robertogreco + rationality   35

401(k)s, abortion, youth football: 15 things we do now that will be considered unthinkable in 50 years - Vox
[via: https://kottke.org/19/04/what-do-we-do-now-that-will-be-unthinkable-in-50-years ]

"Youth tackle football
Bosses
Eating meat
Conspicuous consumption
The drug war
The way we die
Banning sex work
401(k)s
Ending the draft
Facebook and Google
Abortion
Self-driving cars
Our obsession with rationality
Abandoning public education
The idea of a “wrong side of history”



"Some 50 years ago, in 1964, 42 percent of Americans smoked cigarettes. Smoking in bars and offices was normal and cigarettes were given to soldiers as part of military rations. Half of American physicians smoked. Ads for cigarettes bombarded the American public. That year, the surgeon general released a report outlining the health risks of smoking. Two years later, only 40 percent of Americans said that they believed smoking was a major cause of cancer.

Today, we know that smoking is bad for our health. We’ve banned smoking in most indoor public spaces. We stopped allowing tobacco companies to advertise and forced them to put warning labels on cigarette boxes. By 2001, 71 percent of the country said they recognized smoking was a major cause of cancer, and by 2017, the rate of smokers dropped to 14 percent. The habit is now looked at as a relic of the past, something we’ve come to accept as unquestionably harmful.

When we think about what common habits, social norms, or laws that are widely considered unthinkable in today’s world, a variety of past atrocities come to mind. We could point to bloodletting, Jim Crow-era segregation, and drinking and driving as being on the “wrong side” of history.

But what modern practices will we one day think of as barbaric? It’s a framework invoked frequently in political or scientific beliefs: Actor Harrison Ford recently said leaders who deny climate change are on the “wrong side of history.” President Barack Obama said Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine was on the “wrong side of history.” Filmmaker Spike Lee said that President Donald Trump himself is on the “wrong side of history.”

So what, by 2070 — some 50 years in the future — will join this group? We asked 15 thinkers, writers, and advocates to take their best guess.

Bioethicist Peter Singer says people will stop the habit of conspicuous consumption. “The ostentatious display of wealth, in a world that still has many people in need, is not in good taste. Within 50 years, we’ll wonder how people did not see that,” he writes.

Historian Jennifer Mittelstadt predicts that our volunteer army will be widely considered a mistake: “Fifty years from now Americans will observe with shock the damage to both foreign policy and domestic institutions wrought by our acceptance of an increasingly privatized, socially isolated, and politically powerful US military.”

For philosopher Jacob T. Levy, the very idea of there being a “wrong side of history” is wrong itself.

Other answers range from kids playing tackle football to expecting workers to invest in 401(k)s."
us  future  obsolescence  barbarity  draft  cars  self-drivingcars  retirement  saving  drugwar  football  americanfootball  conspicuousconsumption  capitalism  consumption  rationality  scientism  publiceducations  publicschools  schools  schooling  education  facebook  google  abortion  war  military  sexwork  death  dying  meat  food  howwelive  predictions  history  petersinger  kristatippett  jaboblevy  jennifermittelstadt  haiderwarraich  kathleenfrydl  meredithbroussard  chrisnowinski  adiaharveywingfield  bhaskarsunkara  horizontality  hierarchy  inequality  jacobhacker  economics  society  transportation 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Dr Fish Philosopher🐟 on Twitter: "1. <Brews some coffee.> <puts on anthropologist hat> <cracks knuckles> So the theft of my wonderful colleague, @kahente's, daughter's name by a non-Indigenous film production raises the issue of how western/euro-americ
[images throughout with screenshots of citations]

"1. <Brews some coffee.> <puts on anthropologist hat> <cracks knuckles>

So the theft of my wonderful colleague, @kahente's, daughter's name by a non-Indigenous film production raises the issue of how western/euro-american folks understand 'culture'+ the erasure of Indigenous laws

2. Western/euro-american folks have employed the notion of 'culture' to describe the 'customs, traditions, languages, social institutions' of The Other for a long while now. Made perhaps famous in anthropology's embrace of this unit of analysis in the last few hundred years.

3. the thing about 'culture' in its emergence as anthro's unit of analysis (vs, say, sociology's also fraught but in different ways study of 'society') is that it was employed through colonial period (+ still) to displace the legal-governance standing of nations of 'The Other'.

4. While Euro nations/the West were deemed to have 'laws', everyone else (the Rest) were deemed to have 'customs'/'traditions'/'culture'. This coincided with vigorous efforts by British/American & other western actors to do everything possible to invalidate the laws of 'The Rest'

5. What happens when 'the Rest' have laws? It means that Euro-American actors ('The West') might actually have reciprocal responsibilities to those nations under emerging international law in colonial period & cannot just steal land and destroy nations without legal consequences.

6.(Interlude --- everything I know about this is from Joanne Barker's fabulous book "Sovereignty Matters" and Sylvia Wynter's crucial, canonical piece "Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation--An Argument").

