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Posts tagged "Jonah Lehrer"

Another Week Ends: New Atheism and the Church, Jonah Lehrer on Redemption, Empathy with Batman, Wiman's Incarnational Faith, End-of-School-Year Mothers, Billy Joel, and Eurovision

Another Week Ends: New Atheism and the Church, Jonah Lehrer on Redemption, Empathy with Batman, Wiman’s Incarnational Faith, End-of-School-Year Mothers, Billy Joel, and Eurovision

1. First off, Larry Taunton at The Atlantic has spent the last few years working through the whole “New Atheist” thing from the perspective of traditional Christianity, in particular listening (!) expansively to many committed, thought-through atheists. A nice round-up of his observations appeared this past week, with lots of food for thought, ht EB:

Slowly, a composite sketch of American college-aged atheists began to emerge and it would challenge all that we thought we knew about this demographic. Here is what we learned:

They had attended church

Most of our participants had not chosen their worldview from ideologically neutral positions at all, but in reaction to…

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Another Week Ends: Townes Van Zandt, Hyper-Parents and Filial Competence, Jane Austen, Visible Signs (That You Were A Youth Group Kid), Girls, Christian Athletes, Jonah Lehrer Proves Himself, More Ash Wednesday, St. Paul, and Beck

Another Week Ends: Townes Van Zandt, Hyper-Parents and Filial Competence, Jane Austen, Visible Signs (That You Were A Youth Group Kid), Girls, Christian Athletes, Jonah Lehrer Proves Himself, More Ash Wednesday, St. Paul, and Beck

1. Over at Internet Monk, a thoughtful Ash Wednesday article explores singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt’s legacy in relation to the way Americans process death, depression, powerlessness, or other ‘negative’ emotions:

Of course we live in a culture of death — because we are human, and human beings die, and human beings often choose ways that lead to death rather than life. My question is how we deal with this fact.

…We the people will watch violence and death on our TV screens and computer monitors, but we continue to hide our dying ones away in hospitals and nursing homes. We spend the vast…

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Another Week Ends: Wiman's Abyss, Opinionless Boyfriends, Compassionology, Lehrergate, Antinomianism, Revolution, Taylor Swift, and Wreck-It Ralph

Another Week Ends: Wiman’s Abyss, Opinionless Boyfriends, Compassionology, Lehrergate, Antinomianism, Revolution, Taylor Swift, and Wreck-It Ralph

1. Every once and a while something comes across your screen that is so beautiful and honest and profound and enlivening that you want to force others to watch it. If commands of this kind worked, that’s what I’d do here. I’m referring to the interview that Bill Moyers conducted with poet (and Poetry Magazine editor) Christian Wiman this past February. Much like the essay of Wiman’s we featured last week, this is gut level stuff; he touches on pretty much everything that’s important. Or I should day, nothing that he touches on isn’t important: love, marriage, cancer, beauty, poetry,…

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Another Week Ends: Crimson Despair, Teacher Expectations, MJ's Bad, Improvement Narratives, Neil Young, Neurospeculation, The Master, and Conf Update

Another Week Ends: Crimson Despair, Teacher Expectations, MJ’s Bad, Improvement Narratives, Neil Young, Neurospeculation, The Master, and Conf Update

1. An incredibly moving account of “Depression and Despair at Harvard” in response to the suicide of a classmate by Jordan Monge on The Harvard Ichthus. With real vulnerability, Monge touches on the crushing power of expectation, the vicious circle of shame and fear, the grace of defeat, even the toxic and tragic way Christians revert to the Law, post-conversion. It’s a courageous testament to the reality that we are not saved us from pain, but in and through it, ht AZ:

via indexed.com

Admitting my weakness feels like admitting that I am not good enough to bear my own name….

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Having Another, the Maladaptive Habit of Near-Missing

Having Another, the Maladaptive Habit of Near-Missing

Charles Duhigg talks about it in his new book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business. Pop-psychologist-writer Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine, co-editor of Wired magazine, talks about it. Act Three of one most recent This American Life episode about stories from casinos, called “Blackjack,” hits on it, too. It’s called the Near-Miss Effect and, as Lehrer says, it basically means that, “from the perspective of our dopamine neurons, near misses are virtually indistinguishable from actual wins. Both forms of feedback tickle our reward circuitry, which is why Vegas invests in games and…

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Another Week Ends: Dumb Smart People, VeggieRemorse, Pixar Tips, Transfigured Authority, Profanity Laws, Fiona Apple and Mad Men

Another Week Ends: Dumb Smart People, VeggieRemorse, Pixar Tips, Transfigured Authority, Profanity Laws, Fiona Apple and Mad Men

1. You’ve probably heard the classic arithmetic question, “A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?” If your kneejerk response is in the double digits, well, think again. Jonah Lehrer kicked off his new post at The New Yorker with a couple of terrific new pieces. “Why We Don’t Believe in Science” was the first and “Why Smart People Are Stupid” is the latest, and it in particular warrants some excerpting here. Another cogent reminder that self-knowledge (or knowledge in general) is not…

