Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

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

The surprising reason people change their minds

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The surprising reason people change their minds

We usually believe that our opinions are stubborn and fixed. But new research shows that our views, even on politics, are changing all the time – just not for the reasons you’d expect.

Claudia Hammond | BBC Future | 22 June 2018

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June 23, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making | | Leave a comment

How “us” and “them” leads to genocide

Interview with biologist Robert Sapolsky,  (link below), to point out at how the “us” and “them” attitude can lead to problems. IMHO, his book Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, is a must-read eye-opener.

The Biology of the Modern Political Divide

Robert Sapolsky reveals the biological basis for our most unfortunate traits—and insists change is possible.

 

 

March 22, 2018 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, brain, politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swearing to reduce pain

It’s already well known that swearing reduces the amount of pain you feel, but so far we did not know why.  It turns out it has to do with aggression, hence playing a shoot’em-up video game works just as well. If you want to read more about how that works, check out Emma Byrne’s book  Swearing Is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language.

You can find an illuminating excerpt here:

The Science of Why Swearing Physically Reduces Pain

Emma Byrne | 01.24.18 | Wired

 

January 28, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, brain, emotions, health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

If there is an emotion involved in acquiring a belief, there is a much lower chance of changing it, even if it is a false belief.  And the excitement of getting a new social media  message seems to be a perfect way to cement information, true or not.  Think about it — do you have false beliefs that cannot be corrected by data?

Neuroscientist Tali Sharot has been investigating what determines whether someone can be persuaded by an argument. You can read about it in her book, The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others, or check out this article for a taste of what you can do to avoid getting stuck with false beliefs:

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

By TALI SHAROT | September 19, 2017 | Time magazine

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January 20, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, emotions, neuroscience | , , | Leave a comment

Your Biology Runs on Feelings

From Damasio’s new book, an interesting explanation of the importance of feelings. Not an easy read, but worth the trouble to get through it.

Why Your Biology Runs on Feelings

By Antonio Damasio | January 18, 2018 | Nautilus

Think feelings are important? You’re more right than you know.

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January 18, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, brain, emotions, neuroscience | , , | Leave a comment

Us vs. Them

Quite insightful excerpt from Robert Sapolsky’s “Behave” book:

Why Your Brain Hates Other People

And how to make it think differently.

BY ROBERT SAPOLSKY |DECEMBER 14, 2017 | Nautilus

December 14, 2017 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, brain | , | Leave a comment

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

Two related articles on how people end up with such divergent views from the same set of facts, and how the gap between the two sides keeps getting larger.

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

Tali Sharot | September 19, 2017 | Time Magazine

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September 19, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, emotions, information, psychology | , , | Leave a comment

The real problem of consciousness

An interesting view on consciousness.

The real problem of consciousness

It looks like scientists and philosophers might have made consciousness far more mysterious than it needs to be

Anil K Seth | November 2, 2016 | Aeon

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August 25, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, brain, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology | , | Leave a comment

“The of and to. A in is I. That it, for you, was with on. As have … but be they.”

If you have 20 minutes, this is worth watching.  It just keeps getting more and more fascinating.

June 14, 2017 Posted by | brain, statistics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

First impressions count

Fascinating article on how humans judge competence based on facial features, and how that affects politics. For example, in one study judgments of who appeared more competent  predicted about 70% of elections.  The article is an excerpt from the author’s new book, Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions (2017).

First impressions count

Alexander Todorov  | 30 May, 2017 | Aeon

June 11, 2017 Posted by | brain, decision making, politics | , , , , | Leave a comment