Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

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

The Majority Illusion in Social Networks

You think everyone does/know/be it?  Maybe it’s just an illusion.

The Social-Network Illusion That Tricks Your Mind

June 30, 2015 | MIT Technology Review

Network scientists have discovered how social networks can create the illusion that something is common when it is actually rare.
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December 25, 2015 Posted by | behaviour, sociology | , , , | Leave a comment

Your friends really are better than you

I never thought there would be a mathematical explanation for any aspect of the “grass is greener” idiom — but here it is:  compared to your friends, you really do suck. From MIT Technology Review, January 14, 2014:

How the Friendship Paradox Makes Your Friends Better Than You Are

The friendship paradox is the empirical observation that your friends have more friends than you do. Now network scientists say your friends are probably wealthier and happier, too.

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January 18, 2014 Posted by | sociology | , , , | 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

Why a man’s face can lie but still produce orgasms

Interesting research reported: the wider a man’s face, the more aggressive and the more likely to lie and cheat.  Doesn’t apply to women.  But a good-looking man will produce more orgasms in women.  From The Economist, July 9th, 2011:

Physiognomy: Facing the truth

Why a man’s face can lie but still produce orgasms

August 28, 2011 Posted by | behaviour, sociology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Middle class attitudes changing

How middle class attitudes differ from those of the working class, in different countries.  Enlightening.  From The Economist, Feb 12th 2009:

A special report on the new middle classes in emerging markets: Beyond Wisteria Lane

Scott Fitzgerald was wrong. It is not the rich who are different but the middle classes

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February 26, 2011 Posted by | behaviour, economics, sociology | , , | Leave a comment

Rich lack empathy

According to the study below, people from higher economic status have lower emotional intelligence. IMHO that’s like saying the rich lack empathy.

From Chief Learning Officer:

Emotional Intelligence Linked to Socio-Economics, New Study Shows

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February 2, 2011 Posted by | behaviour, sociology | , , , | Leave a comment

The rich are selfish

At least more selfish than the poor. But not all is lost: if the rich are reminded, they can act with more compassion.

From The Economist, July 31, 2010:

The rich are different from you and me

They are more selfish

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January 28, 2011 Posted by | behaviour, psychology, sociology | , , , | Leave a comment

Fair Play

Is the human quality of fairness in our genome, or is it a social construct?  The study concludes the latter — it found  a correlation between fairness and market integration.  Note that the original article includes a graph not reproduced here.  From the Mar 18th, 2010 issue of The Economist:

The origins of selflessness

Fair play

It is not so much that cheats don’t prosper, but that prosperity does not cheat

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August 22, 2010 Posted by | behaviour, economics, psychology, sociology | , , | Leave a comment

Pinker on Gladwell

An eye-opening review of Malcolm Gladwell’s book “What the dog saw” by Steven Pinker —  I will be much more careful of accepting Gladwell’s conclusions from here on.  From the New York Times:

Malcolm Gladwell, Eclectic Detective

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November 17, 2009 Posted by | sociology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Suffering leads to belief in god

It seems misery loves supernatural explanations…

Excerpt from “Bering in Mind”‘s  God’s in Mississippi, where the gettin’ is good:

…. In an article soon to be published in Personality and Social Psychology Review , Harvard psychologists Kurt Gray and Daniel Wegner argue that human suffering and God go hand-in-hand because our evolved cognitive systems are inherently unsatisfied with “sh*t happens” types of explanations (that is to say, reality). The main gist of their argument is that, since we’re such a deeply social species, when bad things happen to us we immediately launch a search for the responsible human party. In being morally vigilant this way–in seeking to identify the culpable party–we can effectively punish blameworthy, antisocial people, thus preserving our group’s functional cohesion and preserving each individual’s genetic interests. That’s all fine and dandy, say Gray and Wegner, when someone punches us in the face, steals from us or sleeps with our girlfriend; but when our misfortune is more “abstract” (think cancer or a tsunami) and there’s no obvious single human agent to blame, we see the hand of God.

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October 15, 2009 Posted by | psychology, religion, sociology | , , , | Leave a comment