Can Silicon Valley Build Better Schools?

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While “information technology has vastly expanded access to information, a major challenge remains: How do you figure out what kind of information each child needs, when, and in what way? Not surprisingly, Silicon Valley is home to an unusual number of schools devoted to solving this problem.”

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Why Militant Atheists Who Insist We Choose Science Over God Are Doing It Wrong

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“Does God have to be part of our understanding of the universe? No. But if scientists tell the public that they have to choose between God and science, most people will choose God … Meanwhile, many of those who choose science find themselves without any way of thinking that can give them access to their own spiritual potential. … What if we thought this way about God? What if we took the evidence of a new cosmic reality [i.e., dark matter and dark energy] seriously and became willing to rule out the impossible? What would be left?”

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So What Concept Of God *Can* Be Compatible With Science? Emergence Can

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“Almost everything we humans do collectively spawns an emergent phenomenon. … Economies, governments and the media are all emergent phenomena – like an ant colony. They follow new and complicated rules that often cannot be derived from the behavior of the parts that make them up. They are real and have immense power over us, but they are not human or humanlike, even though they arise from human activities.”

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But What’s The Point Of Taking Emergence And Calling It ‘God’?

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If “something new has to have emerged from the staggering complexity of all humanity’s aspirations, interacting”, then what phenomenon, exactly, “just has to have emerged. Human life and culture? What do we gain (a leg up in the religion wars?) by calling that God?”

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Life Is A Performance – Is That A Depressing Thought? It Shouldn’t Be

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“The melancholy Jacques in As You Like It declares that, ‘All the world’s a stage,/ And all the men and women merely players.’ Macbeth cries, ‘Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,’ and Prospero sighs, ‘the great globe … shall dissolve / And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, / Leave not a rack behind.’ … But the metaphors themselves aren’t the problem. It’s the bitter taste we’ve baked into them.”

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Portable Neuroscience For The Masses?

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“The device uses a technique called neurofeedback. This has been around since the 1960s, but traditionally, the EEG equipment needed to practice neurofeedback was limited to research centers and specialized clinics. Now, devices like the Versus are bringing the technique into the homes of corporate executives, elite athletes like Walsh, and others.”

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What “The Hollywood Model” Tells Us About How To Work Creatively

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“This approach to business is sometimes called the “Hollywood model.” A project is identified; a team is assembled; it works together for precisely as long as is needed to complete the task; then the team disbands. This short-­term, project-­based business structure is an alternative to the corporate model, in which capital is spent up front to build a business, which then hires workers for long-­term, open-­ended jobs that can last for years, even a lifetime.”

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The Rise Of Emojis As A Universal Language (And No, We’re Not Kidding)

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“Analysts at Instagram are trying to quantify this effect, by writing algorithms that predict the context around a given emoji and making a guess at the symbol’s meaning. Running these algorithms through massive batches of Instagram text, they’re identifying groups of semantically similar words and internet slang that map onto a single emoji.”

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Why Are We In Such A Rush To Declare The Anthropocene A Reality?

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“he Anthropocene is a neologism that attempts to pin down a lot of free-floating anxiety about climate change and the myriad ways that Homo sapiens are making over the planet in our own image. It styles humans as a geological force, as powerful as any ‘natural’ one.”

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When A Crowdfunded Kickstarter Goes Wrong

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“There’s a form of enchantment that results when a diverse community, materializing from nothing, gets behind an act of creation that no other institution would support. But in ZPM’s case, the enchantment was long ago irretrievably dispelled.”

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Dressing Up The Brain: Wearing A Suit Changes The Way You Think

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“[A team of researchers] found that wearing clothing that’s more formal than usual makes people think more broadly and holistically, rather than narrowly and about fine-grained details. In psychological parlance, wearing a suit encourages people to use abstract processing more readily than concrete processing.”

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How Did The “Happiness Industry” Get To Be A Thing?

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“Children may soon be taught “happiness” in schools. Being miserable is no longer socially acceptable. There are now computer programmes designed to influence the way we feel. Face-reading software will soon be able to identify moods. Global firms have “chief happiness” officers.”

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Why Play Is Valuable In Itself, And Not Just For Practical Benefits It May Provide

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“[Behavioral science] suggests that play is also a crucial part of the full life of the human animal, and yet philosophers have said very little about it. Usually, if we see an appreciation of play, it’s an attempt to show its secret utility value – ‘See, it’s pragmatic after all!’ … All this is true of course, but one also wonders about the uniquely human meaning of play and leisure. Can we consider play and leisure as something with inherent value, independent of their accidental usefulness?”

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A Little Dose Of Nastiness Can Be A Creative Thing (Wait, What?)

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“A spate of research published over the past couple of years reveals something surprising and new: measured amounts of dark-side traits, expressed at lower levels – too little to be considered a diagnosable personality disorder – open the doors of perception, helping us see the world through an edgier, more on-the-bias creative lens.”

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Sitting In On UPenn’s Notorious ‘Wasting Time On The Internet’ Seminar

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“There’s something wonderful about this dogged insistence on having nothing whatsoever to show for your time in class, especially given the cultural rage for productivity. … But: With the approval of the UPenn English Department, Goldsmith’s crafted a creative writing course that fails to generate any writing, one that to some extent paints basic college benefits like insight, growth, and learning as passé fantasies of the old guard.”

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Mixed Signals: Why People Misunderstand Each Other

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Explaining the deep-seated psychological habits most of us have – the transparency illusion, the primacy effect (that’s the power of first impressions), and the fact that we all tend to be “cognitive misers” – that make it difficult to consistently get an accurate read on other people.

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