Tag: Psychology

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Every now and again I experience a powerful and strange sensation. A feeling really. Or is it an intuition? No, it’s a thought, but an unarticulated one. That’s not right either. Help!  It’s a connection to a place. No, not a connection – it’s a yearning for a connection and an understanding which I feel […]

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Heather Mac Donald joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to discuss the dubious scientific and statistical bases of the trendy academic theory known as “implicit bias.” The implicit association test (IAT), first introduced in 1998, uses a computerized response-time test to measure an individual’s bias, particularly regarding race.

Despite scientific challenges to the test’s validity, the implicit-bias idea has taken firm root in popular culture and in the media. Police forces and corporate HR departments are spending millions every year reeducating employees on how to recognize their presumptive hidden prejudices.

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What is it? Why do many people like to be scared? Why do many people like gruesome tales or stories that revel in darkness and/or filth? These days, serial killer stories are a dime a dozen. Then there are monster stories, ghost stories, psychological thrillers, and gothic tales, among other subgenres. Some horror stories are […]

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So I’ve been thinking a lot about guilt lately – about other peoples’ and not my own, of course. And suddenly, huge stuff started falling into place and making sense. First, let me give an individual example, and then we can extrapolate to the universal.  Sherman Alexie said in a quote I can’t find anymore […]

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Contra Caplan on Physical Illness, Too

 

In 2006, insouciant economic imperialist Bryan Caplan published a paper outlining a consumer-choice model of mental illness designed to rehabilitate the anti-psychiatry of Thomas Szasz. Caplan claimed this model shows that mental illness should not to be understood as a “real illness” (and therefore as a matter for medical rather than moral treatment) at all, but that mental illness should be understood as a weird preference rational actors persist in despite their preference being a poor match for functioning in society.

From the perspective of Caplan’s model, mental-health treatment is a form of rent-seeking designed to paper over the interpersonal conflicts that arise when somebody won’t relinquish a preference grievously at odds with society, rent-seeking that, on the one hand, provides the “mentally ill” with official-sounding excuses for their weird preferences while, on the other hand, providing the families of the “mentally ill” with medical justification for treating sufficiently “ill” family members against their will. In October 2015, the blogger Scott Alexander, himself a psychiatrist, published “Contra Caplan on Mental Illness”, an essay pointing out why, from his perspective, it seems so strange to call mental illness merely a weird preference. Given Caplan’s framework, I would like to point out how strange it is to call physical illness not a “weird preference”, albeit a weird preference most of us take pity on out of belief that it arises from physical derangement that we don’t expect sufferers to be able to compensate for completely.

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People play games for different reasons. People are looking for different things out of the experience. There are many variants and shades of motivations, but broadly you can cut it down to two categories: I’m here to have fun. I’m here to win. Now real people are never only one thing or the other. Myself […]

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Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for March 1, 2017, it’s the Dems Must Be Crazy edition of the show. This week, we are brought to you by Zip Recruiter. Find the right person for the job you have to offer with one click. We are also brought to you by Harry’s Shave. Try it. You will not go back. Promise. And we are brought to you by The Great Courses Plus. With over eight thousand video lectures re-discover the excitement of learning.

Our first topic this week is the psychological stability, or lack thereof, of the left. A report in the L.A. Times by Soumya Karlamangla described the problems that therapists of America are having in treating people with depression, anxiety and general craziness on account of the recent political turn of events (shhh…the election of Trump). Is the root of the problem that the left feels – the origin of the hysteria that Trump’s election has wrought – the lack of ability of leftists to cope with their own mortality? That’s my theory. Todd has his too.

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If you’re anywhere on the internet – for the few of us here who are – you might have caught glimpse of a somewhat popular meme. It involves a picture of one person with another look-a-like shrouded in black. Usually that person is Kermit because everything is better with Muppets, but there are other variations […]

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Dangers lurk everywhere: Islamist terror, Zika virus, police endangerment, racial protesting. And then there are the dangers our children encounter, every day, it seems. And let’s not forget (as if we could) the potential outcomes of the election. The level of fear in this country, if it could be measured, is off the scale. But […]

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Accidentally Conservative

 

Serenity was written by a flaming hippie. Yet the ultimate conflict is pitch perfect for tyrannical governments trying to remake human nature. Sure, the film is blemished by a preacher who doesn’t care about God, but there’s a nugget of good sense even in that scene.

“You don’t know what it’s like to work in the private sector. They expect results.” This was from a star of Saturday Night Live, for crying out loud! If you don’t recognize the quote, I will forgive you … eventually.

