Linklist: October 21, 2011

Bloomberg View: Bolivia’s Amazon Highway a Bumpy Road for Morales, Brazil: “Morales was elected twice as a champion of his fellow indigenous people. He’s been a paladin for Mother Earth, recently pushing for international adoption of a Bolivian law granting nature rights, to be protected like those of human beings. Yet, in insisting on cutting a Brazilian-financed highway through the delicate Amazon forest, bifurcating the autonomous homelands of three indigenous groups, Morales has trampled on both causes.
This duplicity caught up with him last month after police roughed up indigenous protesters marching from their homes toward the capital, La Paz. After several senior officials quit in disgust, Morales announced suspension of the highway segment that runs through the peoples’ homeland, pending a national debate.”

Reuters: Chinese girl dies in hit-and-run that sparked outrage: “BEIJING – A two-year-old Chinese girl run over by two different vehicles and ignored by passersby died on Friday, state media said, in a case which ignited public uproar over what some called a moral numbness seeping through society. Both drivers who ran over the girl have been arrested, but Internet users have flooded microblogs decrying the apathy of the people who left her for dead, after graphic footage from a security camera of the incident went viral.”

Baseline Scenario: More Bathtubs : “Difficulty understanding stocks and flows may be a fundamental cognitive error such as anchoring or availability bias. In one experiment by Matthew Cronin, Cleotilde Gonzalez, and John Sterman, more than half of a group of students at MIT Sloan—one of the top business schools in the country—could not figure out, from a chart of entrances to and exits from a department store, when the most and fewest people were in the store. These errors turn out to be robust to different framing stories, different ways of presenting the data, and even when getting the questions wrong meant you had to stay in the room for an hour.
The underlying issue seems what they call the correlation heuristic: people think that the behavior of a stock (the amount of water in the tub) should be similar to the behavior of its inputs (the rate at which water pours from the faucet). This is especially a problem when it comes to understanding climate change. In another experiment, most people thought that stabilizing emissions was sufficient to stabilize the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; if you think about it, though, you should realize that if you want the level to be stable, inflows have to equal outflows (and right now inflows are about double outflows).”