Even the ancient Greeks thought their best days were history | Aeon Ideas


.. was there ever such a Greek Golden Age? When, exactly, was Greece great?

In fact, nostalgia for a lost greatness can be found in the so-called Golden Age itself. Even in the mid-fifth century BCE, Athenians were already looking back with longing.

his is one lesson from classical Athens that often goes overlooked: once a society has proclaimed its own decline, compelling new chapters of greatness become all the more difficult to write.

Source: Even the ancient Greeks thought their best days were history | Aeon Ideas

This Is Why Your Brain Hates Public Speaking So Much


The social environment has evolved much more quickly than our bodies have; 25,000 years is a long time for humans but not such a long time for evolution.

Unfortunately, the stress response we developed in a much different environment is poorly adapted for the pressures of public speaking.

Your focus of attention is narrowed. Your working memory capacity (which determines how much information you can hold in mind at once) is diminished. Your muscles are prepped for quick action (which would be helpful, I suppose, if you suddenly had to leap from the stage).

All this might be useful for hunting elk or wild boar, but it’s not so good for thinking on your feet in front of a crowd.

Worse yet, stage fright can become self-perpetuating: You’re afraid you’ll screw up part of your presentation, so you do.

Source: This Is Why Your Brain Hates Public Speaking So Much

Consciousness is not a thing, but a process of inference | Aeon Essays


.. in physics, it’s dangerous to assume that things ‘exist’ in any conventional sense. Instead, the deeper question is: what sorts of processes give rise to the notion (or illusion) that something exists?

For example, Isaac Newton explained the physical world in terms of massive bodies that respond to forces. However, with the advent of quantum physics, the real question turned out to be the very nature and meaning of the measurements upon which the notions of mass and force depend – a question that’s still debated today.

As a consequence, I’m compelled to treat consciousness as a process to be understood, not as a thing to be defined.

Simply put, my argument is that consciousness is nothing more and nothing less than a natural process such as evolution or the weather.

Source: Consciousness is not a thing, but a process of inference | Aeon Essays

The quantum view of reality might not be so weird after all | Aeon Essays


.. Except that much of the popular picture is wrong. Quantum theory doesn’t actually say that particles can become waves or communicate in spooky ways, and it certainly does not say that classical objects don’t exist.

Not only does it not deny the existence of classical objects, it gives a meaningful account of why they do exist.

In some important respects, the modern formulation of the theory reveals why common sense looks the way it does. You could say that the classical world is simply what quantum mechanics looks like if you are six feet tall. Our world, and our intuition, are quantum all the way up.

Why, then, is it still so common to find talk of quantum mechanics defying logic and generally messing with reality?

We might have to put some of the blame on the Danish physicist Niels Bohr.

Source: The quantum view of reality might not be so weird after all | Aeon Essays

How cult leaders brainwash followers for total control | Aeon Essays


Not all leaders want to get rich, gain sexual favors, or grab political power. But all want utter control over others. Money, sex, free labor or loyal combatants are all fringe benefits, and certainly most leaders take advantage of these, some in a big way. But absolute control over their relationships is the key.

These leaders rule over isolating, steeply hierarchical and closed structures, some with front groups serving as transmission belts to the outside world. This isolating structure is the second characteristic of a totalist group.

As the organization grows, it develops concentric, onion-like layers with the leader in the center providing the driving movement. There might be several layers – from the leader, to the lieutenants, to the elite inner circle, to other varying levels of membership, down to mere fellow-travelers or sympathizers.

Source: How cult leaders brainwash followers for total control | Aeon Essays

Is Russiagate Really Hillarygate?


According to an insider account, the Clinton team, put together the Russia Gate narrative within 24 hours of her defeat.

The Clinton account explained that Russian hacking and election meddling caused her unexpected loss. Her opponent, Donald Trump, was a puppet of Putin. Trump, they said, “encourages espionage against our people.”

The most under covered story of Russia Gate is the interconnection between the Clinton campaign, an unregistered foreign agent of Russia headquartered in DC (Fusion GPS), and the Christopher Steele Orbis dossier. This connection has raised the question of whether Kremlin prepared the dossier as part of a disinformation campaign to sow chaos in the US political system.

Source: Is Russiagate Really Hillarygate?

New cattle sale rules are part of decades-old efforts by Hindutva groups to ban cow slaughter

[India]


.. This can be called the “Final Solution” for imposing the cow as an abstraction on the nation. Through violence and state power, Hindutva wishes to root out both the demand for and supply of cows. If the process adversely affects the sale and purchase of buffaloes, dairy farming and industries, it counts as the nation’s sacrifice for promoting Hindutva.

It will undoubtedly threaten the livelihood of many, including Hindu farmers, as the recent farmers agitation in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh suggests.

But it will also have the cow – the real one, not its abstraction – languish to a slow death, uncared for and abandoned in its old age. The cow will then begin to moo desperately to be liberated from its own abstraction.

Source: New cattle sale rules are part of decades-old efforts by Hindutva groups to ban cow slaughter

How Two Nobel Prize-Winning Economists Got Oil Wrong

Fast forward to the peak oil “crisis” of the 2000s and our second economist, then Princeton professor Paul Krugman, is a columnist for The New York Times and as such, presumably felt compelled to talk about the high oil prices in 2008 and the peak oil theories. And he gets both completely wrong.

In a May 12, 2008 column, Krugman pooh-poohed the idea that speculation was driving the oil price (then at $125 a barrel), saying:  “all through the period of the alleged bubble, inventories have remained at more or less normal levels. This tells us that the rise in oil prices isn’t the result of runaway speculation; it’s the result of fundamental factors, mainly the growing difficulty of finding oil and the rapid growth of emerging economies like China.”

[Compare and contrast with my May 28 column entitled “Investing for the Oil Price Collapse”]

Source: How Two Nobel Prize-Winning Economists Got Oil Wrong

Comey’s Testimony Exposed The Management Tactic That Cowardly Leaders Love | GovExec.com


.. no matter what happens to Trump, the exchange pulls back the curtains on a tactic much beloved by manipulative managers across industries.

“Ambiguous language, like telling someone you hope, or suggest they do something, is the secret weapon of leaders who put covering their ass ahead of uncovering the solution,” says Nick Tasler, an organizational psychologist and author of The Impulse Factor: An Innovative Approach to Decision Making.

“It’s a brilliant way to let accountability roll down hill.” Put simply, some managers will use “hope-speak” and other vague language to influence their subordinates while maintaining plausible deniability if things don’t work out the way they hope.

Source: Comey’s Testimony Exposed The Management Tactic That Cowardly Leaders Love – Promising Practices – Management – GovExec.com

How Fake Science Saved Lives in Victorian London


.. a striking similarity between the Victorian era and modern times is that incorrect health ideas didn’t die easily.

“Even once we did know the truth about disease vectors, the unpalatable truth is that there wasn’t a linear ‘march of progress’ during the Victorian era, and even the great scientific advances – such as John Snow’s discovery that cholera was water-borne—had little practical impact.

Sewers, in particular, were built because of a fear of ‘miasma’, not because of Snow’s breakthrough,” said Jackson.

Source: How Fake Science Saved Lives in Victorian London