Posts tagged with "Harvard University"

Double take: Winklevoss brothers buy a startup founded by identical twins

November 20, 2019

They are best-known for losing the Facebook concept—which they had named ConnectU—to the ambitious Mark Zuckerberg when they all attended Harvard University. And for winning $65 million in a suit against Zuckerberg in 2008.

But now the Winklevoss twins—Tyler and Cameron, age 38—have become crypto entrepreneurs. And Bloomberg reported on November 19 that they have made their first-ever acquisition, from a duo of entrepreneurs to whom they bear a strong resemblance.

Duncan and Griffin Cock Foster, 25, are also identical twins, Bloomberg says. While the Winklevoss brothers rowed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the other twins rowed in high school. That said, the Cock Fosters weren’t involved in the birthing of the social network Facebook.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” Tyler Winklevoss told the financial news outlet in a phone interview. “There are so many great parallels, it was just the right fit.”

The two sets of twins came together over their belief in the future of so-called nifties. A niftie may be a cat from the CryptoKitties game, in which players breed the digital felines, or a token representing ownership in art, stamps, and comic books—an asset that is being kept track of via a blockchain digital ledger and is tradeable.

To buy such collectibles, people typically have to open digital currency wallets, buy cryptocurrency on an exchange—a process that can take hours and can be confusing.

The Cock Fosters’ Nifty Gateway, which the Winklevosses’ Gemini Trust bought for an undisclosed sum, lets anyone pay for nifties with a credit card, via a streamlined experience similar to checking out through Amazon.

The company currently lets people buy nifties from Open Sea marketplace and CryptoKitties and Gods Unchained games.

It doesn’t disclose its customer numbers or payment volume. But Duncan Cock Foster forecasts that nifties could one day attract as many as one billion collectors, Bloomberg reports. The Winklevosses expect that the market for nifties will be as big as the collectibles, art, and gaming markets combined.

 “We believe in this future where all your assets will be on a blockchain and you may want to buy, sell and store them, and Nifty fits that vision,” Tyler Winklevoss said.

While initially Gemini, with more than 220 employees, and Nifty, with three workers, will continue to operate as stand-alone companies, that could change, and some of Nifty’s features could make way into Gemini services.

Duncan now owns about 300 nifties; and his brother, 100. While most people currently don’t even know what the word means, the two sets of twins hope that will change.

“All great companies, all great ideas there’s a period where you see a truth and many other people don’t, and you have to have that conviction,” Tyler Winklevoss said.

Research contact: @business

Hitting home: When report cards go out on Fridays, child abuse escalates on Saturdays

December 24, 2018

The Earthly equivalent of Judgment Day is the moment when students receive their report cards. They fear the teacher’s no-holds-barred assessment: How smart is this pupil? How talented? How athletic? How adept and poised in social situations? How determined to succeed?

But, while some students worry they won’t “ace” their grades, others are dealing with more dire misgivings: A new study has found that large numbers of elementary school students are physically abused by their parents after report cards hit home.

The research—conducted by professionals at the University of Florida, Georgia State University, and Harvard University; and published in the December 17 edition of JAMA Pediatrics—found that, across a single academic year in the state of Florida, nearly 2,000 children had been abused after report cards were released on Friday afternoons.

Specifically, when report cards were distributed Monday through Thursday, researchers did not document increased rates of home-based child physical abuse—either on the same day or on the day after the release. However, the researchers found nearly a fourfold increase in the incidence rate of verified child physical abuse on the Saturdays after a Friday report card release.

The study focused on children ages 5 through 11; and relied on reports called in to the Florida Department of Children and Families abuse hotline during the 2015-16 academic year.

Melissa A. Bright, the lead author of the study, told The New York Times in an interview that the idea for the research came from the personal accounts of pediatricians and teachers, who saw a pattern of abuse shortly after report cards were released. Dr. Bright, a researcher at the University of Florida who focuses on child maltreatment, said some teachers told her they worried about their students after grades were released.

Dr. Randell C. Alexander of Jacksonville, Florida, a pediatrician who specializes in treating victims of abuse, told the Times that for years he and his colleagues had heard children recount episodes of violence arising from unsatisfactory grades. They would see children with black eyes, marks from belts and electrical cords; and, at times, more serious injuries, he said.

“When you say, ‘How did you get it?,’ they say it’s because of their report card,” said Dr. Alexander, an author of the study and the chief of the Child Protection and Forensic Pediatrics division of the University of Florida’s College of Medicine-Jacksonville.

When doctors asked parents why they hit their children, sometimes they would answer, “Because they got a C,” he said.

Researchers set out to collect data that could shed light on whether there were patterns in the timing of the abuse.

“We know a lot about what predicts child abuse,” Dr. Bright said. “But we don’t know when. If we have a better idea of when child abuse happens, then we can target our prevention efforts more effectively.”

Researchers were surprised to find an association between verified reports of abuse and report cards only when the grades were released on a Friday.

On weekdays, caregivers may have been too “distracted” to punish their children, researchers speculated. Dr. Bright added that children might have been spared punishments on weekdays because they would be attending school the next day, and teachers are legally bound to report evidence of abuse. Alcohol use by caregivers on weekends might also have played a role, she added.

The study also looked only at public schools that distribute paper report cards, excluding potential reactions from caregivers who looked at grades online. And, of course, the data excluded instances of child abuse that went unreported.

Of the counties researchers tracked, Fridays were the most popular day to release report cards, accounting for about 31%.

