Stanford: Stanford psychologists show that altruism is not simply innate.
The Mischiefs of Faction: Four perspectives on Jeb Bush and the Republican nomination.
Doesn’t really go anywhere, but still worth the read.
Science of Us: The Psychological Case Against Materialism.
“We need to feel as if we have a certain amount of control over our lives; we need to feel as if we are contributing to our environments — to work, home, or elsewhere — and experiencing growth in that area by learning new skills; finally, we need to feel as if we belong somewhere. Focusing on acquiring more stuff is not going to help satisfy any of those needs ...” My italics. Not what retailers really want to hear right now.
PS Mag: Murder! Mayhem! And That’s Just the Cartoons!
“Specifically, the main characters in the top-grossing cartoons were 2.5 times as likely to die as their counterparts in adult-themed dramas.” Every puff of smoke or dust in the desert, some part of me thinks Wile E. Coyote’s bought the farm (almost) again.
ABC News: Six in 10 See CIA Actions as Justified As Many Question Committee Report.
Buffer: The Two Keys to a Lasting Early Morning Routine.
Good advice. Our little wintering hummer forced an early morning routine on us (thawing feeders). The practice has boosted overall productivity.
The Fully Intended: Death to uniform.
Funny. I wrote a similar thing in high school, ranting against the ‘school uniform’ of the day. Or rather, the in-crowd’s ‘uniform’. Painter’s pants (wrinkled). Polyester skin-tight shirts/blouses. Wallabees. Docksiders. Dr. Scholl clogs.
Of course, I wrote it wearing blue flowered western shirts, cheese-yellow bell bottoms, Raichle hiking boots, schlumping about with a Sacs Millet bag.
My English teacher of the time loved it. My classmates ... not so much. I’ve never had so many irate girls yelling at me in my life. Heaven forfend you attack perceived ‘individuality’.
New Republic, 12/4/14: Law Requires US to Compensate Guantanamo Torture Victims.
I’ve been thinking about this. Those who were tortured should have the ability take their cases to court. Internationally? In Islam, there is Qisas (retaliation) and Diyya (blood money). If we wish to maintain good relations internationally, we must be making restitution in meaningful ways. Meaningful ways to those who were so wronged. Many of these torturees have to be permanently scarred mentally and physically. America has a moral debt, red in our ledger. Will we even attempt to wipe it out?
PS Mag: Facts? We Don’t Need No Stinking Facts!
“ New research suggests that, if options such as relying on biased sources of information prove insufficient, many of us simply rely more heavily on “unfalsifiable” assertions—ones that cannot be definitely proven or disproven.” We are wonderfully, illogically human after all.
SciAm: Can Fear [Anxiety] Be Erased?
“Give oxytocin to people with certain anxiety disorders, and activity in the amygdala — the primary fear center in human and other mammalian brains, two almond-shaped bits of brain tissue sitting deep beneath our temples — falls.”
BBC: Renowned violinist berates coughing child.
We could judge of this better if we knew the age of the child. There are some things you just don’t bring a kid to, out of respect for the performance. Hey, if you want to bring a newborn to a Led Zeppelin reunion, have at it (not wise, but its your call) ... noone would notice. In a violin soloist performance - not so wise.
I lean on the side of the performers. It should be their call.
Science of Us: How Much Can You Really Change After 30?
“It’s not that personality is fixed and can’t change. [snip] But it’s relatively stable and consistent. What you see at 35, 40 is what you’re going to see at 85, 90.” Note in particular what they say about newborns; I reference Hillman’s “acorn theory.” When you have a child you’re not so much creating a personality, as revealing it.
Telegraph.UK: Neil Gaiman - Why Disney’s Sleeping Beauty doesn’t work.
“The point about Snow White is that you can keep fighting. The point about Snow White is that even when those who are meant to love you put you in an intolerable situation, you can run away, you can make friends, you can cope. And that message [he says with a smile of satisfaction] that even when all is at its darkest, you can think your way out of trouble – is huge.”
