Suggested readings, #75

Here it is, a rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

Animals do not have genders. And although this statement is universally accepted by those who study and theorize about gender, there is a lot of confusion about it among those who do not. The confusion stems from the fact that males and females of many species systematically behave in different ways. Perhaps the most basic example is the act of mating. … (Nautilus)

The psychology behind why Japanese people are so healthy. Whenever I talk to someone who has visited Japan, an ex-pat who has lived there or a tourist just passing by, they will more often than not mention something about the fast-food chains there. What may surprise you is that we are not talking about different menu options at Japanese fast food chains compared to American ones — we are talking about the portion sizes. … (Medium)

The world to come: what should we value? Human beings are the only species on Earth that do not know how they are supposed to live. All other species have a natural environment and a natural way to sustain their form of life. While some animals have to build things to make their environment what it ought to be (as in the case of beavers building dams), there is no question of what they ought to build and how the species ought to make a living for itself. As in all environments, things can go wrong: a falling rock can break the dam, the water can become poisoned, a virus may spread. Yet when something goes wrong in the life of beavers, it is not because they have the wrong idea of how to organize their lives. Indeed, beavers cannot have the wrong idea of how they should live, since it is set by their nature. … (New Statesman)

Deluded, with reason. A woman is so certain that she’s being unfairly targeted by intelligence agents that she hurriedly crosses the road to avoid a passing police officer. A young man smashes a shop window in frustration because he’s exhausted at having his every movement filmed for a TV show. A previously loving husband rejects his wife of 30 years, convinced she’s actually an imposter in disguise. It’s reasonably common for psychiatrists to encounter people who think and behave in such striking and peculiar ways as these. Most psychiatrists would regard such people as holding a delusion – a false belief that is strongly held, idiosyncratic and more or less impervious to evidence. … (Aeon)

How pseudoscientists get away with it. The relentless and often unpredictable coronavirus has, among its many quirky terrors, dredged up once again the issue that will not die, science versus pseudoscience. The scientists, experts who would be the first to admit they are not infallible, are now in danger of being drowned out by the growing chorus of pseudoscientists, conspiracy theorists, and just plain troublemakers who seem to be as symptomatic of the virus as fever and weakness. How is the average citizen to filter this cacophony of information and misinformation posing as science alongside real science? While all that noise makes it difficult to separate the real stuff from the fakes, there is at least one positive aspect to it all. … (Nautilus)

Published by

Massimo

Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at platofootnote.org and howtobeastoic.org. He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

2 thoughts on “Suggested readings, #75”

  1. I of course already like the gender piece!

    On delusions, the “shift of surrounding mindsets” is interesting. I think it’s missing an angle, and that’s some version of Dennett’s old idea of subselves. In other words, a “surrounding mindset” may already be at the ready, it just now moves to the fore.

    To connect a thread, pseudoscience “gets away with it” in part by appealing to a surrounding mindset (and to social reinforcement). It also, to go there, like Hitler, tells a lie often enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “What may surprise you is that we are not talking about different menu options at Japanese fast food chains compared to American ones — we are talking about the portion sizes”

    Sure, but American portion sizes are large compared to the European countries (that’s what foreigners comment on all the time, our food portions) and the Japanese are slim even relative to the Europeans.

    I found this video a better explanation if you have the time to watch. The basic point is that even if you’re a careless person who doesn’t make any effort to eat healthy, the quick and tasty food options that surround Japanese civilians are far healthier.

    Liked by 1 person

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