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Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

the scientific reason why 'depression watching' is so comforting

There's a quiet solace in binge-watching your favourite series alone.

Lois’s favourite episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is from the show’s first season. Episode 16, “The Party”, is a relatively low-stakes outing of the popular American sitcom, based around the lives of the employees of a New York police precinct: the eccentric detectives attend the birthday party of their newly-appointed, unerringly professional captain. Hijinks ensue.

“It’s just so good,” she says with palpable enthusiasm. “I’ve probably seen it three or four times, because I usually rewatch the show in seasons. I just like that Netflix automatically plays them one after the other.”

Lois, a 21-year-old designer from south London, found herself cycling through television programmes on a regular basis in 2018. The year was a period in which she was struggling with bouts of depression rooted in the stress of her university course. “I had also begun experimenting with MDMA, in addition to going through a difficult break-up, which led me into a sort of spiral. At that time, television was the biggest comfort for me. I just didn't owe anything to it.”

Watching TV certainly isn’t the most proactive form of self-care around, but it may well be one of the most prevalent. At a time when private therapy prices are unaffordable for the majority of young people and public mental health services are an unending series of waiting lists, many of us turn to TV in the hopes of switching off.

“It’s a really good form of escapism,” says Kay, a 22-year-old university student. “I tend to watch television when I'm in a particularly depressive state, or when I'm anxious about something. I'll just go and watch Netflix so I don't have to think about things.”

The habit has unfortunately tainted many popular TV shows for anxious-depressive viewers, haunted by the memories of sleepless nights, bad break-ups, and uni bedrooms left to fester, grimy beyond human repair. One Twitter user laments their aversion to Scrubs in the present: “I associate it with pyjamas, cheap noodles and not leaving the house.”

Virtually anyone with Internet access and a source of stress has heard the siren call of streamable content. Watching TV on an actual television can’t come to the phone right now, because she’s dead. Being able to watch content on your phone literally anywhere killed her. I will be the first to admit I have risked it all to bring my comfort-watch into the shower, but I can also guarantee you that I was not the first to try.

In 2019, it’s easier than ever to block out the buzz of anxiety with a hefty dose of Parks and Rec, or allow your favourite episode of The Office to lull you to sleep for the umpteenth time. While comfort-watching is far from a permanent solution to mental illness, we rarely talk about how effective it can be in the interim.

“TV is a really good way to make you feel like there's more to life than your immediate situation,” says Penelope, a 26-year-old media researcher from Oakland, California. “Especially when you’re in school, and it feels like there isn’t a world outside of it.”

When Penelope was 13, she began experiencing anxious-depressive symptoms as a result of moving to a different country. “I would watch Ugly Betty so religiously. Even though I was feeling so alone and shit, I felt so seen in Ugly Betty. I was like, 'Whoa, she gets me!'” she says, laughing. “I think I get a lot of joy out of TV shows that are about young, strong women. When you're in a situation where you’re struggling, it's nice to see people thrive who you can potentially relate to.”

Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

BY Graham Duggan

“Fast fashion” has taken the clothing industry by storm. Retailers like H&M and Zara churn out affordable versions of the latest fashions from the runway to the store shelf, and we’re pressured to keep up with the trends.

And while there is an increased awareness of poor labour conditions in some of these fast fashion factories, we’re still not talking seriously about how the industry is harming our planet. Fashion is thought to be one of the worst-polluting industries in the world, falling among the ranks of oil and coal.

Fashion’s Dirty Secrets, a documentary from The Passionate Eye, highlights the environmental impact of what we wear. Host Stacey Dooley travels to Kazakhstan to examine how growing cotton has literally dried up the Aral Sea and visits Indonesia, where textile factories pump out toxic chemicals into what’s been called the world’s most polluted river.

“We are producing over 100 billion new garments from new fibres every single year,” says Lucy Siegle, a journalist investigating fashion’s growing environmental footprint. “And the planet cannot sustain that.”

Although we don’t grow cotton (one of the world’s thirstiest crops) in Canada, nor are we home to the world’s most toxic textile factories, we’re still contributors to the global problem through how much we buy and throw away. 

In 2007, Kelly Drennan founded Fashion Takes Action, the only non-profit organization in Canada focused on promoting sustainability in the fashion industry and among consumers. “We started as a fundraiser event to demonstrate the potential that sustainable fabrics can be used in high-end fashion, but we quickly realized that an organization was needed to promote the sustainable fashion movement.”

Working toward sustainable manufacturing
Some of the biggest brand names in fast fashion have received criticism for their lack of sustainability, but Drennan notes there is work being done behind the scenes.

After the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013, it became apparent that companies (including Joe Fresh) had no idea how bad things were that factory where their garments were being made. “In the aftermath, there was a sudden rush to better understand their supply chains, and more pressure is being put on
fashion brands to be more transparent,” says Drennan.

“It might seem like there isn’t a lot of movement by big brands toward sustainability, but that’s because many of them are still trying to figure out how to trace their supply chains,” she says. “They can’t be transparent and ‘show’ us what they’re doing if they don’t first know themselves.”

