Pacific Standard: Creative Thinking Can Inspire Unethical Behavior.
“According to a research team led by Ke Michael Mai, a creative frame of mind enables one to come up with compelling justifications for bad behavior.” Someone, somewhere is going to start using this as an excuse to further eliminate the liberal arts, just watch.
In These Times: Inside the Happiness Racket.
“The happiness industry exonerates capitalism. It’s not that the job is underpaid, the hours unreasonable or the product pointless. It’s that the employee is just unhappy. She should be encouraged to eat better, exercise and practice mindfulness. Or, if those things fail, seek a pharmaceutical remedy.” It’s enjoyable to be happy. Melancholy in solitude (*not* depression or sadness) tends to make me superhumanly creative. And I’m not the only one.
NY Mag: This Is Why You’re Terrible With Names.
“Names are ‘completely arbitrary, and hold no specific information in them’ ...” So, it’s not early-onset Alzheimer’s.
A List Apart: Meta-Moments - Thoughtfulness by Design.
Funny; Inbox by Google encouraged my signup. Once allowed in, I looked at the page, and realized it was unsuitable for my general use, so I went back to plain Gmail. I didn’t even notice the ‘friction’ - it was another new service that I thought I should be familiar with, in order to give my clients better recommendations.
ALA will, hopefully, forgive my using this article as a lever for a larger beef.
There are a subset of triggers that generate predictable behaviors - psychological stimuli, perhaps - that we all share. Just about every sales and marketing professional uses them.
Example: Give a person an unsolicited gift, they’ll feel obligated to the gift-giver. The gift-giver can then ask for outrageous payback and it will very often elicit amazing results. Note that the gift-giver has all the control over that transaction. This works consistently even with total strangers.
Another: Realty companies keep a couple of overpriced horrors on their listing services. When you come in to purchase a house, they run you through the horrors in your price-range first, setting up a psychological state of desperation, and then take you to the inventory they actually want to move. Generally a couple will seek to purchase the first non-horror they encounter, priced strategically just above what they should be able to afford.
There are thousands upon thousands of books on these techniques. Carrot and stick. Pig in a poke (cat in a bag). More. You can put new names to them if you want; the same old psych manipulation. Seeing websites resort to these timeworn tactics just means the internet has matured to parity with ‘reality’. Pull the Mad Men era salesmen out of retirement - they’re relevant again, online.
Quartz: Most children are happy no matter what, but materialism catches up eventually.
“There is also a noteworthy difference in the nature of of kids’ carefree attitudes in rich and poor countries. Despite being generally happy, children in developed countries were relatively less satisfied with their body, appearance, and self-confidence.”
Telegraph.UK: Why do so many liberal parents hate Thomas the Tank Engine?
Are Thomas shows indoctrinating your children in Stalinist propoganda? A bit overwrought, to my ears ... but I haven’t watched an episode in many years.
The Atlantic: Don’t Overthink It.
“The clearest contrast to the narcissist that I can think of is the repairman, who must subordinate himself to the broken washing machine, listen to it with patience, notice its symptoms, and then act accordingly.” I tend to discuss ‘pragmatism’ in this vein. Eventually concepts have to hit the pavement and function within realities.
Later: In this vein of thought, imagine an optimism-spouting social media person describing how to fix a badly-manufactured automobile engine.
Vox: How do police departments train cops how to use force?
Locus Online Perspectives: Cory Doctorow, ‘Shorter’.
“Talent is a destructive myth. To call someone talented is to imply that their abilities are intrinsic. Having written and taught for decades now, I’ve satisfied myself that the improvement of a person’s art isn’t drawn from the mystical well of their soul: it’s generated by practice.”
Aeon: Human beings do not have an instinct for war.
“... chimpanzees are known to engage in violent, group-level encounters, complete with search-and-destroy missions that conjure images of human skirmishing and outright warfare. Bonobos, on the other hand — genetically, no more distant from Homo sapiens — do nothing of the sort, and are renowned for making love, not war.” The author is a budding Buddhist, so grain of salt.
The Atlantic: Dressing Up the Brain - Wearing a Suit Makes You Think Differently.
“Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world.” Indeed it does. But for me, it has to be a tailored item. Off-the-rack rarely bestows the same feeling. I have a double-breasted that kills; unfortunately, there’s not a single occasion for which it is appropriate to wear in Santa Fe.
Guardian.UK: Psychologists met in secret with Bush officials to help justify torture.
“Based on an analysis of more than 600 newly disclosed emails, the report found that the APA coordinated with Bush-era government officials – namely in the CIA, White House and Department of Defense – to help ethically justify the interrogation policy in 2004 and 2005, when the program came under increased scrutiny for prisoner abuse by US military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.” I believe we knew a few individual psychologists had been hired, but not an entire organization.
BBC: The subtle science of selling – a six-step guide.
These techniques are actually much more effective and widespread than this article would have you believe. I’m reading a book right now that’s peeling my eyelids off with revelations about how I’ve been played over the years. I’m only partway into the book now, but I already think it should be on every high school reading list. We have automatic reactions to stimuli that salespeople know, and we don’t. I don’t want to spoil it now; I’ll do a longer post when I’m finished with the tome.
The Atlantic: The After-Work Email Quandary.
I wonder if this is why project management systems are becoming more and more popular. One can turn off the notifications. I hate seeing that little unread count icon on on my iPhone’s mail app. I suppose I’m just trained to respond to red.
NY Times: Romanticizing the Reader.
The Atlantic: The Art of Staying Focused in a Distracting World.
The New Yorker: Spalding Gray’s Catastrophe.
“One of the special features of Spalding’s monologues was that, onstage at least, he rarely repeated himself; the stories always came out in slightly different ways, with different emphases. He was a gifted inventor of the truth, of whatever seemed true to him at the moment.” I consider myself privileged to have seen him perform live twice, at McCarter Theatre in Princeton. Riveting, both times. Both before his accident. RIP, Spalding. RIP.
BBC: Does a US child go missing every 90 seconds?
Of those missing, the ‘truly’ kidnapped are more like ~1:7000 (if I did my math correctly; doubtful after this day). I believe the likelihood of a 20-something dropping dead is 1:2000, last time I looked. We don’t wrap 20-year-olds in bubble wrap and store them in closets. Let kids walk to school, play in playgrounds.
@SnoreWell: How to start a creative agency.
The Morning News: Binge Reading Disorder.
“The typical American consumes more than 100,000 words a day, and remembers none of them. When everybody’s reading, but nobody’s smarter, what value has the word?” Personally, I don’t speed-read. I deep-read. If it’s not going to ‘stick’, I usually don’t bother. I just started ‘Outlander’ (I was curious). It may go into my ‘abandoned’ list. “The stone screamed ... (extensive snip) ... it was the sort of scream you might expect from a stone.” Really? Seriously? I expect the TV show is better? I’ll soldier on, however. Paid for it. Might as well bull through to see if it picks up. I hear more and more people discussing the show, so I feel I need to know something about it for my own adaptation to culture.
Nautilus: Reviving the debate about the immune system and mental illness.
“In a field known as immunopsychiatry, researchers are exploring the possibility that inflammation, or an overactive immune system, is linked to mental disorders that include depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimers’ disease.”
Observer: Nootropic Brain Drugs Rise in Popularity for Today’s Cutthroat Corporate Climbers.
Reminds me of salespersons popping Prozac for its ‘mood brightening’ capabilities in the ‘90’s. There was a belief system that grew around it; if you didn’t pop ‘Prozac-Pez’, you couldn’t compete effectively with those who did.
JunkCulture: Artist Transforms Washed Up Plastic Pollution into Beautiful Site Specific Installation
I’ve asked it before, I’ll ask it again. As photographers, what are we actually doing when we portray trash beautifully?
PS Mag: Want to Be More Creative? Get Out the Electrodes.
WSJ: Good Mental Health Away From Home Starts Before College.
“Why mental illness seems to be rising among college students is unclear.” Really? See earlier today. If kids can’t venture out on their own, there’s no foundation of confidence to rely on. You go ‘solo’ in college; if you’re not a self-starter, you’ll have issues.