Yes, You Have Changed

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You have changed. The person you are today is not the same person you were years ago. Being able to change your mind is the mark of a smart person because you can re-frame how you think based on new information. Indeed, we can rethink our personalities too, more and more researchers are discovering that we can indeed alter our personalities whenever we want to.

A growing batch of recent studies suggests that adult personality can be altered at any age – though, as Bleidorn and her co-authors show in a 2017 study, the magnitude of such shifts is by far the greatest for people in their 20s. And after we hit our 80s, the general pattern of change is no longer for the better. In one Scottish study which followed people for six years after the age of 81, their extroversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness all declined significantly as they grew older. “As a system, we tend to deteriorate as we get closer to dying, and personality traits are a kind of indirect indicator of our overall functioning,” says Roberts.

If you’d like to change at least some part of your personality, you’re in good company. A staggering 87 to 97 percent of people said they would too, in a 2014 survey with 200-plus participants published in the Journal of Research in Personality. Conscientiousness topped the wish list of desired traits. Luckily, given the proper tools, says Roberts, people can indeed alter their personality.

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Philosophers Help Scientists do Better Work

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Some empiricists argue that science is a separate discipline from philosophy, and those thinkers may want to rethink their stance. The debate isn’t philosophy or science, the debate is actually how much philosophical rigour should be applied within a certain field of research. In order to effectively advance scientific fields scientists practice philosophical processes and patterns of thinking.

This hopefully comes to no surprise to many readers as we often see on this site that cross disciplinary practices usually provide the best approach. Plus, historically science and philosophy are one.

The researchers identified a substantial body of work by philosophers of science that used “philosophical tools to address scientific problems and provide scientifically useful proposals.” They call such work philosophy in science. So what kind of tools do philosophers use that can be applied to science?  The study authors don’t offer an exhaustive list, but point to activities such as making distinctions and proposing definitions, critiquing scientific methods, and combining multiple scientific fields as examples of typical philosophical tools.  And while scientists use these methods too, they don’t tend to do so as often or as rigorously as philosophers.

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Given the IPCC Report, Let’s Ban Oil Propaganda

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Today the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released data that proves the world has rapidly warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels, and is now careening toward 1.5 degrees. They are calling it a red alert for the planet. Obviously this isn’t good news.

The oil industry along with the oil-consuming automobile companies spend billions every year telling us to spend more to kill the planet. This should stop. Over at the National Obseror they ask a very simple question: “are we letting fossil fuel companies sell us our own demise?” They propose an all out ban on adversting oil and gas consumption like we did with tabacco.

Advertising works. That’s why it’s a multibillion-dollar business, and it’s why oil, gas, car and airline companies spend as much as they do seeking our favour. According to one study, over a recent 30-year period, the world’s five biggest oil companies spent US$3.6 billion on ads specifically aimed at shoring up their reputation as green-friendly. Ads are one reason why gas-guzzling pickup trucks are so popular, even among those with no genuine need for them. As Quebec environmental group Équiterre found in a study released earlier this year, aggressive advertising helps to explain why light-duty vehicles — SUVs, pickups and vans — now account for 80 per cent of new vehicle sales in Canada, which in turn is a big reason greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are still rising. 

Because advertising matters so much to the fossil fuel corporations, it ought to matter to the rest of us, too

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Shorter Work Weeks Work

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Working less is better for everyone involved, including the employer. Iceland just ran a multi year experiment from 2015-19 to find out if a four day work week would damage productivity or improve it. Unsurprisingly, productivity didn’t go down and in some jobs it even went up. Tell your boss you should only work four days a week!

The trials led unions to renegotiate working patterns, and now 86% of Iceland’s workforce have either moved to shorter hours for the same pay, or will gain the right to, the researchers said.

Workers reported feeling less stressed and at risk of burnout, and said their health and work-life balance had improved. They also reported having more time to spend with their families, do hobbies and complete household chores. 

Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, said: “This study shows that the world’s largest ever trial of a shorter working week in the public sector was by all measures an overwhelming success.

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Protect Your Wisdom by Leaving Facebook

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American adults who got their news about COVID-19 from Facebook were less knowledgeable and more likely to believe falsehoods about the pandemic. The solution is to spend less time on the site and more time getting your news from other sources. The good news is that most adults agreed that Facebook is not a good source to get news, whereas official government websites were.

Leaving the site entirely is too much for some people as it’s a way to stay in contact with friends; so just reduce your time on the site – and avoid all “news” on the platform.

In summary, adults whose most trusted information source is government health websites are more likely to correctly answer questions about COVID-19 than those with another most trusted source. Individuals whose most trusted source is television news and those who use Facebook as an additional source of news are less likely to correctly answer COVID-19 questions. Effective public health emergency responsiveness requires that effective information dissemination and public compliance with precautionary measures occur. To increase public knowledge of COVID-19 in order to maximize information dissemination and compliance with COVID-19 related public health recommendations, those who provide health information should consider use of the public’s most trusted sources of information, as well as monitoring and correcting misinformation presented by other sources.

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