Today, brands are developing new technologies. Blockchain and RFID (radio frequency identification) tagging systems could be used track materials through a brand’s supply chain so garments can be traced from field to shelf, but these systems are still a work in progress. 

Responsible brands and manufacturers are looking to other textiles which are more environmentally friendly than cotton. “We’re heading toward a global fibre gap, where the demand for fibres — especially cotton — in textiles will be too great. Hemp is an attractive alternative as it’s a renewable resource, requires very few pesticides and does not shed microfibres like synthetics do and is much more efficient to grow than cotton.”

In Canada, each household throws away 46kg of clothing per year, with around 8-12 per cent of municipal landfills made up of textiles.
Landfills are overflowing with our fashion waste
We’ve become addicted to low-cost, disposable fashion. Compared to two decades ago, we purchase 400 per cent more clothing per year. And eventually, much of that fast fashion ends up in the trash.

In Canada, each household throws away 46 kilograms of textiles per year on average, making up around eight to 12 per cent of municipal landfills. “Unfortunately, fast fashion is not going away, and if we continue to consume as much clothing as we do today, that means we’ll continue to have fashion waste,” says Drennan.

The Ontario Textile Conversion Collaborative is finding ways to combat waste by creating new uses for old clothing. “We can’t keep sending bales of unwanted clothing to developing countries,” says Drennan, “so we’re consulting with a number of manufacturing sectors like the automotive, carpeting, paper, insulation and building sectors to better understand these potential end markets for discarded textiles.”

Some of the biggest brands have launched campaigns in an attempt to address textile waste, and while the issue can’t be fixed overnight, steps are being made. “Perfection doesn’t exist,” says Drennan, “but progress does!” 

Her advice? Donate everything — even those old pairs of underwear and socks can be passed on at thrift stores and donation bins. Even though they won’t be resold, like 60 to 70 per cent of donations, they can be diverted to other industries that might use the fibres for other purposes such as insulation, padding and stuffing. So next time you’re clearing out your closet, donate it all!

We need to shop a lot less
Getting ahead of the waste problem involves changing consumer behaviour, and more responsible consumerism is exactly what inspired writer and illustrator Sarah Lazarovic. After finding herself buying too many fashion items on impulse, only to be worn once or twice, Lazarovic decided to take a year-long shopping sabbatical.

Getting in the way of impulse buys was key to her success. “Stopping to think ‘Do I really need this?’ was the first step to reducing my purchases,” says Lazarovic. “My method was then to paint, instead of purchase, the items that caught my eye.”

Lazarovic published her images in a book called A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy. Some of her designs have reached a large audience, like “The Buyerarchy of Needs,” which has been translated into multiple languages. Today, she continues to advocate for changing our consumption behaviour.

The Buyerarchy of Needs
Black FridayCredit: Sarah Lazarovic

Her advice to change shopping habits? “Be methodical about it,” she says. “Take a photo; write it down; say to yourself, ‘It’s an irrational purchase.’ Take a day, a week or more, and research the item. If you still want it after that time, then, by all means, go for it. But you’ve deferred that impulse, more often than not, you won’t be as interested after a period of time.”

Try not to get sucked in by the “limited-time offer” or the literal ticking clock on some online sales. And when it comes to physical retailers, there’s an even simpler solution, says Lazarovic: “Don’t go into the store! Don’t even look!”

Clothing manufacturers are starting to focus on sustainability
Some forward-thinking, and even high fashion companies are getting creative about sustainability. Ann Taylor is developing a clothing rental program, instilling the sense of a sharing economy, while Eileen Fisher is introducing a take-back initiative, cleaning and reselling used clothing at a reduced rate.

Even some of fast fashion’s biggest culprits are making headway. H&M, for instance, has  created the Global Change Award through the non-profit H&M Foundation, investing in startups that aim to innovate and make the entire fashion industry more sustainable. 

“There will be a huge shift, and we’re just beginning to see the dawn of this change,” says Drennan. “Those brands that don’t get on board with sustainability are going to be left in the dust.”

Watch Fashion’s Dirty Secrets on The Passionate Eye.

Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society


When it comes to learning new things, ‘how’ outweighs ‘how much’. Here's why by William Park

The amount of time you spend working on something does not equal the quality of the output. Jogging the same routes, for instance, clocking up similar times every weekend will never transform you into a world-class athlete no matter how long you keep at it. Some of us  strive to excel, but for most the thought of committing to even more training is daunting.

So what if self-improvement did not require such a huge investment of time? Are there special qualities that people who strive for the top possess that allow them to rise above the rest? BBC Capital asked a gold-medal winning Olympic coach, a record-holding football manager and a super learner.

Stop repeating mistakes

Sixty minutes spent doing ‘the right thing’ is better than any amount of time spent learning in an unfocussed way, according to professor Anders Ericsson of Florida State University. Identifying areas that need work then devising a purposeful plan to correct them is crucial. Ericsson calls this process ‘deliberate practice’.

Ericsson has spent the best part of three decades analysing how elite performers from musicians to surgeons reach the very top of their field. Developing the right mindset, he says, is more important than raw talent. “There was always this discussion that in order to be good you had to be born with the attributes because it was difficult to produce high-level performers, which is wrong,” he says.  

