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The End of Identity Liberalism

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It is a truism that America has become a more diverse country. It is also a beautiful thing to watch. Visitors from other countries, particularly those having trouble incorporating different ethnic groups and faiths, are amazed that we manage to pull it off. Not perfectly, of course, but certainly better than any European or Asian nation today. It’s an extraordinary success story.

But how should this diversity shape our politics? The standard liberal answer for nearly a generation now has been that we should become aware of and “celebrate” our differences. Which is a splendid principle of moral pedagogy — but disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics in our ideological age. In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing. One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its outcom…

Is Criticism of Identity Politics Racist or Long Overdue?

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NOVEMBER 23, 2016 INTRODUCTIONCritics said President-elect Donald J. Trump’s campaign slogan celebrated a time before racial discrimination, gender inequality and homophobia were matters of concern.Spencer Platt/Getty Images A widely discussed op-ed by Mark Lilla in The New York Times (above) argued that the Democratic Party had gone astray by engaging in “identity politics” that were more concerned with a diversity of demands by women, African-Americans, immigrants and L.G.B.T. people, than in appealing to Americans as a whole. Some said that piece implied that liberals should ignore unique and real issues faced by anyone who isn’t a white man. Is criticism of political correctness and identity politics a reaction that’s long overdue or just racist? This is part of the Issues for Trump and America series. READ THE DISCUSSION » DEBATERSProgressive Orthodoxy Narrows Choices and Minds DAVID FRENCH, NATIONAL REVIEW Millions of Americans are furious with the scolding progressive impulse t…

Is Wonder Woman being Forced into Early Retirement

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As of Friday, Wonder Woman will no longer be an honorary U.N. ambassador. A petition protesting her appointment called her "a large-breasted, white woman of impossible proportions." Above, a display at Comic-Con International 2016 shows the evolution of her costume. Matt Cowan/Getty Images It's come to light this week that the comic superhero's controversial tenure as the United Nations' honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls will be coming to a close this Friday. That's less than two months since the character was unveiled as the face of a U.N. social media campaign to promote women's rights via tweets and facebook callouts. The decision sparked protests both in and out of the organization, with nearly 45,000 people ultimately signing an online petition that called the choice of a fictional character with "an overtly sexualized image" to represent gender equality "alarming" and "extremely disappointing." But …

Lynda Carter Deflects Critics of Wonder Woman

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By ALEX WILLIAMSDEC. 22, 2016 Continue reading the main storyShare This Page
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Is Wonder Woman a “pinup girl” or a feminist icon? The question dogged a United Nations campaign that featured the superhero as a symbol of self-empowerment for girls and women. While some feminists may have felt triumphant when the United Nations announced the end of the Wonder Woman campaign this month (in an earlier New York Times article, a United Nations spokes

2017 EDGE QUESTION : WHAT SCIENTIFIC TERM OR CONCEPT OUGHT TO BE MORE WIDELY KNOWN? SEX

By Helena Cronin
London School of Economics

The poet Philip Larkin famously proclaimed that sex began in 1963. He was inaccurate by 800 million years. Moreover, what began in the 1960s was instead a campaign to oust sex—in particular sex differences—in favor of gender. Why? Because biological differences were thought to spell genetic determinism, immutability, anti-feminism and, most egregiously, women's oppression. Gender, however, was the realm of societal forces; "male" and "female" were social constructs, the stuff of political struggle; so gender was safe sex. The campaign triumphed. Sex now struggles to be heard over a clamor of misconceptions, fabrications and denunciations. And gender is ubiquitous, dominating thinking far beyond popular culture and spreading even to science—such that a respected neuroscience journal recently felt the need to devote an entire issue to urging that sex should be treated as a biological variable. And, most profoundly, gender ha…

Feminist activist women are masculinized in terms of digit-ratio and social dominance: a possible explanation for the feminist paradox

The feminist movement purports to improve conditions for women, and yet only a minority of women in modern societies self-identify as feminists. This is known as the feminist paradox. It has been suggested that feminists exhibit both physiological and psychological characteristics associated with heightened masculinization, which may predispose women for heightened competitiveness, sex-atypical behaviors, and belief in the interchangeability of sex roles. If feminist activists, i.e., those that manufacture the public image of feminism, are indeed masculinized relative to women in general, this might explain why the views and preferences of these two groups are at variance with each other. We measured the 2D:4D digit ratios (collected from both hands) and a personality trait known as dominance (measured with the Directiveness scale) in a sample of women attending a feminist conference. The sample exhibited significantly more masculine 2D:4D and higher dominance ratings than comparison …

Beginning pornography use associated with increase in probability of divorce

Beginning pornography use is associated with a substantial increase in the probability of divorce for married Americans, and this increase is especially large for women, finds a new study that will be presented at the 111th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA). "Beginning pornography use between survey waves nearly doubled one's likelihood of being divorced by the next survey period, from 6 percent to 11 percent, and nearly tripled it for women, from 6 percent to 16 percent," said Samuel Perry, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Oklahoma. "Our results suggest that viewing pornography, under certain social conditions, may have negative effects on marital stability."

