Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ed Links

In 2020, 1 in 7 People in U.S. May Be Foreign-Born

If present trends continue, within two decades the proportion of immigrants in the United States will surpass the peak reached more than a century ago, a new analysis concludes.

Uncommon Knowledge: Surprising insights from the social sciences

CURRENT EVENTS, IT now appears, shape sex appeal. According to a recent theory in psychology, individuals react defensively when the world around them (the "system") is threatened. This defensiveness generally prompts them to embrace the status quo, along with any of its associated stereotypes. In a new test of the theory, researchers found that men who read one article conveying pessimism about their country became significantly more interested in traditionally feminine women - women who were portrayed in profiles as "vulnerable, pure, and ideal for making men feel complete."

Center for the Study of Social Justice Working Papers

[Some stuff related to education, here, including this from Crooked Timber:] Adam Swift and I have just posted a short critical working paper at the Center for the Study of Social Justice website. It’s a response to papers in Ethics (July 2007) by Elizabeth Anderson and Debra Satz (both, I’m afraid, behind a paywall, though I notice that the free sample issue is the one with Adam’s and my paper on parents rights, so I can’t resist encouraging people to read that), both arguing for a principle of educational adequacy as the correct principle of educational justice. Before reading their papers I had thought of adequacy as a straightforward strategic retreat by educational progressives, a retreat that makes strategic sense in the US because many States have constitutional provisions that are plausibly interpreted as demanding adequacy for all (and litigation, not politics, is the most promising way forward). But both Satz and Anderson argue for adequacy on principled grounds; they think that educational equality is a misguided goal, and also that adequacy is a good goal. . . . Satz is especially good on what adequacy, understood the right way, demands for low-achieving children, whereas Anderson is especially good on what it demands for children bound for elites.

You Remind Me of Me

Imitation is one of the most common and recognizable behaviors in the animal kingdom. Just as baby chimps learn to climb by aping their elders, so infants pick up words and gestures by copying parents. They sense and mimic peers’ behavior from early on, too, looking up at the ceiling if others around them do so or mirroring others’ cringes of fear and anxiety. Such behavioral contagion probably evolved early for survival, some scientists argue. It is what scatters a flock well before most members see a lunging predator. Yet by drawing on apparently similar skills, even in seemingly trivial ways, people can prompt almost instantaneous cooperation from complete strangers.

A review of Democratic Hope: Pragmatism and the Politics of Truth by Robert Westbrook

Robert Westbrook claims that pragmatist political theorists share a common hope for democracy. I argue that there are at least two distinct and opposed pragmatist conceptions of democracy – one Deweyan, the other Peircean – and thus two distinct and opposed hopes for democracy. The author criticizes the Deweyan view and defends the Peircean view.

Learning to Lie

Kids lie early, often, and for all sorts of reasons—to avoid punishment, to bond with friends, to gain a sense of control. But now there’s a singular theory for one way this habit develops: They are just copying their parents.

New book by one of our greatest sociologists: The Craftsman by Richard Sennett

Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman continues an argument begun in the 19th century, when writers such as John Ruskin and William Morris extolled the crafts remembered in our surnames (Smith, Cartwright, Thatcher, Mason, Fletcher) while lamenting the mind-numbing and soul-destroying labour of the industrial process which was replacing them. A long line of thinkers, from Hegel and Marx to Sennett’s teacher Hannah Arendt, have sympathised with the argument. But Sennett does not think that craftsmanship has vanished from our world. On the contrary: it has merely migrated to other regions of human enterprise, so that the delicate form of skilled cooperation that once produced a cathedral now produces the Linux software system.

Weekly Irrelevant but Fascinating: The economics of assassination might surprise you as much as they did Harvard's Ben Olken.

According to Olken’s research, in Indonesia, where TV coverage isn’t yet universal, one finds that “better signal reception, which is associ­ated with more time spent watching television and listening to radio, is associated with sub­stantially lower levels of participation in social activities and with lower self-reported measures of trust.” This, he notes, has had a deleterious effect on political and social par­ticipation: “The main results suggest that each additional channel of television reception is associated with 7 percent fewer social groups existing in the village, and with each adult in the village attending 12 per­cent fewer group meetings.”