Practitioners of deliberate practice often criticise the way we are taught at school. Music teachers, for example, start pupils off with the basic elements; the notes, the keys, how to read music. If you need to grade students against each other you need to compare them on simple, objective measures. Teaching like this makes grading easier, but it might also turn off beginners who cannot imagine reaching their end goal of playing the music they enjoy because they are doing tasks that have no meaning to them.

Start with the goal, then create a plan to get there and stick to it
“I think the right way to learn is the reverse,” says Max Deutsch, 26, who has taken rapid learning to the extreme. In 2016, San Francisco-based Deutsch set himself the target of learning 12 ambitious new skills to a very high standard, one each month. The first was memorising a deck of cards in two minutes without a mistake. Accomplishing this task is considered the threshold for a grandmaster of memory. The last was to teach himself how to play chess, from the beginning, and to beat grandmaster Magnus Carlsen in a game.

“Start with the goal,” says Deutsch. “What is it that I would have to know, or be able to do, to get to my goal? Then create a plan to get there and stick to it. On day one I declared ‘This is what I’m going to be doing each day’. I predefined every task for every single day. This meant I didn’t think ‘Do I have the energy or should I put this off?’ because I had predefined it. It became a non-negotiable part of the day.”

Deutsch says he was able to take on this challenge while holding down a full-time job, commuting for an hour a day and ensuring he had eight hours’ sleep. Forty-five to 60 minutes each day for 30 days was enough to complete each challenge. “The structure did 80% of the hard work,” he says.

If deliberate practice sounds familiar to you, it formed the basis of the 10,000-hour rule popularised by Malcolm Gladwell. One of Ericsson’s first papers on deliberate practice suggested that elite performers spend 10,000 hours, or approximately 10 years, training in this focused way before they reach the top of their field. But it is misleading to think that anyone who spends 10,000 hours doing anything will somehow become world-class. “You need to be practising with purpose, and it takes a certain type of person, psychologically, to do that,” says Ericsson.

“It’s not about the total time spent practising, it needs to be matched with the commitment of the student,” he says. “Are they correcting, are they changing what they do. It’s not clear why some people think that doing more of making the same mistakes will make you better.”

‘Focus on mastery’

The sporting world has adopted many of Ericsson’s lessons. “It’s the players who do the work. They have to be very determined to be a player who reaches the top,” says Roger Gustafsson. A former footballer-turned-coach, Gustafsson managed IFK Goteborg to five league titles in the 1990s – more than any other manager in Swedish league history. Now in his 60s, Gustafsson is still involved in the youth system at the club.

“We tried to teach 12-year-olds [in the IFK Goteborg youth system] the Barcelona passing triangle through deliberate practice and they developed incredibly [fast] in five weeks. They reached a point where they were doing the same number of triangle passes as Barcelona in competitive games. It’s not quite like saying they were as good as Barcelona, of course, but it was incredible how quickly they could learn.”

Video has become an essential tool for providing immediate feedback. “If you only tell the player, they might not get the same picture that you have,” says Gustafsson. “They have to see themselves and compare with a player that did it differently. Young players are very comfortable with video feedback. They are used to filming themselves and each other. As a coach it’s difficult to give everyone feedback because you have 20 players in a squad. Deliberate practice is about empowering people to give themselves feedback.”

Gustafsson emphasises that the more immediate the coach can make their feedback, the more value it has. By correcting mistakes in training, less time is wasted doing things wrong.

“The most important part of this is the intention of the athlete, they have to want to learn,” says Hugh McCutcheon, head coach of volleyball at the University of Minnesota. “The athlete has to feel like they are in a safe space to make it worse. They might get worse to get better. This might turn off casual learners, but technical mastery is hard. It’s the same across any sport; what separates the very best is technical mastery and that requires a big commitment.”

Talent is not rare. What is rare is talent and motivation and focus on mastery – Hugh McCutcheon

McCutcheon was head coach of the USA men’s volleyball team who won gold at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, 20 years after their previous gold medal. He then took over the women’s team and led them to silver at the London 2012 games. “We have a responsibility to teach and they have a responsibility to learn,” says McCutcheon. “This isn’t an input-output thing. The plateau is real, you will struggle. The people who get through are the ones who commit to working on their faults. You don’t have transformative days where you go from being a hack to an expert. There’s a lot of talented people. Talent is not rare. What is rare is talent and motivation and focus on mastery.”

Why structure matters

For some of the tasks Deutsch took on, there was already a heavily predefined method of learning, like memorising a deck of cards, where he says 90% of the method is well-established. Deutsch wanted to apply deliberate practice to a more abstract challenge that would require developing his own strategy; solving a Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle. He says these crosswords were seen as too complex to be solved in a systematic way, but he thought that he could apply the techniques he learned in previous challenges to solving them.

