Archive for June, 2010

New dad state of mind

PT Sullivan, a photographer I know from New Hampshire Media Maker meet-ups sent me a link to this video he worked on. It’s another “Empire State of Mind” mashup, but much, much better than the famous “Granite State of Mind” video.

I cried watching this. Partly it was sheer joy and partly it was just having the experience of dad-hood recognized.


Posted at 2pm on Jun 14, 2010 | no comments
Filed Under: Adoption/Family, Music
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Language and perception

There’s a tantalizingly brief interview in the Guardian with linguist Guy Deutscher, who holds with the rather unpopular notion that language shapes the way we perceive the world. He gives a rather fascinating example of an Australian language which doesn’t have notions like left/right or behind/in front of, but instead uses the cardinal directions to indicate relative position. This gives the language’s speakers a kind of mental GPS system, so that they are always aware of direction.

I argue that the mother tongue has considerable influence on the way we think and perceive the world. But there’s a great deal of historical baggage attached to this question and so most respectable psychologists and linguists won’t touch it with a bargepole.

It’s like being a historian and talking about national character, isn’t it?

Posted at 11pm on Jun 13, 2010 | 3 comments
Filed Under: Books
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Is empathy declining?

A long term study of students at the university of Michigan suggests that empathy has been declining since the 1980s and 1990s, with a particularly steep drop after 2000:

“We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000,” said Sara Konrath, a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research. “College kids today are about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago, as measured by standard tests of this personality trait.”

Konrath conducted the meta-analysis, combining the results of 72 different studies of American college students conducted between 1979 and 2009, with U-M graduate student Edward O’Brien and undergraduate student Courtney Hsing.

Compared to college students of the late 1970s, the study found, college students today are less likely to agree with statements such as “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective” and “I

Posted at 6pm on Jun 13, 2010 | no comments
Filed Under: Religion & Society
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UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet

cattle ranch

This is very encouraging. Eventually we have to face the reality of how insane the meat industry is.

A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report said today.

As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable, says the report from United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management.

It says: “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

Professor Edgar Hertwich, the lead

Posted at 11pm on Jun 8, 2010 | 2 comments
Filed Under: Vegetarianism
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