Print Solar Cells, Stanford Prison Experiments and Accidental Insurance

by Manshu on August 20, 2011

in Links

First off, let’s start with the most amazing thing I learned this week – MIT researchers have found a way to print solar cells on paper!

Now, isn’t that something – apparently it could already be done, but the new method is much better than the old one. They need special room, and equipment of course, but can then print the solar cells on any paper – even a newspaper!

Now, before you get too excited and start hunting for companies that make solar cells, let me temper you down with an article about a solar cell company – Evergreen Solar Cells declaring bankruptcy.

I wish every cool idea made money, but it doesn’t.

Something a little gloomy – The Stanford Prison Experiment – when I read about this the first time – I wasn’t sure if it really happened, or what sense to make of it. It’s a pretty impressive study, and the results truly surprised me.

Now, something more practical – Hemant has a great article on accidental insurance.

Chartered Club on how to save taxes by forming a HUF.

Value Research answers a reader’s question about reducing debt or investing money.

Economist asks if a country like India which is thinking of setting up its own international aid agency, should receive foreign aid.

Finally, here is an hour long interview of Warren Buffet where he talks about taxes, economy, housing, America’s AAA rating downgrade and others.

Enjoy your weekend!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Aditya August 20, 2011 at 9:31 am

The Stanford Prison Experiment is fascinating. There is a German film, “Das Experiment” (“The Experiment”), based on this though of course the plot is fictional; and this is the film that led me to the Stanford Prison Experiment.
Although the film had been released in Germany in 2001 when I was living there, it was not until 2005-06 when I managed to watch the film. Coincidentally this was when the extreme prisoner abuse reports from various American prisons/detention centres in Iraq and Guantanamo were being reported. And to me there was an instant connection– a connection which my German and Austrian (I was living in Vienna at that time) friends did not seem to make probably because they had seen the film a long time ago. The film and subsequently reading about the actual experiment had shaken me and the reported prisoner abuse in American detention centres seemed a logical and obvious now– give such power over other people to a bunch of kids in late teens and early 20s, what else can one expect?

Somewhere on the net is also a Psychology podcast where one of the episodes has a fascinating interview of Philip Zimbardo about the experiment and its relevance in what was happening in real life in these detention centres. See if you can find it.

Reply

Manshu August 21, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Thanks Aditya – that was an interesting comment. I tried looking for the podcast but couldn’t find it. Maybe will spend more time on it. When I read about this for the first time, it didn’t feel right. I couldn’t really accept that the experiment could show such a result. It sounded a bit gruesome, and it also felt unreal. I mean how can people who know they are in an experiment actually start behaving like that? But, it looks like that’s exactly what happens. I wonder if this is also proof that prison reform will work.

Reply

Aditya August 21, 2011 at 11:37 pm

I have found the podcast again: http://www.shrinkrapradio.com/2007/04/28/87-understanding-how-good-people-turn-evil/

Re prison reform, depends upon what you mean by “will work”. Reforming prisons and giving the prisoners a better time, yes. But reforming prisoners themselves? This particular experiment doesn’t really suggest either way.

Reply

Manshu August 22, 2011 at 12:42 am

Thanks for the links – I’m going to listen to them later today.

Yes, I did mean reforming prisoners themselves – since the environment and assumed role has so much effect on behavior – I was thinking that creating conditions that are conducive to good behavior will change the way they behave and stop many of these guys from becoming repeat offenders.

Reply

Aditya August 22, 2011 at 1:55 am

While what you say may well be behind the prison reform efforts, I don’t think the results specifically from the Stanford Prison Experiment could lead us to conclude either way. These results shed light on captor psychology/behaviour more than that of their captives, I’d think are in a different context altogether, aren’t they?

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Manshu August 22, 2011 at 2:10 am

Absolutely, and what I say will probably be no more than a corollary to this experiment – to show that your circumstances play a very dominant role in your behavior, and it’s wrong to label people good or bad, and discount the role that circumstances have to play in it.

I saw the TED video – it was great – thanks for sharing it Aditya.

Reply

Aditya August 21, 2011 at 11:45 pm

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