background preloader

Dan Ariely on the Truth About Dishonesty, Animated

Dan Ariely on the Truth About Dishonesty, Animated

MOOCs – The Opium of the Masses “MOOCs are the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. They are the opium of the people. The abolition of MOOCs as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness.” (Modification of Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right) Replacing "Religion" with MOOC in the quote above should give a pretty clear indication of where this post is heading. There is a confluence of circumstances at play in the United States right now, culminating with the President’s recent State of the Union call to reduce the cost of higher education, that is sending one of our most important and progressive social institutions on a crash course directly back to the Industrial Age, mass-production model that we have struggled to escape for so long. (Storming of the Bastille and arrest of the Governor M. de Launay, July 14, 1789. Massive is Not Better Masses, massive, mass-production.

The Psychology Of Starbucks Alice G. Walton puts the coffeehouse on the couch: [T]he coffee house plays the central role of “Third Place” in our lives – home being the first and work being the second – and Starbucks has always been vocal about its desire to be this third place for its customer. What’s interesting is that humans actually really need this place, and we’ve needed if for practically our whole existence, according to some. About 20 years ago, Ray Oldenburg, PhD, who wrote a book called The Great Good Place, argued that there are a number of attributes that make a third place a third place: It has to be convenient, inviting, serve something, and have some good regulars (which, he says, is actually more important than having a good host). Recent store renovations seem to discourage sitting for too long: “Changing the business model from third places to speed lane stops will not change the underlying human psychological need,” says Suzanne Roff, PhD, an industrial psychologist.

Q&A: What the Brain Reveals About the Self — And Self Control With the Obama administration planning a major initiative to map the brain, there’s more attention focused on what all of that new information will mean for how we see ourselves and how we take moral and legal responsibility for our actions. David Eagleman, a neuroscientist who directs Baylor College of Medicine’s Initiative on Neuroscience and Law and the bestselling author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, provided some insights into what neuroscience can do for us. Do you think there is a ‘real you’? If somebody makes a racist or anti-Semitic remark, is that what he really thinks, but hides most of the time because it’s not socially acceptable? I think when we talk about a person and we use some sort of name or an identity, what we’re really talking about is something like the running average. Let’s take a different case. What’s the difference? Presumably, though, most of us would prefer not to have racist words or ideas in our heads… That’s a good example. Quite right.

Studying the Brain Can Help Us Understand Our Unscientific Beliefs Editors’ Note: Portions of this post appeared in similar form in a December, 2009, piece by Jonah Lehrer for Wired magazine. We regret the duplication of material. Last week, Gallup announced the results of their latest survey on Americans and evolution. What’s most remarkable about these numbers is their stability: these percentages have remained virtually unchanged since Gallup began asking the question, thirty years ago. Such poll data raises questions: Why are some scientific ideas hard to believe in? A new study in Cognition, led by Andrew Shtulman at Occidental College, helps explain the stubbornness of our ignorance. This means that science education is not simply a matter of learning new theories. To document the tension between new scientific concepts and our pre-scientific hunches, Shtulman invented a simple test. As expected, it took students much longer to assess the veracity of true scientific statements that cut against our instincts.

Do i know you? Memory patterns help us recall the social webs we weave With a dizzying number of ties in our social networks -- that your Aunt Alice is a neighbor of Muhammad who is married to Natasha who is your wife's boss -- it's a wonder we remember any of it. How do we keep track of the complexity? We cheat, says a Cornell University sociologist in Scientific Reports (March 21), a publication of Nature. Humans keep track of social information not by rote memorization but with simplifying rules, as you might remember a number sequence that always increases by two, according to author Matthew Brashears, assistant professor of sociology. People recall social ties that both involve at least three people who know each other and kinship labels such as "aunt" twice as well as they remember ties that do not, even though triad kinship networks are far more complex, he said. "Humans are able to manage big, sprawling, complicated social networks essentially because we don't remember big, sprawling, complicated social networks.

Study Finds Germans Incapable of Enjoying Life At a certain point, Sven just lost it. Other members of the discussion group had gone into great detail about how they spent their after-work hours with their companions and enjoyed the end of the day. "That's great for you!" Sven fired back to one speaker. If anything can comfort Sven, it's the fact that he isn't alone with this problem. Whether it's with food, alcohol, vacation or relaxing -- Germans apparently don't have the leisure to enjoy things. Work Before Play The results conform to the image that many Europeans have of Germans in this era of economic crisis as self-denying overachievers who can't even turn off the fun-brakes when vacationing at the beach. "At that time, Germans really radiated a zest for life," says Rheingold psychologist Ines Imdahl. But the Germans aren't just burdened with the crisis. Among survey respondents, 81 percent said that they experience pleasure best when they have managed to achieve something first. Pleasure Pressure The Jealousy Factor

Human Humans began to practice sedentary agriculture about 12,000 years ago, domesticating plants and animals which allowed for the growth of civilization. Humans subsequently established various forms of government, religion, and culture around the world, unifying people within a region and leading to the development of states and empires. The rapid advancement of scientific and medical understanding in the 19th and 20th centuries led to the development of fuel-driven technologies and improved health, causing the human population to rise exponentially. Etymology and definition In common usage, the word "human" generally refers to the only extant species of the genus Homo — anatomically and behaviorally modern Homo sapiens. In scientific terms, the definition of "human" has changed with the discovery and study of the fossil ancestors of modern humans. History Evolution and range Evidence from molecular biology Evidence from the fossil record Anatomical adaptations

Graphing Jane Austen: Using Science to Extrapolate the Human Condition from Victorian Literature by Maria Popova What literary Darwinism reveals about universal values. In 1959, C. P. Snow lamented the tragic disconnect between science and the humanities in his famed “two cultures” lecture. In Graphing Jane Austen: The Evolutionary Basis of Literary Meaning, researchers Joseph Carroll, John Johnson, Daniel Kruger, and Jonathan Gottschall — who gave us the fascinating The Storytelling Animal earlier this week — embody Snow’s vision and bridge the gap between science and literary scholarship by borrowing from the evolutionary biology and modern data analytics to construct a model of human nature that explains the evolved psychology of character dynamics in nineteenth-century British novels. Using the framework of the model, they asked a sample of several hundred readers to give numerical ratings on 2,000 characters from 202 British novels, including all of Jane Austen’s. A few of the findings (PDF) follow, in unnecessarily ugly academic graphics. Donating = Loving Share on Tumblr