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“There are bugs in my apartment”. That is what John told us as we stood outside looking at his couch in the dumpster. We had found it for him maybe three months prior. It was not new, but had been a good find. Now it had been cleaned with bleach, which had destroyed the upholstery, […]

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Beyoncé is Correct: “Y’all Haters Corny with that Illuminati Mess”

 

shutterstock_319181906As everyone knows, one of the things that is expressly forbidden here at Ricochet is trafficking in conspiracy theories. Beyoncé herself takes the “haters” and conspiracy theorists to task in her most recent video. Case closed, obviously.

But what makes people believe in these kinds of things? Why do people insist on vast conspiracies, whether they’re “right wing” ones (thanks, Hillary!) or the “new world order” direct from the Trilateral Commission? (Don’t click on the second link, by the way … Life is too short.)

What’s the source of the pathology? From Boing Boing:

Get Over Yourself

 

shutterstock_316021166Finally! An academic research grant I can get behind! From Quartz:

Self-obsessed people who just can’t “get over themselves” hardly sound like a subject worthy of academic research. But Candace Vogler, from the University of Chicago, and Jennifer Frey, from the University of South Carolina, disagree. The importance of “getting over yourself” — or self-transcendence — is key to their major 28-month project on virtue, happiness, and the meaning of life. The research proposal received a $2.1-million grant from the John Templeton Foundation and unites a team of around 20 international scholars, working in philosophy, religion, and psychology.

Okay, full disclosure: the John Templeton Foundation is also the parent of Templeton Press, publishers of the Virtue series to which I contribute (which are available here!)

The Simple-Minded Conservative

 

It’s a well-established tenet of social psychology that political conservatives are narrow-minded, dogmatic, and prone to simplistic views. Study after study has shown this. We simply don’t possess the “cognitive complexity” of our left-wing counterparts.

Except that those studies are flawed. The problem with the methodology was that test subjects were asked about topics that tend to elicit more complex responses among the left.

Don’t Walk a Mile in My Shoes

 

What we sometimes say, when we’re trying to feel empathy — or, more often, trying to get someone else to feel it, is “Hey, when you’ve walked a mile in his (or her, or their) shoes….”

The theory is, if you can put yourself in someone else’s place you’ll have more empathy, more understanding, of their situation. Which makes sense, I guess.

Pain Demands An Explanation

 

shutterstock_314240933There are two truths about pain that every good conservative believes. First, pain is the most straightforward incentive; people need pain to correct their behavior. Second, we believe in “no pain, no gain;” i.e., that pain is a necessary sacrifice in the pursuit of accomplishment. In either case, pain is useful. At least, that is our moral ideal of pain and how it ought to act to fulfill its purpose.

That pain, whether of the body or the psyche, serves a useful purpose is easy enough to see. We need only consider what happens when it’s absent. Lepers and CIPA patients become horribly disfigured because they can’t feel pain. Lepers lose sensation in their extremities. CIPA patients cannot feel pain at all. They only avoid injury and disfigurement through a tedious process of consciously checking themselves, which is much less effective than simply feeling pain. Similarly, mania and psychopathy both reduce a person’s capacity to feel the psychic pains — shame, remorse, etc. — that keep us on the straight and narrow, and both mental states are quite sensibly regarded as dangerous.

That not all pain serves a purpose is somewhat harder to see. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and phantom limb pain both loudly contradict the notion that pain is always useful, but both are so freakishly rare they can be dismissed as aberrations. While much more common, garden-variety chronic pain is so frustratingly subjective that it’s tempting to moralize it away as a manifestation of moral fragility, as a “cross” bestowed on us by a loving God for the purpose of spiritual refinement, as a failure of mind over matter.

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Has everyone already read this? Mr. Mark Judge is trying to say a few things about a problem one does not much read about: Men committing suicide. This is called male suicide & I think I alone am bothered by that. I think the piece is a failure on every level. It’s hard even to understand how […]

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Pancakes So Good They’ll Make You Smile

 

IhopFor the first time in 20 years, the International House of Pancakes has a new logo! The Valhalla of after-bar-closing-time munchies, fluffy carbs, and sticky sucrose has introduced an IHOP red and blue mark that concedes nothing in glitz to uber-modern companies like Google, Citigroup, or Ubuntu and is about to show the American marketing world just how far the smile can actually be taken.

It is all just a little bit spooky.

The press release from the June 1 logo debut states: