March 4, 2014

oscar.go.comWhat Matthew McConaughey Got Right About the Science of Gratitude
Everybody is talking about Matthew McConaughey’s folksy, funny, and kinda preachy Oscar acceptance speech. In it, McConaughey did something you rarely hear in one of these: He crossed the streams of science and religion. Specifically, after thanking God, McConaughey added that “He,” with the super big capital H, “has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates.” What is McConaughey talking about? Turns out he isn’t just winging it. (Chris Mooney, Mother Jones)

Thinking Ahead to Altruistic Acts We Intend to Do Can Motivate Us to Choose Healthier Foods
University of Bern researchers Christian Weibel, Claude Messner, and Adrian Brugger report that the insidious self-justification impulse—I’ve done something good, so it’s now OK to do something bad—is as strong as we’ve suspected. But they also suggest it may be effectively circumvented by shifting your focus to the future. “These results open up new possibilities in promotion of healthy eating,” the researchers write in the journal Appetite. They also provide new evidence that we think of eating in moral terms. As a result, self-indulgence is more acceptable before or after certain ethical behaviors having nothing to do with health or nutrition. (Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard)

Introducing the Youth Bias
The idea that young people might find the world a stranger, more exciting place than older people makes intuitive sense. They’ve had less time to grow familiar with life. What’s irrational is to believe that more significant public events happen when people are young. Of course they’re just as likely to happen at any time of life. Nonetheless, a new study suggests that thanks to a phenomenon known as the “Youth Bias” many of us do believe that more major public events happen during a person’s youth than at any other time. (Christian Jarrett, BPS Research Digest)

Book Roundup
Mind-reading, prediction, and intelligence; three books, three superpowers. How exciting! As I crack open my copies and rummage around in the blurbs, my inner cynic is overwhelmed by the promise of a new and better me. (Kate Douglas, New Scientist)

Mary-Jane Rubenstein

The “multiverse” seems to be back in style, now wearing a scientist’s lab coat instead of a philosopher’s robes. What are we to make of this radical scientific theory, and where did it come from? Mary-Jane Rubenstein’s latest book takes up these questions and more, tracing a history of multiple-world cosmologies that highlights the philosophical, mythological, and theological precedents for today’s scientific theories. Rubenstein also demonstrates how multiverse cosmologies can be a site for “reconfiguring” the traditional boundaries between science and religion. (Andrew Aghapour, Religion Dispatches)

Category: Field Notes


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