Tag Archives | Sociology

Social Rejects Are More Creative

Picture: MJT16 (PD)

Most of the outliers know that being strange, unique, and original has always been advantageous to creative ingenuity and discovery. Drawing, for example, is not simply the muscle memory of the hand, but a different way of ‘seeing’. Actors and writers succeed mostly due to their ability to craft alternate realities based on experiences from their twisted past. Scientists, futurists, inventors, political scientists and philosophers make history by asking heretofore unthinkable questions, and proposing even more absurd answers (both of which may have elicited some odd looks from peers and family members alike).

It’s about time science recognized the value of being a loser, an outcast, or a social reject. Many successful ventures, after all, may have been the result of a fair bit of name-calling back in middle school.

From Fast Company, found via Big Think:

Researchers at Johns Hopkins and Cornell have recently found that the socially rejected might also be society’s most creatively powerful people.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

New Studies Identify Sub-species of the Bourgeoisie

Picture: David Shankbone (CC)

Anti-capitalist agitprop has always lagged behind in producing the raw empirical support for the range of macro-economic theories deployed to oppose mainstream capitalist economics. As such, it often exhibits some of the same weaknesses inherent in freshwater capitalist macroeconomics. This may be because of the idealism and preferred style of argument inherited by the 19th Century First International cohort from their cultural surroundings. However, this traditional weakness is starting to be broken down. Some of the empirical work on the sociology of class, capital and power is now starting to emerge in popular form from the niche, highly specialized academic and policy journals that previously were the only places this sort of data was ever published.

As an example, one new research program has set out to assign names and faces to the abstract notion of the transnational capitalist class. Project Censored reports:

[W]e ask: Who are the the world’s 1 percent power elite?

Read the rest
Continue Reading

A Non-Muslim Spends The Day In A Burqa

Looking for an easy way to make people treat you differently? Via Vice, Annette Lamothe-Ramos conducts a social experiment by wearing Saudi-style burqa in New York City for a day:

I figured that the only way I’d really know what life was like for women who have been consigned to wear the least-revealing piece of clothing of all time was to dress up as one of them.

We hopped on a train uptown to pretend we were tourists. No one really paid much attention to me except the woman on the bench behind me who was sitting with her children. She dragged them to the other end of the platform when she saw me step onto the train. What a bitch!

When we got out of the subway it started to rain really hard. Lucky for me, I didn’t need an umbrella—one of the few pluses of wearing a burqa.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Female Terrorists Contradict Stereotypes

BalaclavasVia ScienceDaily:
Much like their male counterparts, female terrorists are likely to be educated, employed and native residents of the country where they commit a terrorist act, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association. The findings contradict stereotypes presented in previous studies that describe female terrorists as socially isolated and vulnerable to recruitment because they are uneducated, unemployed and from a foreign land, psychologists reported in a study published online in the APA journal Law and Human Behavior. These assumptions are not supported by evidence, according to the study authors. "We discovered that some of the popular notions about female terrorists do not reflect what has occurred in the past," said the study's lead author, Karen Jacques, PhD. "A more realistic description is helpful because it provides insights into the social dynamics that might promote an individual's involvement in terrorist activities."...
Continue Reading

Did All Dinosaurs Have Feathers?

Photo: Dinoguy2 (CC)

Cast of the fossil dromaeosaur specimen NGMC 91 (nicknamed "Dave", cf. Sinornithosaurus). Photo: Dinoguy2 (CC)

I remember reading long ago an article about how man’s own psychological and sociological biases can shape how they view scientific phenomenon. (Sadly, as this was in the pre-Internet days, I can’t locate it anywhere on the Web, so forgive me if the details are vague or off a bit.) Perhaps the best example: when the biological process of impregnation is usually presented, the model is a valiant army of noble sperm battling waves of defenders to the egg as it lays helpless from the attack without the surrounding protections.

