Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

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

Does Depression Have an Evolutionary Purpose?

Interesting point of view: depression is a cry for help, just like the loud chirping of a hungry baby bird.  Worth reading if you, or someone you know, has battled depression or suicidal tendencies.

Does Depression Have an Evolutionary Purpose?

Some psychologists believe suicide and depression can be strategic.

Matthew Hutson | Feb 9, 2017 | Nautilus

Continue reading

Advertisements

January 28, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, evolutionary psychology, psychology | , | Leave a comment

I can haz all ur votes

“…wealth of information creates a poverty of attention…”

— Herbert Simon, a noted economist, 1971

Start by checking out the chart in the middle of the article below, depicting increasing U.S. political polarization.  Then read the article to see how the internet led us there.

It’s a huge problem that is getting worse.

Once considered a boon to democracy, social media have started to look like its nemesis

An economy based on attention is easily gamed

Nov 4th 2017 |The Economist

 

January 27, 2018 Posted by | information, news, politics, sociology | , , , , , | 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

Continue reading

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

Pedestrian attacks self-driving car

In a world of self-driving cars that are practically perfect at avoiding harm to pedestrians, I can see people walking all over the road without looking, slowing traffic and causing damage to cars without a care.  Swerve into a wall in order to avoid hitting a pedestrian stepping off the sidewalk without looking? Can they identify the pedestrian to make him pay for the damage before he disappears?  Will we be compelled to buy pedestrian insurance in order to walk on the streets?  We’re not quite there yet, but this incident is a start.  Something to think about.

Pedestrian attacks self-driving car in the Mission

Nobody was hurt, except our civic dignity

January 19, 2018 Posted by | behaviour | , , , | 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.

Continue reading

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

How to Choose Wisely

Advice column by the author of the book You May Also Like: Taste in An Age of Endless Choice.

How to Choose Wisely

From Yelping to dating, there’s a better way.

By Tom Vanderbilt | Sept. 7, 2017 | Nautilus

December 16, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, decision making | , | 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

Plants think?!

Well, they make decisions, they learn and they remember.  Is that thinking?

Garden Greenery is Brainier Than You Think

They learn. They remember. They make decisions.
By Marta Zaraska|Monday, April 10, 2017 | Discover Magazine, May 2017 Issue

December 9, 2017 Posted by | behaviour | , , | Leave a comment

One Simple Way to Make a New Healthy Habit Stick

Research says, do it right after you wake up in the morning.  Your cortisol levels, which are highest in the morning, seem to make the transition from “chore” to “habit” easier.  Details:

One Simple Way to Make a New Healthy Habit Stick

Amanda MacMillan | Oct 26, 2017 | Time

October 30, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, health | , , | Leave a comment

Your Smartphone Controls Your Mind

Apps are designed to maximize the amount of time you spend on them — even if that is wasting your precious time.  Tristan Harris explains in his TED talk:

How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day

And check out this article to see what he is planning to do about it:

Smartphones Are Weapons of Mass Manipulation, and This Guy Is Declaring War on Them

October 19, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, decision making, psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment