In the future, I don’t think it’ll go back to the old model, where colleges have this brand name that everyone respects. We still use college as shorthand for prestige, but eventually that should be just one marker among many. You’re not going to be applying for jobs on the strength of your WGU diploma — you’re going to have to rely more on your assessments in the field. But grads of WGU have found they can satisfy employers by showing them what they’ve done, more than where they’ve studied. […]
I was very good at traditional school and college, where I graduated with honors. All the time while absorbing literature and Russian, I was also learning the meta-skills of how to please my teachers and how to stay away from any classes that might be too challenging or outside my comfort zone. I made an attempt to design my own major around literature and psycholinguistics, but Yale threw up a lot of barriers to that.
My most relevant learning experiences took place outside the classroom, editing my student magazine and working as an intern at several different publications. Out in the real world I was challenged to the max, pulling far more all-nighters than I did for my papers. I was always a bookworm, so I had to develop new ways of dealing with people, whether sources, fellow writers or editors, and gathering information from being on the scene. I actually cut back on my class load my senior year so I could commute to New York three days a week to intern at the Village Voice, which is pretty rare among Ivy Leaguers. But it turned out great: I found great mentors there, and I was writing a column for the Voice just a couple years later.
This column by Monbiot on the problems with public perception of science is excellent and worth reading in its entirety, but I found this particularly interesting as it confirms something I’ve suspected about ideology and belief:
In 2008 the Washington Post summarised recent psychological research on misinformation. This shows that in some cases debunking a false story can increase the number of people who believe it. In one study, 34% of conservatives who were told about the Bush government’s claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction were inclined to believe them. But among those who were shown that the government’s claims were later comprehensively refuted by the Duelfer report, 64% ended up believing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
There’s a possible explanation in an article published by Nature in January. It shows that people tend to “take their cue about what they should feel, and hence believe, from the cheers and boos of the home crowd”. Those who see themselves as individualists and those who respect authority, for instance, “tend to dismiss evidence of environmental risks, because the widespread acceptance of such evidence would lead to restrictions on commerce and industry, activities they admire”. Those with more egalitarian values are “more inclined to believe that such activities pose unacceptable risks and should be restricted”.
These divisions, researchers have found, are better at explaining different responses to information than any other factor. Our ideological filters encourage us to interpret new evidence in ways that reinforce our beliefs. “As a result, groups with opposing values often become more polarised, not less, when exposed to scientifically sound information.” The conservatives in the Iraq experiment might have reacted against something they associated with the Duelfer report, rather than the information it contained.
Gathering info from a variety of different face-tracking programs (all based on the rudimentary, yet effective Viola-Jones Method, Harvey alters and experiments with images to make them undetectable. His most recent run used women’s faces from “Figure Drawing for Fashion Design” and smeared each visage with, erm, Lady Gaga-esque weirdness. As one may suspect, the stranger, more asymmetrical designs evading the detecting software more readily. Identifying ‘Haar-like features’ for identification — or the pixels that cameras detect as belonging to face — Harvey attempted to confuse and contort the software, by confusing and contorting the face.
The ability to delay gratification allows humans to accomplish such goals as saving for retirement, going to the gym regularly and choosing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In a paper published March 28 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, a team of researchers for the first time causally shows that this ability is rooted in a part of the frontal lobe of the brain: the prefrontal cortex.
DUS Architects and the Studio for Unsolicited Architecture offer shelter from the storm with their incredible pop-up Bucky Bar made entirely from umbrellas. Built from orange umbrellas in a very Buckminster-Fullery formation, the bar existed for one short evening, dispensing drinks and DJ downbeats.
On his return to Mexico in the late-’60s, Jodorowsky started writing and drawing a subversive weekly comic strip (”Panic ?Fables”) in the right-wing newspaper The Herald.
