Spinoza is a heretic for our times

True religion is nothing more than moral behaviour. It is not what you believe, but what you do that matters. Writing to the Englishman and secretary to the Royal Society Henry Oldenburg in 1675, Spinoza says that ‘the chief distinction I make between religion and superstition is that the latter is founded on ignorance, the former on wisdom’.

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Can Psychology Explain Humor?

These researchers suggest that what differentiates funny things from merely surprising ones is that people find humor in what they call benign violations.  A violation is a failure of expectations about how things are supposed to be.  Benign violations are ones that make people uncomfortable, but ultimately are safe. 

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On The Rise of American Fascism

Fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the “losers” who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment. In fascism the politically disempowered and disengaged, ignored and reviled by the establishment, discover a voice and a sense of empowerment.

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How YouTubers discovered a human condition no one had talked about before

The lack of discernable evidence for ASMR — there are no known references to anything like it before a few years ago — have led to some skepticism about whether it is even a real phenomenon. The sheer number of people reporting the same sensation, along with the growth of the ASMR community have quieted those voices, but without any serious scientific evidence, it can be hard to take seriously people whispering on video.

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Why is English so weirdly different from other languages?

English started out as, essentially, a kind of German. Old English is so unlike the modern version that it feels like a stretch to think of them as the same language at all. Hwæt, we gardena in geardagum þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon – does that really mean ‘So, we Spear-Danes have heard of the tribe-kings’ glory in days of yore’? Icelanders can still read similar stories written in the Old Norse ancestor of their language 1,000 years ago, and yet, to the untrained eye, Beowulf might as well be in Turkish.

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What makes a terrorist stop being a terrorist?

Though data is sparse, we do know that people who leave terrorism behind statistically have a low chance of re-engagement. The question is: why? And if so many candidates for de-radicalization programs are already deeply disillusioned, is a program that focuses on changing how they think really responsible for making them “safe”?

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Does a group have a mind of its own?

Surprisingly, very little is known about how people actually reason about group agents, like corporations, themselves. In a recent paper, we took a stab at this question using a combination of behavioral and fMRI studies to see whether understanding a group agent shares important properties and processes with understanding an individual person.

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Trust in journalism is a slippery concept

“A recent piece by CUNY professor and author Jeff Jarvis about how to improve the public’s trust in journalism sparked a Twitter debate among some leading figures in the media industry on the weekend — a debate that centered on whether trust is a meaningful way of looking at the value of news.”

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The Financialization of Life

What we’ve witnessed the last three to four decades is a retreat of public provision. Public provision has retreated. Private provision has taken its place. As this is happened, finance has emerged as the facilitator of that. So we turn to private provision to solve our housing needs, our health needs, our education needs, and finance makes profits out of that, basically, without having any skills in doing these things. So this to me is the financialization of households.

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