Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

The more you know someone, the more you dislike them

Combine that with our tendency to reveal more about ourselves digitally, and the implication is that digital connectedness brings conflict:

How tech created a global village — and put us at each other’s throats

By Nicholas Carr  | April 21, 2017 | Boston Globe

Welcome to the global village. It’s a nasty place.

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April 29, 2017 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, psychology, sociology | , , , | 1 Comment

Is beauty a measure of effort?

I read an article called the The makeover trap, and one of its quotes,

“What is valorised in makeover culture is not the finished look but the willingness to undertake the neverending process of beautification”

got me to wondering why we would spend so much of our limited resources (time, effort and money) to look good in general.

It’s well known that like the peacock’ oversized tail, many in the animal kingdom have elaborate courtship rituals and/or have fancy features to prove the superiority of their genes, essentially advertising “I can survive and thrive and even have extra energy for unnecessary (and sometimes even hindering) features/actions”.  Is it the same instinct in humans, trying to demonstrate their superiority by proving that they can succeed in life AND have the extra resources to keep themselves looking beautiful?  Many aspects of what we find beautiful is directly related to how much effort it takes, from a well-toned body (daily workouts) to hairstyle, make-up, home furnishings, etc.. Even in fashion, clothes that look like a lot of effort went into creating, are often considered more beautiful.

How much of your time and resources is spent on looking good?  Would you be happier if you could spend even more resources?

 

January 28, 2017 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, evolutionary psychology | | Leave a comment

Spreading Ignorance

Food for thought.

The man who studies the spread of ignorance

How do people or companies with vested interests spread ignorance and obfuscate knowledge? Georgina Kenyon finds there is a term which defines this phenomenon.

By Georgina Kenyon | 6 January 2016 | BBC Future

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January 12, 2016 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, decision making, politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why do we lie to ourselves?

Book by evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers, The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life, addresses the question.  Partial answer (and book review) below.

Lying to Yourself Helps You Lie to Others

The science of self-deceit is more than a matter of evolutionary curiosity. Sometimes, it’s a question with life or death consequences.

By Paul Raeburn | December 17, 2013 | Discover magazine

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April 18, 2015 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, evolutionary psychology, psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Why are people losing their religion?

According to the article below, part of the reason is the internet — but that’s not the whole picture. (Also see post Will religion ever disappear?)

How the Internet Is Taking Away America’s Religion

Using the Internet can destroy your faith. That’s the conclusion of a study showing that the dramatic drop in religious affiliation in the U.S. since 1990 is closely mirrored by the increase in Internet use.

April 4, 2014 | MIT Technology Review

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January 2, 2015 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, religion | , , , | 3 Comments

Will religion ever disappear?

Interesting discussion from BBC.

Will religion ever disappear?

by Rachel Nuwer | 19 December 2014 | BBC Future

Atheism is on the rise around the world, so does that mean spirituality will soon be a thing of the past? Rachel Nuwer discovers that the answer is far from simple.
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December 20, 2014 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, brain, psychology, religion | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why do we smile?

An evolutionary explanation of why we laugh and smile and cry the way we do.  Seems very convincing and eye-opening. Make sure you get to the last paragraph.

From the excellent aeon magazine:

The first smile

Why do laughter, smiles and tears look so similar? Perhaps because they all evolved from a single root

by 13 August 2014 | aeon magazine

Michael Graziano is a neuroscientist, novelist and composer. He is a professor of neuroscience at Princeton University. His latest book is Consciousness and the Social Brain.

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October 21, 2014 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, emotions, evolution | , , , , | Leave a comment

What is music?

Fascinating read on how our brains deal with repetition.  Make sure you go to the article site to experience the audio clips.

One more time

Why do we listen to our favourite music over and over again? Because repeated sounds work magic in our brains

by Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis | 7 March 2014 | Aeon Magazine

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March 29, 2014 Posted by | anthropology, brain | , | Leave a comment

The rich think differently about money

“…The mid­dle class fo­cuses on sav­ing money, he says; the rich fo­cuses on how to earn it. The mid­dle class wor­ries about money; the rich dream about it. The mid­dle class has a “lot­tery men­tal­ity,” be­liev­ing their lives are in­flu­enced by luck or other ex­ter­nal forces; the rich has an “ac­tion men­tal­ity,” where they de­ter­mine their own fu­tures…”

From The Globe and Mail, September 21, 2012:

How the other half thinks

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April 3, 2013 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, brain | , , , | 2 Comments

Overconfidence: good AND bad

You’d think overconfidence would be a bad trait to have.  This article discusses why it can be good.  From Discover Magazine, Jan-Feb 2012:

The Too-Sure Thing

Overconfidence can help explain wars, financial disasters, and collapsed 
civilizations. Social scientist James Fowler explores how such a destructive social 
trait manages to thrive.

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May 17, 2012 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour | , , , | Leave a comment