Dr. Bright told the Times that one practical solution would be shifting report card distribution from Friday to a day earlier in the week, giving teachers an opportunity to keep tabs on their students after they get their grades.

Research contact: @juliarebeccaj

The Harvard degree as a ‘golden ticket’: Why admissions policies are crucial

October 31, 2018

Harvard‘s admission process is on trial in a Boston-area courtroom, with the Ivy League college defending itself from allegations it discriminates against Asian Americans, based on “personal qualities.”

If the charges are proven, the university—which continues to be ranked number one in the nation—would be guilty not only of affecting the college experience of Asian-American applicants; but of downgrading their financial futures, based on the underlying fact that a Harvard degree remains one of the most valuable in the country, CBS News reports.

A decade after graduation, Harvard grads earn median annual pay of $129,000, or 58% more than the $81,600 in median annual pay earned by non-Ivy League college graduates, according to data provided to CBS MoneyWatch by PayScale, the network news outlet said.

Even among Ivy League schools, Harvard edges out the competition: graduates of all Ivy League colleges earn $124,600 after a decade in the workforce, PayScale found.

On top of higher pay, Harvard graduates receive access to a network of famous and successful alumni including Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, actress Natalie Portman and drop-outs such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

It’s no wonder that a Harvard degree is considered a “golden ticket” to a better future by many students and their parents. At the same time, CBS said, it’s harder than ever to gain entry to an Ivy League school, with admissions rates for Harvard and its competitors dropping to all-time lows.

Last year, almost 43,000 students applied to Harvard—but only 5% received an acceptance letter, one of the lowest admittance rates in the country.

And, as competition for acceptance by Harvard has grown stiffer, its admissions practices have come under scrutiny. In 2014, an anti-affirmative action group called Students for Fair Admissions sued Harvard, alleging the college’s admissions policies discriminate against Asian-American students.

On its website, the group says, “There is a line between ‘competitive’ admissions and just flat out ‘unconstitutional’ ones. Help us draw that line!”

Asian-Americans had an average acceptance rate to the school of 8.1% from 1995 to 2013according to an October 19 story by the Harvard Crimson, which cites data presented at the Harvard admissions trial now underway in a Boston courtroom.

That’s the smallest rate of any racial group, with Hispanic-Americans and African-Americans experiencing an acceptance rate of 10.6% and 13.2%, respectively. Whites have an 11.1% acceptance rate.

Asian-Americans are allegedly held to “a far higher standard than other students,” the Students for Fair Admissions claim in their lawsuit, CBS News said. The complaint cites a Harvard Crimson survey of 2017 freshman, which asked them their SAT scores. The results found East Asians and Indians scored above the survey’s median SAT result of 2237, while other minorities scored below the survey’s median.

“Harvard requires much more of its Asian-American applicants than it requires of other races and ethnicities,” the complaint alleges.

However, the network news outlet reports, there are two group of students that appear to have a remarkably easier acceptance rate: children of Harvard graduates and children of large donors. In evidence presented during the trial, internal Harvard emails appear to signal the college’s preference for applicants with well-heeled parents—contributing to the notion of “the rich getting richer,” by which many of the Ivy League schools and future employers abide.

Research contact: studentsforfairadmissions@gmail.com

You are more likeable than you think

September 28, 2018

When Sally Field accepted the Oscar for Best Actress in 1984 for her role in Places in the Heart, she blurted out, “You like me, right now, you like me!”—radiating her thrill at being validated by the members of her industry.

Most of us don’t get that type of affirmation on a world stage—however, a study published in September by the Association for Psychological Science suggests that the people you meet probably like you more than you think.

“Our research suggests that accurately estimating how much a new conversation[al] partner likes us — even though this a fundamental part of social life and something we have ample practice with — is a much more difficult task than we imagine,”  co-authors Erica Boothby, a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University; and Gus Cooney, a social psychologist at Harvard University, told CNBC in a recent interview.

In the first of a series of experiments, the researchers provided pairs of students with ice-breakers for five-minute conversations. The students then independently answered questions about how much they liked their conversational partner and how much they thought their conversational partner liked them.

It turns out the students consistently underestimated how well-liked they were, a phenomenon the researchers call the “liking gap.” The shyer someone was, the more they sold themselves short, the network news outlet reports.

They found further evidence in real-world settings and over long periods of time. Freshman at Yale University underestimated how much other residents of their dorms liked them for months throughout the school year. The gaps only disappeared by the end of the second semester.

How can this gap be explained? It may stem in part from the fact that people tend to hold themselves to high standards. The researchers posit that when you’re critical of yourself, you can project that criticism onto others.

“We’re self-protectively pessimistic and do not want to assume the other likes us before we find out if that’s really true,” says a third co-author, Yale University Psychology Professor Margaret S. Clark, told CNBC.

This instinct actually could be protective—and even beneficial, the researchers believe. They note, “People’s harsh inner critic can be functional when it comes to self-improvement.” For instance, if you tell a joke and sense that your audience has lost interest by the time you get to the punch line, the next time you tell it you might hasten the delivery and get a few more laughs.

But if self-doubt inhibits you from socializing, you may want to remind yourself that other people are not likely to be as hard on yourself as you are. That could give you the confidence you need to do some networking. After all, “conversations have the power,” the authors write, “to turn strangers into friends, coffee dates into marriages, and interviews into jobs.”

Research contact: ericajboothby@gmail.com