Just spending 10,000 hours learning will not help you master a skill – it takes practice with purpose (Credit: Getty Images)

“If I know the 6,000 most common clues, how close would that get me to solving a puzzle? On an easier puzzle it helps to get you a significant way to solving it,” says Deutsch. “On a Saturday puzzle, it doesn’t get you that far, but it is a big leg-up. So that’s what I did; I scraped a website to get the data and based on how I learned a language in a previous challenge I used a programme to memorise them. Over one week I learned those 6,000 answers.”

With enough exposure to the answers, he was able to learn all these common clues. Next, Deutsch looked at how the puzzles were constructed. Some letter combinations are more likely to follow others, so if part of the grid is complete, he could narrow down the possibilities for the remaining spaces by ruling out unlikely words. Expanding his vocabulary was the final part to going from crossword novice to master.

“Typically, we underestimate what we can accomplish in a small amount of time and overestimate what it will take to do a thing,” says Deutsch, who succeeded in 11 of his 12 tasks (the chess win eluded him). “By creating a structure, you remove the mental noise. Deliberating practising things for an hour for a month is not a lot of time but when was the last time you spent 30 hours deliberately working on one specific thing?”

Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

getty images bloggers FROW

Social media is awash with glossy images of our friends having fun – but how does that impact our wallets?By Rajeshni Naidu-Ghelani

Just weeks before a break to Ireland with her husband, Visage Vijay is deciding whether to make a big purchase during her holiday.

She’s mulling over whether she’s willing to part with $3,000 for her first Chanel handbag, after seeing friends and celebrities with it on Instagram. “I have an obsession with having a Chanel purse, so that’s something I’ll probably get really soon,” the 37-year-old says. “On Instagram, I love handbags.”

This isn’t the first time the Toronto-based drug safety manager has been inspired by Instagram posts to splash out. She spent a similar amount on a Prada handbag on a trip to Italy in 2017. Everything she does – from holidays to fine dining, taking classes to buying clothes – has some link to what she’s seen on the social media platform.

“Even if I see something that I am interested in somewhere else, I have a tendency to check the hashtag on Instagram to see what other people have posted on it,” says Vijay. “It’s not like an advertisement. It’s showing real people doing real things. So I’m just influenced to see and do what they were doing, because it looks like people were enjoying those things.”

But that enjoyment comes at a cost. A recent study from professors at the University of California and University of Toronto says people are spending more and saving less because they only see what others are spending, and not what they are saving and social media has exacerbated this. This creates an inaccurate perception, called a visibility bias, which the researchers suggest is changing our consumption habits.

What is a visibility bias?

David Hirshleifer, one of the authors of the study and professor at Merage School of Business, UC Irvine, says visibility bias comes from the way we interact in social settings. People tend to talk about things they are doing, he says, which means we highlight consumption more than non-consumption.

“If I meet a friend in person at their house, then I may see my friend drinking a cheap cup of coffee or wearing inexpensive clothes,” says Hirshleifer. “But if I have a look at [their] social media [account], then my friend may be posting about that expensive restaurant that he went to or the exciting travel.” He says any kind of communication that is not person-to-person will create a greater visibility bias.

Visibility bias has increasingly driven buying trends as ways of keeping in touch became cheaper and more diverse. “The drop in costs of long-distance communication, the rise of cable television and VCR, and subsequently the rise of the internet greatly increased the ability of individuals to observe others’ consumption,” the study says.

Any kind of communication that is not person-to-person will create a greater visibility bias - Hirshleifer
Increased awareness of what other people are doing not only makes us spend more, the experts say, but also lures us into incorrect assumptions about our own financial position and future wealth prospects.


Bing Han, another of the study’s authors and professor at Rotman School of Business, University of Toronto, says when it comes to saving, people take their cue from others in their social network because they perceive their socio-economic situations as similar. “That signal from my peers about what they think about the future, and any income growth, and their resulting actions kind of give me some kind of clue about my future,” he says.

Every time you post about a purchase or an experience on social media, it has the potential to influence those who follow you. “It’s kind of the domino effect triggering other people into doing something. It doesn’t have to be that you feel pressured, it’s just like they learn from your activity, your consumption,” he says. “You have such a belief, and your belief is relevant to them. They kind of adapt similar strategies, similar behaviour.”

The authors say visibility bias has been magnified by social media because the consumption activity is so visible. Stephane Couture, assistant communications professor at Canada’s York University-Glendon, says the promotional culture of social media gives people a platform to showcase their spending.

“The pattern of consumption was there before social media: the idea that if people around us are consuming, we have a tendency to consume more. Usually social media is just amplifying these trends,” Couture says.
Promotion versus practicality

The authors of the study say visibility bias could help explain the “puzzle” of why personal savings rates in the US, i.e. the amount of disposable income people save, has dropped since the 1980s. Back then rates stood at around 10%; then they fell to a low of about 3% in 2007. They point to a similar trend in developed OECD countries. The latest US government data says rates hovered between 6%-7% in 2018; even as personal debt continues to rise.  

Vijay admits that if she didn’t splash out on a new designer handbag she would likely save the cash, or use it for something more practical like furnishing her new home. “The thought does sometimes cross my mind - that I'm being impractical,” she says. “Our house is a little bit older. So if something needs to be fixed, maybe we have to go into our savings rather than having the money available.”