Science and the Self

Advances in genetics, epigenetics, neuroscience, psychology, and computer science are giving us a better understanding of who we are and why we function as we do. Science now enables us to associate specific characteristics in the brain or genetic traits with inclinations for particular kinds of behavior, such as violence. These findings may revolutionize how we see ourselves, or prompt us to oversimplify complex relationships among our genes, environment, and behavior. This information also presents challenges. Does this mean our behavior is predetermined? Should this change our notions of personal responsibility and our free will? Additionally, various means of self-alteration have been used throughout history to change how we appear to others and to ourselves. Over the last few decades as our pressure for success has increased, so too have our arsenal of tools for self-enhancement. Each of these enhancers—including drugs to improve concentration and sexual function, cochlear impla…

Genes linked to leadership/social dominance, predicted greater speed-dating success for men.

Guided by social role theory and prior genetic studies, this study confirmed that mate selection could be influenced by people’s abilities to detect “good genes” in a speed-dating setting, in which participants’ behaviors had real-life consequences. Consistent with social role theory, individuals with genotypes that were consistent with prevailing gender norms (for females, submissiveness/social sensitivity, a communal attribute; and for males, leadership/social dominance, an agentic attribute) had greater dating success and were perceived more positively by their partners. 

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12110-016-9257-8?wt_mc=alerts.TOCjournals

Same genes could make us prone to both happiness and depression

The Admin: This study serves as a microcasm showing the interplay of nature and nurture which goes beyond mental illness to temperament and similar personal traits.  How our genes shape our behavior depends on the quality and influence of the environment.

Behavioral Genetics:

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Why We're Different
A Conversation WithRobert Plomin[6.29.16]

What we're trying to do in behavioral genetics and medical genetics is explain differences. It's important to know that we all share approximately 99 percent of our DNA sequence. If we sequence, as we can now readily do, all of our 3 billion base pairs of DNA, we will be the same at over 99 percent of all those bases. That's what makes us similar to each other. It makes us similar to chimps and most mammals. We're over 90 percent similar to all mammals. There's a lot of genetic similarity that's important from an evolutionary perspective, but it can't explain why we're different. That's what we're up to, trying to explain why some children are reading disabled, or some people become schizophrenic, or why some people suffer from alcoholism, et cetera. We're always talking about differences. The only genetics that makes a difference is that 1 percent of the 3 billion base pairs. B…

Why it is useful to understand the role of genetics in behaviour

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Scientists have studied twins for many years to understand how genes and environments influence differences among individuals, spanning conditions such as cancer and mental health to characteristics such as intelligence and political beliefs. Although the twin method is well-established, findings from twin studies are often controversial. Critics of twin research question the value of establishing that characteristics, such as health behaviours, have a strong genetic basis. A primary concern is that these types of findings will result in complacency or fatalism, effectively undermining motivation to change lifestyle. But there is very little evidence to support these fears. Genetic influence on human characteristics is often misinterpreted. It is wrongly assumed that a behaviour that has strong genetic influence (highly heritable) must be biologically hardwired. However, genes are not destiny. Genes are often dependent on environmental exposure, such that genes can have a stronger effec…

Genetics and intelligence differences: five special findings

OPEN R Plomin1 and I J Deary2,3 1King's College London, MRC Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, DeCrespigny Park, London, UK2Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK3Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK Correspondence: Professor R Plomin, King's College London, MRC Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre, PO80, Institute of Psychiatry, DeCrespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, UK. E-mail: robert.plomin@kcl.ac.uk Received 14 March 2014; Revised 18 July 2014; Accepted 22 July 2014
Advance online publication 16 September 2014 Topof page
Abstract Intelligence is a core construct in differential psychology and behavioural genetics, and should be so in cognitive neuroscience. It is one of the best predictors of important life outcomes such as education, occupation, mental and physical health and illness, and mortality. Intelligence is one of…

Genetic test predicts your success in life, but not happiness

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“It is important that people recognise and respect genetic scores,” says Plomin. “When kids don’t do well, we blame their teachers and parents, but kids vary genetically. [A low polygenic score] doesn’t mean a kid can’t learn, but we should recognise that it might take more effort.”



What’s your genetic score?

Women’s preference for smaller competition may account for inequality

“Smaller social groups, even when individuals are in competition, tend to allow people to form more intimate social bonds and be more attuned to others’ needs,” said Hanek, who recently received her doctorate from the U-M Department of Psychology. “And these communal behaviors, in turn, tend to be more normative for women.”

