This tag is associated with 5 posts

Where literature and history intersect

History is written by the victors, and it wasn’t terribly kind to Richard III. Thomas More vilified him in his history of the king’s reign, and Shakespeare immortalized the story in his famous play. Their politically expedient retellings of Richard’s life (both written to please Tudor monarchs) met with varying success – Shakespeare was honoured by Elizabeth I, where More managed to get himself beheaded by Henry VIII.

The arts seem a suspect source for history, and yet there are glimmers of truth to be had. Just as Schliemann uncovered the supposedly mythical city of Troy and demonstrated that the Iliad wasn’t entirely fantasy, archeologists have recently confirmed that the skeleton they have unearthed in a car park in Leicester really is that of the long-maligned Richard III, complete with his (in)famous hunchback in the form of advanced scoliosis.… Read the rest

Daniel Kahneman on bias, reason and the human sciences

In this recent interview with Nigel Warburton, pioneering psychology researcher Daniel Kahneman discusses how we think vs. how we think we think. We like to believe that we come to conclusions – about politics, for example – by applying our capacity for conscious reasoning. After all, we’re reasonable people, aren’t we? Kahneman explains the more common process of coming to conclusions subconsciously, largely emotionally, and then applying reason to ratify our decisions.… Read the rest

Synthesizing happiness (without a prescription)

Of all the primary emotions, happiness is the one we’re all aching for more of. And how do we get more? We go out and grab it, right? If we’re lucky enough to have a sufficient degree of freedom, we make our choices, act carefully, get what we want and happiness follows.

Or maybe not. The following talk by Dan Gilbert questions not only our ideas of where happiness comes from, but even the role freedom plays in acquiring it. Is happiness – I mean the lasting kind – more about making the best of our lot in life than about getting what we want?… Read the rest

Fake it until you become it

It is estimated that well over half of face to face communication is non-verbal, ie body language. The usual breakdown is 55% body language, 38% tone of voice and 7% the actual words. Much of the information being communicated is emotional; we look to someone’s body language to judge if they are sexually attracted, frightened, shy or aggressive. If you’re prone to evolutionary speculations as I am, it makes sense that as pack animals one of the first things we need to establish is hierarchy, and that our body language is a good indication of where we think we should be in the pecking order.… Read the rest

Metaphor and cognitive dissonance

Metaphor is everywhere – in fact, you can hardly string two sentences together without without including at least one metaphor. In this video, James Geary elaborates on how metaphor functions not only to adorn language but as a means of creating meaning.

 … Read the rest

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