Taking Play Seriously

Brown called play part of the ‘‘developmental sequencing of becoming a human primate. If you look at what produces learning and memory and well-being, play is as fundamental as any other aspect of life, including sleep and dreams.’’

Negative Implications Of No Child Left Behind: As Graduation Rates Go Down, School Ratings Go Up

Texas' public school accountability system, the model for the national No Child Left Behind Act, directly contributes to lower graduation rates, according to new research. Each year Texas public high schools lose at least 135,000 youth prior to graduation -- a disproportionate number of whom are African-American, Latino and English-as-a-second-language students.

Over time, consumers develop a set of cues that we then use to make inferences about products, such as "all French restaurants have great service" or "more expensive candles smell better." However, this set of predictable beliefs can make it difficult for us to learn and recognize other real, positive qualities that are indicated by the same cues, reveals a new study.

Preschoolers with poor vision have lower scores in developmental testing indicative of success in school performance, but those scores improve significantly within six weeks when the children are given prescription glasses, according to a new study. Since low visual-motor skill scores correlate with lower academic achievements, the research team speculates that improved skills due to corrected vision might lead to improved cognitive and verbal performance.

Don't bother trying to persuade your boss of a new idea while he's feeling the power of his position -- new research suggests he's not listening to you. Powerful people have confidence in what they are thinking. Whether their thoughts are positive or negative toward an idea, that position is going to be hard to change.

Have you ever arrived somewhere and wondered how you got there? Scientists believe they may have found the answer, with research that shows that humans flock like sheep and birds, subconsciously following a minority of individuals. It takes a minority of just five per cent to influence a crowd's direction -- and that the other 95 per cent follow without realising it.

Kids with active father figures are less likely to suffer psychological and behavioral problems and having a father figure around can reduce crime and enhance cognitive skills like intelligence, reasoning and language, in low-income families. Researchers are calling for father figures to be more involved in health and policy makers to promote more father-friendly policies.

Gazing into your lover's eyes isn't only romantic; it may also mimic early attachments that forever alter your brain and body. Researchers are studying whether the brain hormone released with touches, hugs, or when a mother and her newborn baby bond might help patients with schizophrenia, social anxiety and a variety of other disorders. Oxytocin is a brain chemical associated with pair bonding, including mother-infant and male-female bonds, increased paternal involvement with children, and monogamy in certain rodents, according to a psychiatry professor involved with the study.

If you are reading this, chances are that you live in a city -- one, perhaps, on its way to becoming a megacity with a population that exceeds 10 million or more. What shape could these future cities take and how will their populations meet environmental and resource challenges? Urban challenges face communities worldwide, with solutions lagging behind.

Very young brains process memories of fear differently than more mature ones, new research indicates. The work significantly advances scientific understanding of when and how fear is stored and unlearned, and introduces new thinking on the implications of fear experience early in life.

Contrary to popular notions, people at the high end of the autism spectrum disorder continuum suffer most from an inability to model "self" rather than impaired ability to respond to others, according to a novel research study. This inability to model "self" can disrupt an individual's ability to understand the world as a whole, according to researchers.

Cerebral imaging reveals that human infants are sensitive to numerical quantity at a very early age and that the basic dorsal/ventral functional organization is already in place in the infant brain.

Obesity prevalence has increased significantly among adults and children in the U.S. over the last two decades. A new study reveals that characteristics of neighborhoods, including the area’s income level, the built environment, and access to healthy food, contribute to the continuing obesity epidemic.

New research shows that parents influence their child's likelihood of involvement with drugs, alcohol and risky sexual activity even after their child leaves for college. Specifically, students who said their fathers were in the loop had a lower likelihood of doing drugs or engaging in risky sexual behaviors. When mothers were in the know, students were less likely to drink alcohol. The protective effect of mothers' awareness was more pronounced when the students also felt close to their mom. Under those circumstances, the researchers found that students were less likely to be involved in any of the three risk behavior categories studied: drugs, alcohol and risky sexual activity.

No comments: