ideas that challenge / comfort / inspire
To be nobody but yourself in a world that's doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting. – ee cummings
Unsurprisingly, a large body of research shows that viewing idealised or retouched images adds to the dissatisfaction that many people already feel towards their body. Research by Kristen Harrison, a media psychologist at the University of Michigan, shows that even disclosing that celebrity and advertising images are retouched makes many of us feel worse about ourselves. Becoming more aware of what others edit may heighten our awareness of our own supposed flaws. That may encourage us to spend longer using digital tools to repair them. And once you start it’s hard to stop. I felt better about posting my first FaceTuned photo than I would have if I hadn’t edited it. And since we’re more inclined to post images of ourselves that we like, says Harrison, “it’s self-sustaining because you want to do it again and again and again.” Beauty is attainable for all. Just don’t expect it to be more than a pixel deep.
Amy Odell writing in 1843 magazine
The red couch experiments: Early lessons in pop-up fact-checking Nieman Journalism Lab
Journalism and journalism students are experiencing a ‘Trump Bump’ (opinion) Tampa Bay Times
Pro tips from scholars for journalists (and vice versa) Journalists Resources
In defense of documentaries as journalism Columbia Journalism Review
***THE BUSINESS OF JOURNALISM
Freelancer Rate Database Contently
The godfather of fake news BBC News
An Anti-Vaxxer’s New Crusade Propublica
Facebook Should Enlist Its Users to Clean Up Fake News (opinion) Bloomberg
***BIG DATA & AI
A Bayesian linear regression in R for time series forecasting Towards Data Science
***THE BUSINESS OF MEDIA
The rise of the professional “influencer” Becoming (my blog)
***WRITING & READING
Ben Yagoda Crunches the Contractions Chronicle of Higher Ed
‘That Walk Was a Bear!’ Is ‘Bear’ Slang in That Sentence? Chronicle of Higher Education
The World’s Most Efficient Languages The Atlantic
***RACE & ETHNICITY ISSUES
Teaching while black: white professor calls security on black adjunct The Commonwealth Times
Swastikas spray-painted on walls of Jewish professor at Columbia Washington Post
Everything You Wanted to Know About Emojis and the Law Technology & Marketing Law Blog
Kenny Marks, CCM star of the '80s and '90s Dies Cross Rythms
***RELIGION AND POLITICS
***ART & DESIGN
National Geographic's 100 best images of the year National Geographic
Reuters' best pictures from 2018 Reuters
Can you teach AI to dance? YR.media
This is the most influential film of all time MarketWatch
Is a smartphone a necessity for college students today? Inside Higher Ed
What we know about illegal immigration from Mexico Pew Research
***BUSINESS & FINANCE
Americans Value Equality at Work More Than Equality at Home New York Times
Interactive map shows how many years breathing dirty air takes off your life Air Quality Life Index
FDA’s ‘flawed’ device pathway persists with industry backing Associated Press
***HEALTH & SLEEP
Why We Sleep, and Why We Often Can’t New Yorker
Why Hospitals Should Let You Sleep New York Times
***HEALTH & KIDS
***FOOD & DRINK
The Best Craft Brewery in Every State Thrillist
52 of the World’s Most Out-There Myths About Food Atlas Obscura
***CHILDREN & SCREEN TIME
The Insect Apocalypse Is Here New York Times
Lack of sleep intensifies anger, impairs adaptation to frustrating circumstances Iowa State University
Using imagination to unlearn fear The Naked Scientist
An exhaustive, interactive mapping of the history of philosophy Deniz C Önduygu blog
My Mother Taught Me to Kill Narratively
New COPE guidelines on publication process manipulation: why they matter Research Integrity and Peer Review
The double standard of retractions The Varsity
Where are the ethics in academic publishing? Times Higher Education
What the Rise of the Mega-University Might Mean for the Rest of Us Chronicle of Higher Ed
Why Your HR Officer Is Leaving Chronicle of Higher Ed
UW-Stevens Point Faculty Want Regents To Oust Administrators Wisconsin Public Radio
Why One University Is Handing Out Hockey Pucks to Prepare for an Active Shooter Chronicle of Higher Ed
Why Are Students Ditching the History Major? Chronicle of Higher Ed
Students Evaluating Teachers Doesn’t Just Hurt Teachers. It Hurts Students Chronicle of Higher Ed
What Is the Purpose of Final Exams, Anyway? Chronicle of Higher Ed
Seniors Think What They’ve Learned Will Help Them Do Their Jobs. Do Employers Agree? Chronicle of Higher Ed
The internet now means influence can come from anyone, anywhere; it can be visible or invisible, paid for by any power, approaching you any of myriad ways. Influence used to be understood as a top-down phenomenon, with governments, advertisers, donors or other powerful figures holding sway over the masses. These days we understand that the most powerful influences aren’t the distant ones but the most immediate and social — so the powerful tend to exert their influence by pretending to be ordinary people.
