Category Archives: Culture

The Weapons Effect – Does the Mere Presence of a Gun Increase Aggression?

Anime girl with a gun The “weapons effect” is the theory that just in the mere presence of weapons, aggression levels increase. It’s a controversial theory, but there is of course a lot of research on it. In this article, I look at the studies that shed light on this area, and give my take on the research.

The Mere Presence of a Gun

Hormones and Aggressiveness

Let’s start in 1998, when researchers Jennifer Klinesmith, Tim Kasser, and Francis McAndrew measured the effects of interacting with an object on testosterone levels and aggressive behavior. Testosterone is of course linked to aggression, and this study found what it expected to find:

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Why Working Fewer Days/Hours is Better for Everyone

Happy businessman at the beach

A lot has happened since John Maynard Keynes predicted in 1930 that a century later, we would be working only 15 hours a week. He may have made this calculation on expected output in relation to increasing productivity, but he must have left out the variable of the profit motive in a context of corporate greed. He didn’t get to see the competitive world of unimaginable globalization and interconnectedness that we can see today, and he didn’t realize to what extent organizations would demand their employees work such long hours. However, working long hours does not mean increased performance or profits. In fact, it may be the opposite.

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Are You a National or a Global Citizen?

Global Village

A recent poll looked at the opinions of 20,000 people in 18 countries around the world regarding self-perceptions of citizenship. It showed that a significant amount of people – more than half – agreed that they consider themselves as “global citizens” more than a citizen of their own nationality.

As the World Economic Forum mentions, “The big increase of this sentiment is being driven largely by emerging economies, such as Nigeria (73% feel they are global citizens), China (71%), Peru (70%), and India (67%).” The poll also shows that ever since 2009, following the global economic crisis, industrialized nations are less likely to agree.

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The Deadliest Machine on Earth?

car that shoots BGWhat’s the deadliest weapon known to humankind? An atom bomb? A virus? Maybe it depends on how we look at history, or the definition of the “weapon.” But in modern times, in our civilized societies, the statistics always point to the lethality of machines. We hear about the dangers of airplanes all the time, but the truth is that car crashes are immensely more common, no matter what part of the world. For one country, however, there’s gradually less reason to fear cars now. Not because the roads have become dramatically safer, of course, but because guns will soon dwarf cars in numbers of fatalities.

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Who’s More Believable: Science Expert or Random Internet Commenter?

Doctor computer - wtf you gotta be kidding meIn the latest battle of the war on science, many ignorant parents are risking the lives of their children and others by choosing not to vaccinate their children. This is a terrible idea, but the false, unethical, fraudulent, discredited, expunged research that claimed to have found a link between vaccines and autism (which is not even remotely true, in case that wasn’t clear enough) has lived on because of celebrity endorsements and a campaign of stupidity. Unfortunately, a new study shows that when it comes to the dissemination of information, vaccine experts are seen as no more credible than a random commenter on the internet.

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Mass Shootings – Increased incidents, or just increased reporting?

Gunshot skull wallpaper stkOne of the most fascinating contentions out of Steven Pinker’s 2011 book “The Better Angels of Our Nature” is that we are actually in the most peaceful time in world history. It may be hard to swallow at first – how can you honestly say, with all the bloodshed going on today, that we are in the most peaceful time ever? Pinker argues that we are not in a peaceful time, but it is most likely more peaceful than before. Back when the world had no internet, no phones, no newspapers, etc., there were massacres that people simply didn’t hear about like we do today. Since we can see violence on the news everyday now, it just seems like it happens more now. Whether or not you are persuaded by his well-researched book, we should look at contemporary violence and ask about a similar thing: Are mass shootings happening more now? Or are they just being reported more often?

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Top 10 Stunning Misconceptions of the Effects of Smartphone Usage

Mobile-mobility phone backgroundPhones nowadays are not simply the modes of communication anymore, they’re compact and sophisticated computers. The world has gone digital, and most children growing up today have no sense of what it is like to live without being connected. The concept of being offline is essentially a punishment, and the age at which youngsters start using these devices is gradually decreasing. Despite the ubiquity of this technology, though, we still don’t know some of the ramifications about this cultural evolution, because the research, let alone the technology itself, is so new. But we are learning more about how our psychology is being affected by phones, and here is a list of ten of the most surprising changes.

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Be Smart, Move to Germany (not in that order)

Erfurt University German Flag - stkIs it just me, or is Germany possibly the greatest country in the world today…?

Germany is considered the 5th best place to be young in the world (3rd in Europe), and with 64% of the population speaking English, it’s also one of the best places for foreigners of any age to visit (…especially if they speak English). It has the world’s 4th largest economy (after US, China, and Japan) and an impressively low unemployment rate. It’s no wonder that it was rated as the most positively viewed country in the world in 2013 by the BCC. But the real story that motivated me to blog about this is the news about something dear to my heart – higher education. Namely, Germany has made all of its university education completely free.

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Are Japanese Teachers Less Competent than their Foreign Counterparts?

Incompetent teacher... you didn't use the method I showed youI know what you’re thinking – how could you suggest that the average teacher in any country is incompetent? Such things depend on the way you define “competence,” and how you measure it. How could you suggest that one of the most advanced countries in the world be considered “incompetent in their ability to educate? Of course, I certainly don’t want to say that they are incompetent, but according to a new survey, Japan’s teachers would agree with me if I did.

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In Tokyo, Dancing is a Crime

dancing-wallpaperPolice raids on clubs in Tokyo have been gradually increasing in recent years. This isn’t particularly abnormal, because in virtually every country in the world, clubs often close down (and often open later under a different name) for certain things like unfortunate violence or other illicit activities within such establishments. However, the illicit activities that are most commonly the subject of police crackdowns is something that the dance clubs probably were not expecting – dancing.

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