Tag Archives: human

“Most of us make at least three important decisions in our lives: where to live, what to do, and with whom to do it…”

pg-259-quote

Leave a comment

September 14, 2016 · 7:45 pm

“If the natural unfolding of the process of life can create and take care of the entire universe, is it reasonable for us to assume that nothing good will happen unless we force it to?”

pg 5 - quote

Leave a comment

August 11, 2016 · 2:14 am

1) You are allo…

1) You are allowed to take up space. You are a human.

2) You are allowed to have a voice.

3) You are allowed to leave whenever you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

4) You deserve more than someone who doesn’t know how to respect you.

5) You are allowed to put your own needs first.

6) You are allowed to love yourself.

— 6:11 p.m. (Six reminders for bad times)

Source: http://expresswithsilence.tumblr.com/post/87848616484/1-you-are-allowed-to-take-up-space-you-are-a

 

Applicable to so many social justice issues.

Leave a comment

June 22, 2014 · 5:44 pm

Imperfectionism — why the cult of Jennifer Lawrence matters

Man, I wish this article was around when I was writing my thesis, “Contemporary Post-postmodernism: Transfiguring the Imperfect Human Body.” It would have perfectly encapsulated the popular culture aspect of my argument. 
 
Jennifer Lawrence has a real moment at the Oscars. ( Chris Pizzello/Invision/Associated Press).
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Lawrence has a real moment at the Oscars. ( Chris Pizzello/Invision/Associated Press).

 

Posted by Alexandra Petri on March 11, 2013 at 12:28 pm

“Imperfectionism is something of a cult these days.

I noticed this when I was in my pajamas, perched atop the washing machine in my apartment building’s laundry room, waving my laptop vaguely in the direction of the only unlocked WiFi signal, and instead of being mortified, I was overcome by the urge to tweet about it. “The Internet will understand,” I thought.

The story of the Internet has always been the search for an echo.

It is where you seek refuge after you have been stuck flailing in the mirror while the entire rest of the room of yoga students flawlessly executes a series of pirouettes. “That’s not even a yoga move!” you muttered. “What are you doing?”

The Internet gets it. The Internet is where you go because you suspect that no one else on the earth feels the same way about something. And then it turns out that Everybody does.

If you believe the accounts of our lives, we are always posting online, Everything Is The Worst. We cook like Phyllis Diller. We look like Phyllis Diller. In the morning we resemble damp bathmats. Until we’ve had coffee, we shamble around grunting and hissing like volcanic rocks on a bad day.

If you glance at the popular tumblrs that seek to express how we are feeling, we are all complete messes at all times, shambling from disaster to disaster. All the behaviors that in romantic comedies indicate that the main character has hit rock bottom, comprise our morning routines. We lie on the couch eating found cereals and muttering to ourselves.

Incompetence is the new competence.

We love bacon. We love drinking. We love sleeping. We are the people in the mirror at exercise sessions who look like fools. Everyone else in the class is neat and coordinated and comes twice a week, and we stagger in five minutes late, feeling scrambled and keep falling out of tree position.

If we are to be judged by our memes, from“What People Think I Do… What I Really Do…” (no matter how often we hope it has perished, it never seems to die) to What Should We Call Me, incompetence emerges as the one unifying theme of Everybody on the Internet. The flabby underbelly is what binds us.

You go to the grocery intending to buy food for a week and somehow you come home with a jar of marshmallow fluff, six containers of canned pumpkin and a paperback entitled “The Russian Billionaire’s Virgin Bride.” Yet you were dimly conscious, as you shopped, of people around you with actual lists, corralling their toddlers with Correct Educational Toys and chatting amiably (but not too loudly) on the phone with their spouses. It was exhausting!

Thank God for the Internet, where there were People Like Us. We read gleefully the accounts of the Mommy Bloggers who had turned their back for a few minutes to check Facebook, only to find that Little Timmy had swallowed a live coal. Everyone online is Seamy Side Out. If you want to alert us to something you did, you try to make it a humblebrag. “I just spilled red wine all over my entire body! How can I accept my Nobel Peace Prize like this? I’m not a real person.” “I just tripped in the most embarrassing place possible — on the way to accept my Academy Award.” No wonder Jennifer Lawrence is such a cult figure.

What made an old media darling is what makes Anne Hathaway. She is polished. She is classy. She rehearses her speeches and has impeccable hair and all these qualities that we used to find admirable. She speaks in thoughtful, complete sentences. She is the person at the gym who seems to know what she is doing. She smiles encouragingly at us in the mirror and we fall over.

Jennifer Lawrence is the rightful hero of the whole new I’m-Not-A-Real-Person-What-Am-I-Doing-Who-Are-These-People movement. She makes faces. She faceplants. She talks about her bodily functions. We feel that we could get along with her.

