Sunday, January 01, 2017


Rather than tackle complex national and international issues and institutions that affect the entire U.S. of A,, we concentrate on place based trends that more directly affect our everyday experiences in our own neighborhoods, workplaces, and other closer connections.

Though these will overlap with certain global phenomena, and exemplify broader phenomena, we seek to grapple with ideas that stem from and have immediate implications for our personal ties.  We deal with those grassroots issues where we--rather than advocates or interest groups, think tankers, or politicians--can make a difference if armed with the kind of insights that emerge from our discussions.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hubris and Humility: Gender Differences in Serial Founding Rates

Venkat Kuppuswamy 

University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School

Ethan R. Mollick 

University of Pennsylvania - Wharton School 

June 26, 2015


Men are far more likely to start new ventures than women. Drawing on the hubris theory of entrepreneurship, we argue that one explanation of this gap is that women have lower susceptibility to hubris and higher levels of humility, the “male hubris-female humility effect.” Decreased hubris suggests that women faced with low-quality founding opportunities are less likely to engage in entrepreneurship than men. Increased humility implies that women will also make fewer founding attempts than men when opportunity quality is high. Using a data set of serial founders in crowdfunding, we find evidence of both hubris and humility effects decreasing female founding attempts relative to men. While decreased hubris benefits women individually, we argue that it disadvantages women as a group, as it leads to by 23.2% fewer female-led foundings in our sample than would have occurred if women were as immodest and overconfident as men.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why young men become terrorists and join ISIS


by Dorian Fortuna

Human instincts in modern society

Conclusion: The Trend is Growing

Some experts affirm that the young men who commit suicidal terrorist attacks could suffer from a maniacal delirium; they are enveloped in a psychotic euphoria, they become extremely attached to the ideas that are inoculated in their heads and have a deformed impression about their own importance. The delirium could cause, at a certain moment, uncontrollable actions and violence taken to the extreme [17]. 

Maybe this is true for some cases, but, nonetheless, it is important for us to understand that most terrorists are mentally normal people, although they do have a different ideological and religious way of seeing the world [Delcea, Bădulescu, 2008; Post, 2008]. 

Most of the time the act of adhering to an extremist and terrorist group is not a sign of any mental disorder, but rather a consequence of a set of abilities, frames of mind and inclinations of a person. Young men become extremists and terrorists because they live in a social and psychological climate that can induce them the desire to adhere to a group of people with radical visions [Borum, 2014]. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pleasure is good: How French children acquire a taste for life

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions people make is to lose weight by dieting. The idea is that restricting the pleasures of tasty foods will lead to greater fitness and a finer physique. But if these rewards are so valuable, why is it so hard for us to stick to our resolution? Maybe the problem is that when we try to lose weight, we also lose the pleasure of eating.
What if we could have it all? Keep the pleasure and stick to our resolution? In the US, we tend to compartmentalize pleasure, separating it from our daily chores and relegating it to special times. We have happy hours, not happy days. We have guilty pleasures, as if enjoying chocolate or a favorite movie is a moral failing.
In France, pleasure, or “plaisir,” is not a dirty word. It’s not considered hedonistic to pursue pleasure. Perhaps a better translation of the word is “enjoyment” or even “delight.” Pleasure, in fact, takes the weight of a moral value, because according to the French, pleasure serves as a compass guiding people in their actions. And parents begin teaching their children from very early childhood in a process called the education of taste, or “l’éducation du gout.”

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Denouncing "White Male Privilege" Is The Fashionable Racism And Sexism Of Our Day The Official Amy Alkon

Denouncing "White Male Privilege" Is The Fashionable Racism And Sexism Of Our Day

Smart piece by Brendan O'Neill at Spiked on the ugly agenda of those I call feminist grievance hunters:
Those young, opinionated new media feminists who get handsome advances to write books spluttering about 'white male privilege' are far more privileged than many of the white males they splutter about -- especially the ones who empty their bins or sweep their roads. It's almost Orwellian in its topsy-turviness -- the most well-connected, middle-class women denouncing the alleged privileges of some of the most derided people in society.
Partly this is just bad science: feminists, leftists and others see that parliament and the boardroom still have a hefty number of white men in them and they extrapolate from this to argue that all white men must have lovely lives. Hence they always use the ridiculously sweeping terms 'white men' or 'male privilege', as if whiteness and maleness were inherently beneficial. As if loads of white men aren't dirt poor and awfully underprivileged. It's like seeing the Queen and thinking: 'Wow, white women in Britain have it good, don't they?'

Friday, October 23, 2015




Few things get music scholars more nervous than cross-cultural comparisons. The field of ethnomusicology, which was invented to inquire into this very subject, has grown increasingly uneasy with this part of its mission. The ethnomusicologist, in the words of Bruno Nettl, does not seek out such comparisons, but rather serves as “the debunker of generalizations.” Anthony Seeger has offered a similar perspective, expressing his resistance to “the privileging of similarities over differences.” In other words, if human beings from different cultures share certain musical proclivities and practices, academics in the field would rather not hear about it.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

This Magnet Can Change Your Faith in God

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a noninvasive procedure uses a metal coil to send pulses to the brain. By using TMS to deactivate and certain part of the prefrontal cortex and reduce a sense of threat, many of the the subjects dropped any belief in god, hell, heaven etc It also made them more tolerant compared to those who had the cap on but did not receive a sufficient dose of energy. That the brain's default wiring in the face of death pushes most people toward religion. Perceived threats of immigration result normally in more ethnocentrism. No free will there.

Said one of the neuroscientists from the University of York: “As expected, we found that when we experimentally turned down the posterior medial frontal cortex, people were less inclined to reach for comforting religious ideas, despite having been reminded of death,”

This tendency extends to all protective ideologies. Another author of the paper in an Oxford Unv. Press Journal: “These findings are very striking, and consistent with the idea that brain mechanisms that evolved for relatively basic threat-response functions are repurposed to also produce ideological reactions,”

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast
By Abby Haglove

When researchers used magnetic energy to shut down the brain’s threat perception, nearly a third of patients were more tolerant to immigrants. More said they didn’t believe in God.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Brains, Schools and a Vicious Cycle of Poverty

Research spotlights the grim effect of poverty on education

An ‘income achievement gap’ is widening: Low-income children do much worse in school than higher-income children.
A fifth or more of American children grow up in poverty, with the situation worsening since 2000, according to census data. At the same time, as education researcher Sean Reardon has pointed out, an “income achievement gap” is widening: Low-income children do much worse in school than higher-income children.
Since education plays an ever bigger role in how much we earn, a cycle of poverty is trapping more American children. It’s hard to think of a more important project than understanding how this cycle works and trying to end it.
Neuroscience can contribute to this project. In a new study in Psychological Science, John Gabrieli at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his colleagues used imaging techniques to measure the brains of 58 14-year-old public school students. Twenty-three of the children qualified for free or reduced-price lunch; the other 35 were middle-class.
The scientists found consistent brain differences between the two groups. The researchers measured the thickness of the cortex—the brain’s outer layer—in different brain areas. The low-income children had developed thinner cortices than the high-income children.

Aggression in Children Makes Sense—Sometimes

Does a strategy of opposing traits explain humanity’s success?

In studying aggression in children, researchers consider orchids and dandelions to describe types of children.

Walk into any preschool classroom and you’ll see that some 4-year-olds are always getting into fights—while others seldom do, no matter the provocation. Even siblings can differ dramatically—remember Cain and Abel. Is it nature or nurture that causes these deep differences in aggression?
The new techniques of genomics—mapping an organism’s DNA and analyzing how it works—initially led people to think that we might find a gene for undesirable individual traits like aggression. But from an evolutionary point of view, the very idea that a gene can explain traits that vary so dramatically is paradoxical: If aggression is advantageous, why didn’t the gene for aggression spread more widely? If it’s harmful, why would the gene have survived at all?