7. As Barker (2005:4) shows us: law matters because this is medium through which nationhood/statehood were recognized+asserted. Both Treaties and Constitutions were mobilized to assert claims over lands/peoples. Genocide was done 'legally' within precepts of euro/american law

8. What happened when euro-american actors entered into treaties with Indigenous nations/confederacies in NA? Euro-american colonizers quickly realized recognition of the laws of the 'Other' meant their claims to lands were vulnerable to international challenge (Barker 2005)

9. So, euro-american colonizers had two handy little tricks up their sleeve: first, invalidate the humanity of those you colonize (Wynter 2003). Place them firmly in the category of the 'fallen flesh'/sinners/'Other' incapable of rational thought (law) ((Wynter 2003: 281-282)

(sorry, this one is a slow burn because I want to make sure I cite sources fairly and generously and provide ample material for folks to consult and check out)

10. This invalidation is helped by the papal bull of 1493, which establishes the 'Doctrine of Discovery' (aka: Spain and Portugal have the right to claim lands they 'find' in the name of God). This is re-asserted in 19th century USA http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Alex06/alex06inter.htm
https://upstanderproject.org/firstlight/doctrine/

11. Second, once you invalidate the humanity of those you colonized, & established that only euro-western/euro-american 'man' can possess rational thought/law, you invalidate the knowledge/being of the other as 'myth/ 'story'/ & 'CULTURE'. Law for the West, Culture for the Rest.

12. This is where the rise of Anthropology is so crucial. It arises at a time when euro-american actors are frantically looking for ways to invalidate the laws, sovereignty, nationhood, self-determination and humanity of everyone they colonized.

13. Just when euro-american actors are looking for ways to legally justify their breaking of treaties they entered into with folks they colonized, anthro trots in with its focus on 'culture'. Culture as embodiment of everything that comprises law without recognizing its authority

14. Once you've established a hierarchy of humanity with white western christian males as the only real '(hu)Man' (see Wynter (2003) and Zakiyyah Iman Jackson (2013)), you can set about bracketing out 'the Rest' from your notion of legal and scientific plurality.

15. All of this is crucial. The western 'modern' framing of White Western Christian Men as the only beings capable of rational thought. The anthro fascination w/ 'cultures' of 'The Rest'. (The west/rest framing I borrow from Colin Scott's "Science for the West/TEK for the Rest")

16. This is of course entangled with capitalist expansion. Who can possess things, people, lands is important to expanding claims to property. The designation of subhumanity/de-authorization of laws of The Other are crucial to the violent capitalist white supremacist project.

17. As Christina Sharpe (2016) teaches us: "the history of capital is inextricable from the history of Atlantic chattel slavery".

18. This all comes to matter, anthropologically, because anthro becomes the 'caretaker' of The Other and their de-authorized legal orders, laws, knowing, being. This is the white possessive, as Aileen Moreton-Robinson ((2015) and Moreton-Robinson (2014: 475)) demonstrates:

19. So, when western actors are shocked to discover that they cannot just take things from other nations/societies/confederacies/legal orders, this is because anthro has faithfully done its job as acting as 'caretaker' for the laws/knowing/being of all those nations dispossessed.

20. Remember that the invention/fetishization of small c plural 'cultures' was crucial to the de-authorization of laws, epistemes, ontologies, being of everyone but White European Christian Rational Man. Anthro is basically an epic legal argument against sovereignty of 'The Rest'

21. And this coincided, not innocently, with assertions of racial hierarchies that deemed certain peoples to possess rational law, science, sovereignty, authority. The possession of law coincides with western beliefs in rationality (Wynter 2003).

22. Anthro has a buddy, and that buddy is biology. Biology, as Wynter (2003) demonstrates, mobilizes in the 19th century to develop the notion of Man(2). Man(2) not only has rationality, but he has evolution on his side, justifying his white possessiveness (Wynter 2003: 314-315)

23. So, as long as The West has Law and the Rest has culture, white western actors will continue to dispossess, appropriate, steal,+violate the legal orders of those peoples they colonize, because they believe they have an ontological right to these things (Moreton-Robinson 2015)

24. And anthropology has a lot of answering to do, still, for its role in de-authorizing the legal orders of those colonized by western imperial actors. It is complicit in the re-framing of legal orders, being, and knowing as 'culture', 'myth', 'tradition', and 'custom'.

25. Finally, for an in-depth examination of the ways anthro works to de-authorize Indigenous law, please buy+read Audra Simpson's _Mohawk Interruptus_, which demonstrates how anthro's focus on 'cultures' is used to dispossess Haudenosaunee in North America

26. Please amend tweet 6 to read: Everything I know about this is from Joanne Barker, Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Audra Simpson+Sylvia Wynter!!! These 4 thinkers should be among the canon of work taught in Anthro theory courses to help displace its pervasive white possessiveness.

