Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

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

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

Twitter reveals innate mood swings

A recent study analyzing tweets globally suggests that innate biological rhythms play a big role in our moods.

Researches Use Twitter to Track Global Mood Swings

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October 27, 2011 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour | , | Leave a comment


People like a happy face, but not all smiles are equal.  LaFrance’s new book Lip Service looks at the complex effects of smiling.  From Canadian Business:

The winning smile: Harder than it looks

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October 10, 2011 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour | , | Leave a comment

Bribery is wrong, but…

U of Toronto profs find culture affects how we feel about bribery.  From the Toronto Sun, October 9, 2011:

Study links bribery with collectivism

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October 10, 2011 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour | , | Leave a comment

The Sibling Effect

Based on reading the Time article (below), Jeffrey Kluger’s new book, The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us, should be a fascinating read.

Playing Favorites

By Jeffrey Kluger Monday, Oct. 03, 2011

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October 4, 2011 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, psychology | , , , | 1 Comment

A Scientific Dating Insight: Create Uncertainty

Science says that playing hard to get is a good idea: it acts like an aphrodisiac for those who  like you, and turns away those who don’t (good riddance, no time wasted).

From Scientific American:

A Scientific Dating Insight: Create Uncertainty

The aphrodisiac effect of not knowing how much they like you

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February 10, 2011 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour | , , , | Leave a comment