May 29, 2013

Do Utilitarian Moral Judges Have Lower Levels of Empathic Concern?
Liane Young said when people must choose whether to harm one person to save many, emotional processes typically support one type of non-utilitarian response, such as “don’t harm the individual,” while controlled processes support the utilitarian response, such as “save the greatest number of lives.” “Our study showed that utilitarian judgment may arise not simply from enhanced cognitive control, but also from diminished emotional processing and reduced empathy,” she said. (Janice Wood, Psych Central)

Alzheimer’s Disease and Emotional Contagion
Researchers found for the first time that individuals with Alzheimer’s show a high level of “emotional contagion,” the unconscious ability to mimic another person’s emotions. And as the disease progresses, destroying more brain cells and cognitive skills, this emotional empathy gets stronger, allowing patients to become more sensitive—and more vulnerable—to the feelings, words, and behaviors of other people. (Virginia Hughes, Only Human, National Geographic)

How Money Can Impact Social Relationships
Subtle reminders of money can affect the way people behave in social settings, causing them to be less engaged with others, suggests new research. (Denise Chow, LiveScience)

Genizah Project
The idea is to harness technology to help reassemble more than 100,000 document fragments collected across 1,000 years that reveal details of Jewish life along the Mediterranean, including marriage, medicine, and mysticism. (Jodi Rudoren, The New York Times)

BOOK
Time Reborn

Past things were real once but have ceased to exist. Future things don’t yet exist; they will become real only when the time comes. This is the view that most physicists deny and the view that theoretical physicist Lee Smolin proposes to demonstrate in his book. For him the past is gone; the future is open: “The fact that it is always some moment in our perception, and that we experience that moment as one of a flow of moments, is not an illusion.” Timelessness, eternity, the four-dimensional space-time loaf—these are the illusions. (James Gleick, The New York Review of Books)

Category: Field Notes

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