27. So, to wrap up this essay -- the incident this week was the theft of a Kanienkeha name. Audra Simpson (2014) here explains how the concept of 'culture' & western property (il)logics are used to deny Indigenous ownership of lands, knowing, being through white possessiveness:

28. Anthro must contend with this reality that Audra Simpson so clearly lays out in her work: it is built entirely on the denial of Indigenous sovereignty. And Anthro relies on racial hierarchies that emerge with assertion of 'rational' western white christian 'Man' (Wynter 2003)

Important addition to this morning's twitter essay! I cited Colin Scott's 'Science for the West, Myth for the Rest?',but David kindly points me towards the crucial work of Stuart Hall here (which I will now go read!!!) https://uq.rl.talis.com/items/EE89C061-C776-4B52-0BA3-F1D9B2F87212.html https://twitter.com/davidnbparent/status/1074748042845216773 "

[unrolled here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1074624197639487488.html ]
zoetodd  2018  anthropology  cul;ture  sociology  socialsciences  colonialism  decolonization  capitalism  indigeneity  indigenous  law  joannebarker  sylviawynter  power  truth  freedom  treaties  constitutions  humanity  humanism  dehumanization  spain  portugal  españa  invalidation  thewest  hierarchy  hierarchies  colinscott  zakiyyahimanjackson  othering  rationality  biology  dispossession  colonization  audrasimpson  myth  myths  tradition  customs  aileenmoreton-robinson  property  possession  possessiveness  sovereignty  race  racism  stuarthall 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Dan Ariely on Irrationality, Bad Decisions, and the Truth About Lies
"On this episode of the Knowledge Project, I’m joined by the fascinating Dan Ariely. Dan just about does it all. He has delivered 6 TED talks with a combined 20 million views, he’s a multiple New York Times best-selling author, a widely published researcher, and the James B Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University.

For the better part of three decades, Dan has been immersed in researching why humans do some of the silly, irrational things we do. And yes, as much as we’d all like to be exempt, that includes you too.

In this captivating interview, we tackle a lot of interesting topics, including:

• The three types of decisions that control our lives and how understanding our biases can help us make smarter decisions

• How our environment plays a big role in our decision making and the small changes we can make to automatically improve our outcomes

• The “behavioral driven” bathroom scale Dan has been working on to revolutionize weight loss

• Which of our irrational behaviors transfer across cultures and which ones are unique to certain parts of the world (for example, find out which country is the most honest)

• The dishonesty spectrum and why we as humans insist on flirting with the line between “honest” and “dishonest”

• 3 sneaky mental tricks Dan uses to avoid making ego-driven decisions [https://www.fs.blog/smart-decisions/ ]

• “Pluralistic ignorance” [https://www.fs.blog/2013/05/pluralistic-ignorance/ ] and how it dangerously affects our actions and inactions (As a bonus, Dan shares the hilarious way he demonstrates this concept to his students on their first day of class)

• The rule Dan created specifically for people with spinach in their teeth

• The difference between habits, rules and rituals, and why they are critical to shaping us into who we want to be

This was a riveting discussion and one that easily could have gone for hours. If you’ve ever wondered how you’d respond in any of these eye-opening experiments, you have to listen to this interview. If you’re anything like me, you’ll learn something new about yourself, whether you want to or not."
danariely  decisionmaking  decisions  truth  lies  rationality  irrationality  2018  habits  rules  psychology  ritual  rituals  danielkahneman  bias  biases  behavior  honesty  economics  dishonesty  human  humans  ego  evolutionarypsychology  property  capitalism  values  ownership  wealth  care  caretaking  resilience  enron  cheating 
may 2018 by robertogreco
How to turn a liberal hipster into a capitalist tyrant in one evening | Comment is free | The Guardian
"And because the theatre captures data on every choice by every team, for every performance, I know we were not alone. The aggregated flowchart reveals that every audience, on every night, veers towards money and away from ethics.

Svendsen says: “Most people who were given the choice to raise wages – having cut them – did not. There is a route in the decision-tree that will only get played if people pursue a particularly ethical response, but very few people end up there. What we’ve realised is that it is not just the profit motive but also prudence, the need to survive at all costs, that pushes people in the game to go down more capitalist routes.”

In short, many people have no idea what running a business actually means in the 21st century. Yes, suppliers – from East Anglia to Shanghai – will try to break your ethical codes; but most of those giant firms’ commitment to good practice, and environmental sustainability, is real. And yes, the money is all important. But real businesses will take losses, go into debt and pay workers to stay idle in order to maintain the long-term relationships vital in a globalised economy.

Why do so many decent people, when asked to pretend they’re CEOs, become tyrants from central casting? Part of the answer is: capitalism subjects us to economic rationality. It forces us to see ourselves as cashflow generators, profit centres or interest-bearing assets. But that idea is always in conflict with something else: the non-economic priorities of human beings, and the need to sustain the environment. Though World Factory, as a play, is designed to show us the parallels between 19th-century Manchester and 21st-century China, it subtly illustrates what has changed."



"The whole purpose of this system of regulation – from above and below – is to prevent individual capitalists making short-term decisions that destroy the human and natural resources it needs to function. Capitalism is not just the selfish decisions of millions of people. It is those decisions sifted first through the all-important filter of regulation. It is, as late 20th-century social theorists understood, a mode of regulation, not just of production.