“This research by no means blames women for gender inequality but rather uncovers a novel environmental factor that might contribute to inequality, beyond the well-documented effects of gender biases and discrimination,” said Stephen Garcia, U-M associate professor of organizational studies and psychology.

http://www.psypost.org/2016/05/womens-preference-smaller-competition-may-account-inequality-42794

Brain imaging study suggests risk-taking behaviors can be contagious

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BY CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY ON APRIL 14, 2016 COGNITION Why do we sometimes decide to take risks and other times choose to play it safe? In a new study, Caltech researchers explored the neural mechanisms of one possible explanation: a contagion effect. The work is described in the March 21 online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In the study led by John O’Doherty, professor of psychology and director of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center, 24 volunteers repeatedly participated in three types of trials: a “Self” trial, in which the participants were asked to choose between taking a guaranteed $10 or making a risky gamble with a potentially higher payoff; an “Observe” trial, in which the participants observed the risk-taking behavior of a peer (in the trial, this meant a computer algorithm trained to behave like a peer), allowing the participants to learn how often the peer takes a risk; and a “Predict” trial, in which the participants were asked…

Use of Genetically Informed Evidence-Based Prevention Science to Understand and Prevent Crime and Related Behavioral Disorders

Jamie M. Gajos1,*, Abigail A. Fagan2andKevin M. Beaver3 Article first published online: 15 APR 2016 Criminology and Public Policy DOI: 10.1111/1745-9133.12214 Research Summary
In this article, we outline the potential ways that genetic research can be used to inform the development, testing, and dissemination of preventative interventions. We conclude by drawing attention to how the incorporation of genetic variables into prevention designs could help identify individual variability in program effectiveness and thereby increase program success rates.

Policy Implications Evidence-based prevention science seeking to reduce crime and other related behavioral disorders has made significant progress in the identification of risk factors involved in the development of antisocial behavior, as well as in the creation and testing of such programs intended to target these risk factors. Nonetheless, issues of program effectiveness remain as individual responsivity to prevention interventions is of…

Most men with borderline testosterone levels may have depression

March 6, 2015
Men with borderline testosterone levels have higher rates of depression and depressive symptoms than the general population, new research finds. The results will be presented Saturday, March 7, at ENDO 2015, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego. "Over half of men referred for borderline  have . This study found that men seeking management for borderline testosterone have a very high rate of depression,, obesity and physical inactivity," said principal study author Michael S. Irwig, MD, FACE, associate professor of medicine and director of the Center for Andrology in the Division of Endocrinology at George Washington University in Washington, DC. "Clinicians need to be aware of the clinical characteristics of this sample population and manage their comorbidities such as depression and obesity."

The Return of Eugenics

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By  2 April 2016 The Spectator

It’s comforting now to think of eugenics as an evil that sprang from the blackness of Nazi hearts. We’re familiar with the argument: some men are born great, some as weaklings, and both pass the traits on to their children. So to improve society, the logic goes, we must encourage the best to breed and do what we can to stop the stupid, sick and malign from passing on their defective genes. This was taken to a genocidal extreme by Hitler, but the intellectual foundations were laid in England. And the idea is now making a startling comeback. A hundred years ago the eugenic mission involved a handful of crude tools: bribing the ‘right’ people to have larger families, sterilising the weakest. Now stunning advances in science are creating options early eugenicists could only dream about. Today’s IVF technology already allows us to screen embryos for inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis. But soon parents will be able to check for all manner…

Testosterone may reduce empathy by reducing brain connectivity

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By David Hader on PsyPost, March 30, 2016

High levels of testosterone may reduce empathy by interfering with communication between parts of the brain involved in emotion, according to a study to be published in the journalPsychoneuroendicinology. There is a large body of scientific research linking testosterone, a hormone produced in larger quantities by men’s bodies and in smaller quantities in women’s bodies, with impairment in the ability to cognitively process emotional information. This applies particularly processes related to empathy, the ability to correctly identify another person’s emotional state based on cues like facial expression and body language. Women perform consistently better at tasks requiring empathy than men.

Anthropology as an Inspiration to Food Studies: Building Theory and Practice.

The aim of this paper is to show the role of anthropological inquiry in the development of a new, interdisciplinary approach to food in culture -- namely: food studies. Early anthropologists, for example, Bronislaw Malinowski and Edward Evans-Pritchard, stressed the social meaning of food while analyzing the outcome of their fieldwork. When the functional approach had been replaced by structuralism, the symbolic meaning of food was given priority. Therefore, Claude Lévi-Strauss constructed his famous culinary triangle to show the connection between culture and nature in human thought; however, the triangle was not based on his own fieldwork, but rather many examples from other works were used to support this theoretical approach.

Full paper:

http://www.antropoweb.cz/cs/anthropology-as-an-inspiration-to-food-studies-building-theory-and-practice

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
Abstract: 


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 foun…

Why young men become terrorists and join ISIS

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by Dorian Fortuna
JOURNAL OF SOCIAL ETHOGRAPHY
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 becom…

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

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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 compas…