March 29, 2011

Rejection Really Hurts
The regions of the brain that respond to physical pain overlap with those that react to social rejection, according to a new study that used brain imaging on people involved in romantic breakups. “These results give new meaning to the idea that rejection ‘hurts,'” wrote psychology professor Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan and his colleagues. (Associated Press)

Rising Up to Doing Good
Building on research showing the power of metaphors to shape our thinking, Larry Sanna and his colleagues at the University of North Carolina noted that height is often used as a metaphor for virtue: moral high ground, God on high, looking up to good people, etc. If people were primed to think about height, they wondered, might people be more virtuous? In a series of four different studies, the authors found consistent support for their predictions. (David Schroeder, Scientific American)

The President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge
Eboo Patel and Cassie Meyer: President Obama invited campuses to commit to a year of interfaith cooperation and community service programming on their campuses, bringing students of different religious and nonreligious backgrounds together to serve the common good. This challenge allows us to highlight those dimensions of different religious traditions that inspire service and social justice and create spaces where students from different backgrounds can have positive meaningful encounters by working together to apply these shared values. (Inside Higher Ed)

Can We Ask the Big Questions?
Stuart Kauffman and Charles Hulse: Where in this day and age does one go to ask the questions? Where does one go to find like “minded” people who are also seeking the answers? How does one find the time to read the great works, the space to ponder the great questions, and the courage to keep one foot in reality while placing the other foot into the abyss? (13.7: Cosmos and Culture, NPR)


In her new book, Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality, Patricia Churchland, a philosopher at the University of California, San Diego, argues that a proper understanding of morality begins with an understanding of the brain. That doesn’t mean, though, that morality is as simple as an innate instinct. Instead, she writes, morality is “rooted in skills and dispositions.” Those skills and dispositions come naturally out of the neurological systems we use to solve the practical problems of social life. (Joshua Rothman, Brainiac, The Boston Globe)

Category: Field Notes


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