Yet it plays on us a cruel ideological trick. It looks like a spontaneous organism, to which government and regulation (and the desire of Chinese migrants to visit their families once a year) are mere irritants. In reality it needs the state to create and re-create it every day.

Banks create money because the state awards them the right to. Why does the state ram-raid the homes of small-time drug dealers, yet call in the CEOs of the banks whose employees commit multimillion-pound frauds for a stern ticking off over a tray of Waitrose sandwiches? Answer: because a company has limited liability status, created by parliament in 1855 after a political struggle.

Our fascination with market forces blinds us to the fact that capitalism – as a state of being – is a set of conditions created and maintained by states. Today it is beset by strategic problems: debt- ridden, with sub-par growth and low productivity, it cannot unleash the true potential of the info-tech revolution because it cannot imagine what to do with the millions who would lose their jobs.

The computer that runs the data system in Svendsen’s play could easily run a robotic clothes factory. That’s the paradox. But to make a third industrial revolution happen needs something no individual factory boss can execute: the re-regulation of capitalism into something better. Maybe the next theatre game about work and exploitation should model the decisions of governments, lobbyists and judges, not the hapless managers."
capitalism  economics  ethics  money  values  2015  rationality  behavior  priorities  policy  sustainability  survival  worldfactory  paulmason  latecapitalism  psychology  zoesvendsen  growth  productivity  banks  banking  government  governance  regulation  longterm  shortterm 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Morality and the Idea of Progress in Silicon Valley | Berkeley Journal of Sociology
"Silicon Valley’s amorality problem arises from the blind faith many place in progress. The narrative of progress provides moral cover to the tech industry and lulls people into thinking they no longer need to exercise moral judgment."



"The progress narrative has a strong hold on Silicon Valley for business and cultural reasons. The idea that technology will bring about a better world for everyone can be traced back to the Enlightenment aspiration to “master all things by calculation” in the words of Max Weber.[3] The successes of science and technology give rise to a faith among some that rationality itself tends to be a force for good.[4] This faith makes business easier because companies can claim to be contributing to progress while skirting the moral views of the various groups affected by their products and services. Most investors would rather not see their firms get mired in the fraught issue of defining what is morally better according to various groups; they prefer objective benefits, measured via return on investment (ROI) or other metrics. Yet, the fact that business goals and cultural sentiments go hand in hand so well ought to give us pause.

The idea of progress is popular because it ends up negating itself, and as a result, makes almost no demands upon us. In Silicon Valley, progress gets us thinking about objectively better, which suggests that we come up with some rational way to define better (e.g., ROI). But the only way to say that something is better in the sense we associate with progress is to first ask whether it is moral. Morality is inherently subjective and a-rational. Suggesting that a technology represents progress in any meaningful, moral sense would require understanding the values of the people affected by the technology. Few businesses and investors would be willing to claim they contributed to progress if held to account by this standard. If people are concerned with assessing whether specific technologies are helpful or harmful in a moral sense, they should abandon the progress narrative. Progress, as we think of it, invites us to cannibalize our initial moral aspirations with rationality, thus leaving us out of touch with moral intuitions. It leads us to rely on efficiency as a proxy for morality and makes moral discourse seem superfluous."



"We would like progress to be defined in moral terms. Yet, because not everyone shares the same morals, businesses and governments try to redefine progress in objective terms. Because we fear charges of subjectivity, we look to rational means and rational measures for pursuing objective goals. Besides, moral goals would, in many cases, make it impossible to serve everyone (to “scale,” in the local parlance). As a result, we take a technocrat’s approach to progress: we try to define it in objective terms and pursue it through rational means.[9] Yet, the only criteria we have for better (i.e., progress) are informed by subjective, moral intuitions. How we might define and measure better, even in an economic sense (e.g., cost-of-living adjusted income or reduced income disparity), is informed by moral intuitions. If we deny the importance of these moral intuitions, we cannot say much, if anything, about whether something is good or bad.[10] In our culture, progress is self-negating because we define and pursue progress solely in objective, rational terms, thus ignoring our inherently subjective moral intuitions and allowing them to atrophy. It is a classic story of the means overtaking the ends."



"There are alternatives to the progress narrative for making work in technology meaningful. Many people find meaning in their work through a narrative about making a contribution. Rather than thinking about contribution in a historic sense (i.e., progress), contribution can be thought in terms of specific groups of people.[13] People in many fields—teachers, cooks, doctors, among others—find meaning in their work through making a contribution to specific people. In tech, some might define the affected group more broadly, for example, programmers who rely on a software development tool, the users of a word processor, or the people who enjoy a particular game. The point is that knowing who will be affected by our work keeps us honest in terms of what we think is a contribution.

