Ideas

Knowledge Versus Information

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“The Internet does make it easier to gather – aggregate, as the jargon goes – information, but not necessarily to make sense of it. An overabundance of raw information devoid of context and interpretation can actually be detrimental to knowledge. Knowledge springs from the act – the art – of interpreting, digesting, and integrating new information with our existing understanding of the world.”

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Why People Walk

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Adam Gopnik looks at walking to be alone, walking to be with others, “contemplative country hikers and argumentative city schleppers” and flâneurs – and looks back to a time when endurance walking was a wildly popular spectator sport.

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State Of The State – Change Is Everywhere (And In The Ways We Govern Ourselves?)

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“The challenge is to understand how the world is changing, not how fast it is changing. No doubt the frequency of exchanges has grown thanks to the technologies associated with the information revolution. Even so, we perceive greater speed not only because of what technology allows, but also because much of what is occurring is unintelligible to us. This reproduces the same sense of exaggerated velocity we experience upon hearing spoken a language we do not understand.”

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Delayed Gratification Is The Best Kind

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“All things being equal, a bunch of research has shown, the purchase of experiences appears to bring more happiness than the purchase of things.” A new paper suggests that “we also derive more pleasure from anticipating experiences than material objects … and offers a useful hint about how to ‘hack’ your purchases of experiences to maximize your enjoyment of them.”

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How To Learn (Yes, Including Taking A Walk)

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“When you get stuck, you’ve run out of ideas, distraction is really your best friend. You need to stand up, let it go — walk around the block, go to the cafe, drink a beer, whatever it is — and that is really your best shot at loosening the gears a little bit.”

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Sometimes An Artist’s Best Strategy Is To Avoid Strategic Plans

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“No matter what the crisis is — whether financial, emotional, spiritual, creative, physical or other — it is not the time to be setting future objectives or making determinations about how you’ll behave in a year, or two, or three. You don’t have objectivity in a crisis and your ability to be strategic is greatly diminished.”

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What Do We Really Learn From Teaching Apes Language? Inside The Strange World Of Koko The Gorilla And Kanzi The Bonobo

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“Koko is perhaps the most famous product of an ambitious field of research, one that sought from the outset to examine whether apes and humans could communicate. … But no new studies have been launched in years, and the old ones are fizzling out. A behind-the-scenes look at what remains of this research today reveals a surprisingly dramatic world of lawsuits, mass resignations, and dysfunctional relationships between humans and apes.”

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Why Some People Really Grieve Over Celebrity Deaths

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“They’ve been a part of our lives. We see them on TV, they’re in our living rooms, we feel we know them, and we incorporate them almost as though they’re part of our families, though most of us recognize that they’re not. [But] there are some people whose reactions to celebrity deaths are so obsessional and extreme that it can literally make them sick.”

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Why People Fall For Fake News Stories (It’s Not Just Irony Impairment)

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“‘This isn’t about shortened attention spans. This is about an overabundance of decontextualized snippets of info.’ Facebook headlines and Tweets simply don’t consistently provide the cues one would need to distinguish weird news from fake news, ‘unless the http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/08/why-facebooks-satire-tag-is-necessary.html is consistently ironic’.”

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Dystopian Young Adult Novels Have A Lot To Tell Us About The Philosophy Of Equality

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“There is a real danger that inequality is not just related to literal capital accumulation, but to equality of opportunity and the accumulation of cultural capital. This might include things like what kind of education your family can afford to give you. … It isn’t hard to see how this ends up a popular theme in young adult dystopias.”

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Ten Writing Studios You Might Just Want For Yourself

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“The water collection basin that doubles as the front step draws in birds and deer. At midday, the silhouettes of these animals project from the water onto the interior ceiling. Windows on the west and north sides frame different bird habitats.”

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Take A Look At How These Artists Live

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“I wanted to see how people spend the majority of their time, how they work, to motivate myself—and take away more positive ways that people work with their space, or work with whatever situation they’re in, to stay motivated.”

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The Blessings Of Exile (That Is, If You Survive It)

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“Because everything has become so evident, you’ve stopped seeing anything. Exile gives you a chance to break free. All that heavy luggage of old ‘truths,’ which seemed so only because they were so familiar, is to be left behind. Exiles always travel light.”

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E-Reading Is Convenient, But It’s Less Memorable (Literally)

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“In most respects, there was no significant difference between the Kindle readers and the paper readers [in the study] But, the Kindle readers scored significantly lower on questions about when events in the story occurred. They also performed almost twice as poorly when asked to arrange 14 plot points in the correct sequence.” Says one of the researchers, “It’s interesting to us that the differences were both related to time and temporality – why is that?”

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Metaphors Really Are Powerful (But You Won’t Believe Us If You Happen To Be Smelling Something Fishy)

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Research psychologists call them metaphorical effects: “instances in which a metaphor commonly used to describe a psychological state or social reality can, in turn, induce that state or reality. So, for example, holding a warm cup of coffee makes people feel warmly toward each other … and cleaning one’s hands makes a person feel morally clean.”

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Do Broccoli Eaters Get More Out Of Life?

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Of course we do! “People [in a recent study] who ate more fruits and vegetables over the 13-day period reported higher average levels of curiosity, creativity, and positive emotions, as well as engagement, meaning, and purpose.”

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Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos

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“If we are our own harshest critics, why do we miss those annoying little details? The reason typos get through isn’t because we’re stupid or careless, it’s because what we’re doing is actually very smart.”

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Inside The Head Of A Moscow Shaman

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“All my ancestors were healers and performed rituals, even my surname Guslyak means ‘sorcerer’. Once a day my body convulses for 15-20 minutes. Reality changes in this condition and it takes special powers in order to return to normality. I still don’t understand everything.”

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Lucid Dreaming: The Next Miracle Mental Technique?

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Some people use it “to solve problems, spur creativity, overcome nightmares or practice a physical skill.” Researchers are seeing early indications that the technique can improve cognition and help alleviate depression. “Many of the studies are small, however, and it isn’t always clear whether lucid dreaming is responsible for the improvements or simply linked to them.”

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