Brain Mic: There’s a Suicide Epidemic in Utah — And One Neuroscientist Thinks He Knows Why.
Altitude, really? Flagging this for further study results.
PBS/Frontline: New Report - Adam Lanza “Did Not Just ‘Snap’”.
“The authors describe a symbiotic relationship between mother and son, with Nancy going to excessive lengths to protect him from stress, which had the damaging effect of isolating him from the outside world. She treated him as a close confidant, but ‘that may have been well beyond his relatively immature emotional capacities.’” Alas I know of more than one tragedy of this kind. I’ll agree with the psychologists who say, “Suffer the little children to grow at their own pace.”
They need goals, don’t get me wrong. But we do them a disservice to ‘adultize’ them too soon. One can begin to accept them as ‘another adult’ and misperceive the actual abilities of the child, allowing them to get into situations where older and wiser heads are required to make safe choices.
SciAm: Why Do People Believe in Conspiracy Theories?
“Encouragingly, Uscinski and Parent found that education makes a difference in reducing conspiratorial thinking: 42 percent of those without a high school diploma are high in conspiratorial predispositions, compared with 23 percent with postgraduate degrees. Even so, that means more than one in five Americans with postgraduate degrees show a high predisposition for conspiratorial belief.”
The Luminous Landscape: Vision 13 - Photographer’s Block.
TNR: A Defense of Reason.
PS Mag: The Enduring Allure of Badly Behaved Men.
“Today’s male is listless, it’s said — emotionally paralyzed, indecisive, and insufficiently libidinal, on and off the page. With men transformed into soft-bellied unemployable losers, more and more women are left high and dry in the romance and mating department. They’ve lost it, apparently: their edge is gone, they’re lumpish, unemployed, and increasingly obsolete.” The author of this article does a good job ripping the book to pieces - this is a pullquote from the book being reviewed. Women want the same power, the same entitlements as men. Fine. Browbeating husbands or male offspring won’t turn Sparta into Athens; and if ill-done, the male Athenians will bypass women entirely. There need to be a better strategies than the old and tired ones, if equality is desired. Exactly what, is a fraught subject that I’ll bypass for the moment. Just calling attention to the link, for now.
[Slightly humorously, I blame American male consumption of unfermented soy, the favorite filler of food manufacturers in this country. The symptoms echo the above pullquote. Interestingly, while digging for that link, I found one study that mentions soy is twice the endocrine disruptor that BPA is. It seems we’ve collectively freaked out about the wrong compound.]
Tangential: Stumbled upon this. Inside the world of men and dolls. It seems my theorized Athenians are finding other outlets already ...
Discover Mag: How Your Facebook Updates Reveal Your Personality.
Figured I’d see Seligman credited in the paper. I’ve mentioned his “Learned Optimism” book before.
Pacific Standard: Feelings of Entitlement Boost Creativity.
Museum of Selfies.
Funny once. Other than that, I can imagine people shoving to get near valuable paintings. No offense to those who started it, but I hope it dies as a meme soon. There is also something frightening about forcing modern smartphone narcissism on images of the past. Psychs, analyze away on that one ...
Aeon: How it feels when writer’s block dissolves.
“Now I want to be writing every day, even as I can’t yet say what I want to be writing about. Like I might sometimes want to be walking, with no destination in mind, feeling just the movement of the arms and legs. I want the cadence, only the cadence is inward.” Nuggets of precious creativity, within.
Pacific Standard: The Positive Emotional Impact of Sad Music.
“Music-evoked sadness can be appreciated not only as an aesthetic, abstract reward, but (it) also plays a role in well-being, by providing consolation as well as regulating negative moods and emotions.” For me, it’s like lancing a boil. Sad music draws the tragedy away, leaving a peaceful glow.
BBC/A Point of View: Four types of anxiety, and how to cure them.
“We cannot cure existential anxiety, but we can show that there is no necessity to have big ideas worth dying for in order to find small pleasures worth living for, and that the best use of intelligence is to solve real problems rather than seek imaginary consolations.”