There is a second benefit to thinking of contribution in terms of specific people or groups rather than human progress generally. Knowing a group through individuals rather than via market segments prevents professionals from inadvertently imposing one set of values on groups with disparate values. In other words, thinking about contributions in terms of specific groups encourages understanding the people within those groups.[14] Many of the complaints about Silicon Valley’s service and social media tools focus on the fact that they reflect the concerns and interests of privileged young urbanites. Tools developed with the idea of contributing to specific groups would do less to encourage convergence of views about what constitutes the “good life.”[15]

None of this is to say that there are no do-gooders in tech. There are people who have a clear idea of how the technologies they are developing will serve specific groups – whether pursuing social justice in the United States or for providing better medical care in poorer nations. The morality of these causes does not stem from their association with progress – it flows from the desire to bring about real benefits that real people affected would say are good. Although it would be ideal if everyone could pursue such causes, that day is a long way off.

That does not leave everyone else off the hook. Everyone can, at a minimum, ask whether they are doing more harm than good. The trouble in Silicon Valley is that many talented, highly educated young people seem relatively unconcerned with the potential for harm. To be more aware of not harming people, much less helping them, we need to cultivate moral intuitions by discussing the consequences of our work for specific people.[16] The search for solidarity with specific people, not some objectively better moment in human history, keeps us exercising our moral intuitions."
siliconvalley  morality  business  progress  ericagiannella  technology  technosolutionism  mexweber  capitalism  economics  rationality 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Agony of Perfectionism - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic
"The fortress of classic economics was built on the slushy marsh of rational consumer theory. The once-popular belief that we all possess every relevant piece of information to make choices about buying fridges, TVs, or whatever, has since given way to a less commendable, but more accurate, description of buyers, which is that we basically have no freaking clue what we're doing most of the time. Prices, marketing, discounts, even the layout of store and shelves: They're all hazards strewn about the obstacle course of decision-making, tripping us up, blocking our path, and nudging us toward choices that are anything but rational.

Today, rather than consider consumers to be a monolith of reason, some economists and psychologists prefer to think of us as falling into two mood groups: maximizers and satisficers. Maximizers are perfectionists. They want the best of everything, and they want to know they have the best of everything. Satisficers are realists. They want what's good enough, and they're happy to have it.

The trouble with perfectionists is that, by wanting the best, they aspire to be perfectly rational consumers in a world where we all agree that's impossible. It's a recipe for dissatisfaction, way too much work, and even depression.

In "Maximizing Versus Satisficing: Happiness Is a Matter of Choice," published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that maximizers are more likely to be have regret and depression and less likely to report being happy, optimistic, or have high self-esteem.

To be a maximizer requires an "impossible" and "exhaustive search of the possibilities," that invariably ends with regret when the person realizes, after the purchase, that there might have been a better choice. This regret actually "[reduces] the satisfaction derived from one’s choice." The paradox of caring too much about having the perfect version of everything is that you wind up feel dissatisfied with all of it.

A new paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research further illuminates the onerous woe of perfectionism. Maximizers apply for more jobs, attend more job interviews, spend more time worrying about their social status, and wind up less happy, less optimistic, "and more depressed and regretful" than everybody else.

In a battery of tests designed to prime subjects to act like maximizers and satisficers, the researchers validated just about every stereotype about perfectionists: They work harder, search more deeply, and perform better in their jobs, but the emotional byproducts of their accomplishments are regret and dissatisfaction. (You might say that hard-earned success in life is wasted on the people least likely to appreciate it.)

Both papers concluded that the Internet is a briar patch of misery for maximizers. Not only does it allow them to more easily compare their lot to the sepia-toned success stories of their peers on Facebook and Instagram, but also it makes comparison shopping hell. From the first paper's discussion section:
The proliferation of options [online] raises people’s standards for determining what counts as a success, [from] breakfast cereals to automobiles to colleges to careers. Second, failure to meet those standards in a domain containing multiple options encourages one to treat failures as the result of personal shortcomings rather than situational limitations, thus encouraging a causal attribution for failure that we might call “depressogenic.” [ed: had to look that one up.]

In short: The Internet doesn't have to make you miserable. But if you insist on comparing your choices and your life to every available alternative accessible through a Google search, it will.

For consumers, this means embracing the limitations of classical economics. We don't know everything. We don't have everything. And that's okay. Pretending otherwise is, in fact, anything but rational."

[See also: http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bschwar1/maximizing.pdf ]
choice  choices  paradoxofchoice  perfectionists  satisficers  economics  rationality  reason  2014  unhappiness  happiness  depression  jobhunting  perfectionism  optimism  regret  worry  anxiety  possibilities  satisfaction  caring  self-esteem  realism  derekthompson  advertising  internet  infooverload  information  comparison 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Towards Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design | Ethnography Matters
"So how do I teach ethnography to design students? First, I tell them that if they’ve ever wondered why people do things, or how things got to be the way they are, then they’re already part ethnographer. I say that my job is to help them get better at asking and answering social and cultural questions, because understanding and building entire worlds is a huge challenge that no single discipline can accomplish on its own. And I tell them that I believe the best designers are those who understand that what they’re doing is cultural innovation, which requires them to move beyond both personal impression and expression, as well as any self-righteous desire to ‘fix’ the world. My approach to design ethnography binds us to others, and I place a lot of emphasis on the need to develop a social ethics, rather than relying solely on personal interests and beliefs.