“For four or five years every Sunday I drew a comics page, a complete story,” he told me in 2003. “But it was very basic. When I saw [cartoonist and future Jodorowsky collaborator] Moebius making the drawings, I stopped. And I never make any more.”
Talk about messing with your mind. A new study by neuroscientist Liane Young and colleagues at Harvard University does exactly that: the researchers used magnetic signals applied to subjects’ craniums to alter their judgements of moral culpability. The magnetic stimulus made people less likely to condemn others for attempting but failing to inflict harm, they report in PNAS.
Most people make moral judgements of others’ actions based not just on their consequences but also on some view of what the intentions were. That makes us prepared to attribute diminished responsibility to children or people with severe mental illness who commit serious offences: it’s not just a matter of what they did, but how much they understood what they were doing.
Neuroimaging studies have shown that the attribution of beliefs to other people seems to involve a part of the brain called the right temporoparietal junction (RTPJ). So Young and colleagues figured that, if they disrupted how well the RTPJ functions, this might alter moral judgements of someone’s action that rely on assumptions about their intention.
In the 1960s, a group of psychedelic-loving misfits from Orange County called the Brotherhood of Eternal Love figured it could turn the entire world on to the mystical power of LSD.
It seemed like a reasonable idea at the time — the brotherhood had been founded on a shared belief in LSD’s transformative effects. But somewhere along the line, the spiritual message was squashed by thousands of kilos of smuggled marijuana and hashish.
By decade’s end, the psychedelic messengers had sidetracked into a smuggling operation that made the group one of the largest drug cartels in America.
Instead of enlightenment, the members of the brotherhood wound up making their mark as narcotics trailblazers: They distributed Orange Sunshine, arguably the most popular “brand” of LSD in history; created the strain of pot known as Maui Wowie; and were the first to bring Afghan hash to the U.S.
For a while, they were America’s foremost counterculture outlaws, dubbed the “hippie mafia” by Rolling Stone. But the organization ultimately fell prey to greed, back-stabbing and legal heat. And when it was gone, it barely registered an acid flashback, even after biographers, documentarians and Madison Avenue began to strip mine the hippie era for material.
Yet in “Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World,” Nicholas Schou manages — amazingly — to penetrate four decades of silence.
The Report also cites the “fall of the Dutch Government over its troop commitment to Afghanistan” and worries that — particularly if the “bloody summer in Afghanistan” that many predict takes place — what happened to the Dutch will spread as a result of the “fragility of European support” for the war. As the truly creepy Report title puts it, the CIA’s concern is: “Why Counting on Apathy May Not Be Enough” […]
The Report seeks to provide a back-up plan for “counting on apathy,” and provides ways that the U.S. Government can manipulate public opinion in these foreign countries. It explains that French sympathy for Afghan refugees means that exploiting Afghan women as pro-war messengers would be effective, while Germans would be more vulnerable to a fear-mongering campaign (failure in Afghanistan means the Terrorists will get you). The Report highlights the unique ability of Barack Obama to sell war to European populations. […]
It’s both interesting and revealing that the CIA sees Obama as a valuable asset in putting a pretty face on our wars in the eyes of foreign populations. It is odious — though, of course, completely unsurprising — that the CIA plots ways to manipulate public opinion in foreign countries in order to sustain support for our wars. […]
All of this has made WikiLeaks an increasingly hated target of numerous government and economic elites around the world, including the U.S. Government. As The New York Times put it last week: “To the list of the enemies threatening the security of the United States, the Pentagon has added WikiLeaks.org, a tiny online source of information and documents that governments and corporations around the world would prefer to keep secret.” In 2008, the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center prepared a secret report — obtained and posted by WikiLeaks — devoted to this website and detailing, in a section entitled “Is it Free Speech or Illegal Speech?”, ways it would seek to destroy the organization. It discusses the possibility that, for some governments, not merely contributing to WikiLeaks, but “even accessing the website itself is a crime,” and outlines its proposal for WikiLeaks’ destruction as follows: