A few recent finds

A few recent finds February 28, 2019

Here are four things that have challenged, informed, and fascinated me lately.

1. How Neuroscience Can Help Your Kid Make Good Choices, from Greater Good (here).

Self-regulation is your ability to manage your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors according to what’s in your long-term best interest. A child’s self-regulation ability predicts later personal fulfillment, relationships and success. However, the qualities that support the development of this key characteristic have been declining in recent years. In this review of Erin Clabaugh’s Second Nature: How Parents Can Use Neuroscience to Help Kids Develop Empathy, Creativity, and Self-Control, the author distinguishes self-regulation from self-control, explains the neural correlates of self-regulation, and argues for a renewed focus on empathy, creativity, and self-control.

2. Probing the Pain of Ostracism, Neuroscience News (here).

As I’ve written about before, the human person was made for relationship. Child development in particular depends on close ties with family and community members, but our dependence on relationships doesn’t go away as adults. Our need becomes dramatically evident in cases of broken relationships, such as when a person is ostracized. According to research from the University of Virginia, ostracism threatens four basic human needs: belonging, self-esteem, control over one’s environment, and a sense of meaning. Interestingly, this research found a greater detrimental effect of technology-based exclusion for women than for men.

3. Religion, Postmodernism, and Science: Frenemies, from Patheos Public Square (here).

In this blog post, Connor Wood examines the interaction between three “ideologies”: Religion, Postmodernism, Scientism. He identifies pairwise commonalities in their negative characterizations of one another, as well as shared values among the “three potential binary alliances.” Of course, Wood’s perspective necessarily reduces complex and varied ideological landscapes to three clearcut categories. However, it remains a fascinating and accessible analysis of their interaction.

Euler diagram of how each ideology conflates its two opponents. Image from Connor Wood.

4. Disturbing the Silence, Aeon (here).

Silence is hard to find in our modern life. And yet, our bodies and souls are desperately in need of it. In this article, Jane Brox identifies the “paradox” of Thomas Merton’s relationship with silence. Merton left a chaotic society right before the outbreak of World War II, and gladly embraced the silent life of his Trappist monastery. However, for the rest of his life Merton violated the ‘purity’ of this silence through his role as a writer, speaking out against injustice and violence despite censorship. Brox traces the Merton’s personal history through this powerful lens of silence and communication.

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