Over the years I’ve observed that design students often have much better observation and documentation skills than sociology and anthropology students do, but they appear to struggle greatly with how to interpret the information and represent this knowledge to other people. On the other hand, anthropology and sociology students often have superior analytical skills but are terribly limited in their desire or ability to communicate in anything other than the written word—even when their topic is visual or material culture. Consequently, I’ve come to think that ethnography makes design better as much as design makes ethnography better, and in that sense I believe we can serve each other equally.

Design ethnography, in the context of our classroom, is about trying to understand how people use words, images and objects to build worlds—and creating new combinations of words, images and objects that help us, and others, understand these worlds in different ways. All of our projects involve empirical fieldwork and analysis, along with the production of creative works that critically engage the subject of fieldwork. Because so many students attempt to do the creative work first, and use their ethnographic work to justify their ‘solution’ to a perceived (but rarely demonstrated!) ‘problem,’ I tend to be a bit more dogmatic about doing the ethnographic work first than I would otherwise advocate. The important thing I’ve learned, though, is that the best work always treats design and ethnography as complementary activities that are done in an iterative fashion that actually makes them difficult to separate in the end.

In teaching design courses, particular ethnographic methods became unappealing to me. Take auto-ethnography, for example: at its best the students continued to privilege their own thoughts and experiences; at worst it became a self-serving exercise in psychoanalysis or confession. And although performance ethnography can be interesting, I lack the expertise to assess it and worried that the students would again turn design into a form of privileged self-expression that could be difficult for others to understand. I needed something more accessible, that could more effectively trouble the opposition between subjective experience and objective fact—and I found it in fiction, which I think is rather beautifully both and neither."



"I think that the research environment for exploring these ideas has been crucial to their development. For the past few years, I’ve been working on a project that re-imagines NZ merino sheep in the (imagined) context of an Internet of Things. Note that I’ve not been tasked with designing possible software applications, but rather to imagine how different technologies could shift relations between livestock production and animal-product consumption. For this research I’ve combined traditional ethnographic methods of participant observation and qualitative interviews, with speculative design practices including fictional object and image-making—and I’ve given them both ‘life’ through creative writing. We’re about to launch these design scenarios, and will spend the next six months following up with more participant observation, interviews and online surveys to see how different audiences interact—or do not interact—with them.

For me, creating ethnographic fiction and speculative design has most often been a matter of material choice: both literally and figuratively. When the research subject matter is wool and meat-producing livestock, it was easy to start by imagining weird and wonderful things made of wool and meat! All the contexts for these fictional things (a government ministry and public programme, a host of consumer products and services) are plausible because they’ve been based on ethnographic research of people’s actual interests and concerns—but none of them are possible or even particularly realistic. To be honest, I really felt I was on the right track when I started talking about getting inspiration from contemporary urban fantasy novels—especially favourites by Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs—and both my design and ethnography colleagues just laughed. (It was like Joanna Russ had never written How To Suppress Women’s Writing!) But the important bit is that I came to understand that although fantastic ethnography and speculative design don’t have to derive their plausibility from realism or rationality, they should move people—because the space of the fantastic and the speculative is, after all, affective space, or the space of potential."

[Related (lined within): http://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2011/08/28/why-you-need-read-designing-culture-anne-balsamo
and http://www.designculturelab.org/2012/08/17/on-fantasys-green-country-and-the-place-of-the-nonhuman/ ]
annegalloway  2013  ethnography  designethnography  fiction  designfiction  writing  speculativedesign  design  ursulaleguin  margaretatwood  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  ilonaandrews  patriciabriggs  plausibility  rationality  realism  research  speculativefiction  worldbuilding  imagery  words  images  objects  fieldwork  noticing  observation  listening  wondering  ethics  documentation  interpretation  autoethnography 
september 2013 by robertogreco
Anarchist Calisthenics | Bleeding Heart Libertarians
"You know, you and especially your grandparents could have used more of a spirit of lawbreaking. One day you will be called upon to break a big law in the name of justice and rationality. Everything will depend on it. You have to be ready. How are you going to prepare for that day when it really matters? You have to stay ‘in shape’ so that when the big day comes you will be ready. What you need is ‘anarchist calisthenics.’ Every day or so break some trivial law that makes no sense, even if it’s only jaywalking. Use your own head to judge whether a law is just or reasonable. That way, you’ll keep trim; and when the big day comes, you’ll be ready."

"I think I’m going to print that on a poster and put it in my kids’ rooms."

[via: http://obliscent.tumblr.com/post/32907364062/you-know-you-and-especially-your-grandparents via http://reading.am/jenlowe ]
parenting  anarchy  deschooling  unschooling  rationality  justice  legal  jaywalking  lawbreaking  law  civildisobedience  2012  jamescscott  anarchism  philosophicalanarchism  via:jenlowe  from delicious
october 2012 by robertogreco
Ask Chris #81: Scooby-Doo and Secular Humanism - ComicsAlliance | Comic book culture, news, humor, commentary, and reviews
"Scooby-Doo is a cartoon about kids looking for truth.

