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Tag Archives: Society

Until we treat rapists as ordinary criminals we won’t stop them 

There is a simple and surprisingly durable myth about what causes men to rape women. It goes like this: if a man is too horny, from sexual deprivation or from being constitutionally oversexed, he will lose control in the presence of an unguarded woman. Through the early days of psychology as a science, this basic assumption remained the same. When Richard von Krafft-Ebing wrote Psychopathia Sexualis (1886), he assumed that rapists suffered from either ‘priapism and conditions approaching satyriasis’ or a ‘mental weakness’ that allowed lustful urges to escape their control. It was a simple matter of hydraulics. If the pressure was too great, or the vessel too weak, a horrifying crime would burst forth.
https://aeon.co/essays/until-we-treat-rapists-as-ordinary-criminals-we-wont-stop-them

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?

When Daniel and Elizabeth married in 1993, they found it was easy enough to choose a ring for her, but there were far fewer choices for him. Daniel, then a 27-year-old who worked in information technology, decided to design one himself, requesting that tiny stones be placed in a gold band, like planets orbiting in a solar system. He was happy with the ring, and what it represented, until it became obvious after the wedding that he was allergic to the nickel that was mixed in with the gold in the band. As if in revolt, his finger grew red and raw, beneath the circle of metal. He started to think of the ring as if it were radioactive, an object burning holes in his flesh. A month into the marriage, he took it off and never got around to replacing it.He and Elizabeth might not tell the story of that ring, with all its obvious metaphorical meaning, as readily as they do if Daniel were, in fact, ambivalent about marriage, so resentful of its boundaries that he found its most potent symbol too toxic to bear. But Daniel is a softhearted bear of a man, affectionate and affection-seeking, someone who entered marriage expecting, if not everlasting passion, at least an enduring physical connection. He was relieved to find, as the years passed, that he still loved his wife — they kissed hello each time they reunited, they made each other laugh and he was someone inclined to appreciate what he had. They had, by all appearances, a happy marriage.But as with any happy marriage, there were frustrations. Daniel liked sex, and not long after they were married, it became clear that Elizabeth’s interest in it had cooled. She thought hers was the normal response: She was raised by strict Catholics, she would tell Daniel, as if that explained it, and she never saw her own parents hold hands, much less kiss. It was not as if she and Daniel never had sex, but when they did, Daniel often felt lonely in his desire for something more — not necessarily exotic sex but sex in which both partners cared about it, and cared about each other, with one of those interests fueling the other.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Reportages

 

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The Mozart in the Machine

Sometime in the coming decades, an external system that collects and analyzes endless streams of biometric data will probably be able to understand what’s going on in my body and in my brain much better than me. Such a system will transform politics and economics by allowing governments and corporations to predict and manipulate human desires. What will it do to art? Will art remain humanity’s last line of defense against the rise of the all-knowing algorithms?In the modern world art is usually associated with human emotions. We tend to think that artists are channeling internal psychological forces, and that the whole purpose of art is to connect us with our emotions or to inspire in us some new feeling. Consequently, when we come to evaluate art, we tend to judge it by its emotional impact and to believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Source: The Mozart in the Machine – Bloomberg

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Like start-ups, most intentional communities fail – why?

At 16, Martin Winiecki dropped out of school and left his home in the German city of Dresden to live full-time at Tamera, a 300-acre intentional community in the rolling hills of southwestern Portugal. His mother and father – a doctor and a professor of mathematics – were reluctant to let him go. ‘It was quite a shock for them,’ Winiecki remembers. Born in 1990, just a few months after the collapse of the Berlin wall, Winiecki came of age in a society in limbo. The atmosphere of the former GDR still clung to people. ‘It was a culture that was so formal. So obligation-oriented. That had no heart. No love,’ Winiecki explained. At the same time, in Winiecki’s eyes, the capitalist alternative was creating a ‘system of deep economic injustice – of winners and losers’. Neither story encompassed a humanity he wanted part of. Tamera offered an alternative.Founded by the psychoanalyst and sociologist Dieter Duhm in Germany in 1978 and re-founded in Portugal in 1995, Tamera aspired to dissolve the trauma of human relationships. Duhm, heavily influenced by Marxism and psychoanalysis, came to see material emancipation and interpersonal transformation as part of the same project. Duhm had been deeply disillusioned by communes where he’d spent time in the 1960s and ’70s, and which seemed to reproduce many of the same tyrannies that people were trying to escape: egoism, power struggles, envy, mistrust and fear, while practices of sexual freedom often engendered jealousy and pain. In Duhm’s eyes, communes had failed to create a viable model for a new society. In Tamera, he hoped to begin a social experiment that allowed for deep interpersonal healing.

Source: Like start-ups, most intentional communities fail – why? | Aeon Essays

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The meaning of life in a world without work

Most jobs that exist today might disappear within decades. As artificial intelligence outperforms humans in more and more tasks, it will replace humans in more and more jobs. Many new professions are likely to appear: virtual-world designers, for example. But such professions will probably require more creativity and flexibility, and it is unclear whether 40-year-old unemployed taxi drivers or insurance agents will be able to reinvent themselves as virtual-world designers (try to imagine a virtual world created by an insurance agent!). And even if the ex-insurance agent somehow makes the transition into a virtual-world designer, the pace of progress is such that within another decade he might have to reinvent himself yet again.The crucial problem isn’t creating new jobs. The crucial problem is creating new jobs that humans perform better than algorithms. Consequently, by 2050 a new class of people might emerge – the useless class. People who are not just unemployed, but unemployable.The same technology that renders humans useless might also make it feasible to feed and support the unemployable masses through some scheme of universal basic income. The real problem will then be to keep the masses occupied and content. People must engage in purposeful activities, or they go crazy. So what will the useless class do all day?

