Friday, February 13, 2015

Opposing behaviors deliver reality?

Ms. Julie Beck of The Atlantic ponders - "Could it be that none of us are who we think we are?" in her article Faking it here.

The article is a packed full of study of studies, worth a read, reinforcing Dr. Dan Ariely's claim that we are Predictably Irrational beings.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Indirect pollution from EVs

The reality of electric vehicles is a bit stark today, though it will continuously improve with technological progress.  A study by Dr. Christopher Tessuma, Dr. Jason Hill, and Dr. Julian Marshall of University of Minnesota published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analyzes the complete life cycle of electric vehicles and compares it to more traditional ICE.  Note that life cycle implies inclusion of all that went into making the EV to its daily use and charging.

The report's abstract states:

"Commonly considered strategies for reducing the environmental impact of light-duty transportation include using alternative fuels and improving vehicle fuel economy. We evaluate the air quality-related human health impacts of 10 such options, including the use of liquid biofuels, diesel, and compressed natural gas (CNG) in internal combustion engines; the use of electricity from a range of conventional and renewable sources to power electric vehicles (EVs); and the use of hybrid EV technology. Our approach combines spatially, temporally, and chemically detailed life cycle emission inventories; comprehensive, fine-scale state-of-the-science chemical transport modeling; and exposure, concentration–response, and economic health impact modeling for ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). We find that powering vehicles with corn ethanol or with coal-based or “grid average” electricity increases monetized environmental health impacts by 80% or more relative to using conventional gasoline. Conversely, EVs powered by low-emitting electricity from natural gas, wind, water, or solar power reduce environmental health impacts by 50% or more. Consideration of potential climate change impacts alongside the human health outcomes described here further reinforces the environmental preferability of EVs powered by low-emitting electricity relative to gasoline vehicles."

"Air quality health impacts in the United States for each scenario: attributable increases in annual mortality (upper scale) and the resulting monetized health impacts (lower scale)."
legend - 03: Ozone, PM2.5: Fine particulate matter

Enjoy the complete analysis here

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Atlantic - "All advertising is manipulation"

Mr. Derek Thompson's article "Turning customers into cultists" in The Atlantic states: "… all advertising is manipulation".

What is a brand? "… to economists, the definition is simple: a brand is a signal, good or bad, that influences a consumer’s decision to buy a product."

This is an interesting article with a plethora of perspectives, yet leaving the amorphous concept brand as it is.

I believe that a brand is a singularity deposited in an individuals mind at a specific point in time in their lives based on their socio-demo-econo-graphic status, and cultural influences.  Excellent examples exist among immigrants to the United States who have had brand images imprinted on their minds and when they can afford it, buy the imprint, no matter how lousy the product.

Marketing is the realization of the singularity with products focused on specific segments of the brand's competition field.  Advertising is a means to market.  According to the article:

"Advertising thrives in markets where consumers are essentially clueless, often because quality is hard to assess before you buy the product (medicine, mattresses, wine). But on sites like Amazon or eBay, and across social media, information from other sources—ratings, reviews, comments from friends—is abundant. We’re more likely to trust these signals precisely because they aren’t beamed from corporate headquarters."

What about the cult of brand's personality:

"In 1984, the British sociologist Eileen Barker published The Making of a Moonie, a seven-year investigation of the Unification Church, based on interviews with members of one of America’s most popular cults. While many cults are portrayed as preying on the poor and uneducated, and particularly people from broken homes, Barker discovered that Moonies tended to be middle-class, with college degrees and stable families. The cult inculcated new members through simple techniques: weekend retreats, deep conversations, shared meals, and, most seductive, an environment of love and support."

And regarding Apple:

"From its famous hammer-smashing “1984” ad against IBM to its 1998 commercial “Crazy Ones,” Apple has been deliberate in reinforcing an us-against-the-world ethos. The fact that it has preserved its devoted following while becoming larger than its opponents “shows that culting is useful, even when it’s misleading,” Escalas says."

I believe the answer is well discovered and articulated by Mr. Douglas Atkin, author of The Culting of Brands:

"“The common belief is that people join cults to conform,” Atkin wrote. “Actually, the very opposite is true. They join to become more individual.”"

What other brands in the world have a cult following, empowering the individual to feel … "empowered"!?

Enjoy the article here.