Category: Type-Long article

6 major indicators strongly confirm we are living in the best time in history

INFOGRAPHIC: “All things considered, do you think the world is getting better or worse, or neither getting better nor worse?”

A survey done with this question documented the very negative perspective of global development that most of us have. More than 9 out of 10 people do not think that the world is getting better.

Evidence from empirical data shows the opposite picture. On each of 6 vital indicators of human wellbeing, there has been dramatic improvements over the centuries to our present date.

SOURCE: Our World in Data

We could all do with learning how to improvise a little better

LONG ARTICLE FOR HARDCORE READERS: Life is intrinsically changing, moving, disappointing and positively surprising. Meeting life with unbending expectations is a recipe for disaster. Those who expect the world to conform to their preset calculations and predictions are destined to be frustrated. They are uncomfortable with spontaneity, and rail against deviations.cOur bohemian tendencies assume that improvisation is the antidote to rigid thinking. But improvisation isn’t foolproof either. Are there ways to learn how to improvise better, not only in the arts, but in life?

SOURCE: Aeon

What you see is what your brain gets you to see — perception is incredibly plastic

LONG ARTICLE FOR HARDCORE READERS: Perception underpins everything we think, do, believe, know, or love. We treat our perceptions as if they’re constant and intransigent, when many are actually flexible and come from a place. When we understand where they come from we can actually alter where they’re going to go. It’s stepping out of the physics of no, into the biology of maybe, of possibility. It is our ability to defy conformity that has triggered nearly every advance in human progress. The next big innovation probably won’t be a new technology but a new way of seeing.

SOURCE: National Geographic

Why can’t scientists talk like regular humans?

LONG ARTICLE FOR HARDCORE READERS: Scientists are often juxtaposed with the general public, as if the two are separate, mutually exclusive entities—i.e., “not one of us.” This attitude, held on either side of the divide, makes scientists and non-scientists feel culturally inaccessible to each other. When this divide sets in, it compromises a scientist’s ability to be an effective science communicator.

SOURCE: Scientific American

Payments for content on the Web might be a good idea

LONG ARTICLE FOR HARDCORE READERS: The incentive structure of the free web might encourage one type of content that differs dramatically from the kind incentivized by the paid web. The former rewards volume of attention while the latter depends on depth of interest and engagement. Which makes for a compelling proposition: Maybe subscriptions aren’t just a way for YouTubers and other content creators to make money—maybe it’s a way to improve the quality of the web.

SOURCE: Wired

You are ignorant, but not necessarily dumb.

LONG ARTICLE FOR HARDCORE READERS: We live in a hive mind where knowledge is distributed throughout the human community. We are “built to collaborate.” When we don’t know something, we tap into the knowledge and expertise of our fellow human beings. Ignorance has to do with how much you know, whereas being dumb is relative to other people. Like everyone else you are ignorant, but you are not therefore necessarily dumb.

SOURCE: Reason

Torching the modern-day library of Alexandria

LONG ARTICLE FOR HARDCORE READERS: Google’s secret effort to scan every book in the world, codenamed “Project Ocean,” began in earnest in 2002. The idea was that in the future, once all books were digitized, you’d be able to map the citations among them, see which books got cited the most, and use that data to give better search results to library patrons. Google offered libraries a deal: You let us borrow all your books, he said, and we’ll scan them for you. You’ll end up with a digital copy of every volume in your collection, and Google will end up with access to one of the great untapped troves of data left in the world. Brin put Google’s lust for library books this way: “You have thousands of years of human knowledge, and probably the highest-quality knowledge is captured in books.” What if you could feed all the knowledge that’s locked up on paper to a search engine?

In just over a decade, after making deals with Michigan, Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, the New York Public Library, and dozens of other library systems, the company, outpacing Page’s prediction, had scanned about 25 million books. It cost them an estimated $400 million. It was a feat not just of technology but of logistics.

When the library at Alexandria burned it was said to be an “international catastrophe.” When the most significant humanities project of our time was dismantled in court, the scholars, archivists, and librarians who’d had a hand in its undoing breathed a sigh of relief, for they believed, at the time, that they had narrowly averted disaster.

SOURCE: The Atlantic

What does it mean to have a ‘right’ to health care?

LONG ARTICLE FOR HARDCORE READERS: Despite the popular misconception, health care is not beyond economic law; it is not a free good that falls like manna from heaven. It has to be produced, which means people must mix their scarce labor with scarce resources to produce the things used to perform the medical services we want. It would be foolish to expect them to donate their labor and resources because other people need them. They have their own lives to live and livelihoods to earn. in other words, no one can have a right to medical care or insurance, that is, to the labor services and resources of other people.

Source: Reason

The usefulness of useless knowledge

LONG ARTICLE FOR HARDCORE READERS: “Is it not a curious fact that in a world steeped in irrational hatreds which threaten civilization itself, men and women – old and young – detach themselves wholly or partly from the angry current of daily life to devote themselves to the cultivation of beauty, to the extension of knowledge, to the cure of disease, to the amelioration of suffering, just as though fanatics were not simultaneously engaged in spreading pain, ugliness, and suffering?”

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