ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas


Our Strained Conceptual Relationship With Squirrels

"It’s almost as though the existence of animals, and their various similarities to humans, constituted insults. Like a squirrel, I have eyes and ears, scurry about on the ground and occasionally climb a tree. (One of us does this better than the other does.) Our shared qualities — the fact that we are both hairy or that we have eyes or we poop, for example — are disconcerting if I am an immortal being created in the image of God and the squirrel just a physical organism, a bundle of instincts." - The New York Times

Why Should We Trust Smiles When They’re So Easy To Fake?

"The trouble is that smiling is easy to do. If flashing a smile can so easily convey good intent, it could be ‘hacked’ by unscrupulous individuals who want you to think that they’re trustworthy so they can exploit you. These kinds of ‘false smiles’ certainly happen in everyday life, yet we still generally trust smiles. In my research, I wanted to understand why." - Psyche

Why Librarians Have Been Unsuccessful At Fighting Misinformation

"This failure has many roots: The low social status of teachers and librarians relative to those in other professions, the lack of consistent instruction about information and media literacy across students’ educational experience, the diminishment of the humanities as a core element of general education, and the difficulty of keeping up with technological change and digital culture have all played a role. So has the fact that information literacy has no specific place in the curriculum." - The Atlantic

Getting At What Truth Really Is (Not That Simple)

"True seems to be that which is in accordance with the facts or reality, the way things simply are. But it is not as simple as that. For there are not only ‘brute facts’ (eg whether Germany invaded Belgium in 1914), but also more complex phenomena, where interpretation and the weighing of evidence apply (eg, the causes of World War One). How we make sense of things has a great deal to do with what truth means." - 3 Quarks Daily

Defining The Struggle Inside to “Do The Right Thing”

"From the first-person stance, you navigate the world as an agent trying to realise your projects and satisfy your desires. From the second-person perspective, you understand yourself and the world through the lens of other people, who are a locus of projects and preferences of their own; projects and preferences that make legitimate demands on your time and attention. From the third-person stance, you understand yourself as one among many, called to fit yourself into the shared standards and rules governing a world made up of a multitude of creatures like you." - Aeon

How Boredom Is Changing Us

Another way the pandemic has had an impact on the economy is by making people bored. By limiting social engagements, leisure activities and travel, the pandemic has forced many people to live a more muted life, without the normal deviations from daily monotony. The result is a collective sense of ennui — one that is shaping what we do and what we buy, and even how productive we are. - The New York Times

Monopoly Place Names Are Just As Redlined As Real Life Cities

To wit: Cyril and Ruth Harvey, "who played a key role in popularizing the game, lived on Pennsylvania Avenue (a pricey $320 green property on the board); their friends, the Joneses, lived on Park Place. ... The Harveys employed a Black maid named Clara Watson. She lived on Baltic Avenue in a low-income, Black neighborhood, not far from Mediterranean Avenue. On the Monopoly board, those are priced cheapest, at $60." - The Atlantic

Breakthrough: Scientists Figure Out How To Talk To Dreamers In Their Sleep

An international team of researchers was able to achieve real-time dialogues with people in the midst of lucid dreams, a phenomenon that is called “interactive dreaming,” according to a study published on Thursday in Current Biology. - Vice

Why “Noisy” Brains Are So Attractive (And More Difficult)

"The use of antidepressants has inadvertently left many of us less able to feel empathy toward others, laugh, cry, dream, and enjoy life just when we need those things the most: in the middle of a global pandemic." - Nautilus

How Big Tech Subverted The Public Square

"A functioning market required transparency, a mutual understanding of exchanges and a shared moral framework. And, as Rana Foroohar puts it in this brief animation for the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), surveillance capitalism – pioneered by Google, and now, to varying degrees, ubiquitous worldwide – comes up short on all three fronts." - Aeon

AI Researchers Are Increasingly Worried About The Ethical Implications Of Their Work

Just as some computer scientists seem oblivious to ethical concerns, others appear to be trigger-happy with their moral outrage. - The New Yorker

Can Historians Be Traumatized By What They Study?

"The phenomenon of the historian traumatized by history remains unstudied and is not widely known. Yet anyone who has documented depravity knows the symptoms. After writing a book on the Armenian Genocide, a process that took me five years, I found it impossible to slip comfortably into sleep. All kinds of catastrophes visited me—still visit me—in that space before dreams." - The New Republic

Struggling With The Meaning Of Cultural Appropriation

"Your poem was meant to be a complex double portrait of both the Black caregiver and your white grandmother, and the racist logic and history that bound them both. Did you, a young white person, the child of people you freely admitted had been shaped by racist beliefs, have any claim or relationship to this voice? Our workshop worried this question for an hour without resolving it. And while our discussion never devolved, as I was concerned it might, into open hostility, it also didn’t make anyone feel better for having participated in it, nor did it settle the questions your poem raised to anyone’s satisfaction." - LitHub

Why We Have Difficulty Trusting Science

Precisely the same methods, and precisely the same leaps of brilliance and faith that led in some cases to science that has withstood the test of centuries, led also to results that were rapidly cast into oblivion. Wish as we might, little more than the passage of time and thus hindsight tells us what was “good science” as opposed to a poor guess, based on faulty inferences and deep misunderstandings. - Los Angeles Review of Books

To Understand The Problems With Big Tech Platforms We Need To Understand What’s At Risk

Harvesting data at scale makes us collectively vulnerable in ways that go beyond breaches of individual privacy. This is a new and nasty problem: even when individual rights are formally considered (e.g., via privacy consent forms), the consequences for society may be very harmful. - 3 Quarks Daily

Our Free Newsletter

Join our 30,000 subscribers


Don't Miss