70 posts tagged culture
Money worries and the distractions of social media mean people are having sex less frequently, researchers say. A once-a-decade poll of 15,000 Britons found those aged 16-44 were having sex fewer than five times a month. The figure compared with more than six times a month on the last two occasions when the official National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles was carried out, in 1990-91 and 1999-2001. The study’s authors say modern life may be having an impact on libidos. Dr Cath Mercer, from University College London, said: “People are worried about their jobs, worried about money. They are not in the mood for sex. “But we also think modern technologies are behind the trend too. People have tablets and smartphones and they are taking them into the bedroom, using Twitter and Facebook, answering emails.”
In the new book Before They Pass Away, photographer Jimmy Nelson has captured a series of gorgeous pictures of 31 remote cultures that are on the verge of disappearing.
Over the last three years, British photographer Jimmy Nelson traveled around the world—from Namibia to Papua New Guinea to Mongolia—documenting 31 remote cultures that may soon disappear, for a new book called Before They Pass Away.
It wasn’t easy; it sometimes took him weeks to reach a community, and there usually wasn’t any way to verbally communicate, since no matter how many translators he used, they didn’t speak the right dialect. Instead, he ended up connecting in other ways.
What greater testament could there be to the “me generation” than the rise and rise of the selfie? Anointed by Oxford Dictionaries’ editors as the word of the year after a 17,000% increase in its usage, the selfie is surely the ultimate emblem of the age of narcissism. Like the doomed figure of ancient myth, we cannot stop gazing at our own reflection. This July, there were an estimated 90m photos on Instagram – the go-to platform for the selfie – with the hashtag #me. And that figure will be far, far higher now. At first glance, everything about this phenomenon reeks. It is self-centred in the most literal sense. Not for nothing is the word just a breath – a mere “sh” – away from selfish. What’s more, it’s selfishness of the most superficial kind. It’s not just about me, me, me but how I look, look, look. It invites judgment based on appearance alone. You post a picture of yourself and wait for the verdict, your self-worth boosted by a happy spate of “likes”, or destroyed by the opposite – a resounding silence. At least on Twitter, people are judgmental about each other’s wit or ideas, rather than their hair. To understand the sheer scale – the depth, if you like – of this superficiality, look no further than this Tumblr dedicated to selfies at funerals, including the image captioned: “Love my hair today. Hate why I’m dressed up #funeral”. And yet condemnation cannot be the only response to a phenomenon this widespread, which clearly delights so many tens of millions. The informality of the word “selfie” suggests something true about these instant self-portraits: that they don’t take themselves or their subjects too seriously. To quote the artist Gillian Wearing: “The word ‘selfie’ is brilliant. It really encapsulates a time: instant, quick, funny. It sounds ironic and throwaway.”
Ever since Frederick Winslow Taylor timed the exact number of seconds that Bethlehem Steel workers took to push shovels into a load of iron ore and then draw them out, maximizing time efficiency has been a holy grail of the American workplace. But psychologists and neuroscientists are showing us the limits of this attitude: Wasting time, they say, can make you more creative. Even seemingly meaningless activities such as watching cat videos on YouTube may help you solve math problems. Brent Coker, who studies online behavior at the University of Melbourne in Australia, found that people who engage in “workplace Internet leisure browsing” are about 9 percent more productive than those who don’t. Last year, Jonathan Schooler, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara published with his doctoral student Benjamin Baird a study called Inspired by Distraction. It concluded that “engaging in simple external tasks that allow the mind to wander may facilitate creative problem solving.”
Why You Aren’t as Creative as You’d Like to Think
You’re a smart person: a believer in science, an acolyte of technology, a 21st century citizen. So answer this: Could you, and you alone, make something as simple as a pencil? Mark Pagel doesn’t think so. In a presentation at the Falling Walls Conference in Berlin, the evolutionary biologist offered this very thought experiment – pencil manufacturing, after all, involves graphite mining and refining, wood harvesting and processing, machining, rubber harvesting, and many other intricate processes. His conclusion: “In our everyday lives, we’re asked to make decisions about things about which we have very little understanding and very little knowledge.” From writing utensils to mortgages and cars or frozen chicken, we’re largely disconnected from the processes that generate the things we use. “If we’re honest with ourselves,” Pagel continued, “most of us are just glorified karaoke singers in most aspects of our lives, using things that other people have made and we don’t really understand.” (via Why You Aren’t as Creative as You’d Like to Think - Wired Science)
Families made us human
The evolution of human culture can be explained, not by the size of our brains, but by the quality of our relationships
Most of the people reading this article do not possess the skill to start a fire from scratch. And yet, many anthropologists think that the mastery of fire literally transformed our ancestors into human beings. They say it gave us cooking, protection and heat, and also reshaped our very anatomy. In Catching Fire (2009), the Harvard anthropologist Richard Wrangham argues that eating cooked food produced the efficient Homo erectus digestive tract, freeing up energy for brain growth. Be this as it may, our ancestors lived for a long time without fire and we could presumably do it again, however unpleasant that sounds. In fact our ancestors did lose the knack of fire-starting, for generations. Control of fire first appears in South Africa as early as 1.5 million years ago. It crops up again in Israel and China around 700,000 years ago, but doesn’t appear in European populations until 300,000 years later. Why the dark interludes? Perhaps a tribe lost its master fire-starter to a predator before she had a chance to pass on the technique. Perhaps a whole population of fire adepts was wiped out in a single catastrophe. Either scenario could have blacked out whole millennia before the vital techniques were reinvented or re-encountered. (via How families and feelings built human culture – Stephen Asma – Aeon)
The world may have many problems, from climate change to armed conflict, natural disasters, poverty and the oppression of women and minorities - but where does population growth fit into this catalogue of woes? With the population of the world at seven billion and rising, many fear a shortage of resources as well as a shortage of space. Swedish professor Hans Rosling, however, says it’s time for a reality check. When pollsters got 1,000 British people to take Rosling’s “ignorance survey” in May this year, the results suggested they knew “less about the world than chimpanzees”, he says. Take a version of the test in this quiz, and compare your results. (via BBC News - Hans Rosling: Do you know more about the world than a chimpanzee?)
A new study looks at mainstream news coverage of transgender-related issues, and identifies a trend the researchers call “gender panic.” When New York City moved in 2006 to make it easier for transgender people to revise the gender on their birth certificates, the proposal was widely expected to pass. But the anti-discrimination measure failed, in part because of public opposition to removing the requirement that individuals have genital surgery before claiming a different gender. “The backlash was intense,” says Kristen Schilt, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Chicago. “There was such a fervor over taking the surgery requirement out, a sense of, ‘Absolutely not. There’s going to be chaos.’” Schilt calls this public reaction “gender panic,” a concept that she and co-author Laurel Westbrook explore in a new study in the journal
Why Do Witches Ride Brooms? (NSFW)
It started with bread. In the Europe of the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, bread was made, in large part, with rye. And rye and rye-like plants can host fungus—ergot*—that can, when consumed in high doses, be lethal. In smaller doses, however, ergot can be a powerful hallucinogen. Records from the 14th to the 17th century mention Europeans’ affliction with “dancing mania,” which found groups of people dancing through streets—often speaking nonsense and foaming at the mouth as they did so—until they collapsed from exhaustion. Those who experienced the “mania” would later describe the wild visions that accompanied it. (In the 20th century, Albert Hofmann would realize the psychedelic effects of LSD while studying ergot.)
fascinating history..go read..