To Be Energy-Efficient, Brains Predict Their Perceptions

Results from neural networks support the idea that brains are “prediction machines” — and that they work that way to conserve energy. https://www.quantamagazine.org/to-be-energy-efficient-brains-predict-their-perceptions-20211115/ How our brain, a three-pound mass of tissue encased within a bony skull, creates perceptions from sensations is a long-standing mystery. Abundant evidence and decades of sustained research suggest that the brain cannot simply be assembling sensory …

Intentionally igniting racial anxiety to get or maintain political dominance

Excerpt from Charles M. Blow, NYTimes: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/03/opinion/youngkin-virginia-race.htmlf …the frenzy around critical race theory is just the latest in a long line of manufactured outrages meant to tap into this same fear, and the strategy has proved depressingly effective. There was the fear of “race-mixing” among children — including the notion that Black boys might begin dating white girls following the …

The Frustration with Productivity Culture: Why we’re so tired of optimizing our work lives, by Cal Newport

In 1999, the management theorist Peter Drucker noted that the productivity of the manual worker had grown fiftyfold during the last century. “On this achievement rest all of the economic and social gains of the 20th century,” Drucker concluded. In other words, the increase in productivity is why today most Americans own a smartphone, while a century ago they didn’t have indoor plumbing. By Cal …

We enslaved Africans in order to be free of the obligations of stewardship

In this sense, acedia and arrogance go together. Acedia’s indifference and coldness and uncaring—what Hildegard of Bingen called “drying up” and “carelessness”—flows from a rejection of the sounds of others—their dignity and stories as well as their cries for help. Ignoring their dreams, their despair, their rage, their hopes—all this settles in when humans succumb to acedia. By Matthew Fox, …

The Surprising Benefits of Talking to Strangers

So many of us have been raised to see strangers as dangerous and scary. What would happen if we instead saw them as potential sources of comfort and belonging? By Joe Keohane, in The Atlantic, Aug 6, 2021   In psychology, the sorts of exchanges Nic is talking about are known as “minimal social interactions.” The psychologist Gillian Sandstrom had a …

Black people in most US cities are subject to double the level of heat stress as their white counterparts. Rates of suicide rise with temperature and smog as well.

A new study covered by BBC News finds that black people in most US cities are “subject to double the level of heat stress as their white counterparts”. It says the researchers concluded differences were not explained by poverty, but by historic racism and segregation, meaning that people of color more generally “live in areas with fewer green spaces and …

Pseudo issues and real discourse; e.g. longer work hours lead to more deaths

Excerpt from Hamilton Nolan, In These Times, June 2021 There is much hand-wringing today over the idea that misinformation and conspiracy theories and omnipresent propaganda have created a situation in which Americans don’t seem to have a single set of mutually agreed upon facts. That is true. But it does not capture an even more elementary flaw in what we are doing. We …

How Money Affects Psychology, How the Super-Rich Really Live And How Their Wealth Harms Us

To understand how money affects politics, we need to understand how money affects psychology.APRIL 4, 2021, Michael Mechanic, Senior editor at Mother Jones, adapted from his forthcoming book, Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live―And How Their Wealth Harms Us Paul piff just landed on Park Place. I own it. “Shit,” he says. I also own three railroads, a couple of high-rent monopolies, and …

Getting past our own and others biases, to effect real change

Center for Action and Contemplation, 3/3/2021 Learning how to see our biases is a psychological exercise, but one with immediate theological and social implications. It demands self-knowledge and the crucial need to recognize (1) when we are in denial about our own shadow and capacity for illusion; (2) our capacity to project our own fears and shadows onto other people …

Anger emerges from a provocation, the person’s interpretation of the provocation, and their mood at the time. Interpret and decide what it means to you first.

Anger emerges from three interacting factors: a provocation, the person’s interpretation of the provocation, and their mood at the time. Before you actually get angry, you interpret that provocation. You decide what it means to you, and whether or not you can cope with it. These thoughts we have when provoked matter a great deal. When you catastrophise (ie, blow things out of proportion), …