Michael Ryan recently wrote a really interesting article that suggested the decision to keep real monsters off of Scooby-Doo was originally done in order to appease parents who wanted something that was just scary enough to keep a kid's attention without being so scary that they wouldn't actually get "excited." They wanted to have the fun of monsters without the consequences of having to deal with nightmares…the televised equivalent of a Nerf Dracula, taking something that was supposed to be scary and blunting it down until the the big reveal at the end of every episode, which would show kids that the monsters they were scared of were just normal dudes.

…whether or not it was the intent of the creators, what they ended up with was something that went far beyond that idea.

Because that's the thing about Scooby-Doo: The bad guys in every episode aren't monsters, they're liars."
scooby-do  secularhumanism  humanism  skepticism  askingquestions  reason  curiosity  thinking  fear  tv  television  parenting  children  criticalthinking  belief  truth  cartoons  rationality  2011  glvo  questionasking  from delicious
december 2011 by robertogreco
AIGA | Video: Jonathan Harris [Cold + Bold]
"Combining elements of computer science, architecture, statistics, storytelling and design, Jonathan Harris’s online projects create large-scale living portraits of the human world—portraits that both simplify and complicate our understanding of it. Jonathan discusses his recent work and poses intriguing questions about what kind of space the digital world is becoming and what that world is doing to us as individuals."

[I find myself on a Jonathan Harris binge about once a year. This time sparked by an article: http://designmind.frogdesign.com/articles/the-never-ending-story.html . Hadn't seen this video before.]

[The passage he reads in the video was originally posted here: http://www.number27.org/today.php?d=20100319 ]
design  art  jonathanharris  storytelling  coding  coldness  2010  thewhy  purpose  meaning  meaningfulness  human  digital  life  empathy  programming  depression  glvo  relationships  feelings  emotions  rationality  determinism  problemsolving  detachment  expression  web  internet  abstraction  humanity  control  learning  resistance  resistanceofthemedium  process  cold+bold  identity  individuality  diversity  outcomes  scale  sociopaths  jaronlanier  culture  behavior  introspection  self-reflection  time  computation  howwework  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue? - NYTimes.com
"Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational & high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy. The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways. One shortcut is to become reckless…The other shortcut is the ultimate energy saver: do nothing… You start to resist any change, any potentially risky move — like releasing a prisoner who might commit a crime. So the fatigued judge on a parole board takes the easy way out, and the prisoner keeps doing time."
decisionmaking  decisions  decisionfatigue  cv  fatigue  leadership  management  administration  tcsnmy  rest  glvo  donothing  rationality  biology  psychology  business  life  mood  2011  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
The Reason We Reason | Wired Science | Wired.com
"Our hypothesis is that the function of reasoning is argumentative. It is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade… The idea here is that the confirmation bias is not a flaw of reasoning, it’s actually a feature…"

"Needless to say, this new theory paints a rather bleak portrait of human nature. We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures, blessed with this Promethean gift of being able to decipher the world and uncover all sorts of hidden truths. But Mercier and Sperber argue that reason has little to do with reality, which is why I’m still convinced that those NBA players are streaky when they’re really just lucky. Instead, the function of reasoning is rooted in communication, in the act of trying to persuade other people that what we believe is true. We are social animals all the way down."
jonahlehrer  2011  science  brain  reasoning  bias  human  humans  social  socialanimals  confirmationbias  argument  reason  communication  truth  rationality  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
David Brooks: The social animal | Video on TED.com [Love this quote (and others) in the comments: "there are plenty of policies that can support the ideas Brooks put out. But they are contrary to his political position."]
"Tapping into the findings of his latest book, NYTimes columnist David Brooks unpacks new insights into human nature from the cognitive sciences -- insights with massive implications for economics and politics as well as our own self-knowledge. In a talk full of humor, he shows how you can't hope to understand humans as separate individuals making choices based on their conscious awareness."
psychology  socialskills  philosophy  davidbrooks  cognitivesciences  relationships  consciousness  consciousawareness  economics  socialtrust  trust  humans  humannature  rationality  schools  cv  learning  education  dehumanization  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  dividedselves  emotion  emotions  reason  incentives  motivation  measurement  testing  parenting  children  tcsnmy  empathy  collaboration  metis  equipoise  sympathy  blending  limerence  flow  transcendence  love  douglashofstadter  mindsight  politics  socialemotionallearning  self-knowledge  self  openminded  socialemotional  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
The New Humanism - NYTimes.com
"Over past few decades, we have tended to define human capital in the narrow way, emphasizing I.Q., degrees, professional skills…all important, obviously, but this research illuminates a range of deeper talents, which span reason & emotion & make a hash of both categories:

Attunement: the ability to enter other minds & learn what they have to offer.

Equipoise: the ability to serenely monitor the movements of one’s own mind & correct for biases & shortcomings.

