A Momentary Flow

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104 posts tagged culture

Taller, Fatter, Older: How Humans Have Changed in 100 Years - Humans are getting taller; they’re also fatter than ever and live longer than at any time in history. And all of these changes have occurred in the past 100 years, scientists say. So is evolution via natural selection at play here? Not in the sense of actual genetic changes, as one century is not enough time for such changes to occur, according to researchers. Most of the transformations that occur within such a short time period “are simply the developmental responses of organisms to changed conditions,” such as differences in nutrition, food distribution, health care and hygiene practices, said Stephen Stearns, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University. [10 Things That Make Humans Special] But the origin of these changes may be much deeper and more complex than that, said Stearns, pointing to a study finding that British soldiers have shot up in height in the past century. “Evolution has shaped the developmental program that can respond flexibly to changes in the environment,” Stearns said. “So when you look at that change the British army recruits went through over about a 100-year period, that was shaped by the evolutionary past.” And though it may seem that natural selection does not affect humans the way it did thousands of years ago, such evolutionary mechanisms still play a role in shaping humans as a species, Stearns said. “A big take-home point of all current studies of human evolution is that culture, particularly in the form of medicine, but also in the form of urbanization and technological support, clean air and clean water, is changing selection pressures on humans,” Stearns told Live Science. “When you look at what happens when the Taliban denies the polio vaccination in Pakistan, that is actually exerting a selection pressure that is different in Pakistan than we have in New York City,” he said. Here’s a look at some of the major changes to humans that have occurred in the past century or so. (via Taller, Fatter, Older: How Humans Have Changed in 100 Years)

Taller, Fatter, Older: How Humans Have Changed in 100 Years
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Humans are getting taller; they’re also fatter than ever and live longer than at any time in history. And all of these changes have occurred in the past 100 years, scientists say. So is evolution via natural selection at play here? Not in the sense of actual genetic changes, as one century is not enough time for such changes to occur, according to researchers. Most of the transformations that occur within such a short time period “are simply the developmental responses of organisms to changed conditions,” such as differences in nutrition, food distribution, health care and hygiene practices, said Stephen Stearns, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University. [10 Things That Make Humans Special] But the origin of these changes may be much deeper and more complex than that, said Stearns, pointing to a study finding that British soldiers have shot up in height in the past century. “Evolution has shaped the developmental program that can respond flexibly to changes in the environment,” Stearns said. “So when you look at that change the British army recruits went through over about a 100-year period, that was shaped by the evolutionary past.” And though it may seem that natural selection does not affect humans the way it did thousands of years ago, such evolutionary mechanisms still play a role in shaping humans as a species, Stearns said. “A big take-home point of all current studies of human evolution is that culture, particularly in the form of medicine, but also in the form of urbanization and technological support, clean air and clean water, is changing selection pressures on humans,” Stearns told Live Science. “When you look at what happens when the Taliban denies the polio vaccination in Pakistan, that is actually exerting a selection pressure that is different in Pakistan than we have in New York City,” he said. Here’s a look at some of the major changes to humans that have occurred in the past century or so. (via Taller, Fatter, Older: How Humans Have Changed in 100 Years)

read of the day: Won’t they help?
Why bystanders are reluctant to report a violent crime or aid a victim, and how they can be taught to step up and help - Bethesda in the state of Maryland is the kind of safe, upscale Washington DC suburb that well-educated, high-earning professionals retreat to when it’s time to raise a family. Some 80 per cent of the city’s adult residents have college degrees. Bethesda’s posh Bradley Manor-Longwood neighbourhood was recently ranked the second richest in the country. And yet, on 11 March 2011, a young woman was brutally murdered by a fellow employee at a local Lululemon store (where yoga pants retail for about $100 each). Two employees of the Apple store next door heard the murder as it occurred, debated, and ultimately decided not to call the police. If the attack had occurred in poor, crowded, crime-ridden Rio de Janeiro, the outcome might have been different: in one series of experiments, researchers found bystanders in the Brazilian city to be extraordinarily helpful, stepping in to offer a hand to a blind person and aiding a stranger who dropped a pen nearly 100 per cent of the time. This apparent paradox reflects a nuanced understanding of ‘bystander apathy’, the term coined by the US psychologists John Darley and Bibb Latané in the 1960s to describe the puzzling, and often horrifying, inaction of witnesses to intervene in violent crimes or other tragedies.
go read..
(via How we can get bystanders to help victims of crime – Dwyer Gunn – Aeon)

read of the day: Won’t they help?

