Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

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

Why we love tyrants

I’ve always wondered how some leaders can sway people to do things rational thought would exclude, for example how Hitler managed to convince ordinary Germans that Jews must be exterminated.  Would I fall for such a message?  Have I?

The article below looks at the psychology used in these type of speeches. It seems to boil down to three steps:

  1.  We are mightily suffering:  _____________,
  2.  and that is the fault of ____________, who is our enemy.
  3.  The magic solution to this is ___________.

It’s scary how something this simple can work so well.  And it’s even scarier how it is being used today.

Why we love tyrants

Psychoanalysis explains how authoritarians energise the hatred, self-pity and delusion while promising heaven on Earth

David Livingstone Smith | aeon | 


February 16, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, history, psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Plough/hoe past influences attitudes towards women now

Interesting theory — deep-seated attitudes to women have roots in ancient agriculture.  From The Economist, July 23rd, 2011:

Economics focus: The plough and the now

September 1, 2011 Posted by | history | , , , | Leave a comment

Easter Island’s End

One of my favorite essays by Jared Diamond on societal collapse on Easter Island.  From Discover magazine, August 1, 1995:

Easter’s End

In just a few centuries, the people of Easter Island wiped out their forest, drove their plants and animals to extinction, and saw their complex society spiral into chaos and cannibalism. Are we about to follow their lead?

by Jared Diamond

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September 30, 2009 Posted by | anthropology, environment, history | , , , | Leave a comment

Jared Diamond on the environment

An essay by Jared Diamond, from Time magazine, August 26, 2oo2:

Lessons from Lost Worlds

By Jared Diamond

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September 30, 2009 Posted by | anthropology, environment, history, sociology | , , | Leave a comment

The Oily Americans

Oldie, but a gives a good idea of how the United States meddled in the Middle East.  Things haven’t changed, have they?

From Time magazine, Monday, May. 19, 2003:

The Oily Americans

By Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele

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September 30, 2009 Posted by | history, politics, terrorism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Origins of money


The Cradle of Cash

When money arose in the ancient cities of Mesopotamia, it profoundly and permanently changed civilization.

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January 10, 2008 Posted by | economics, history | Leave a comment

The origin of the word “terrorist”

From the New York Times:

Bush’s Dangerous Liaisons

Very interesting…

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October 29, 2007 Posted by | history, politics, terrorism | , , , , | 2 Comments