Marketers, for instance, work harder and harder to obscure the distinction between ads and real life. The last decade featured the rise of the professional “influencer” — someone paid to use their personal magnetism to promote specific agendas online. Instead of the top-down influence of a commercial or a billboard, these ads are embedded, shared by someone who seems, on some aspirational level, like a peer. The companies paying teenagers to hawk diet tea on Instagram are using the same tactics the Chinese government did when it recruited commenters to post hundreds of millions of pro-Communist Party messages online.
We like to think of our characters as fixed: We have our beliefs and our morals, religions and parties, states and countries, friends and enemies. We are inevitably ourselves — inescapably ourselves. We should be able to resist this kind of manipulation. But a steady stream of social-science studies suggests otherwise, demonstrating again and again how easily social pressures can affect the things we say, believe, do, think, eat. Our anxiety over influence goes back to the same fear Thomas Aquinas had, the same doubt families of alcoholics or cult members have. In the face of powerful influences, how can you locate and hold onto that original, irrefutable spark of self, your free will, your character, even your soul? That’s the fear that the idea of influence lays bare: that you can’t. Or that it might never have existed in the first place.
Annalisa Quinn writing in the New York Times
Not only do you tend to hang out with people like yourself, your friends will influence you toward or away from self-control. Even the people you are forced by circumstances to hang out with (like co-workers) have an influence on your behavior.
That's the finding of researchers who asked participants to watch people either select carrot sticks or cookies to eat before taking tests related to self-control (not involving cookies and carrots). Participants who watched someone eat cookies before the tests did not do as well as those who had watched someone decide to eat carrots.
In another test, participants were told to think of a friend with good self-control. This group performed better on a handgrip test (used to measure self-control) than did the participants assigned to think about a friend with weak self-control. Other tests showed similar results.
The conclusion: If you surround yourself with people who make wise choices, you are more likely to do the same. You can boost your self-control simply by networking with other people who reinforce positive behavior (or vise versa). And when you show a lack of self-control, you are probably influencing someone else to do the same.
Details of the study were published by the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
If you're going through hell, keep going. - Winston Churchill, born November 30, 1874
You can't go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending. –CS Lewis, born November 29, 1898
Eventually, a CRISPR baby will be born.* The (new gene-editing) technology is too easy. There is no world government to stop its use; many argue no one should do so anyway. At the point that baby emerges, perhaps modified to evade a particular disease or perhaps even to look a particular way, theoretical debates will become real.
Jennifer Doudna knows the influence she and her fellow scientists have is diminishing every day. “I would hope this would be used to create cures, to help people,” she says. Even if the technology is not quite there yet, CRISPR could eventually do plenty else besides. Every week a new paper is published finding more genes that influence looks, intelligence, stamina, even sexuality.
“The dystopic view would be IVF clinics that offer parents a menu of options for kids,” she says. “Nobody has kids by sex anymore. You go to a clinic, pick from a menu, say, ‘I want my kid to be this tall, have this colour of eye, this level of IQ,’ and all those sorts of things. I think that would be terrible.”
Tom Whipple writing in 1843 magazine
*Chinese scientists are creating CRISPR babies MIT Technology Review
Looking for a way to survey a class, figure out a group meeting time, or create a poll for your website? Here are some free options along with pricing if you want more options.
Flexible question design but weak interface and results reports. Has multiple levels of access. Lots of mixing and matching of radio buttons and checkbox responses. Weak reporting options-just static displays. Expensive: no free version and it’s $37 a month for just the basic plan, up to $287 a month.
CrowdSignal (formally PollDaddy)
Create surveys, polls, and quizzes. Works well with WordPress sites. Free version offers unlimited polls. The $29 a month account for more options such as customization and export options.
Create polls. Great for finding a meeting time among people. Cuts down on email exchanges. Can’t be embedded, but can be linked. It’s a PCMag Editors' Choice productivity app. Everything you need for polling is free. The $39 a year Private account takes away ads and gives you the ability to see who hasn't answered a poll yet and encryption options. Business account for $69 a year.
