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Beyond the Brain

By on December 9, 2020

first_imgThe New York Times: It’s a pattern as old as time. Somebody makes an important scientific breakthrough, which explains a piece of the world. But then people get caught up in the excitement of this breakthrough and try to use it to explain everything.This is what’s happening right now with neuroscience. The field is obviously incredibly important and exciting. From personal experience, I can tell you that you get captivated by it and sometimes go off to extremes, as if understanding the brain is the solution to understanding all thought and behavior.…The first basic problem is that regions of the brain handle a wide variety of different tasks. As Sally Satel and Scott O. Lilienfeld explained in their compelling and highly readable book, “Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience,” you put somebody in an fMRI machine and see that the amygdala or the insula lights up during certain activities. But the amygdala lights up during fear, happiness, novelty, anger or sexual arousal (at least in women). The insula plays a role in processing trust, insight, empathy, aversion and disbelief. So what are you really looking at?Read the whole story: The New York Times More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

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Kids of Helicopter Parents Are Sputtering Out

By on December 8, 2020

first_imgSlate:Academically overbearing parents are doing great harm. So says Bill Deresiewicz in his groundbreaking 2014 manifesto Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. “[For students] haunted their whole lives by a fear of failure—often, in the first instance, by their parents’ fear of failure,” writes Deresiewicz, “the cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential.” Those whom Deresiewicz calls “excellent sheep” I call the “existentially impotent.” From 2006 to 2008, I served on Stanford University’s mental health task force, which examined the problem of student depression and proposed ways to teach faculty, staff, and students to better understand, notice, and respond to mental health issues. As dean, I saw a lack of intellectual and emotional freedom—this existential impotence—behind closed doors. The “excellent sheep” were in my office. Often brilliant, always accomplished, these students would sit on my couch holding their fragile, brittle parts together, resigned to the fact that these outwardly successful situations were their miserable lives.Read the whole story: Slate More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

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Rumor has it: Gossip can actually be good for you

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first_imgMashable:Let’s face it: gossips get a bad rap.Smugly looking down from a moral high ground — and secure in the knowledge that we don’t share their character flaw — we often dismiss those who are obsessed with the doings of others as shallow.Indeed, in its rawest form, gossip is a strategy used by individuals to further their own reputations and interests at the expense of others. Studies that I have conducted confirm that gossip can be used in cruel ways for selfish purposes.Read the whole story: Mashable More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

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To earn an opponent’s respect, speak—don’t type

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first_imgThe degree of polarization in American society has become impossible to ignore. People don’t just disagree with one another about politics, guns, taxes, and freedom of speech; they also disrespect those with whom they disagree.Consider what happens when you enter “gun advocates are” into Google. The first autofill option is “gun advocates are idiots.” The second? “Gun control advocates are idiots.” When we disagree with others, we reliably assume that the opposition is more than just wrong. We assume they are stupid.…A recent series of experiments we have conducted, published in Psychological Science, suggests that the medium through which people interact with each other has an important effect on their impressions. In particular, we find that a person’s voice is subtly humanizing. People seem more mindful—more thoughtful, intelligent, rational, and humanlike—when we are able to hear their opinions, rather than read them. Read the whole story: Quartz More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

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