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Another Week Ends: Louis CK, Sam Spade, Prevailing Grace, Heavy Metal, Axl Rose, Viennese Creativity, Cabin in the Woods, and yes, more Damsels in Distress

Another Week Ends: Louis CK, Sam Spade, Prevailing Grace, Heavy Metal, Axl Rose, Viennese Creativity, Cabin in the Woods, and yes, more Damsels in Distress

1. “The Filthy Moralist: How Louis C.K. Became America’s Unlikely Conscience” in The Atlantic is remarkable, especially in its conclusion. As always when it comes to Louis, there’s a high depravity quotient, so don’t say we didn’t warn you. But also as always when it comes to Louis, the darkness is not neutral or meaningless (or merely shocking). In fact, it might even be worth the discomfort in this case to get to the final couple of paragraphs, which truly capture what Louis is about, whether he wants to be or not. It strikes me as especially pertinent as we…

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Another Week Ends: John Carter, Obesity FAILs, Mary Karr on Suffering, Winning!, Friends with Kids, Springsteen's Wrecking Ball and Community Returns

Another Week Ends: John Carter, Obesity FAILs, Mary Karr on Suffering, Winning!, Friends with Kids, Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball and Community Returns

1. “I am not Jesus, but I have the same initials.” Thus sang Jarvis Cocker on the classic Pulp track “Dishes” (at bottom), and it now looks like he has a new contender to the throne, Tim Riggins himself, Mr. John Carter of Mars. That’s right: Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton’s first live-action feature is out this weekend, and the consensus thus far is that there’s no consensus. Some claim that it’s an overblown mess, others that it’s the sort of exceedingly fun pulp adventure that doesn’t get made anymore. But Stanton is a filmmaker that I trust over any…

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Infuriating Altruism and the Evolution of a Good Samaritan: E.O. Wilson's Theory of Everything

Infuriating Altruism and the Evolution of a Good Samaritan: E.O. Wilson’s Theory of Everything

A few months ago, The Atlantic published a piece called “E.O. Wilson’s Theory of Everything”. The title caught my eye, but I’ll just come right out and say it: the piece was dense and confusing – or maybe it was the theory itself, I’m not sure. You could tell there was something significant being said, but what exactly required more brainpower than us non-evolutionary biologists usually care to casually expend on a pop-science article. Enter Jonah Lehrer, who profiled Wilson (and the waves he’s currently making) for The New Yorker this past week. The issue at hand is altruism, which…

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The Myth of Brainstorming and the Fruit of Passive (Non-)Management

The Myth of Brainstorming and the Fruit of Passive (Non-)Management

Why do we find it easy to be creative in some situations and not others? What sorts of atmospheres shut down our imagination? And what sorts stimulate it? A pair of fascinating articles from pop science/human limitation guru Jonah Lehrer  appeared this past week seeking to answer these questions, a short one in Wired and a longer one in The New Yorker. Presumably in anticipation of his forthcoming book on how creativity works. Lehrer relays a number of important findings on the subject, not the least of which is the debunking of brainstorming as a viable method of generating good…

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More 2011 Favorites: Books, Documentaries, Musical Discoveries and Web

More 2011 Favorites: Books, Documentaries, Musical Discoveries and Web

Books and Film

Favorite Piece of Fiction (Read During 2011): Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. Not just a favorite of the year, but a favorite, period. It’s a rare work of art indeed that can shed light on both The Royal Tenenbaums and the Jesus Prayer. Unbelievably wise, delightfully funny and deeply religious (in the best possible sense), I’m not sure Christ had a better spokesman in the 20th century than Zooey Glass. And has Salinger’s dialogue ever been bettered? I’m only embarrassed it took me this long to discover it. Favorite novel released in 2011 would have to be…

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Another Week Ends: Deadly Doing, Horton on Incarnation, Epic Fantasy Appeal, Schizophrenic Hope, DFW Syllabi, Nice Guys, George Harrison and Superman

Another Week Ends: Deadly Doing, Horton on Incarnation, Epic Fantasy Appeal, Schizophrenic Hope, DFW Syllabi, Nice Guys, George Harrison and Superman

1. Andrew Sullivan of The Daily Dish produced a stirring little meditation earlier this week which brought together two of our favorites, philosopher Michael Oakeshott and social psychologist Daniel Kahneman, under the dynamo Oakeshott-inspired title “The Deadliness of Doing.” He speaks about Oakeshott’s lifelong project of trying to recover was a way of doing things which was as unselfconscious as possible. It’s not terribly different from the dynamic described in Tullian Tchividjian’s book we reviewed earlier this week, that true spiritual progress consists in being liberated from self-reference as much as possible, i.e. becoming less fixated on the me-centered notion…

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