Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ed Links (Holiday Edition)

In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life

If contemporary culture were a school, with all the tasks and expectations meted out by modern life as its curriculum, would anyone graduate? In the spirit of a sympathetic teacher, Robert Kegan guides us through this tricky curriculum, assessing the fit between its complex demands and our mental capacities, and showing what happens when we find ourselves, as we so often do, in over our heads. In this dazzling intellectual tour, he completely reintroduces us to the psychological landscape of our private and public lives.

No, Things Are Not Getting Better: Economic Mobility of Black and White Families

Whereas children of white middle-income parents tend to exceed their parents in income, a majority of black children of middle-income parents fall below their parents in income and economic status.

From The head trip

From American Scientist, a review of Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science by Margaret A. Boden; the functionalist's dilemma: A review of Language, Consciousness, Culture: Essays on Mental Structure by Ray Jackendoff; and a review of Young Minds in Social Worlds: Experience, Meaning, and Memory by Katherine Nelson. A review of Social Neuroscience: Integrating Biological and Psychological Explanations of Social Behavior. What your brain looks like on faith: Sam Harris ventures into brain science, with a study that he contends is the first to show how the brain processes belief. A review of The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness by Jeff Warren. How to excuse yourself from your body: Once you see—and feel—a virtual self, your mind can move into a mannequin.

Fair giving is hardwired
New research suggests that spite is uniquely human - and necessary for a successful society

Born to Shop: How Marketers Brainwash Babies

Marketers are targeting kids at disturbingly young ages, compromising the nation's health, creativity and democracy.

Tom Hurka Interview on Bernard Suits's The Grasshopper

The bulk of The Grasshopper defends an analysis of the concept of playing a game - the very concept that was Wittgenstein's prime example of one that can't be analyzed. Yet Suits's definition is both persuasive and tremendously illuminating. It's the best piece of conceptual analysis I know. The book then argues for the central place of game-playing in a good human life, arguing that in a utopia where all instrumental goods are supplied, people's prime activity would be playing games. This is philosophically very deep.

Guests in the Machine

Guest worker programs may be the best hope many of the world's poorest people have for improving their lives.



Gentzkow, Glaeser and Goldin on how the press became informative

Abstract: A free and informative press is widely agreed to be crucial to the democratic process today. But throughout much of the nineteenth century U.S. newspapers were often public relations tools funded by politicians, and newspaper independence was a rarity. The newspaper industry underwent fundamental changes between 1870 and 1920 as the press became more informative and less partisan. Whereas 11 percent of urban dailies were “independent” in 1870, 62 percent were in 1920. The rise of the informative press was the result of increased scale and competitiveness in the newspaper industry caused by technological progress in the newsprint and newspaper industries.

Orphanages Stunt Mental Growth, a Study Finds

Psychologists have long believed that growing up in an institution like an orphanage stunts children’s mental development but have never had direct evidence to back it up. Now they do, from an extraordinary years-long experiment in Romania that compared the effects of foster care with those of institutional child-rearing.

What's The Rush? Taking Time To Acknowledge Loss Is Not That Bad

There are two guarantees in every person's life: happiness and sadness. Although lost opportunities and mistaken expectations are often unpleasant to think and talk about, these experiences may impact personality development and overall happiness. A seven-year study indicates that individuals who take time to stop and think about their losses are more likely to mature and achieve a potentially more durable sense of happiness.

Sex education greatly boosts the likelihood that teens will delay having intercourse, according to a new study that is the first of its kind in years. Male teens who received sex education in school were 71 percent less likely -- and similarly educated female teens were 59 percent less likely -- to have sexual intercourse before age 15. Males who attended school, meanwhile, were 2.77 times more likely to rely upon birth control the first time they had intercourse if they had been in sex-education classes.

Youngsters who are allowed to leave the house without an adult are more active and enjoy a richer social life than those who are constantly supervised, according to a new study.

Monkeys have the ability to perform mental addition. In fact, monkeys performed about as well as college students given the same test. The findings shed light on the shared evolutionary origins of arithmetic ability in humans and non-human animals.

Teachers are among the most important influences in the lives of school-aged children, yet relatively little emphasis has been placed on examining the potential role general academic teachers may play in facilitating adolescent health promotion efforts.

Peoples' personality types predicts their donations to charities and noble causes. In a sample of almost 1000 participants researchers found that people with a pro-social personality gave more money to charities and other noble causes. For instance, with donations to 'third world organisations', 52% of people with a pro-social personality gave money, compared to 42% of people with an individualistic personality and only 21% of people with a competitive personality.

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