People who prefer time alone may be highly intelligent. Really?

Tuesday, 24 January, 2017

I’m more introvert that extrovert, and as a result enjoy time by myself. Now I read that people who prefer to spend time alone, tend to have higher IQs than those who would rather socialise more. There must be some mistake. In my case, anyway.

Researchers recently published a study in The British Journal of Psychology that looked into how intelligence, population density, and friendship affect modern happiness. While the conventional results showed that the more social interaction people have, the happier they feel, it wasn’t true for all people. They surveyed 15,000 people between the ages of 15 and 28 and noticed a surprising pattern – People at the higher end of the I.Q. spectrum reported being less satisfied with social interaction including just hanging out with friends.

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The Trolley Problem, illustrated and animated

Thursday, 19 January, 2017

British philosopher Philippa Foot’s ethical dilemma, the Trolley Problem, presents us with quite the conundrum.

A runaway train threatens the lives of five people further along a rail line. For whatever reason, the five are unaware the train is approaching, or they’re unable to get themselves off the line.

You, however, could switch the train onto another line, sparing the five. However, a sole person is on this other line. Do you sacrifice one person for the sake of the five? Or not?

While the dilemma may seem like an academic exercise, it has real life ramifications. The advent of driver-less cars is a case in point. In an emergency situation, an autonomous vehicle may find itself needing to choose between the apparent lesser of two unpleasant outcomes.

I wonder what will happen there?

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On leaving an old life behind, and starting anew somewhere else

Wednesday, 18 January, 2017

Running from a problem never solved anything. Or so they say. The maxim probably holds true most of the time, but, as they also say, there are exceptions to every rule. Sometimes you simply have to get up, and get out of a situation.

It might look like running, but to some, it is a solution. Some problems cannot be solved, some people cannot be reasoned with. But is jetting off into the unknown really the answer? Wouldn’t that just give rise to a whole set of new worries?

Possibly. But they may only be temporary. In any event, it hasn’t stopped people trying. People have uprooted themselves, for whatever reason, from one life, and succeeded in establishing themselves, often alone, somewhere else.

In Prague, everything from the street signs to the grocery shops felt alien. Sarah kept a low profile for the first few weeks: holed up with a book, rarely leaving the flat alone, eating takeaway from the KFC downstairs. But before long she found a babysitting job that paid cash-in-hand, giving her the confidence to explore the city and pick up the language. By the time her three-month tourist visa expired, she felt happier than she’d ever been and decided to stay on illegally.

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What men would do if it weren’t so feminine or socially unacceptable

Wednesday, 18 January, 2017

We needed to have this discussion, or at least the male members of Reddit, did.

The question, what would men do, or do more of, if gender norms didn’t exist? Quite a bit, it seems, if they didn’t fear ridicule or persecution. Here’s a selection of some of the answers:

  • Wear yoga pants
  • Try quilting, knitting, and sewing
  • Wear purfume, and makeup
  • Say that cute things are cute
  • Wear more jewellery
  • Pole dance
  • Wear skirts and dresses
  • Smile at and interact with children
  • Express emotion and weakness more openly

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To become a happier, less angry person, embrace pessimism

Tuesday, 17 January, 2017

Pessimism as a cure for anger? How does that work? If you can accept that optimism is a trigger for anger though, it makes sense. So hopeful are we that most things, if not everything, will go our way, we become upset when that doesn’t happen.

Your flight is delayed. The bus doesn’t turn up. You can’t book movie tickets because the cinema website is down. The supermarket has run out of something you needed. The list goes on.

In short though, we are usually so hopeful, so expectant, so optimistic, that when something doesn’t go according to plan, we can lose our temper.

While we can’t go expecting every endeavour to fail, no one would strive otherwise, allowing for the possibly of something going wrong might help us keep our cool.

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Are anonymous online identities really all that bad?

Monday, 16 January, 2017

Don’t feed the trolls. Does anonymity contribute to poor behaviour, and give rise to conflict, harassment, and disputes, online? Should people therefore be forced to use their real names, in the interests of fostering amity? To some people, that’s a no-brainer. J. Nathan Matias, writing for The Coral Project however, suggests it’s not that straightforward:

While some non-causal studies have found associations between anonymity and disinhibited behavior, this correlation probably results from the technology choices of people who are already intending conflict or harm. Under lab conditions, people do behave somewhat differently in conversations under different kinds of social identifiability, something psychologists call a “deindividuation” effect.

In fact, disclosing one’s real identity can cause more problems than it is thought to head off:

Revealing personal information exposes people to greater levels of harassment and discrimination. While there is no conclusive evidence that displaying names and identities will reliably reduce social problems, many studies have documented the problems it creates. When people’s names and photos are shown on a platform, people who provide a service to them – drivers, hosts, buyers – reject transactions from people of color and charge them more.

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Tell me why I don’t like Mondays. Tell me why I hate Blue Mondays

Monday, 16 January, 2017

Welcome to the third Monday of January. The day most people who have been holidaying since Christmas, return to work. While the occasion tends to leave most of us feeling a little blue, it’s the millennials, those born after about the mid-nineties, who feel the pinch the most.

Michael Leiter, an organisational psychology professor at Deakin University, attributes this lack of motivation to the less than plum jobs that younger people usually hold. In contrast, only one in five workers aged in their sixties are reluctant to go back to the workplace.

It’s also the day that the few remaining New Year’s resolutions many of us still have in play go out the window, according to the Mirror. That’s news to me, as in my experience I found that to have already happened by the second business day of January.

So, welcome to Blue Monday. I hope today’s not too rough. At least it makes my decision to wade back in last Wednesday look sensible. As a consolation, let me offer you some music. Blue Monday, by New Order. What else? It’s an oldie, but a goodie. Play it loud, and play it long.

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Seven pieces of shite advice to steer clear of this year

Wednesday, 11 January, 2017

New York based author sarah knight, who styles her name in lowercase, as I do with disassociated, says it is time to turn much of the seemingly conventional wisdom, or motivational advice, that we hear day in, day out, on its head. Things like:

  • Think Positive!
  • Look at the big picture.
  • Get out of your comfort zone.
  • Act like a lady, think like a man.
  • Follow your gut.
  • Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
  • Failure is not an option.

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” might be the only one I disagree with. While it’s possible to overwhelm ourselves with tasks, sometimes it seems like too many of us are looking for an excuse to take no action, do nothing, until tomorrow. Or the day after that. Or the following week, maybe. What’s the old maxim? If it takes less than two minutes, do it now.

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“On His Own” by Pawel Franik. A little alone time is a good thing

Monday, 21 November, 2016

Photography by Pawel Franik

On His Own, a series of photos by Warsaw based photographer Pawel Franik, certainly highlights our insignificance upon this planet. Yet Franik is not so much trying to make a statement about loneliness as a social problem though, rather it is his view that we all need to spend a little time by ourselves, to pause and reflect. Yes, I can go for that.

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Reality used to be a friend of mine, and my mind

Tuesday, 8 November, 2016

Is this really a surprise? The world, as our senses perceive it, may not be in the least bit like the world we actually live in. At least that’s what Donald D. Hoffman, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, contends:

Hoffman has spent the past three decades studying perception, artificial intelligence, evolutionary game theory and the brain, and his conclusion is a dramatic one: The world presented to us by our perceptions is nothing like reality. What’s more, he says, we have evolution itself to thank for this magnificent illusion, as it maximizes evolutionary fitness by driving truth to extinction.

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