Comprising anywhere from one third to about half of the population, introverts sometimes appear shy, depressed, or antisocial, when that’s not always the case. As Susan Cain put it in her famous TED Talk, introverts simply “feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments.”
“For more than three years, Jarosinski’s followers (currently numbering over 117,000) have enjoyed his steady stream of extremely witty tweets. Sometimes light and playful, sometimes tortured or paradoxical, each is accompanied by his avatar, a cartoon drawing of what appears to be Theodor W. Adorno sporting a monocle.”
“Nothing in the world is more exciting than a moment of sudden discovery or invention, and many more people are capable of experiencing such moments than is sometimes thought.”
“Pascal’s famous wager requires a choice between believing and not believing in God. But there’s more than one way not to believe.”
“A century, plus or minus, after human beings started putting their minds toward designing cities as a whole, things are getting good. High tech materials, sensor networks, new science, and better data are all letting architects, designers, and planners work smarter and more precisely. Cities are getting more environmentally sound, more fun, and more beautiful. And just in time, because today more human beings live in cities than not.”
“In more ancient times, when communal experiences were mediated by religion, crowds used to gather outside temples on feast days. … Nowadays, we have Apple Release Day – the Feast of St. Jobs – when faithful customers gather outside Apple stores and await the renewal of a next generation iPhone.” Says NYU professor Erica Robles-Anderson, “It’s so obviously a cult.”
“French public debate has been framed around enduring oppositions such as good and evil, opening and closure, unity and diversity, civilisation and barbarity, progress and decadence, and secularism and religion. Underlying this passion for ideas is a belief in the singularity of France’s mission.”
“All mammals have hair. … We are the only mammals who braid, knot, powder, pile up, oil, spray, tease, perm, color, curl, straighten, augment, shave off, and clip our hair.” Not to mention using it as a signifier of gender, religion, and/or cultural politics.
“Just last week the University of Chicago library announced that in response to ‘increased demand,’ librarians are working with architects to transform a presumably quiet reading room into a ‘vibrant laboratory of interactive learning.’ One writer on Top Hat, a popular online resource for educators, argued in a post last month that ‘cooperative learning strategies harness the greatest part of human evolutionary behavior: sociality.'”
“When schools and institutions attempt to ban The Bluest Eye there is a distinct and ugly irony to this exile. I often think of Morrison’s own words, ‘If you’re going to hold someone down you’re going to have to hold on by the other end of the chain.'”
“They have taken that most inscrutable of interfaces — the Check Engine light — and forced it to explain itself. It can hear you, and speak back, all over the din of the open road.”
The truth is life is not fair. For creative work to spread, you need more than talent. You have to get exposure to the right networks. And as unfair as that may seem, it’s the way the world has always worked.
“Professors, researchers, students and actual Nobel laureates from around the world gathered at Harvard University at the 25th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, the absurdist celebration of science that ‘makes you laugh, then think’.”
Explicit design is when “you have an idea in your head and you draw it. Generative design is when you state the goals of your problem and have the computer create design iterations for you.”
Sudhir Hazareesingh suggests that some of the French habits of thought that made its great minds so influential from the Enlightenment through the 1960s contained the seeds of their own decline.
“Because perfectionism, judging by the raft of books and listicles on the subject, is something Americans have generally decided is a negative trait. Much of the research backs this up, even going so far as to suggest that perfectionism can be potentially dangerous, leading to anxiety, depression, and, in extreme cases, possibly suicide.”
“An increasing number of researchers and practitioners have gone from dismissing hallucinated voices as worthless ravings symptomatic of psychosis to listening carefully to what they say. What they have heard has been infinitely varied and surprisingly complex. And the effort to deal with these complexities is leading to entirely new, even inventive forms of treatment.”
“Uncovering the so-called biology of creativity is big business. FMRI scan aficionados tell us which brain areas light up when someone has a novel idea. Brain wave experts propose electrical patterns specific to originality. Even if these observations pan out, they cannot tell us how to interpret a brilliant chess move arising out of a software glitch. If we are forced to expand our notion of creativity to include random electrical firings, what does that tell us about our highly touted imaginative superiority over a mindless machine?”
“The propensity to think creatively tends to be associated with independence and self-direction—qualities generally ascribed to men,” Duke University researchers led by Devon Proudfoot argue in the journal Psychological Science. As a result, they write, “men are often perceived to be more creative than women.”
“In some ways, Facebook’s VCG auction is still a theoretical exercise. How much do advertisers really think about gaming the system? How much do they really understand about the way the auction prevents such gaming? How much do they understand the value of an ad in a particular situation? Such questions can’t necessarily be answered.”
“It is hard enough to judge, in our personal lives, what will make us happier. The difficulties in deducing the consequences of political programmes on our happiness, especially those whose connection to our own life is hard to judge, are significant.”
“The cerebellum helps to understand rhythm, while the center part of the brain knows the difference between a piano and a flute. There isn’t a simple science to the particular genre you like—pop, opera, classical or jazz. “It’s a combination of cultural background, and then looking at musical attributes, like melody, instrumentation, timbre, and text.”
“Given all this controversy [among researchers], you might think people would treat the test as just a curiosity, or at least take it with a grain of salt. Instead, many people use types as a schema for understanding the world. There are blogs that sort Disney characters into MBTI types and YouTube sketch videos that compare types. According to CPP, a company that administrates the MBTI, college and universities worldwide use the test, as do 89 of the Fortune 100 companies.”
“Statements you’ve heard many times are easier to process, and this ease leads people ‘to the sometimes false conclusion that they are more truthful,’ the researchers write. Their key – and disheartening – revelation is that they found examples of this unfortunate dynamic ‘even when participants knew better.'”
“We don’t need an answer to the question of life’s meaning, just as we don’t need a theory of everything. What we need are multifarious descriptions of many things, further descriptions of phenomena that change the aspect under which they are seen, that light them up and let us see them anew.”
“Today’s Luddites are scared that technology will reveal that humans are no different from technology—that it will eliminate what it means to be human. And frankly, I don’t blame them. Humanity has had such a particular and privileged conception of itself for so long that altering it, as technology must inevitably do, will indeed change the very nature of who we are.”
“Outside of science, there isn’t much progress – even of the vaguer sort – in the history of thought. Bad ideas aren’t defeated by falsification, and they don’t fade away.”
Trekkies. Deadheads. Beliebers. Red Sox Nation. The throngs at ComicCon. Are fan groups like these simply means of social cohesion, or do they eventually take over their members’ lives? Jared Keller gives a glimpse into the mindset of a superfan (he’s obsessed with the ’70s band Tower of Power) and looks at the evidence.
The move to understand things theoretically only comes about when there is some interruption or “deficiency” in our ordinary dealings. A common error in philosophy, however, has been a kind of “intellectualism,” treating all our contact with the world in terms of concepts and representations, assuming that “knowledge is the only mode of experience that grasps things.”
Jonathan Haidt looks at “a most extraordinary paper” by two sociologists who argue that Western societies moved from being “cultures of honor” to “cultures of dignity” in the 18th and 19th centuries – and are now in transition to a new “culture of victimhood” – one with striking similarities of the culture of honor.