Saturday Links of the Week — January 12, 2008 — The Human Nature Edition

bonobos 2A David Wong trilogy: (thanks to Janene for the links)

7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable: Read the whole brilliant, hilarious article. Synopsis:

  1. There are not enough strangers in our lives — as a result we fail to build up resilience to frustration, and are underexposed to diversity
  2. There are not enough annoying friends either — and hence not enough friends, period
  3. Text is bad communication — too easily misunderstood (as critical, or as supportive, or as consistent with your own view, when it is not)
  4. Text is less communication — missing all the sensory clues of other forms of communication
  5. We don’t get enough personal criticism — from which we learn and grow best: “Those horrible, awkward, wrenchingly uncomfortable sessions that you can only have with someone who sees right to the center of you”.
  6. There’s far too much echo chamber outrage — the ability to get a steady stream of stuff that plays on what gets you worked up, and none of the stuff that puts all that in perspective
  7. We don’t actually do enough for others — because it’s so easy to spend your life in thought and communication, away from the direct physical evidence of what is needed, and the demand that you actually act

10 Ways Online Role-Playing is Changing the Future: A must for Second Life and World of Warcraft addicts, and for anyone else who thinks alternative realities are better than the ‘real’ one, or vice versa.

12 Reasons We Can’t Care About More Than ~150 People, and Why That Makes the Modern World So Dangerous: More than a discussion of Dunbar’s number, this is an amazing analysis of human and animal social behaviour.

How Fear Grounds Us (keeps us focused) and Grounds Us (keeps us paralyzed): Patti Digh explains how our fears and insecurities inhibit us, drive us, and prevent us everywhere. I love the fact she has ‘intentions’ that stem from her insights, at the end of each article. Thought, then action. I challenge you to stop at one page when it comes to devouring Patti’s blog. Totally addictive.

Women Invest in Sex to Obtain Relationships, Men Invest in Relationships to Obtain Sex: TerraPraeta explains what drives men and women in relationships. What do you think? And if she’s wrong, why are we so suspicious of people who make such investments freely, without expectation of getting anything (obvious) out of it?

Why We Love Peace and Hate Strangers: Biologist Robert Sapolsky provides case histories that show that not only are we primates extremely culturally malleable, we are prone, in the absence of environmental stresses, to be both xenophobic and peace-loving.

EO Wilson & Richard Dawkins Square Off Over Selfish Genes: An interesting debate on the biological origins of altruism. I don’t really buy either argument, because I think the late Stephen J Gould had a much better explanation, which is often reflected on these pages, and is consistent with Sapolsky’s findings, above. Don’t miss the comments below the article, which are also fascinating.

Newsweek Weighs in on Marriage, And Broadsheet replies: “The vitriolic response to [the Newsweek essayist’s] decision to define her personal relationships on her own terms also suggests how threatening the idea of not embracing marriage continues to be.” And, Carol Lloyd adds, “For something so exclusionary and heavy with misogynist baggage, I reason, shouldn’t this legal/spiritual/love bond at least perform better as a bonding substance than our 50 percent divorce rates suggest?”

Thought for the Week: From VoxClamantis, a commenter on the Wilson/Dawkins debate:

According to Dawkins my own DNA is also hellbent on preserving itself into the future. I have often wondered why, given that most of my genetic material ends up in the washing machine, my genes have not yet contrived a way to attract women to my laundry.
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5 Responses to Saturday Links of the Week — January 12, 2008 — The Human Nature Edition

  1. Martin-Eric says:

    I have met an equal amount of men and women doing the reverse investments: men investing in sex to get a relationship and women investing in a relationship to get sex. That such a finding doesn’t fit well with the “men: horny promiscuous bastards, women: emotional secluded saints” populist perspective is a whole other issue, namely that sexually active women and relation-centric men learned long ago how to hide their true motives for fear of retribution for having acted against the socially-comforting stereotypes.

  2. Chaitanya says:

    Why is our culture (primarily western) obsessed with “scientific” proofs for everything even when subjective knowledge already gives the proof. Why are we obsessed with objective proof-based knowledge as against subjective emotion-based knowledge ?Do we need a scientist to hand us proof that we Can care more than 150 people,or that we can be altruistic or that we can peaceful ? I don’t need a scientist to tell me these things are possible — as a human, i KNOW it.

  3. phodecidus says:

    I disagree with the first six reasons the 21st Century is making me miserable because in my case they don’t apply.I end up talking to random strangers everyday, I have plenty of annoying friends and even more friends that are helpful and criticize me constantly. I love technology and even have withdrawal when I live without it but it doesn’t make me angry and besides, I hardly use most of it (like texting) anyway.Now that seventh reason is a killer. I really don’t do enough for other people. Thanks for reminding me. Seriously..

  4. kathleen says:

    Thanks for pointing to this…I wrote in 2005 in a similar vein about what I observe about how/what women invest in a relationship vs. men – in this case I observed that women give sex in exchange for children and a home while men stay around that home with children in exchange for a stable, steady (disease-free?) fuck partner. My post went on to explore observations on the “peripheral” relationships to marriage that men and women develop and why. Polyamory for sure – without naming it.

  5. lugon says:

    hi! storyofstuff 20-minute video is impressive IMOthe recipy seems to be more local people, less stuff? or different stuff?

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