This image evokes the idealized fantasies of the Age of Chivalry, turning the act of conception into a battle between knights and warriors over a chaste and passive queen.  (Talk about a Holy Grail.)  It also squares with the gender roles that dominate society, that of the male aggressor and the female as his prey.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Science Overturns View Of Humans As Naturally Barbaric

herzog-boys-wrestling-1969-timeAFP on the mounting body of evidence that people and other advanced animals are, on a biological level, driven largely by empathy and caring — undermining the classic view of man possessing a nasty, violent nature tenuously kept in check by the thin veneer of civilization:

Biological research increasingly debunks the view of humanity as competitive, aggressive and brutish, a leading specialist in primate behavior told a major science conference.

“Humans have a lot of pro-social tendencies,” Frans de Waal, a biologist at Emory University in Atlanta, told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. New research on higher animals from primates and elephants to mice shows there is a biological basis for behavior such as cooperation, said de Waal.

Until just 12 years ago, the common view among scientists was that humans were “nasty” at the core but had developed a veneer of morality — albeit a thin one, de Waal told scientists and journalists from some 50 countries.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Bastoy: Norway’s Island Of Freedom For Prisoners

bastoey-prision_noruegaDer Spiegel takes a look at the resort-like island that houses some of Norway’s most hardened convicts — they are given a wide berth to do as they please, but must complete their work and behave civilly, or risk being shipped back to regular prison. Is this how criminal rehabilitation could be done here?

No bars. No walls. No armed guards. The prison island of Bastøy in Norway is filled with some of the country’s most hardened criminals. Yet it emphasizes self-control instead of the strictly regulated regimens common in most prisons. For some inmates, it is more than they can handle.

The warden is a man who deals in freedom. He is also a visionary. He wants the men here to live as if they were living in a village, to grow potatoes and compost their garbage, and he wants the guards and the prisoners to respect each other. What he doesn’t want is a camera in the supermarket.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Is Less Reading Fiction Making Us Less Empathetic?

Stephenie-Meyer-fans-007The Guardian discusses research on the powerful link between empathy and reading fiction — a novel is a singular experience in terms of being immersed in the interior life of another person, forcing us to undergo events through the protagonist’s eyes and placing us amongst their thoughts. Studies have pointed to a stunting of empathy in young adults over the past few decades — could one reason be the decline of reading of novels for pleasure?

Burying your head in a novel isn’t just a way to escape the world: psychologists are increasingly finding that reading can affect our personalities.

Researchers from the University at Buffalo gave 140 undergraduates passages from either Meyer’s Twilight or JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to read. The study’s authors, Dr. Shira Gabriel and Ariana Young, then applied what they dubbed the Twilight/Harry Potter Narrative Collective Assimilation Scale, which saw the students asked questions designed to measure their identification with the worlds they had been reading about.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

In Defense of the Hipster: Part 2


(Part 1, titled “What Is A Hipster, And Why Does Everyone Hate Them? or: You’re So Fake (And So Am I), can be found here.)

As noted in Part 1, the main thrust of the criticisms against hipsters have roots in a notion of authenticity.  Lorentz mentions the words “authentic” and “inauthentic” a dozen times in his article, and the Adbusters piece is just as bad. It’s a fair charge to say that hipsters fetishize the authentic, as Lorentz does. This is hardly unique to hipsters, though; one can find it in practically any sub-culture. It’s so common that I find it disingenuous to use it as a criticism of hipsters and Hipsterism. The problem, as I see it, is that notion of authenticity being used is utter bullshit.

Some years ago, before I became a hipster or had even heard of hipsters, I was confirmed as “real” at a party by a group of counter-culture kids.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

In Defense of the Hipster


My name is Tuna Ghost and I have a confession: I’m a hipster.

One may think this is a self-defeating statement, like “this sentence is false” or “all Cretans are liars, says so-and-so of Crete”, as one of the commonly accepted hallmarks of a hipster is that he or she will vehemently deny that they are a hipster.  This bit of conventional wisdom is easily verified, all one has to do is ask the hipsters around one if they self-identify as a “hipster”.  Personally, I have to look no further than my own friends to see evidence of it.  By the traditional definition of “hipster” they are obviously hipsters, but thus far I am the only one who will gladly self-identify as such. One may wonder why anyone in their right mind would identity with a subculture that has become synonymous with shallowness, lack of authenticity and sneering douche-baggery (my friends certainly do), but in this article I will demonstrate that this is not a fair assessment of Hipsterism.… Read the rest

Continue Reading