“Geller said while the actress who will play the much-loved detective in the network’s television reboot hasn’t been decided, ‘she is diverse, that is the way she is written’ and specifically said this Nancy – a woman in her 30s in the network’s new show – won’t be ‘Caucasian.'”
“Those charged with overseeing learning often want ‘outcomes’ rather than process, even if those outcomes are temporary, even if the picture they paint is incomplete. The labor of teaching—that hands-on, dynamic and most valuable of endeavors—is often shortchanged and even derided.”
“‘Loopy people go to loopy conferences. Stringy people go to stringy conferences. They don’t even go to ‘physics’ conferences anymore. I think it’s unfortunate that it developed this way.’ But a number of factors may be pushing the camps closer together.”
“[Research findings] suggest that a second language, spoken in scent, might be passing (as it were) right under our noses. Body odours are in the background of all our interactions. And the clues about relationships and emotions that we sniff out from these odours might be a crucial element of human society.”
Neuroscientist Michael Graziano: “This is why we can’t explain how the brain produces consciousness. It’s like explaining how white light gets purified of all colors. The answer is, it doesn’t. Let me be as clear as possible: Consciousness doesn’t happen. It’s a mistaken construct.”
“We never think we’ll fall prey to their wiles. We can spot a gimmick a mile away, while those who become victims are foolish, or greedy, or both. Well, that’s not quite the case. If the NSA can be hacked, so can the average – or even exceptional – human mind.”
“Done badly (which is to say, done cynically), the Internet reduces us to mindless clickers, racing numbly to the bottom of a bottomless feed; but done well, it has the potential to expand and augment the very contemplative space that we have prized in ourselves ever since we learned to read without moving our lips.”
“Prayer is religion’s hermit crab; it scuttles recognisably from age to age and purpose to purpose, while attempts to refute or confirm are left to grasp its shells. It endures, shaping the mind, altering the body, or reflecting and resisting the forces of modern life. In its irreducible variety and seeming gratuitousness, it remains a puzzle. But if prayer itself resists explanation, it can still be illuminating to map its dimensions.”
“Email has evolved into a weird medium of communication where the best thing you can do is destroy it quickly, as if every email were a rabid bat attacking your face. Yet even the tragically email-burdened still have a weird love for this particular rabid, face-attacking bat.”
Maria Konnikova looks at research into when – and where – children don’t accept an uneven distribution of goodies, even if the unevenness is in their favor.
“The decades-long assault on the arts, the humanities, journalism and civic literacy is largely complete. All the disciplines that once helped us interpret who we were as a people and our place in the world—history, theater, the study of foreign languages, music, journalism, philosophy, literature, religion and the arts—have been corrupted or relegated to the margins.”
It’s disturbingly easy to get someone to confess to something they didn’t do. (Especially if that someone has an IQ of 65.)
“The White House has asked President Obama’s former staffers to add context to past speeches using the online annotation platform Genius. The notes, on the White House’s website now, feature anecdotes such as what it was like for Jon Favreau to stare down a blank computer screen before writing the president’s first State of the Union address. While the contributions will be heavily curated, members of the public are encouraged to add annotations as well.”
“Ms. Sarsons discovered one group of female economists who enjoyed the same career success as men: those who work alone. Specifically, she says that ‘women who solo author everything have roughly the same chance of receiving tenure as a man.’ So any gender differences must be because of the differential treatment of men and women who work collaboratively.”
Increasingly the world around us is being modulated by machine. We’re addicted to our devices even when we don’t want to be. So how do we express and fulfill our humanity even as machines become more important?
Willa Cather said, “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” But veteran TV producer John Yorke, who’s worked at both popular BBC (EastEnders) and brainy Channel Four, argues that even those two or three narratives boil down to one structure – one that lies deep in the human psyche.
“We can frame experience in two ways: propositional and narrative. Propositional thought hinges on logic and formality. Narrative thought is the reverse. It’s concrete, imagistic, personally convincing, and emotional. And it’s strong.” Maria Konnikova looks at the case of a prolific and persistent young grifter, and how she used narrative to disarm her targets and ward off suspicion.
“In summary, this study shows that the impulse to create emotionally expressive music may have a basic neural origin,” the researchers write. If their findings are confirmed, they will help explain “the human urge to express emotions through art.”
“Science is the only news. When you scan through a newspaper or magazine, all the human interest stuff is the same old he-said-she-said, the politics and economics the same sorry cyclic dramas, the fashions a pathetic illusion of newness, and even the technology is predictable if you know the science. Human nature doesn’t change much; science does, and the change accrues, altering the world irreversibly.” We now live in a world in which the rate of change is the biggest change.” Science has thus become a big story, if not the big story: news that will stay news.
“Everywhereness” describes how it feels when there is no longer any experience – meeting a friend, looking out of a window, feeling momentarily exasperated or exhilarated – that is particular to that moment, that place, those people. Social media make each moment four-dimensional by “scaffolding it with simultaneity, such that it exists in multiple places at once”.
“The digital counter-tradition of what it means to be a Deadhead has long been in the ascendant through technology-based exegesis and curation of recorded materials. And the more time passes since Jerry Garcia’s death, the more being a Deadhead means streaming shows from the Internet.”
“The idea that learning to speak two languages is good for your brain has come to be widely accept as fact, particularly in popular media. … But a handful of attempts to replicate some of these seminal findings have failed to confirm this ‘bilingual advantage’ … [and] a heated debate over this issue now rages in the research community.”
“CT imaging creates cross sections of the body, in addition to highlighting soft tissues. ‘We cannot say something about liver or heart diseases,’ says Saleem, a professor of radiology at Cairo University who specializes in paleopathology. ‘But we can do a lot of anthropological work.'”
“When we talk we take turns, where the ‘right’ to speak flips back and forth between partners. This conversational pitter-patter is so familiar and seemingly unremarkable that we rarely remark on it. But consider the timing: on average, each turn lasts for around 2 seconds, and the typical gap between them is just 200 milliseconds—barely enough time to utter a syllable. That figure is nigh-universal. It exists across cultures, with only slight variations. It’s even there in sign language conversations.”
“Every time you open Facebook, one of the world’s most influential, controversial, and misunderstood algorithms springs into action. It scans and collects everything posted in the past week by each of your friends, everyone you follow, each group you belong to, and every Facebook page you’ve liked. For the average Facebook user, that’s more than 1,500 posts. If you have several hundred friends, it could be as many as 10,000. Then, according to a closely guarded and constantly shifting formula, Facebook’s news feed algorithm ranks them all, in what it believes to be the precise order of how likely you are to find each post worthwhile.”
“In addition to relying on focus groups and instinct to decide which creative endeavors to back, publishing houses, music labels and movie studios might want to gauge how harbingers of failure react to a new project. If it’s a unanimous thumbs-up, the house may well have a loser on its hands.”
And that’s because we can’t figure out how to get advertisers to pay for our free news.
“The 130-year timeline of telephone innovation describes a relatively steady rise as the technology under the surface was continuously improved … But the timeline of innovation for the defining technology of our new age is barely a line at all: The Internet happens, and all hell breaks loose. … You couldn’t have foreseen Twitter, and if you had, you probably would have dismissed it as a dumb idea. I would have.”
“Lately, scientists have come up with an intriguing hypothesis for why some people keep failing at long-term planning — they view their future selves as strangers. In fact, the more you view your future self as a distinct entity from your current self, the more likely you are to put off tasks (like saving for retirement) that will benefit you in the long term.”
“As expected, they expressed less interest in visiting the art gallery alone, and anticipated having a worse time, as compared to those who were in a group when they were approached. But reality didn’t match their predictions.”