August 8, 2014

© 2014 Microsoft CorporationWhy Would Affirming Belief in Scientific Progress Seem to Reduce Environmentally Friendly Behavior?
Marijn Meijers and Bastiaan Rutjens attribute these results to compensatory control theory, which states that humans have a strong desire to see the world as “meaningful, ordered, and structured.” According to this school of thought, if we’re convinced some powerful force—be it God or science—has things under control, we can comfortably remain passive. But fear of chaos leads us to take things into our own hands, increasing our motivation to take action. (Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard)

How Mobile Phones Affect Face-to-Face Social Interactions
Feelings of “interconnectedness” (rated by agreement with statements like “I felt close to my conversation partner”) were reduced for pairs in which a mobile device was placed on the table or held by one of them. Similarly, “empathetic concern” (measured by items like “To what extent did your conversation partner make an effort to understand your thoughts and feelings about the topic you discussed?”) was rated lower by pairs in which a mobile device was brought into view. (Christian Jarrett, BPS Research Digest)

Morality in the Brain
Using new technology, brain researchers are beginning to tease apart the biology that underlies our decisions to behave badly or do good deeds. They’re even experimenting with ways to alter our judgments of what is right and wrong, and our deep gut feelings of moral conviction. One thing is certain: We may think in simple terms of “good” and “evil,” but that’s not how it looks in the brain at all. (Carey Goldberg, CommonHealth, WBUR)

Q&A
Daniel Dennett

Carey Goldberg: More than once lately, brain scientists have told me, “You won’t get your answer here. That’s the purview of philosophy.” The drill goes like this: They boggle my mind with the ways they’re beginning to be able to dissect and tweak the brain processes that underlie our moral selves, from decisions to judgments to feelings. I eventually ask something like, “But if it’s all the brain, if it’s all biology, then what does that mean for free will? For moral responsibility? Blame for bad deeds? Credit for good?” And they reply, a bit apologetically, “That’s not a scientific question. It’s a normative one. Try philosophy.” So I did. (CommonHealth, WBUR)

MUSIC
Religion Evolves

A preview EP showcasing songs from the upcoming Baba Brinkman album “The Rap Guide to Religion,” which explores the study of religious behavior from an evolutionary perspective.

Category: Field Notes

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