Why bystanders are reluctant to report a violent crime or aid a victim, and how they can be taught to step up and help
-
Bethesda in the state of Maryland is the kind of safe, upscale Washington DC suburb that well-educated, high-earning professionals retreat to when it’s time to raise a family. Some 80 per cent of the city’s adult residents have college degrees. Bethesda’s posh Bradley Manor-Longwood neighbourhood was recently ranked the second richest in the country. And yet, on 11 March 2011, a young woman was brutally murdered by a fellow employee at a local Lululemon store (where yoga pants retail for about $100 each). Two employees of the Apple store next door heard the murder as it occurred, debated, and ultimately decided not to call the police. If the attack had occurred in poor, crowded, crime-ridden Rio de Janeiro, the outcome might have been different: in one series of experiments, researchers found bystanders in the Brazilian city to be extraordinarily helpful, stepping in to offer a hand to a blind person and aiding a stranger who dropped a pen nearly 100 per cent of the time. This apparent paradox reflects a nuanced understanding of ‘bystander apathy’, the term coined by the US psychologists John Darley and Bibb Latané in the 1960s to describe the puzzling, and often horrifying, inaction of witnesses to intervene in violent crimes or other tragedies.

go read..

(via How we can get bystanders to help victims of crime – Dwyer Gunn – Aeon)

Multiple Lovers, Without Jealousy -Polyamorous people still face plenty of stigmas, but some studies suggest they handle certain relationship challenges better than monogamous people do. - When I met Jonica Hunter, Sarah Taub, and Michael Rios on a typical weekday afternoon in their tidy duplex in Northern Virginia, a very small part of me worried they might try to convert me. All three live there together, but they aren’t roommates—they’re lovers. Or rather, Jonica and Michael are. And Sarah and Michael are. And so are Sarah and whomever she happens to bring home some weekends. And Michael and whomever he might be courting. They’re polyamorous. Michael is 65, and he has a chinstrap beard that makes him look like he just walked off an Amish homestead. Jonica is 27, with close-cropped hair, a pointed chin, and a quiet air. Sarah is 46 and has an Earth Motherly demeanor that put me at relative ease. Together, they form a polyamorous “triad”— one of the many formations that’s possible in this jellyfish of a sexual preference. “There’s no one way to do polyamory” is a common refrain in “the community.” Polyamory—which literally means “many loves”—can involve any number of people, either cohabiting or not, sometimes all having sex with each other, and sometimes just in couples within the larger group. Sarah and Michael met 15 years ago when they were both folk singers and active in the polyamorous community. Both of them say they knew from a young age that there was something different about their sexuality. “Growing up, I never understood why loving someone meant putting restrictions on relationships,” Michael said. “What I love about polyamory is that everything is up for modification,” Sarah says. “There are no ‘shoulds.’ You don’t have to draw a line between who is a lover and who is a friend. It’s about what is the path of my heart in this moment.”
go read.. fascinating..
(via Multiple Lovers, Without Jealousy - The Atlantic)

Multiple Lovers, Without Jealousy
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Polyamorous people still face plenty of stigmas, but some studies suggest they handle certain relationship challenges better than monogamous people do.
-
When I met Jonica Hunter, Sarah Taub, and Michael Rios on a typical weekday afternoon in their tidy duplex in Northern Virginia, a very small part of me worried they might try to convert me. All three live there together, but they aren’t roommates—they’re lovers. Or rather, Jonica and Michael are. And Sarah and Michael are. And so are Sarah and whomever she happens to bring home some weekends. And Michael and whomever he might be courting. They’re polyamorous. Michael is 65, and he has a chinstrap beard that makes him look like he just walked off an Amish homestead. Jonica is 27, with close-cropped hair, a pointed chin, and a quiet air. Sarah is 46 and has an Earth Motherly demeanor that put me at relative ease. Together, they form a polyamorous “triad”— one of the many formations that’s possible in this jellyfish of a sexual preference. “There’s no one way to do polyamory” is a common refrain in “the community.” Polyamory—which literally means “many loves”—can involve any number of people, either cohabiting or not, sometimes all having sex with each other, and sometimes just in couples within the larger group. Sarah and Michael met 15 years ago when they were both folk singers and active in the polyamorous community. Both of them say they knew from a young age that there was something different about their sexuality. “Growing up, I never understood why loving someone meant putting restrictions on relationships,” Michael said. “What I love about polyamory is that everything is up for modification,” Sarah says. “There are no ‘shoulds.’ You don’t have to draw a line between who is a lover and who is a friend. It’s about what is the path of my heart in this moment.”

go read.. fascinating..

