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A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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Yale was founded by English Congregationalist ministers. Today, only 22% of its student body has a Christian European background of any sort. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Last year, around this time, friends and acquaintances offered me all sorts of religiously neutral salutations: Seasons Greetings! Happy Holidays! Joyeuses fêtes! Meilleurs vœux! Only two people wished me Merry Christmas. One was Muslim, the other was Jewish. They meant well. After all, isn't that the culturally correct greeting? In theory, yes. In practice, most... Read More
In a previous post, I discussed why the capacity for affective empathy varies not only between individuals but also between populations. First, its heritability is high: 68% (Chakrabarti and Baron-Cohen, 2013). So natural selection has had something to grab hold of. Second, its usefulness varies from one culture to another. It matters less where kinship... Read More
In a recent post, Fred Reed asks: The short answer is that any killing, for whatever reason, increases the likelihood of killing for other reasons. One exception is self-defence, but that's not done for pleasure. Another exception is capital punishment, but that, too, is not done for pleasure. More to the point, no single citizen... Read More
Bronislaw Malinowski with natives on the Trobriand Islands (1918 - source). Pro-social behavior seems to be a human universal, but is the same true for full empathy? What is empathy? It has at least three components: - pro-social behavior, i.e., actions of compassion to help others - cognitive empathy, i.e., capacity to understand another person's... Read More
Election poster from the 1930s for Sweden’s Social Democratic Party (source). Is the welfare state more workable if the population is more predisposed to obey moral norms? Do we differ genetically in our ability, or willingness, to comply with moral norms? Please note: I'm talking about compliance. The norms themselves can vary greatly from one... Read More
Ruth Benedict first made the distinction between “shame cultures” and “guilt cultures” (source). Pervasive feelings of guilt are part of a behavioral package that enabled Northwest Europeans to adapt to complex social environments where kinship is less important and where rules of correct behavior must be obeyed with a minimum of surveillance. Is this pervasive... Read More
Facial expressions in Manga (Japanese) comics. East Asian culture strongly regulates the expression of emotions, particularly in their impact on other people. (source) Humans have had to adapt not only to physical environments (climate, vegetation, wildlife) but also to cultural environments (diet, language, codes of behavior, class and family structure, etc.). A culture will thus... Read More
Did the end of the Middle Ages bring a rapid shift to individualism in English society? Or was something already going on beforehand? For most of human history and prehistory, our lives were based on kinship—economically, socially and even spiritually. Kinship determined who provided whom with the basics of life: food, shelter, and clothing. And... Read More
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PastClassics
The unspoken statistical reality of urban crime over the last quarter century.
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?