Toronto-based finance manager Parth Bhowmick believes Instagram makes him spend at least CA$200 ($150 USD) more a month on food, because he ends up eating out four to five times a week. One of his friends runs an Instagram account promoting restaurants.

“Sometimes, I look at his feed and see him at a Chinese place. At the back of my mind, it plants a seed that I haven’t had Chinese food in a while. Maybe I should go and get some,” he says.

The 28-year-old says what began as a search for restaurant ideas has escalated to a habit of dining out several days each week with his girlfriend. He feels he would likely be eating out less if he wasn’t on Instagram and has since tried to reduce the number of restaurants and related accounts that he follows. “I did see that cut down how many times I would have that urge to go out to a restaurant or try that place that I never heard of.”

Still Bhowmick says he’s surprised to see how much he’s spending on eating out. “I think it does accumulate when you look back at the end of the month and you do an inventory of what you spent,” he says. “It does remind me that I could be cooking and not spending as much.”

Living in a bubble?

Hirshleifer says one of the study’s objectives was to make people more aware of their spending. “Psychologists have sometimes found that if one becomes aware of a psychological bias, that can reduce the bias,” he says.

Couture says people need to be careful they’re not being fooled by the social media bubble. “The filter bubble is the idea that because of the friends that we select on social media, we create a bubble, so that there’s just this reality that our friends confirm what we already believe in,” he says.

But when it comes to spending and saving, people may need to look beyond that social media “reality”, he adds.

Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

Tiger extinction

Recent increases in human disturbance pose significant threats to migratory species using collective movement strategies. Key threats to migrants may differ depending on behavioural traits (e.g. collective navigation), taxonomy and the environmental system (i.e. freshwater, marine or terrestrial) associated with migration. We quantitatively assess how collective navigation, taxonomic membership and environmental system impact species' vulnerability.

Likelihood of population decrease differed by taxonomic group: migratory birds were more likely to experience annual declines than non-migrants, while mammals displayed the opposite pattern. Within migratory species in IUCN, we observed that collective navigation and environmental system were important predictors of extinction risk for fishes and birds, but not for mammals, which had overall higher extinction risk than other taxa. We found high phylogenetic relatedness among collectively navigating species, which could have obscured its importance in determining extinction risk. Overall, outputs from these analyses can help guide strategic interventions to conserve the most vulnerable migrations.

As human development and activities continue to expand, scientists have grown increasingly concerned about such migrators, especially those that trek long distances. These animal travelers cover hundreds to thousands of kilometers annually, yet very little is known about how their movements are faring across the globe.

ARTICLE http://

Next time you read this article again these animals may already be extinct

Amur Leopard                      Panthera pardus orientalis
Black Rhino                                 Diceros bicornis
Bornean Orangutan                  Pongo pygmaeus                   
Cross River Gorilla                  Gorilla gorilla diehli
Eastern Lowland Gorilla          Gorilla beringei graueri
Hawksbill Turtle                        Eretmochelys imbricata
Javan Rhino                        Rhinoceros sondaicus
Malayan Tiger Panthera tigris jacksoni        
Mountain Gorilla Gorilla beringei beringei      
Orangutan Pongo abelii, Pongo pygmaeus
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The Human Fabric of the Web

colonization facebook

Sketching out the the social structure of a large company such as Facebook is a task which is important not only in order to understand the impact of such a global internet phenomenon as the social network on the society, local and global economy, and civil freedoms, but also to better understand how the development of high-end technology and communication infrastructures intertwine with the accumulation of capital and political power. Even though the world is at the point of postglobal development (a point where global is already reached and the new local is what the market needs), the deep embeddedness of the company in the economic, political and social elite/establishment of one society/country is what makes the company strong enough to act globally – and not, as is often thought, through the cooperation of the elites around the world... As our investigation shows, the real fabric of the web consists of the personal social networks of specific people in the higher strata of the company. If anything other than its profit, this is what keeps the whole structure together and safe from any change in the political establishment.

Read the whole article at

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Neither intelligence nor education can stop you from forming prejudiced opinions – but an inquisitive attitude may help you make wiser judgements. Tom Stafford

stay curious

The political lens
There is now a mountain of evidence to show that politics doesn’t just help predict people’s views on some scientific issues; it also affects how they interpret new information. This is why it is a mistake to think that you can somehow ‘correct’ people’s views on an issue by giving them more facts, since study after study has shown that people have a tendency to selectively reject facts that don’t fit with their existing views.

Other research shows that people with the most education, highest mathematical abilities, and the strongest tendencies to be reflective about their beliefs are the most likely to resist information which should contradict their prejudices. This undermines the simplistic assumption that prejudices are the result of too much gut instinct and not enough deep thought. Rather, people who have the facility for deeper thought about an issue can use those cognitive powers to justify what they already believe and find reasons to dismiss apparently contrary evidence.

