning shows similar performance to traditional risk prediction models
Some claim that machine learning technology has the potential to transform healthcare systems, but a study published by The BMJ finds that machine learning models have similar performance to traditional statistical models and share similar uncertainty in making risk predictions for individual patients. (2020-11-04)

Judges' decisions in sport focus more on vigour than skill
Researchers from the University of Plymouth analysed almost 550 men's and women's mixed martial arts contests, using data collated for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and found the rate at which competitors fight is more likely to result in judges awarding victory than the skill with which they attack their opponents. (2020-10-27)

Uncertainties key to balancing flood risk and cost in elevating houses
What do you have on your 2020 Bingo Card? Wildfire, heat wave, global pandemic, or flooding? If it's flooding, then it's a good bet it will happen in many places in the U.S. sometime during the year. (2020-10-26)

Knowing the model you can trust - the key to better decision-making
As much of Europe is engulfed by a second wave of Covid-19, and track and trace struggles to meet demand, modelling support tools are being increasingly used by policymakers to make key decisions. Most notably, models have been used to predict the Covid-19 R0 rate - the average rate of secondary infections from a single infection, which has formed the basis for many lockdown decisions across the UK. (2020-10-23)

'Happy ending effect' can bias future decisions, say scientists
Our brains can't always reliably evaluate experiences that unfold over time. We tend to give disproportionate weight to the later part of an experience. This can lead to bad decisions when choosing whether to repeat an experience. (2020-10-19)

Safe sex or risky romance? Young adults make the rational choice
Eros, the fabled Greek god of love, was said to bring confusion and weaken the mind. New research, however, suggests that young adults are instead quite rational when it comes to selecting potential sexual partners. (2020-10-16)

Automatic decision-making prevents us harming others - new study
The processes our brains use to avoid harming other people are automatic and reflexive - and quite different from those used when avoiding harm to ourselves, according to new research. (2020-10-15)

Nerve cell activity shows how confident we are
Should I or shouldn't I? The activity of individual nerve cells in the brain tells us how confident we are in our decisions. This is shown by a recent study by researchers at the University of Bonn. The result is unexpected - the researchers were actually on the trail of a completely different evaluation mechanism. The results are published in the journal Current Biology. (2020-10-09)

BrainHealth's SMART methodology helps patients make more informed treatment decisions
Researchers at Center for BrainHealth® collaborated with scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to examine whether the SMART program affects people's abilities to make informed decisions about their medical treatment options. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are often reluctant to take antirheumatic drugs because of perceptions about the drugs' risks and benefits. The findings point to an approach that helps these patients, and other people, make more informed decisions about their health. (2020-09-23)

Better conservation planning can improve human life too
Conservation planning can be greatly improved to benefit human communities, while still protecting biodiversity, according to University of Queensland research. PhD candidate Jaramar Villarreal-Rosas, from UQ's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said the benefits people receive from ecosystems - known as ecosystem services - are under increasing threat globally due to the negative impacts of human activities. (2020-09-22)

Chaotic "Lévy walks" are a good strategy for animals
A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) explains the advantage that animals have of using a specific type of chaotic type of movement called a ''Lévy walk,'' and how this type of behavior emerges. Using computer modeling, the author shows that this type of movement can allow animals to make flexible decisions between ''exploitation'' and ''exploring'' in an environment. (2020-09-17)

COVID-19 policy makers could learn more about accountability from industries like aviation
Organisations could improve the transparency and accountability of COVID-19 policy making processes by learning from safety-critical industries like aviation, a new paper shows. (2020-09-14)

Indigenous knowledge still undervalued - study
New research has found that Indigenous knowledge is regularly underutilised and misunderstood when making important environmental decisions. (2020-09-03)

Unravelling the potential of the unconscious mind
By using a combination of artificial intelligence and brain imaging technology, researchers have discovered that humans can be trained to rationally use the unconscious contents of their mental processes. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, could open the way to important new approaches in neuroscience and artificial intelligence, but also lead to novel applications in clinical, educational or social settings. (2020-08-27)

How to make AI trustworthy
One of the biggest impediments to adoption of new technologies is trust in AI. Now, a new tool developed by USC Viterbi Engineering researchers generates automatic indicators if data and predictions generated by AI algorithms are trustworthy (2020-08-27)

Trust the power of markets
Organizations using groups or committees to make decisions might do better to crowdsource their decisions, says UC Riverside-led research. The study found that people trust groups even though their susceptibility to manipulation can cause poor decisions. Information markets, in which people bet on potential outcomes, make more accurate decisions, but people trust them less. Once people get used to using markets they trust them more, making markets a useful decision-making tool for large organizations. (2020-08-25)

Defiance and low trust in medical doctors related to vaccine scepticism
A new study shows that individuals who react negatively to rules and recommendations and have lower trust in doctors more often use complementary and alternative medicine, that is, treatments or substances that are not included in the care offered or recommended by doctors. The study included altogether 770 parents of young children. (2020-08-20)

OECD countries' politicians follow each other
The more democratic a country is, the greater the probability that its politicians decide in the same way as in neighbouring countries, without further analysis. This is according a research group that has studied political decision-making during the beginning of the Corona crisis. The results have now been published in the respected journal PNAS. (2020-08-12)

Blood test may point to patients at higher risk for COVID-19 deterioration, death
George Washington University researchers found five biomarkers associated with higher odds of clinical deterioration and death in COVID-19 patients. The study was published in Future Medicine. (2020-08-06)

New risk tool developed for cardiac arrest patients
Experts have developed a risk score to predict cardiac arrest patient outcomes. (2020-07-30)

AJTMH July updates
Below is an update of COVID-19 articles published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (AJTMH). We've highlighted below those that we think may of interest for your reporting. (2020-07-22)

Spider monkey groups as collective computers
New research shows that spider monkeys use collective computation to figure out the best way to find food. (2020-07-21)

Ethical recommendations for triage of COVID-19 patients
An international expert group led by Mathias Wirth, Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics at the University of Bern, has developed recommendations for avoiding triage of COVID-19 patients in extreme situations. The recommendations should support medical personnel in difficult decisions during a second wave of the infection and ensure better patient care. (2020-07-16)

Time to get real on the power of positive thinking -- new study
Positive thinking has long been extolled as the route to happiness, but it might be time to ditch the self-help books after a new study shows that realists enjoy a greater sense of long-term wellbeing than optimists. (2020-07-06)

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