“A vice in common can be the ground of a friendship,” W. H. Auden once noted, “but not a virtue in common. X and Y may be friends because they are both drunkards or womanizers but, if they are both sober and chaste, they are friends for some other reason.” That’s the Internet in a nutshell.

I mention this because the last time I went out for drinks with my proverbial GirlFriends, we spent a full hour talking about how much we loved Jennifer Lawrence. We have never met her. We have only glimpsed her on television and in GIFsets and in interviews, which we have taken hours out of our days to seek out and watch.

There used to be a bifurcation between our lives and the places we went to become fonts of rambling insecurity. We would squirrel away our fears in diaries under lock and key. Now we post them where everyone can see. Online life bleeds into real life this way. It turns out that instead of Reading About Foreign Policy and Thinking Deeply About the Future of the Economy, we are watching videos of cats hitting walls. Our Googles, ourselves. And so all the things that everyone used to pretend to do and like are quickly falling victim to the blunt statistics. Why pretend to be classy and put-together? We live online so much that it’s difficult to create the illusion that anyone knows what she’s doing. Except the Anne Hathaways of this world. Everyone knows that one girl whose life looks perfect on Pinterest.  But we can’t stand her.

What’s sad is how much we need her. The ideal has to exist out there somewhere. Someone has to say the Right Thing and wear the Right Ensemble and Effortlessly Frost Dozens of Minicupcakes. She has to exist to give us something to aspire to — and fail, and laugh about. But it’s a thankless position. For everything else, there’s Jennifer Lawrence.

Leave a comment

March 12, 2013 · 4:50 pm

Social Science Palooza

By DAVID BROOKS

Published: December 6, 2010

“Every day, hundreds of thousands of scholars study human behavior. Every day, a few of their studies are bundled and distributed via e-mail by Kevin Lewis, who covers the social sciences for The Boston Globe and National Affairs. And every day, I file away these studies because I find them bizarrely interesting.

In this column, I’m going to try to summarize as many of these studies as space allows. No single study is dispositive, but I hope these summaries can spark some conversations:

Female mammals tend to avoid close male relatives during moments of peak fertility in order to avoid inbreeding. For the journal Psychological Science, Debra Lieberman, Elizabeth Pillsworth and Martie Haselton tracked young women’s cellphone calls. They found that these women had fewer and shorter calls with their fathers during peak fertility days, but not with female relatives.

Classic research has suggested that the more people doubt their own beliefs the more, paradoxically, they are inclined to proselytize in favor of them. David Gal and Derek Rucker published a study in Psychological Science in which they presented some research subjects with evidence that undermined their core convictions. The subjects who were forced to confront the counterevidence went on to more forcefully advocate their original beliefs, thus confirming the earlier findings.

Physical contact improves team performance. For the journal Emotion, Michael Kraus, Cassey Huang and Dacher Keltner measured how frequently members of N.B.A. teams touched each other. Teams that touched each other frequently early in the 2008-2009 season did better than teams that touched less frequently, even after accounting for player status, preseason expectations and early season performance.

According to John Gaski and Jeff Sagarin in the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology and Economics, there is a surprisingly strong relationship between daylight saving time and lower SAT scores. No explanation was offered.

For an article in The Review of Economics and Statistics, Mark Duggan, Randi Hjalmarsson and Brian Jacob investigated whether gun shows increase crime rates. They identified 3,400 gun shows in Texas and California and looked at crime rates for the areas around the shows for the following month. They found no relationship between gun shows and crime in either state.

Self-control consumes glucose in the brain. For an article in the journal Aggressive Behavior, Nathan DeWall, Timothy Deckman, Matthew Gaillot and Brad Bushman found that research subjects who consumed a glucose beverage behaved less aggressively than subjects who drank a placebo beverage. They found an indirect relationship between diabetes (a disorder marked by poor glucose toleration) and low self-control. States with high diabetes rates also had high crime rates. Countries with a different condition that leads to low glucose levels had higher killing rates, both during wartime and during peacetime.

We tend to admire extroverted leaders. But Adam Grant, Francesca Gino and David Hofmann have added a wrinkle to this bias in an article in The Academy of Management Journal. They found that extraverted leaders perform best when their employees are passive, but this effect is reversed when the employees are proactive. In these cases, the extroverted leaders are less receptive to their employees’ initiatives.

Beautiful women should take up chess. Anna Dreber, Christer Gerdes and Patrik Gransmark wrote a Stockholm University working paper in which they found that male chess players pursue riskier strategies when they’re facing attractive female opponents, even though the risk-taking didn’t improve their performance.

People remember information that is hard to master. In a study for Cognition, Connor Diemand-Yauman, Daniel Oppenheimer and Erikka Vaughan found that information in hard-to-read fonts was better remembered than information transmitted in easier fonts.

