Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

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

Why Gloom Trumps Glad

Michael Shermer’s article makes several excellent points to remember at election time.

For one, we react to the bad news more than the good, because

“… in our evolutionary past there was an asymmetry of payoffs in which the fitness cost of overreacting to a threat was less than the fitness cost of underreacting. The world was more dangerous in our evolutionary past, so it paid to be risk-averse and highly sensitive to threats, and if things were good, then the status quo was worth maintaining…”

And politicians’ messages boil down to

““once upon a time things were bad, and now they’re good thanks to our party” or “once upon a time things were good, but now they’re bad thanks to the other party.””

Worth a read.

Why Gloom Trumps Glad

Michael Shermer | November 2016

November 2, 2016 Posted by | behaviour, evolutionary psychology, politics, psychology, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Toxic Masculinity

Are mass shootings  temper tantrums of low self-esteem, sexually frustrated males rather than a result of religious or political ideology ? This article makes a good case for it.  Check out the “conversation” on the original page for some thought-provoking counterpoints.

The weaponised loser

Mass shootings have one thing in common: toxic masculinity. Where does it come from and what can be done to stop it?

Stephen T Asma | aeon | 27 June, 2016

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July 9, 2016 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, evolutionary psychology, psychology, sociology, terrorism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why We Snap: From Road Rage to Barroom Brawls

“…Most violent behavior, Fields discovered, results from a clash between our evolutionary hardwiring and our modern world…”

Watch the video.

Why We Snap: From Road Rage to Barroom Brawls

By Carl Engelking | January 13, 2016 2:03 pm | Discover Blogs

January 21, 2016 Posted by | behaviour, brain, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience | , , , | Leave a comment

It’s ok to be irrational — as long as you know it

Would we make better decisions if we knew we are acting on the same decision-making principles as slime molds? The article below argues yes.

Yes, You’re Irrational, and Yes, That’s OK

By David Berreby | February 26, 2015 | Nautilus

The insight that will save you from being manipulated. Continue reading

October 2, 2015 Posted by | behaviour, decision making, economics, evolutionary psychology | , , , , | 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

Testicle size ‘link to father role’

Ladies, if you are looking for good father/husband material, go for small-balled men. At least if you believe the study described in this article from BBC:

Testicle size ‘link to father role’

9 September 2013

A link between the size of a father’s testicles and how active he is in bringing up his children has been suggested by scientists.

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September 10, 2013 Posted by | evolutionary psychology, psychology, sociology | , , , | Leave a comment

Teen brains made for risk

Good article explaining how risky teenage behaviour is not from lack of knowledge, but a different way of evaluating consequences.  From Discover magazine, 2011 March:

The Brain: The Trouble With Teens

Fast driving, drugs, and unsafe sex: The risk-loving behavior of adolescents may result from a neurological gap in the developing brain.

by Carl Zimmer

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October 10, 2011 Posted by | behaviour, brain, evolutionary psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Hardwired for Hope

Article below makes a case for optimism being a necessary evolutionary trait.  From Time magazine, June 6, 2011:

The Optimism Bias

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June 9, 2011 Posted by | behaviour, brain, evolutionary psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Why we are, as we are

Evolutionary theory is useful.  From The Economist, Dec 18th 2008:

Darwinism:Why we are, as we are

As the 150th anniversary of the publication of “On The Origin of Species” approaches, the moment has come to ask how Darwin’s insights can be used profitably by policymakers

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September 15, 2010 Posted by | behaviour, decision making, evolution, evolutionary psychology | , , | Leave a comment