Interface could be better. Multiple reports. More options than SurveyPlanet and some design advantages over Toluna QuickSurveys. Features not as strong as Checkbox Survey and SoGoSurvey. Free options includes unlimited surveys, questions, and respondents. Basic plan includes data exporting, email support. $40 per month for the Premium plan.
Sometimes confusing interface. Can import questions from Word docs. Works best with straightforward a survey structure. Includes a collaborative task manager, administrative controls, and various reporting options. No direct social media integration. Customized pricing, so who knows how much it cost.
Allows you to pose a question to your audience and get instant feedback by phones. Fewer features than Socrative or Poll Everywhere, but it is free and easy to use.
Instant audience feedback through texting. Embed in PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides for live surveys. Can replace clickers in classrooms. Free version for up to 25 responses per poll. $19 a month for more options.
Expensive but winner of PC mag’s Editors' Choice award for creating surveys. Interface is powerful and thoughtful organization but has a learning curve. Create shared reports. Really meant for professionals.
Create study tools like flash cards and quizzes or make use of those created by others. Useful for rote learning. Easy to use but limited functionality. Popular among language learners. Although it will link to Google Classroom, it will not connect with academic LMS (learning management systems like Blackboard). App available. Free version for most features. $1.99 to make it ad free. $19.99 for more options.
Unlimited polls and responses with more features than social media polls. Share the link or embed the code. Only free with no sign up.
Create online surveys. Nice interface with lots of starter templates. An option to merge surveys. Limited flexibility in question ordering. Tracks email invitations and responses. Strong reporting functions including a helpful calendar. Stacks up decently against SurveyGizmo and SurveyMonkey. Pro accounts from $12 to $40 a month.
Supports the creation of forms, including payment forms, quizzes, and surveys. Users can include text, or other media. Can import questions from Word docs. Includes a bulk-edit mode. A free option with unlimited survey questions but otherwise limited. $25 per month for the Explorer plan.
Popular option for easily creating simple surveys. Designed to be accessable. Free option allows for up to 10 questions and an unlimited number of surveys that can be sent to up to 100 respondents. Has a mobile app to check survey progress. $32 per month for the Advantage plan. $99 a month for the Premier tier.
Easy step up from Google forms to create surveys with a very clean interface but very basic. Limited question choices and limited options for surveys requiring more complex questions. The free version is generous: unlimited surveys of unlimited length to unlimited respondents. $15 a month for the Pro plan.
An online survey tool with nice reporting options, including the ability to create shared reports. Limited options for more complex questioning. Works best with straightforward a survey structure. $85 per month for the Premium option. A hefty $85 a month for access to Toluna analytics.
Online or offline surveys. Easy to use but limited question options. Has a mobile app to check survey progress. Great reporting features. Comparable to SurveyPlanet but with more features and options. Limited free option. Many features are available for the $20 a month option. $60 per month for the Enterprise plan.
More tech tools here.
The promise and peril of gene drives Economist
How to edit a human 1843 magazine
Chinese scientists are creating CRISPR babies MIT Technology Review
***BIG DATA & AI
The features to look for when picking big-data visualization tools Search Business Analytics
Facebook and The Innovator’s Dilemma Columbia Journalism Review
J-School Leaders Say It's Time to Speak Out Inside Higher Ed
How to do “man-on-the-street” interviews in a foreign country The Ground Truth Project
Why Trump wants to control follow-up questions Washington Post
How Implicit Bias Works in Journalism Harvard’s Nieman Reports
***THE BUSINESS OF JOURNALISM
Canada introduces a $595 million package in support of journalism Harvard’s Nieman Lab
The Seven Commandments of Fake News The New York Times
The Power of Mind-Wandering Becoming (my blog)