It’s a messy picture, and at first looks like a depressing one for those who care about science and reason. A glimmer of hope can be found in new research from a collaborative team of philosophers, film-makers and psychologists led by Dan Kahan of Yale University. Kahan and his team were interested in politically biased information processing, but also in studying the audience for scientific documentaries and using this research to help film-makers. They developed two scales. The first measured a person’s scientific background, a fairly standard set of questions asking about knowledge of basic scientific facts and methods, as well as quantitative judgement and reasoning. The second scale was more innovative. The idea of this scale was to measure something related but independent – a person’s curiosity about scientific issues, not how much they already knew. This second scale was also innovative in how they measured scientific curiosity. As well as asking some questions, they also gave people choices about what material to read as part of a survey about reactions to news. If an individual chooses to read about science stories rather than sports or politics, their corresponding science curiosity score was marked up.

Armed with their scales, the team then set out to see how they predicted people’s opinions on public issues which should be informed by science. With the scientific knowledge scale the results were depressingly predictable. The higher levels of scientific education results in a greater polarisation between the groups, not less.

So much for scientific background, but scientific curiosity showed a different pattern. The team confirmed this using an experiment which gave participants a choice of science stories, either in line with their existing beliefs, or surprising to them. Those participants who were high in scientific curiosity defied the predictions and selected stories which contradicted their existing beliefs. So, curiosity shows that to promote a greater understanding of public issues, it is as important for educators to try and convey their excitement about science and the pleasures of finding out stuff, as it is to teach people some basic curriculum of facts.

Taken from BBC. Article can be found here

Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

Human Psyche

A recent study published in Science Advances, suggests that “envious” is the most common personality type. A computer algorithm classified people based on their behavior in hundreds of social dilemma scenarios and found the majority could be categorized into four basic personality types: optimistic, pessimistic, trustful and envious. Thirty percent of the people were rated as envious.

“These subjects seem to behave as driven by envy, status-seeking consideration, or lack of trust,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “These players prevent their counterparts from receiving more payoff than themselves even when, by doing so, they diminish their own potential payoff.”

Each of the other three personality types ― pessimistic, optimistic and trustful ― described about 20 percent of people. The last 10 percent behaved so erratically that the computer program failed to categorize them. The four new categories, in contrast, describe the types of behaviors that people show in a social context, where they have to interact with others.  

The new study analyzed the responses of more than 500 volunteers to hundreds of hypothetical dilemmas in which people could either cooperate with their teammate or act in their own self-interest. But as these new findings show, it’s not just rationality or cooperative spirit that determines what humans end up doing. Their own personalities, too, play a part.

“The results go against certain theories; the one which states that humans act purely rationally for example,” study co-author Yamir Moreno of the University of Zaragoza in Spain said in a press release. 

The envious 30 percent failed to cooperate just because they couldn’t stand the thought of potentially being left with a lower payoff than their teammate received. “This points to the difficulty of making people understand when they face a nondilemmatic, win-win situation,” the researchers wrote.

Although the games in the study offer hypothetical scenarios, they resemble many real-life interactions. Imagine that you are partnered with a co-worker on a special project. To achieve spectacular results, you both need to work hard. But it’s not guaranteed that the two of you will be given equal credit for the success of the project. So you might choose to do just the minimum, which certainly prevents your partner from getting unearned praise, but also deprives you of the credit that could come with the best results.

Read the article here

Authors: Julia Poncela-Casasnovas1, Mario Gutiérrez-Roig2, Carlos Gracia-Lázaro3, Julian Vicens1,4, Jesús Gómez-Gardeñes3,5, Josep Perelló2,6, Yamir Moreno3,7,8, Jordi Duch1 and Angel Sánchez3,9,10.

Science Advances  05 Aug 2016: Vol. 2, no. 8, e1600451 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600451 

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Julian Jaynes

At the heart of this seminal work is the revolutionary idea that human
consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but was a learned
process that emerged, through cataclysm and catastrophe, from a hallucinatory
mentality only three thousand years ago and that is still developing.

The implications of this scientific paradigm extend into virtually every
aspect of our psychology, our history, our culture, our religion — indeed
our future. In the words of one reviewer, it is “a humbling text, the kind
that reminds most of us who make our livings through thinking, how
much thinking there is left to do.”

“When Julian Jaynes . . . speculates that until late in the second millennium
B.C. men had no consciousness but were automatically obeying the voices
of gods, we are astounded but compelled to follow this remarkable thesis
through all the corroborative evidence.” — John Updike, The New Yorker

“Thi s books and this mans ideas may be the most influential, not to say
controversial, of the second half of the twentieth century. It renders whole
shelves of books obsolete.” — William Harrington, Columbus Dispatch

“Having just finished The Origin of Consciousness , I myself feel something
like Keats’ Cortez staring at the Pacific, or at least like the early reviewers of Darwin or Freud. I’m not quite sure what to make of this new territory; but its expanse lies before me and I am startled by its power.” — Edward Profitt, Commonweal

“ He is as startling as Freud was in The Interpretation of Dreams , and Jaynes
is equally adept at forcing a new view of known human behavior. ” — Raymond Headlee, American Journal of Psychiatry

“The weight of original thought in [this book] is so great that it makes
me uneasy for the author’s well-being: the human mind is not built to
support such a burden.” — D. C. Stove, Encounter 


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BBC - Horizon - 2006 - Human v2.0 by DocumentaryHD2014

Meet the scientific prophets who claim we are on the verge of creating a new type of human - ahuman v2.0.

It's predicted that by 2029 computer intelligence will equal the power of the human brain. Some believe this will revolutionise humanity - we will be able to download our minds to computers extending our lives indefinitely. Others fear this will lead to oblivion by giving rise to destructive ultra intelligent machines.

One thing they all agree on is that the coming of this moment - and whatever it brings - is inevitable.

watch here

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Logorama from Marc Altshuler on Vimeo.

This is a short film that was directed by the French animation collective H5, François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy + Ludovic Houplain. It was presented at the Cannes Film Festival 2009. It opened the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and won a 2010 academy award under the category of animated short.
In this film there are two pieces of licensed music, in the beginning and in the end. All the other music and sound design are original. The opening track (Dean Martin "Good Morning Life") and closing track (The Ink Spots "I don't want to send the world on fire") songs are licensed pre-existing tracks. All original music and sound design is by, human (

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Shopping mall

Background music in shops - disparagingly referred to as "muzak" - has been shown to have an effect on our buying habits.

Shops and restaurants can use music "to target those effects that are most likely to increase sales in a given business", says Adrian North, professor of music psychology at Australia's Curtin University in Perth.

His own research, carried out at Softley's restaurant in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, suggested diners spent an average of £2 a head more when listening to classical rather than pop music.

A similar experiment suggested that perceptions of taste altered according to output, so "mellow and soft music"- made the wine taste "mellow and soft". And "powerful and heavy" sounds, made wine more likely to have flavours that were... "powerful and heavy".

What is muzak?
Muzak started in 1920s when General George Squires patented the process of transmitting music over electrical lines. The name is a combination of "music" and "Kodak", Squires' favourite hi-tech firm. It is known as "elevator music" because of its early use in skyscrapers to calm people's nerves (when elevators were still new and unfamiliar). In the 1940s, it was used as a musical way of relaxing workers with the aim of improving productivity.

Muzak has a reputation as being generic, light music, barely noticeable to customers - setting a calm ambience in which to buy things. But the Muzak company that gave rise to the term, taken over by Canadian firm Mood Media in 2004, tailors its playlists to target specific groups of customers, as do several large rivals.

In his BBC Reith Lectures 10 years ago, conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim complained that background music was undermining "active" listening, creating a generation of people who could no longer concentrate properly on music.
Research at Rutgers University at about the same time suggested music played in shops had no discernible impact on customers' stated mood. But, while it did encourage higher levels of spending among impulse buyers, "contemplative" shoppers actually spent less.

Defenders of in-store sound say it is no more manipulative than other aspects of store design and management, such as layout, decoration and product presentation.

North says there's evidence that playing Edith Piaf's songs encourages people to buy French wine, rather than South African. "And we know that classical music can drive sales of more expensive products," he says, "whereas country [music] drives sales of utilitarian products."

A few years ago, music writer Paul Stokes attempted to log the songs he heard while shopping in London, but gave up because "it was all either faceless audio wallpaper, or the same pop hits of the day produced by Pharrell Williams".

"Experts say you should only notice the music one in three tracks," he says. "The rest of the time it was there to provide a sense of comfort and calm."

Justin Parkinson

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congitive science

Tell someone they have to answer the following questions as quickly as possible:

What's one plus four?
What's five plus two?
What's seven take away three?
Name a vegetable?

Nine times out of 10 people answer the last question with “Carrot”.

What is happening is that, for most people, most of the time, in all sorts of circumstances, carrot is simply the first vegetable that comes to mind.

This seemingly banal fact reveals something about how our minds organise information. There are dozens of vegetables, and depending on your love of fresh food you might recognise a good proportion. If you had to list them you’d probably forget a few you know, easily reaching a dozen and then slowing down. And when you’re pressured to name just one as quickly as possible, you forget even more and just reach for the most obvious vegetable you can think of – and often that’s a carrot.

In cognitive science, we say the carrot is “prototypical” – for our idea of a vegetable, it occupies the centre of the web of associations which defines the concept. You can test prototypicality directly by timing how long it takes someone to answer whether the object in question belongs to a particular category. We take longer to answer “yes” if asked “is a penguin a bird?” than if asked “is a robin a bird?”, for instance. Even when we know penguins are birds, the idea of penguins takes longer to connect to the category “bird” than more typical species.
So, something about our experience of school dinners, being told they’ll help us see in the dark, the 37 million tons of carrots the world consumes each year, and cartoon characters from Bugs Bunny to Olaf the Snowman, has helped carrots work their way into our minds as the prime example of a vegetable.
The benefit to this system of mental organisation is that the ideas which are most likely to be associated are also the ones which spring to mind when you need them. Life would be impossible without them.