Source: The meaning of life in a world without work | Technology | The Guardian

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Do bigots just lack imagination?

It is usually seen as a depressing paradox about human beings that we find it easier to sympathise with one person’s suffering than with that of thousands: Stalin probably never really said “one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic” – but he was right all the same. It’s not much of a paradox, though. It makes sense: each of us has access to only one set of thoughts and emotions – our own – so we’re obliged to relate to others by analogy, working on the assumption that they feel pain and joy like we do. (As philosophers enjoy pointing out, you can’t truly know that your family and friends aren’t just meaty robots, with no inner life at all.) And it’s obviously easier to draw an analogy between yourself and one other person, as opposed to “the population of Somalia” or “all victims of domestic violence”, let alone those killed in the future by global warming, who aren’t necessarily even born yet. Empathy requires mental gymnastics at the best of times. Empathy for whole categories of people requires Olympic-level skills, and most of us aren’t up to it.

Source: Do bigots just lack imagination? | Oliver Burkeman | Life and style | The Guardian

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Decisioni non lineari

Lo psicologo Paul Watzlawick riprende la storia del castello di Hochosterwitz, in forme leggermente diverse, in due dei suoi libri: Change – Sulla formazione e la soluzione dei problemi e Di bene in peggio. Istruzioni per un successo catastrofico.Watzlawick non è uno qualsiasi. È, con Gregory Bateson, un esponente importante della scuola di Palo Alto (Mental research institute), ed è coautore di Pragmatica della comunicazione umana, da molti (be’, anche dalla sottoscritta) ritenuto una pietra miliare degli studi sulla comunicazione.

Source: Decisioni non lineari – Annamaria Testa – Internazionale

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Volere qualcosa e ottenere qualcos’altro

Una “conseguenza inattesa” è in sé qualcosa di controintuitivo: noi compiamo intenzionalmente certi atti proprio perché vogliamo ottenere certi risultati, no? Eppure, non sempre le cose vanno come ci aspettiamo o speriamo. Qualche volta le cose vanno perfino meglio di quanto pensassimo. Qualche volta vanno diversamente, e qualche altra vanno proprio peggio.Le conseguenze inattese sono una possibilità reale quando la situazione su cui agiscono le persone, le imprese o i governi è dinamica e comprende molte variabili, difficili da analizzare o misurare. O quando la fretta di ottenere risultati immediati fa trascurare i rischi di lungo periodo. O quando la stupidità umana ci si mette di mezzo.

Source: Volere qualcosa e ottenere qualcos’altro – Annamaria Testa – Internazionale

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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God in the machine: my strange journey into transhumanism 

I first read Ray Kurzweil’s book, The Age of Spiritual Machines, in 2006, a few years after I dropped out of Bible school and stopped believing in God. I was living alone in Chicago’s southern industrial sector and working nights as a cocktail waitress. I was not well. Beyond the people I worked with, I spoke to almost no one. I clocked out at three each morning, went to after-hours bars, and came home on the first train of the morning, my head pressed against the window so as to avoid the spectre of my reflection appearing and disappearing in the blackened glass.

At Bible school, I had studied a branch of theology that divided all of history into successive stages by which God revealed his truth. We were told we were living in the “Dispensation of Grace”, the penultimate era, which precedes that glorious culmination, the “Millennial Kingdom”, when the clouds part and Christ returns and life is altered beyond comprehension. But I no longer believed in this future. More than the death of God, I was mourning the dissolution of this narrative, which envisioned all of history as an arc bending towards a moment of final redemption. It was a loss that had fractured even my experience of time. My hours had become non-hours. Days seemed to unravel and circle back on themselves.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/18/god-in-the-machine-my-strange-journey-into-transhumanism

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2017 in Reportages

 

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Shyness: A (Quiet) Cultural History

The Heimlich maneuver, in the nearly 50 years since Dr. Henry Heimlich established its protocol, has been credited with saving many lives. But not, perhaps, as many as it might have. The maneuver, otherwise so wonderfully simple to execute, has a marked flaw: It requires that choking victims, before anything can be done to help them, first alert other people to the fact that they are choking. And some people, it turns out, are extremely reluctant to do so. “Sometimes,” Dr. Heimlich noted, bemoaning how easily human nature can become a threat to human life, “a victim of choking becomes embarrassed by his predicament and succeeds in getting up and leaving the area unnoticed.” If no one happens upon him, “he will die or suffer permanent brain damage within seconds.”Something bad is happening; don’t let other people see it; you will embarrass yourself, and them: It’s an impulse that is thoroughly counterproductive and also incredibly easy to understand. Self-consciousness is a powerful thing. And there are, after all, even in the most frantic and fearful of moments, so many things that will seem preferable to making a scene.

Source: Shyness: A (Quiet) Cultural History – The Atlantic

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2017 in Reportages

 

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