Collective Focus – Why Paying Attention Intentionally Is Hard

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“Over time, humans have learned how, under certain conditions, to sit still and give someone or something undivided attention. Such learning, though, runs counter to who we instinctively are. We are hardwired to pick up the slightest distraction in our environment and to move toward or away from that distraction. The popularity of events such as Wimbledon and the World Cup reminds us that most of us feel far more at home in stadium culture—getting up, moving around, making noise, attending off and on—than in sanctuary culture.”

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How Far Will Human Beings Go To Keep Themselves Distracted? (Zap!)

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“Considering the many challenges life has to offer, entertaining yourself with your own thoughts for a few minutes seems like one of the easier hurdles to overcome. … But it turns out that people find this assignment incredibly hard. And, according to new research, they’ll even resort to giving themselves electric shocks to keep themselves entertained.”

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You Motivated? New Research On How We Push Ourselves To Achieve Is Enlightening

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“You might suppose that a scientist motivated by a desire to discover facts and by a desire to achieve renown will do better work than a scientist motivated by just one of those desires. Surely two motives are better than one. But as we and our colleagues argue in a paper newly published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, instrumental motives are not always an asset and can actually be counterproductive to success.”

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What Will Happen To English As More And More People Worldwide Speak It?

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“Interestingly, about two-thirds of English-speakers are not first-language speakers of English. … What happens to a language when it becomes everybody’s? Shaped by the mouths of billions of non-native speakers, what will the English of the future look like? A look into the past can give us an idea. English is of course not the first language [to have been] learned by lots of non-natives. When languages spread, they also change. And it turns out, they do so in specific directions.”

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You Are The Product Of A Mass Atrocity

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Philosopher Peter Atterton explains why virtually no one who is alive today would be alive had some horrific large-scale crime – be it the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, the Opium Wars, Robespierre’s Reign of Terror, the Crusades, Tamerlane’s wars, or what have you – not occurred.

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The Twee Aesthetic Is Taking Over (Fear It!)

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“Is Twee the right word for it, for the strangely persistent modern sensibility that fructifies in the props departments of Wes Anderson movies, tapers into the waxed mustache-ends of young Brooklynites on bicycles, and detonates in a yeasty whiff every time someone pops open a microbrewed beer? Well, it is now.”

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When Meditation Goes Bad

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A psychiatrist and researcher at Brown University is studying an aspect of (now-trendy) mindfulness practice that most in the field avoid: the people for whom meditation leads not to serenity or increased focus, but terror, severe depression, or, occasionally, a psychotic break.

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A Connection Between Worry And Creativity

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The study finds that, when the pressure is on, worry appears to be a motivating force for neurotic people. “Higher levels of intrinsic motivation in turn predict greater flexibility in idea generation,” the researchers add in the journal Emotion.

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Unlocking The Puzzle Of What Makes Brains Creative

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“What, in short, is the essence of creativity? Over the course of my life, I’ve kept coming back to two more-specific questions: What differences in nature and nurture can explain why some people suffer from mental illness and some do not? And why are so many of the world’s most creative minds among the most afflicted?”

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Touchscreens Are Shaping The Ways Our Kids Interact With The World (And A Design Revolution Awaits)

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“As the touchscreen itself increasingly merges with its environment, and embedded technology goes mainstream, this raises questions around design for the next generation of digital experiences and services. Designing for Generation Moth is going to require very different skillsets and ways of thinking beyond what we do now.”

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‘Sorry’ No Longer Seems To Be The Hardest Word

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“As a word, ‘sorry’ has entered that puckish pantheon of Terms That Seem to Say a Lot but Actually Say Very Little. … Our assumptions about What Apologies Mean are often completely misaligned with the way we actually use apologies in our day-to-day lives.”

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Wikipedia Has Been Ensnared By Bureaucracy

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“Currently, the English Wikipedia has more than 50 official policies with a word count close to 150,000 (enough for a thick book). But that’s just the tip of the administrative iceberg. In addition to the policies, there are guidelines and essays—more than 450 devoted solely to proper conduct. You will also find more than 1,200 essays containing comments on the policies and guidelines, advisory notes, and analyses of the community.”

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