Ideas

Too Much Choice? Yeah, Well, That’s Why You’re Unhappy…

choice

“We evaluate ourselves by comparing ourselves to other people. Well, if you compare yourself to other people in life, you get to see their good moments and bad moments. But if you’re comparing yourself to other people on Facebook, well, everyone is a superstar on Facebook. The result is you feel that your life is duller and duller, shabbier and shabbier. You seem less and less special, less and less competent, because everyone else is living this perfect life.”

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Would People Really Rather Get Electric Shocks Than Be Alone With Their Thoughts? Don’t Be So Sure

thinker

“Texting, email, social media – we use these to self-stimulate throughout the day and, for some of us at least, throughout the night as well. So there’s got to be something deeply right in the finding that, in the words of the paper, ‘most people do not enjoy ‘just thinking’ and clearly prefer having something else to do.’ Deeply right, maybe, but there is good reason to doubt some of the findings of the study. Not the data, so much, as the way it gets interpreted.”

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Why I Became A Philosophy Journalist (And Why We Need Such A Thing)

how i became a philosophy journalist

Steve Neumann: “I feel I owe a debt to philosophy. It liberated me; it gave me the courage to leave behind the comfort and security of a religious worldview, and provided me with a purpose I will be glad to pursue for the rest of my life. So despite having a demanding day job as a guide dog mobility instructor, I spend much of my free time studying it, working out my own positions and trying to inject it into popular culture so that others can be touched by it the way I was. I’ve become not an academic philosopher, but a sort of hybrid – a philosophy journalist.”

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Worrying About Stuff May Be A Sign Of Intelligence (Your Mother Is Totally Vindicated)

worrying about stuff

“Correlation doesn’t imply causation, of course, but this is not the first paper to have found a link between anxiety and intelligence. On the other hand, Penney and his colleagues also found an interesting association in the other direction: The more respondents said they replayed past events over in their minds, the lower they ranked on non-verbal intelligence.”

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War, Peace And A Culture Of Exceptionalism

To The Trenches

“The most famous ceasefire was among British and German regiments around Christmas Eve. German soldiers actually decorated their trenches with Christmas trees and began singing carols. British forces began singing back, and in a matter of hours over 100,000 troops were unofficially crossing into disputed territory to sing, exchange gifts, and celebrate with one another. This all occurred, mind you, during the second bloodiest conflict in European history.”

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Why Materialism Doesn’t Really Make People Happy

US banknotes 100s piles

In a new press release from the American Psychological Association, “psychology professor Tim Kasser gives an interesting perspective from his research on just why placing a high value on stuff is no good. In a recent meta-analysis he published with colleagues from the University of Sussex, he found that materialism seems to undermine some of our deepest human needs.”

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Everyone Is Dumping On Humanities Scholars. But Here’s Why Their Research Methods Matter

Stacks

“Nowadays specialists can’t teach the survey courses of yesteryear. They haven’t read widely or thought about the big themes of history or literature (which of course was easier back when most ideas that mattered emanated from two continents). Instead they offer seminars focused on tiny questions and single authors and artists. Charismatic in their intellect, these professors seduce the most gifted students into imitating them. The university thus becomes a machine—as the critics endlessly repeat—for producing teachers and students who know more and more about less and less.”

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Social Science Shows Us How To Give Less-Bad Gifts

less bad gifts

“Unfortunately, much of the research shows that all the best gift-giving intentions in the world do not necessarily lead to good gifts. Here’s a brief look at some recently published studies that give us some hints on how to give less-terrible presents this holiday season, or any other time of the year, really.”

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How The Humanities Can Save The World

Book_Earth

“There is tremendous suspicion — at least, in American society — that what makes a text a work of art is nothing more than some ideological prejudice: Eurocentrism, say, or political correctness. A related worry is that any provisional canon — the very notion that certain works call for heightened attention and a special place in the practice of education — is fundamentally anti-democratic or somehow elitist.”

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Is Philly’s Proposed Velodrome A Cool Urban Plan – Or Just Another Land Grab?

velo

“Project 250’s backers have come up with an ambitious plan and a seductive set of renderings, showing a sleek, 21st-century velodrome that looks like a cross between a spaceship and a tidal wave. Not only do they maintain they can build this high-tech, enclosed arena with zero public dollars, but they also insist they can operate it as a for-profit venture. All they ask is that the city gift them a four-acre sliver of South Philadelphia’s FDR Park.”

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The Internet Meets Duchamp

duchamp

“The most effective conceptual writing, as with all conceptual art, alters a thing’s accepted context. Critics would have you think that all this is merely silly, but in the best cases there’s a method to the madness: these artists are doing the very basic, very necessary work of helping us see with new eyes.”

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How Did Shakespeare, The Playwright, Become Shakespeare, The Myth?

william_shakespeare

“It is useful, in answering this question, to think of Shakespeare less as a legendary artist and more as a product: In order for a product to sell, it of course needs to meet certain demands of quality. But the ability to make the sale is also dependent on more banal considerations.”

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What “Serial”, The Rolling Stone Rape Story, And Michael Brown’s Death In Ferguson Can Teach Us About Memory

what serial can teach us about memory

“Our expectation that memory is consistent and reliable is ubiquitous. It is taken for granted in day-to-day interactions and determines countless decisions. We do not acknowledge often enough how unstable our memories are, how susceptible they are to change, and how serious the implications of those changes are when we rely on memory to determine the fates of real human beings.”

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Want The Next Generation To Be Creative? They Need To Know Code

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“The ability to code enables young people to become creators rather than consumers. Students with this creative capacity and technical literacy will hold the power in the future. They are the next generation of entrepreneurs, and, as some teenagers and younger students have shown us, they are already the entrepreneurs of today.”

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How New Ideas Spread: Contagion Or Persuasion?

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“In contagion models, influence goes one way, from one infected person to an uninfected one, or from someone who has adopted an idea to one who hasn’t. In persuasion models, on the other hand, influence is a two-way street, and adoption isn’t an either/or condition. Instead, people have some belief in a new idea’s value, and those who believe in it more are in turn more likely to adopt it.”

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We’ll Never Find A Unified Theory Of Life, The Universe, And Everything

answer

The idea “that behind nature’s manifest diversity there is a simple, unified explanation” goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks (if not farther) and right up to today’s physics labs and philosophy workshops. Theoretical physicist Marcelo Gleiser argues that we probably just have to live with the mystery. (“42″ simply isn’t enough.)

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What Makes Someone An Atheist Or Theist?

atheism

“Should we express religious categories in terms of people’s beliefs or their behaviors? Commentator Tania Lombrozo examines why we describe (a)theism the way we do.”

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