“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.
“For the last decade, forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner has led a curious, self-funded effort to create something he calls the Depravity Standard … But can a scientist really define the outer edges of our morality?”
“Argument and debate, however heated, outrageous, offensive, hurtful and, profane is the price we pay for the privilege of speaking freely. We are currently going through a period where speech is being severely restricted and goalposts of tolerance are moving closer to allegedly protect people from discomfort of any kind.”
Can you track how culture and ideas spread around the globe? One way to try is to map the birth- and death-places of significant thinkers throughout history. Where did the big brains migrate and interact? This short visualization maps them.
“Nowadays, robots work alongside humans in hotels and factories, while driverless cars are being test driven on the roads. Behind the scenes, AI engines in the form of smart algorithms “work” on stock exchanges, offer up suggestions for books and films on Amazon and Netflix and even write the odd article. But AI does not have the greatest public image – often due to sci-fi films that display dystopian visions of robots taking over the world.”
“About 35% of current jobs in the UK are at high risk of computerisation over the following 20 years, according to a study by researchers at Oxford University and Deloitte.”
Lawrence M. Krauss: “Astronomers have no problem ridiculing the claims of astrologists, even though a significant fraction of the public believes these claims. Doctors have no problem condemning the actions of anti-vaccine activists who endanger children. And yet, for reasons of decorum, many scientists worry that ridiculing certain religious claims alienates the public from science. When they do so, they are being condescending at best and hypocritical at worst.”
“We shouldn’t automatically dismiss [the Luddite impulse] as one that scapegoats technology for society’s ills or pines for a simpler past free of irritating gadgets. Rather, 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.”
“Historical and literary evidence suggests that, in the past, not only did men cry in public, but no one saw it as feminine or shameful. In fact, male weeping was regarded as normal in almost every part of the world for most of recorded history. … So where did all the male tears go? The truth is, we don’t know for certain. There was no anti-crying movement.”
“These days neural approaches to art — so-called neuroaesthetics — are all the rage. We find it somehow compelling to think that the brain holds the answers to the questions about, well, everything that matters to us, including art. It’s hard not to be impressed by the excitement scientists feel as they try to hunt down aesthetic experience in the brain using the advanced methods and technologies of cognitive science. But art is an elusive quarry, and it leaves its clumsy predator flailing in the dust.”
“Do we end up with this predatory content environment, where people share something, and it becomes prominent, and the rights-holder goes after everyone who shared it? That could devastate the ecosystem: “Meme practice is so important to Internet dialogue, and to how Internet culture functions.”
“The risk workers face today is that we have passed a technological turning point, and as a result, a new kind of creative destruction will unfold. Smart, learning algorithms will power robots, self-service systems, and increasingly capable mobile devices, and this will inevitably drive labor intensive industries like retail, fast food, and hospitality toward employing ever-fewer workers. At the same time the new industries that we hope will create replacement jobs will rely on artificial intelligence and robotics right from their inception.”
“Specifically, most of us are not entirely sure what that term actually … means. Stop for a moment, and think for yourself: How would you define the term?
“This is what happens when hypervigilance and moral panic take precedence over accepted scientific methodologies and hard evidence.” (And no, tis article explains, the Satanic Temple is not, in fact, a cult; It’s not even very Satanic.)
Actually, they come from Haitian vodou – specifically, “the belief that a bokor or witch-doctor can render their victim apparently dead … and then revive them as their personal slaves, since their soul or will has been captured. The zombie, in effect, is the logical outcome of being a slave: without will, without name, and trapped in a living death of unending labour.”
Allison Arieff argues that the development of the so-called “Internet of Things (“you know, that thing where a bunch of other things will be connected to the Internet”) is now plagued by “the tendency … to throw excess technological capability at every possible gadget without giving any thought to whether it’s really necessary.”