Having a mind which supplies ready answers based on association is better than a mind which never supplies ready answers, but it can also produce blunders that are much more damaging than claiming cows drink milk. Every time we assume the doctor is a man and the nurse is woman, we’re falling victim to the ready answers of our mental prototypes of those professions. Such prototypes, however mistaken, may also underlie our readiness to assume a man will be a better CEO, or a philosophy professor won’t be a woman. If you let them guide how the world should be, rather than what it might be, you get into trouble pretty quickly.

Advertisers know the power of prototypes too, of course, which is why so much advertising appears to be style over substance. Their job isn’t to deliver a persuasive message, as such. They don’t want you to actively believe anything about their product being provably fun, tasty or healthy. Instead, they just want fun, taste or health to spring to mind when you think of their product (and the reverse). Worming their way into our mental associations is worth billions of dollars to the advertising industry, and it is based on a principle no more complicated than a childhood game which tries to trick you into saying “carrots”.

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The experiment, say the scholars, indicates that the more distracted we become, the less able we are to experience the subtlest, most distinctively human forms of empathy, compassion, and other emotions. “For some kinds of thoughts, especially moral decision-making about other people’s social and psychological situations, we need to allow for adequate time and reflection,” cautions Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, a member of the research team. “If things are happening too fast, you may not ever fully experience emotions about other people’s psychological states.” It would be rash to jump to the conclusion that the internet is undermining our moral sense. It would not be rash to suggest that as the net reroutes our vital paths and diminishes our capacity for contemplation, it is altering the depth of our emotions as well as our thoughts.

There are those who are heartened by the ease with which our minds are adapting to the web’s intellectual ethic. “Technological progress does not reverse,” writes a Wall Street Journal columnist, “so the trend toward multitasking and consuming many different types of information will only continue.” We need not worry, though, because our “human software” will in time “catch up to the machine technology that made the information abundance possible.” We’ll “evolve” to become more agile consumers of data. The writer of a cover story in New York magazine says that as we become used to “the 21st-century task” of “fitting” among bits of online information, “the wiring of the brain will inevitably change to deal more efficiently with more information.” We may lose our capacity “to concentrate on a complex task from beginning to end,” but in recompense we’ll gain new skills, such as the ability to “conduct 34 conversations simultaneously across six different media.” A prominent economist writes, cheerily, that “the web allows us to borrow cognitive strengths from autism and to be better infovores.” An Atlantic author suggests that our “technology-induced ADD” may be “a short-term problem,” stemming from our reliance on “cognitive habits evolved and perfected in an era of limited information flow.” Developing new cognitive habits is “the only viable approach to navigating the age of constant connectivity.”

These writers are certainly correct in arguing that we’re being molded by our new information environment. Our mental adaptability, built into the deepest workings of our brains, is a keynote of intellectual history. But if there’s comfort in their reassurances, it’s of a very cold sort. Adaptation leaves us better suited to our circumstances, but qualitatively it’s a neutral process. What matters in the end is not our becoming but what we become. In the 1950s, Martin Heidegger observed that the looming “tide of technological revolution” could “so captivate, bewitch, dazzle, and beguile man that calculative thinking may someday come to be accepted and practiced as the only way of thinking.” Our ability to engage in “meditative thinking,” which he saw as the very essence of our humanity, might become a victim of headlong progress. The tumultuous advance of technology could, like the arrival of the locomotive at the Concord station, drown out the refined perceptions, thoughts, and emotions that arise only through contemplation and reflection. The “frenziedness of technology,” Heidegger wrote, threatens to “entrench itself everywhere.”

It may be that we are now entering the final stage of that entrenchment. We are welcoming the frenziedness into our souls.

Taken from

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There is no Sleepy Hollow on the internet, no peaceful spot where contemplativeness can work its restorative magic. There is only the endless, mesmerizing buzz of the urban street. The stimulations of the web, like those of the city, can be invigorating and inspiring. We wouldn’t want to give them up. But they are, as well, exhausting and distracting. They can easily, as Hawthorne understood, overwhelm all quieter modes of thought. One of the greatest dangers we face as we automate the work of our minds, as we cede control over the flow of our thoughts and memories to a powerful electronic system, is the one that informs the fears of both the scientist Joseph Weizenbaum and the artist Richard Foreman: a slow erosion of our humanness and our humanity.

It’s not only deep thinking that requires a calm, attentive mind. It’s also empathy and compassion. Psychologists have long studied how people experience fear and react to physical threats, but it’s only recently that they’ve begun researching the sources of our nobler instincts. What they’re finding is that, as Antonio Damasio, the director of USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute, explains, the higher emotions emerge from neural processes that “are inherently slow.” In one recent experiment, Damasio and his colleagues had subjects listen to stories describing people experiencing physical or psychological pain. The subjects were then put into a magnetic resonance imaging machine and their brains were scanned as they were asked to remember the stories. The experiment revealed that while the human brain reacts very quickly to demonstrations of physical pain – when you see someone injured, the primitive pain centers in your own brain activate almost instantaneously – the more sophisticated mental process of empathizing with psychological suffering unfolds much more slowly. It takes time, the researchers discovered, for the brain “to transcend immediate involvement of the body” and begin to understand and to feel “the psychological and moral dimensions of a situation.”



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