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Posts tagged "Freakonomics"

Soul Possession: Just How Much Is Your Soul Worth?

Soul Possession: Just How Much Is Your Soul Worth?

The Freakonomics crew put out a new podcast on selling souls this week, and boy was it a doozie. They featured a Christian from Oklahoma who boldly offered any atheist/skeptic/taker $50 for ownership of his soul. Sure enough, through the comments board on the Freakonomics webpage, he found a skeptic seller, and the two exchanged the money for an official contract of soul ownership. This set off a half-hour discussion around the following questions: can somebody sell their soul? Is it ethical? Is $50 a good bargain for a soul? What’s the market value for such a thing, and what does…

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Another Week Ends: Zeitgeistlichkeit, Atheist Religiosity, Freakonomic Fathers, Ralph Erskine, MJ, Devo's Paradox, Hunger Games, Deep Blue Sea, and Hoarders

Another Week Ends: Zeitgeistlichkeit, Atheist Religiosity, Freakonomic Fathers, Ralph Erskine, MJ, Devo’s Paradox, Hunger Games, Deep Blue Sea, and Hoarders

1. A pair of terrific book reviews have appeared in The NY Times over the last couple weeks, the first being Generation X author Douglas Coupland‘s inspiring riff on Hari Kunzu’s opus, Gods Without Men, and the exciting new genre it epitomizes (“Translit”). Ironically enough, he makes a number of Twitter-ready observations:

[We are living in a] “state of possibly permanent atemporality given to us courtesy of the Internet. No particular era now dominates. We live in a post-era without forms of its own powerful enough to brand the times. The zeitgest of 2012 is that we have a lot of…

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Another Week Ends: Joseph Mills, Commitment Devices, Anxiety Rights, Bible Rescue, Imposter Syndrome, Hitch on Chesterton, Elmer Bernstein and Liz Lemon

Another Week Ends: Joseph Mills, Commitment Devices, Anxiety Rights, Bible Rescue, Imposter Syndrome, Hitch on Chesterton, Elmer Bernstein and Liz Lemon

1. One of the many things to adore about David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again is the cover (of the US edition). The collage manages to capture the torrential intellect at the heart of that wonderful collection without losing the humor. But it wasn’t until this past week that I knew anything about its designer, photographer/artist/pumpkin farmer Joseph Mills. The Washington City Paper did a feature on him back in 2003 in conjunction with an exhibit at the Corcoran, and Joseph’s words–and personal history with psychosis and depression–pack quite a punch, ht SJ:

When asked about…

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Another Week Ends: NeuroLewis and NeuroClark, Common Enemies, Absent Fathers, Zombie Fiction, Jarvis Cocker, Noel Gallagher, Sacred Facial Hair and Pixar

Another Week Ends: NeuroLewis and NeuroClark, Common Enemies, Absent Fathers, Zombie Fiction, Jarvis Cocker, Noel Gallagher, Sacred Facial Hair and Pixar

1. Another superb volley in David Brooks’ crusade for a more compassionate view of human fallibility appeared in The NY Times this week, “Who You Are,” in which he salutes Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s invaluable contribution to social psychology. Brooks goes so far as to call Kahneman and his research partner Amos Tversky, “the Lewis and Clark of the mind.” Kahneman’s new book, which sounds like it has Mockingbird written all over it (wouldn’t that be the day!), Thinking, Fast and Slow comes out on Tuesday. In the meantime, I defy you not to issue an ‘are you kidding…

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Another Week Ends: Brooks on Empathy, more Quiet Beatle, American Commandments, Kaling on Chick Flicks, Meth to Master, Pre-Marital Hanky Panky, Psycho Congress, Tweedy & Ryan Adams

Another Week Ends: Brooks on Empathy, more Quiet Beatle, American Commandments, Kaling on Chick Flicks, Meth to Master, Pre-Marital Hanky Panky, Psycho Congress, Tweedy & Ryan Adams

1. David Brooks continues with his one-man campaign for a more realistic conception of human nature, and the implications it might have on ethical behavior, in his new column, “The Limits of Empathy.” This time he focuses on the question of motivation, exploring how easily/frequently something as ‘good’ as empathy is subordinated to self-interest (and laziness), ht TB:

People who are empathetic are more sensitive to the perspectives and sufferings of others. They are more likely to make compassionate moral judgments. The problem comes when we try to turn feeling into action. Empathy makes you more aware of other people’s suffering, but it’s not…

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Adult Adoption and the Japanese Church of Scionology

Adult Adoption and the Japanese Church of Scionology

Leave it to the Freakonomics guys to report on one of the more fascinating, and theologically helpful, phenomena going on in the modern world in their recent radio show, “The Church of Scionology“, in which they tackle the subject of adult male adoption in Japan. The New Testament, as we all know, is rife with the imagery of adoption, the idea being that Christians are children adopted by God, with all the assurance and love (and rights) that entails. Childhood adoption is an adult making a self-sacrificial decision to raise a helpless infant with no reference whatsoever to how that…

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Suicidal Paradoxes and the Tragedy of Expectations

Suicidal Paradoxes and the Tragedy of Expectations

Fascinating if very sobering transcript of a recent radio broadcast over on the Freakonomics site about the so-called “Suicide Paradox.” As the commentators make clear, the attempt to “make sense” of suicide is a dodgy task from the get-go – if you know someone who has been touched by it, you know that suicide is something that, by definition, defies explanation. The “Why” in particular. Thankfully, the commentators keep their focus on the other, slightly less volatile factors: the “who’s”, “where’s”, and “when’s”. Which doesn’t make the subject any less morbid, but does keep it out of the realm of…

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Another Week Ends: Twittercide, Paul Simon, Reality TV, Reasons To Quit, Better Book Titles, Community & Shallow Small Groups

Another Week Ends: Twittercide, Paul Simon, Reality TV, Reasons To Quit, Better Book Titles, Community & Shallow Small Groups

1. A great little editorial on Slate about the recent instances of “Twittercide” committed by folks as wide-ranging as Gilbert Gottfried, Tucker Carlson, Keith Olbermann, and Rashard Mendenhall. The author wisely points out how silly it is to blame the medium – its immediacy is a big part of its genius after all – that while twitter may amplify trash-talking by catering to impulse, the animus/judgment was there a priori. That is, the problems are a matter of nature, not technology or even self-control:

I reject the idea that Twitter trips up naïve users such…

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Why Does Driving Bring Out The Worst In People?

Why Does Driving Bring Out The Worst In People?

A revealing post over at the NY Times freakonomics blog, where Stephen Dubner writes (ht JD):

“The same person who might flip you off while ensconced in his or her car would almost certainly never do the same while passing you on a sidewalk. A parallel observation: I’ve often found that people who can be exceedingly nasty via e-mail or blog are often fairly civil once you get together face-to-face.”

He then reprints a priceless letter from reader (and traffic cop) William Mack:

Over the years as a traffic officer and police officer, I have developed several theories on humanity. I…

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