Defensive Pessimism: How Planning for the Worst can be Beneficial

"Optimism Wisdom Pessimism Future Presence Past" by HKD via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

“Optimism Wisdom Pessimism Future Presence Past” by HKD via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Julie Norem, a psychology professor at Wellesley College, explores Defensive Pessimism in her 2002 book, The Positive Power Of Negative Thinking. In short, Defensive Pessimists expect the worst, but are proactive in planning against it. Thus they are more prepared, while reducing anxiety levels.

Olga Khazan interviews Norem at The Atlantic (Follow the link to read the entire interview):

Olga Khazan: What is defensive pessimism?

Julie Norem: It’s a strategy for dealing with anxiety and helping to manage anxiety so that it doesn’t negatively influence performance. If you feel anxious in a situation, it doesn’t really matter if it’s realistic or not, you feel how you feel. It’s hard not to feel that particular way. If you feel anxious, you need to do something about it. Usually people try to run away from whatever situation makes you anxious. But there are other ways of dealing with it.

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Hubble Helps Find Smallest Known Galaxy Containing a Supermassive Black Hole

 

Artist's View of M60-UCD1 Black Hole Image Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI-PRC14-41a

Artist’s View of M60-UCD1 Black Hole
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI-PRC14-41a

How awesome is this?!

via Nasa.gov:

Astronomers using data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground observation have found an unlikely object in an improbable place — a monster black hole lurking inside one of the tiniest galaxies ever known.

The black hole is five times the mass of the one at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. It is inside one of the densest galaxies known to date — the M60-UCD1 dwarf galaxy that crams 140 million stars within a diameter of about 300 light-years, which is only 1/500th of our galaxy’s diameter.

If you lived inside this dwarf galaxy, the night sky would dazzle with at least 1 million stars visible to the naked eye. Our nighttime sky as seen from Earth’s surface shows 4,000 stars.

The finding implies there are many other compact galaxies in the universe that contain supermassive black holes.

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Sack the Economists

SackMock-Up4

By Geoff Davies via Real-World Economics Review Blog:

Non-mainstream economists are all-too aware of the failure of mainstream economists to anticipate, let alone avoid, the Global Financial Crisis and the ensuing Great Recession.  The mainstream profession is also failing to fix the problem, and is actually making it worse.

It is hard to get alternative views heard, and the mainstream carries on almost totally unperturbed, despite being centrally responsible for a global disaster.  This is of course extremely frustrating.

After reading yet another cri de coeur from yet another frustrated economist, I thought perhaps we need to spell out the message in all bluntness: we need to sack the economists (the mainstreamers).  We also need to derail their baleful ideology.  That means we need to disband the departments of neoclassical economics, so the poison is not passed on to any more hapless generations.

When I say “we”, I really mean “we, the people”.  The job can’t be done by a small band of isolated reformers.  That means people need to be informed and persuaded.  They need to be spoken to in terms they understand;  not everyone, but opinion leaders and interested laypeople, of whom there are many.

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IKEA’s Time Travel Experiment Continues

IKEA_Jeff_Beth_Poster_Frame_01A new installment in the unconventional promotional experiment, where world-renowned hypnotist Justin Trance hypnotizes a young couple into believing they’re in their future, shows the hypnotized couple, Jeff and Beth, reacting to predicted future life scenarios presented to them, in IKEA bedrooms and bathrooms…

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Arming Syrian Rebels – How Does This End?

In the 80′s we armed the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. It led to al Qaeda & the Taliban.

In the 2000′s, we armed Iraqis and now ISIS is using that very gear against us.

As we consider arming Syrian rebels and a rush back to war, we need you to help this country stop and think: How does this end?

Watch and share this video. And then call your U.S. Senators today to tell them to vote against arming more rebels and starting new wars.

Help others seriously question doing the same, wrong thing all over again.

Thank you for your action.

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Heaven’s Gate: The Online Legacy of a Suicide Cult and the Webmasters Who Stayed Behind

Heaven's GateLong-time disinfonauts know all about Heaven’s Gate, but did you know that the suicide cult’s website is still live and “they” answer email? Gizmodo investigates who’s keeping it going:

Every month, the bills get paid on time. The emails get answered, and any orders filled. Which, for HeavensGate.com, is positively extraordinary. Because as far as the public is aware, every last member of the suicide cult died 17 years ago from a cocktail of arsenic and apple sauce. A few stayed behind, though. Someone had to keep the homepage going.

Today, at first glance, the fully functional, 17-year-old website seems like just one more of the many GeoCities-era relics that litter the internet. Visitor counts, flashing text, Word Art gradients; the whole gang’s here and then some. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find that almost every link adds yet another layer to a wildly extensive dogma, totally earnest in its interweaving of disembodied space aliens, Jesus, secret UFOs, prophets to whom aliens speak, comets coming to save us, and the suicide it takes to get there.

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The Rise of the Barbarians and Why the United States Has Lost All Credibility

The Pale Blue Dot, the Earth suspended in a sunbeam like a mote of dust.  Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot

The Pale Blue Dot, the Earth suspended in a sunbeam like a mote of dust.

Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core.

Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

– Hermann Goering

The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities.Read the rest

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Bizarre ISIS Plot To Behead Random Australian Foiled

Australian Federal Police with Ian Thorpe.jpg

Australian Federal Police with Ian Thorpe by Graeme Bartlett (CC)

Is this story too strange to be true? Or just strange enough? ABC Australia reports that ISIS planned to grab a random person from a crowd in  Sydney, Australia, and behead them:

Police say a large-scale anti-terrorism raid in Sydney this morning has foiled a plot to “commit violent acts” in Australia, including a plan to behead a member of the public.

More than 800 officers launched the raids as part of Operation Appleby in suburbs across Sydney’s west and north-west, with a further 70 police involved in raids on properties in Brisbane’s south.

Police said 15 people had been detained in Sydney as part of the operation between NSW officers, the Australian Federal Police and ASIO.

Court documents are expected to reveal that the raids, at 25 different properties, were aimed at a cell which planned to behead a member of the public in Sydney.

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The Weirdest Massage Technique: Rolling Down a Flight of Concrete Stairs

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via Oddity Central:

Of all the unusual ways to get a massage, this has got to be the weirdest one. 51-year-old Li Chia rolls himself down 30 concrete steps every morning at Xi’an Changle Park. Once he gets to the bottom, he rocks himself back up to the top again without getting up, using a careful, self-taught technique. He claims that by doing this he receives a thorough massage that addresses all the pressure points in his body.

“I got the idea from rolling on pebbles at a health club, and when I couldn’t find any pebbles at my local park, I decided to try the stairs and was surprised to find it really works,” Chia explained. “I have always been a great fan of Chinese massage and the possibility that pressure points can do all sorts of things including relieving stress. After all, that’s why massage is so popular,” he said.

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