Everyone Wants to ‘Influence’ You New York Times
***WRITING & READING
Using “very” Chronicle of Higher Ed
100 Notable Books of 2018 New York Times
It’s hard to have an unusual name in China 1843 magazine
***RACE & ETHNICITY ISSUES
How populist are you? The Guardian
Where Americans Find Meaning in Life Pew Research
***RELIGION OUTSIDE THE U.S.
All Nations, ORU Grieve Reported Death of Missionary Charisma News
Charismatic Christianity in Ethiopia Economist
***RELIGION AND POLITICS
***ART & DESIGN
The Mystery Font That Took Over New York New York Times
The woman with a musical dress 1843 magazine
The evolution of pace in popular movies Statistical Modeling, Causal Interence, and Social Science
***SEXUAL HARASSMENT & ASSAULT
***BUSINESS & FINANCE
Standing Desks are Overrated New York Times
Leaning Tower of Pisa continues long path towards vertical Associated Press
Not Oatmeal Constellate Magazine
Can Science Create Superhumans? The Naked Scientists
What Amazon Reviews Reveal About Humanity BuzzFeed News
What Happens to the Brain in Zero Gravity? Singularity Hub
Obligation to Obey the Law Wireless Philosophy
Information overload is nothing new 1843 Magazine
The Experiments Are Fascinating. But Nobody Can Repeat Them New York Times
Journal retracts 29 articles but doesn’t explain which ones Inside Higher Ed
A Film About Higher Ed That Should Bother You a Little Chronicle of Higher Ed
Enough With All the Innovation (opinion) Chronicle of Higher Ed
Why Grades Still Matter Chronicle of Higher Ed
The Solar System Quilt Open Culture
“Best” Student excuses Dynamics of Writing
UMKC professor used students as servants for decades The Kansas City Star
Students fear dorm mold problem led to adenovirus death New York Post
College athlete disowned by her parents almost loses her eligibility Business Insider
Hundreds of issues of the Maroon-News stolen, members of swim team found responsible Student Press Law Center
The seemingly trivial activity of mind-wandering is now believed to play a central role in the brain’s “deep learning,” the mind’s sifting through past experiences, imagining future prospects and assessing them with emotional judgments: that flash of shame or pride or anxiety that each scenario elicits.
A growing number of scholars, drawn from a wide swath of disciplines — neuroscience, philosophy, computer science — now argue that this aptitude for cognitive time travel, revealed by the discovery of the default network, may be the defining property of human intelligence. “What best distinguishes our species,” Martin Seligman wrote in a Times Op-Ed with John Tierney, “is an ability that scientists are just beginning to appreciate: We contemplate the future.” He went on: “A more apt name for our species would be Homo prospectus, because we thrive by considering our prospects. The power of prospection is what makes us wise.”
Today, it seems, mind-wandering is under attack from all sides. It’s a common complaint that our compulsive use of smartphones is destroying our ability to focus. But seen through the lens of Homo prospectus, ubiquitous computing poses a different kind of threat: Having a network-connected supercomputer in your pocket at all times gives you too much to focus on. It cuts into your mind-wandering time. The downtime between cognitively active tasks that once led to REST states can now be filled with Instagram, or Nasdaq updates, or podcasts. We have Twitter timelines instead of time travel.
At the same time, a society-wide vogue for “mindfulness” encourages us to be in the moment, to think of nothing at all instead of letting our thoughts wander. Search YouTube, and there are hundreds of meditation videos teaching you how to stop your mind from doing what it does naturally. The Homo prospectus theory suggests that, if anything, we need to carve out time in our schedule — and perhaps even in our schools — to let minds drift.
Steven Johnson writing in the New York Times
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
Dale Carnegie (born Nov. 24, 1888)
There’s an inherent lack of closure to suicide. Even when people write notes, they can reveal so little. Suicides often leave loved ones, acquaintances and co-workers to question themselves for the rest of their lives. And in their own grief, they, too, can entertain dangerous thoughts.
“With suicide you have that added trauma to it,” said Julie Cerel, the president of the American Association of Suicidology. “The ‘why’ question of trying to search for meaning when there’s no meaning available—If I only had a note. If I only talked to the last person that they talked to. The ‘onlys’ can be torturous.’” Last year, Cerel published a study examining the consequences of suicide and found that each one could affect as many as 135 other people.
The fundamental mystery of suicide has long made it an object of fear and contempt within the medical establishment. Since the 1950s, public health officials have tried hotlines, individual therapy, group therapy, shock therapy and forced hospitalizations. Doctors have taken away people’s shoelaces and belts and checked in on attempt survivors every 15 minutes to make sure they are still safe. They have coerced patients into signing contracts swearing that they would not kill themselves. They have piled on psychiatric medications with ever-more invasive side effects, only to watch the number of suicides continue to climb.
Jason Cherkis writing in the Huffington Post
I think of my mother (the fortune teller) each time I sit before my screen and begin to write. You have to speak in metaphors, in paradox, in symbolism, I hear her voice. You have to tell a story that will allow the client to experience the truth without you ever having to name it. I write first drafts as if I were turning over tarot cards, too: I scribble single, disjointed paragraphs until the right image of a character emerges. And I think constantly of Mami’s biggest lesson: Nobody wants the truth, but everyone wants a story.
Ingrid Rojas Contreras writing in BuzzFeed News