(via Multiple Lovers, Without Jealousy - The Atlantic)

read of the day: The Billionaires’ Fantasia Gene Seymour
Expect pop culture to define your politics, and you’ll probably get the politics you deserve. Hip-hop music may give you an outlet to vent joy and rage, but it’s not going to improve poor or outdated public schools. Fifty Shades of Grey may magnify your bedroom repertoire, but it won’t enable sexual equality in the workplace. And science fiction is no program for governing—or, as some would have it, for not governing. It’s there to give you dreams, ideas, and nightmares.
go read this..
(via The Billionaires’ Fantasia | Gene Seymour | The Baffler)

read of the day: The Billionaires’ Fantasia
Gene Seymour

Expect pop culture to define your politics, and you’ll probably get the politics you deserve. Hip-hop music may give you an outlet to vent joy and rage, but it’s not going to improve poor or outdated public schools. Fifty Shades of Grey may magnify your bedroom repertoire, but it won’t enable sexual equality in the workplace. And science fiction is no program for governing—or, as some would have it, for not governing. It’s there to give you dreams, ideas, and nightmares.

go read this..

(via The Billionaires’ Fantasia | Gene Seymour | The Baffler)

Losing, not violent content, triggers video game rage
University of Rochester -> Original Study
 Hostile behavior on the part of video gamers may be due to feelings of failure and frustration during play, rather than a game’s violent content. A new study is the first to look at the player’s psychological experience with video games instead of focusing solely on the game’s content. Failure to master a game and its controls can lead to frustration and aggression, regardless of whether the game is violent or not, researchers say. “Any player who has thrown down a remote control after losing an electronic game can relate to the intense feelings or anger failure can cause,” says lead author Andrew Przybylski, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University. That frustration is commonly known among gamers as “rage-quitting.” The experience is not unique to gaming, says coauthor Richard Ryan, a motivational psychologist at the University of Rochester. For example, in sports, players may lose a game as a result of a bad call. “When people feel they have no control over the outcome of a game, that leads to aggression,” he says. “We saw that in our experiments. If you press someone’s competencies, they’ll become more aggressive, and our effects held up whether the games were violent or not.” To tease out which aspects of the gaming experience lead to aggressive feelings, the researchers manipulated the interface, controls, and degree of difficulty in custom-designed video games across six lab experiments. Nearly 600 college-aged participants were tasked with playing the games—many of which included violent and nonviolent variations—and then were tested for aggressive thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. (via Losing, not violent content, triggers video game rage | Futurity)

Losing, not violent content, triggers video game rage

University of Rochester -> Original Study


Hostile behavior on the part of video gamers may be due to feelings of failure and frustration during play, rather than a game’s violent content. A new study is the first to look at the player’s psychological experience with video games instead of focusing solely on the game’s content. Failure to master a game and its controls can lead to frustration and aggression, regardless of whether the game is violent or not, researchers say. “Any player who has thrown down a remote control after losing an electronic game can relate to the intense feelings or anger failure can cause,” says lead author Andrew Przybylski, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University. That frustration is commonly known among gamers as “rage-quitting.” The experience is not unique to gaming, says coauthor Richard Ryan, a motivational psychologist at the University of Rochester. For example, in sports, players may lose a game as a result of a bad call. “When people feel they have no control over the outcome of a game, that leads to aggression,” he says. “We saw that in our experiments. If you press someone’s competencies, they’ll become more aggressive, and our effects held up whether the games were violent or not.” To tease out which aspects of the gaming experience lead to aggressive feelings, the researchers manipulated the interface, controls, and degree of difficulty in custom-designed video games across six lab experiments. Nearly 600 college-aged participants were tasked with playing the games—many of which included violent and nonviolent variations—and then were tested for aggressive thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. (via Losing, not violent content, triggers video game rage | Futurity)

The pathogen stress theory is also hard to swallow in a way that evolutionary psychology arguments often are—especially for those who fancy the idea that we are in control of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The next time someone tells you about their religious beliefs, try convincing them their firmly held convictions spring from an unconscious disease-avoidance mechanism. Or, alternatively, try telling a liberal acquaintance that their beliefs about openness and inclusion are only as deep as the good luck that has allowed them to live in a relatively disease-free zone.

The Germ Theory of Democracy, Dictatorship, and Your Cherished Beliefs - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society

Moreover, these pathogen-avoidant collectivist tendencies, they wrote, coalesce over time into repressive and autocratic governmental systems. Want to understand the rise of fascism, dictatorship, and ethnocentric campaigns that dehumanize outsiders? Look to the prevalence of pathogen threats. Over the years, scholars like William H. McNeill and Jared Diamond have argued that germs and geography exert an under-appreciated influence on the rise and fall of societies. But for Thornhill and Fincher, human psychological adaptations to the threat of disease are nothing less than the missing link in our understanding of culture—a fundamental key to our collective values that researchers and philosophers over human history have overlooked.

The Germ Theory of Democracy, Dictatorship, and Your Cherished Beliefs - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society