Would you rather date someone who dumped his or her last partner or someone who was the dumpee? For an article in Evolutionary Psychology, Christine Stanik, Robert Kurzban and Phoebe Ellsworth found that men will give a woman a lower rating when they learn that she dumped her last boyfriend, perhaps fearing they will be next. But women rated men more highly when they learned that they had done the dumping, perhaps seeing it as a sign of desirability.

These studies remind us that we are strange, complicated creatures — deeply influenced by primordial biases and our current relationships. But you don’t have to settle for my summaries of these kinds of studies. Go to the National Affairs Web site, where there are links to Kevin Lewis’s daily batch of studies. A day without social science is like a day without sunshine.

 

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: December 9, 2010

 

An earlier version of this column inaccurately described diabetes as a disorder “marked by low glucose levels.” This language followed the wording of the original study being described which focused on lower levels of tolerance for glucose in the brain, not low glucose levels in the blood. Given the complexity of the disease, it is more accurate, in shorthand to describe diabetes as a disorder “marked by poor glucose toleration.””

Leave a comment

January 19, 2013 · 11:23 pm

Social Science Palooza II

By DAVID BROOKS

Published: March 17, 2011

“The nice thing about being human is that you never need to feel lonely. Human beings are engaged every second in all sorts of silent conversations — with the living and the dead, the near and the far.

Researchers have been looking into these subtle paraconversations, and in this column I’m going to pile up a sampling of their recent findings. For example, Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim wrote a fantastic book excerpt in Sports Illustrated explaining home-field advantage. Home teams win more than visiting teams in just about every sport, and the advantage is astoundingly stable over time. So what explains the phenomenon?

It’s not because players perform better when their own fans are cheering them on. In basketball, free-throw percentages are the same home and away. In baseball, a pitcher’s strike-to-ball ratio is the same home and away.

Neither is it the rigors of travel disadvantaging the away team. Teams from the same metro area lose at the same rate as teams from across the country when playing in their rival’s stadium.

No, the real difference is the officiating. The refs and umpires don’t like to get booed. So even if they are not aware of it, they call fewer fouls on home teams in crucial situations. They call more strikes on away batters in tight games in the late innings.

Moskowitz and Wertheim show that the larger, louder and closer a crowd is, the more the refs favor the home team. It’s not a conscious decision. They just naturally conform a bit to the emotional vibes radiating from those around them.

They say you only hurt the one you love. That may not be strictly true, but in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Johanna Peetz and Lara Kammrath find that people are more likely to break promises made to people they love. That’s because they are driven by affection to make lavish promises in the first place. They really mean it at the time, but lavish promises are the least likely to be kept.

If you want a person to work harder, you should offer to pay on the basis of individual performance, right? Not usually. A large body of research suggests it’s best to motivate groups, not individuals. Organize your people into a group; reward everybody when the group achieves its goals. Susan Helper, Morris Kleiner and Yingchun Wang confirm this insight in a working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research. They compared compensation schemes in different manufacturing settings and found that group incentive pay and hourly pay motivate workers more effectively than individual incentive pay.

Joachim Huffmeier and Guido Hertel tried to figure out why groups magnify individual performance for a study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. They studied relay swim teams in the 2008 Summer Olympics. They found that swimmers on the first legs of a relay did about as well as they did when swimming in individual events. Swimmers on the later legs outperformed their individual event times. In the heat of a competition, it seems, later swimmers feel indispensible to their team’s success and are more motivated than when swimming just for themselves.

Not all groups perform equally well, of course. Researchers led by Thomas W. Malone at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management have found they can measure a group’s I.Q. This group I.Q. is not well predicted by the median I.Q. of the group members. Measures of motivation didn’t predict group performance all that well either.

Instead, the groups that did well had members that were good at reading each other’s emotions. They took turns when speaking. Participation in conversation was widely distributed. There was no overbearing leader dominating everything.

This leads to the question: What sorts of people are good at reading emotion? Age may play some role here. Jamin Halberstadt has a paper coming out in the journal Psychology and Aging that suggests that the young may on average read emotional cues more sensitively than the old. Halberstadt showed various people videos of someone committing a faux pas. Younger viewers were able to better discriminate between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Older subjects also performed worse on emotion recognition tests.

Taste may play a role, too. For the journal Psychological Science, Kendall Eskine, Natalie Kacinik and Jesse Prinz gave people sweet-tasting, bitter-tasting and neutral-tasting drinks and then asked them to rate a variety of moral transgressions. As expected, people who had tasted the bitter drink were more likely to register moral disgust, suggesting that having Cherry Coke in the jury room may be a smart move for good defense lawyers.

It’s important to remember that one study is never dispositive. But if this stuff interests you, I have a newish blog — brooks.blogs.nytimes.com — in the Opinion section of The Times online celebrating odd and brilliant studies from researchers around the world.”

Leave a comment

January 19, 2013 · 11:18 pm

Exercise and the Ever-Smarter Human Brain

DECEMBER 26, 2012, 12:01 AM

 

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS

“Anyone whose resolve to exercise in 2013 is a bit shaky might want to consider an emerging scientific view of human evolution. It suggests that we are clever today in part because a million years ago, we could outrun and outwalk most other mammals over long distances. Our brains were shaped and sharpened by movement, the idea goes, and we continue to require regular physical activity in order for our brains to function optimally.

PHYS ED

Gretchen Reynolds on the science of fitness.

The role of physical endurance in shaping humankind has intrigued anthropologists and gripped the popular imagination for some time. In 2004, the evolutionary biologists Daniel E. Lieberman of Harvard and Dennis M. Bramble of the University of Utah published a seminal article in the journal Nature titled“Endurance Running and the Evolution of Homo,” in which they posited that our bipedal ancestors survived by becoming endurance athletes, able to bring down swifter prey through sheer doggedness, jogging and plodding along behind them until the animals dropped.

Endurance produced meals, which provided energy for mating, which meant that adept early joggers passed along their genes. In this way, natural selection drove early humans to become even more athletic, Dr. Lieberman and other scientists have written, their bodies developing longer legs, shorter toes, less hair and complicated inner-ear mechanisms to maintain balance and stability during upright ambulation. Movement shaped the human body.

But simultaneously, in a development that until recently many scientists viewed as unrelated, humans were becoming smarter. Their brains were increasing rapidly in size.

Today, humans have a brain that is about three times larger than would be expected, anthropologists say, given our species’ body size in comparison with that of other mammals.

To explain those outsized brains, evolutionary scientists have pointed to such occurrences as meat eating and, perhaps most determinatively, our early ancestors’ need for social interaction. Early humans had to plan and execute hunts as a group, which required complicated thinking patterns and, it’s been thought, rewarded the social and brainy with evolutionary success. According to that hypothesis, the evolution of the brain was driven by the need to think.

But now some scientists are suggesting that physical activity also played a critical role in making our brains larger.

To reach that conclusion, anthropologists began by looking at existing dataabout brain size and endurance capacity in a variety of mammals, including dogs, guinea pigs, foxes, mice, wolves, rats, civet cats, antelope, mongeese, goats, sheep and elands. They found a notable pattern. Species like dogs and rats that had a high innate endurance capacity, which presumably had evolved over millenniums, also had large brain volumes relative to their body size.

The researchers also looked at recent experiments in which mice and rats were systematically bred to be marathon runners. Lab animals that willingly put in the most miles on running wheels were interbred, resulting in the creation of a line of lab animals that excelled at running.

Interestingly, after multiple generations, these animals began to develop innately high levels of substances that promote tissue growth and health, including a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF. These substances are important for endurance performance. They also are known to drive brain growth.

What all of this means, says David A. Raichlen, an anthropologist at the University of Arizona and an author of a new article about the evolution of human brains appearing in the January issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society Biology, is that physical activity may have helped to make early humans smarter.

“We think that what happened” in our early hunter-gatherer ancestors, he says, is that the more athletic and active survived and, as with the lab mice, passed along physiological characteristics that improved their endurance, including elevated levels of BDNF. Eventually, these early athletes had enough BDNF coursing through their bodies that some could migrate from the muscles to the brain, where it nudged the growth of brain tissue.

Those particular early humans then applied their growing ability to think and reason toward better tracking prey, becoming the best-fed and most successful from an evolutionary standpoint. Being in motion made them smarter, and being smarter now allowed them to move more efficiently.

And out of all of this came, eventually, an ability to understand higher math and invent iPads. But that was some time later.

The broad point of this new notion is that if physical activity helped to mold the structure of our brains, then it most likely remains essential to brain health today, says John D. Polk, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and co-author, with Dr. Raichlen, of the new article.

And there is scientific support for that idea. Recent studies have shown, he says, that “regular exercise, even walking,” leads to more robust mental abilities, “beginning in childhood and continuing into old age.”

Of course, the hypothesis that jogging after prey helped to drive human brain evolution is just a hypothesis, Dr. Raichlen says, and almost unprovable.

But it is compelling, says Harvard’s Dr. Lieberman, who has worked with the authors of the new article. “I fundamentally agree that there is a deep evolutionary basis for the relationship between a healthy body and a healthy mind,” he says, a relationship that makes the term “jogging your memory” more literal than most of us might have expected and provides a powerful incentive to be active in 2013.”

Leave a comment

December 29, 2012 · 7:19 pm