Metis: the ability to see patterns in the world & derive a gist from complex situations.

Sympathy: the ability to fall into a rhythm with those around you & thrive in groups.

Limerence: This isn’t a talent as much as a motivation. The conscious mind hungers for money & success, but the unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence when the skull line falls away & we are lost in love for another, the challenge of a task or the love of God. Some people seem to experience this drive more powerfully than others."
psychology  culture  collaboration  brain  sociology  davidbrooks  empathy  sympathy  equipoise  metis  limerence  freud  motivation  meaning  values  testing  measurement  education  learning  people  teachers  teaching  schools  parenting  unschooling  deschooling  money  intrinsicmotivation  emotions  rationality  policy  individualism  reason  enlightenment  human  humans  standardizedtesting  grades  grading  relationships  shrequest1  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
Quote of the day: Asimov on art vs. science : bioephemera
"How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection. An artist is emotional, they think, and uses only his intuition; he sees all at once and has no need of reason. A scientist is cold, they think, and uses only his reason; he argues carefully step by step, and needs no imagination. That is all wrong. The true artist is quite rational as well as imaginative and knows what he is doing; if he does not, his art suffers. The true scientist is quite imaginative as well as rational, and sometimes leaps to solutions where reason can follow only slowly; if he does not, his science suffers."

-- Isaac Asimov, Prometheus," The Roving Mind (1983)
isaacasimov  science  art  interconnectivity  interconnectedness  imagination  creativity  rationality  emotions  intuition  interconnected  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
The man who wore my password - Neven Mrgan's tumbl
"So that really long, really tricky password shouldn’t be on a sweaty dude’s shirt in a pizza shop, it really shouldn’t. Yet there it was. For a few seconds I entertained the idea that I had entered a Matrix/Inception world where people and signs were basically UI elements. I pondered tapping my password, and felt a little disappointed in The Architect for showing it in plain text, no bullet-point obfuscation or anything.

Then rationality kicked in and I figured I’d work my way backwards: how had I picked my non-word, non-pet password in the first place? My three passwords are sounds that for one reason or another get lodged in my brain; this makes them impossible to forget, though not so easy to figure out independently."
nevenmrgan  passwords  memory  humor  rationality  security  subconscious  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Did cooperative humans fare better than warriors? | Santa Fe Institute
"SFI Professor Sam Bowles in a Montreal Gazette article delves into the evolution of cooperation, suggesting that factions of cooperative humans might have out-evolved warrior factions.

At some point in human history the strategy of murdering for territory and dominance was eclipsed by another strategy, the article says. “According to one theory, two factions emerged: One was the warriors. The other faction worked through cooperation, fostering kindness, peace and security. Human cooperation created the greatest boom the world has ever seen, giving birth to farms, cities and civilization, according to Samuel Bowles, a behavioral scientist at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. It's possible that warriors were put at evolutionary disadvantage. If you go around killing, sooner or later someone will kill you. That means you won't pass on your genes or you won't be around to raise your kids.”"
evolution  rationality  humans  cooperation  violence  humanism  history  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
We Are All Talk Radio Hosts | Wired Science | Wired.com
"These studies represent important reevaluation of human reasoning process. Instead of celebrating our analytical powers, these experiments document our foibles & flaws…explore why human reason can so often lead us to believe blatantly irrational things, or why it’s reliably associated w/ mistakes like cognitive dissonance or confirmation bias. And this leads me to a wonderful new paper by Hugo Mercier & Dan Sperber that summons a wide range of evidence to argue that human reason has nothing to do with finding the truth, or locating the best alternative. Instead, it’s all about argumentation.<br />
<br />
…my new metaphor for human reason: our rational faculty isn’t a scientist – it’s a talk radio host. That voice in your head spewing out eloquent reasons to do this or that doesn’t actually know what’s going on, & it’s not particularly adept at getting you nearer to reality. Instead, it only cares about finding reasons that sound good, even if the reasons are actually irrelevant or false."
psychology  ambiguity  arguments  behavior  decisionmaking  rationality  reasoning  neuroscience  brain  choice  science  philosophy  arguing  jonahlehrer  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
6 Questions from Kicker: Julian Bleecker ["5 things all designers should know? Humility; Listening skills; How to find 3 positive, thoughtful observations about something you dislike; be more adamantine about saying “no” to PowerPoint...]
Sadly, good ideas can be stymied by misalignment of goals & aspirations...happens in-between design sensibilities to do good in world & business priorities...Together...make up a maelstrom of entanglements often referred to...as product design...

I’m excited by expectation that designer should reflect on practice & redesign way design is done...something I learned more about studying scientists & engineers in grad school when I was learning how scientists make knowledge...tricky thing is that scientists & engineers couldn’t really be reflexive about what they were doing or they’d get in trouble w/ knowledge cops...

Follow your curiosity, even if weather smells like Rapture, everyone around you is losing heads & creek is rising pretty quick. Instinct rules out over any sense of rationality or attempts at an objective view on things...But—doing what you know in your gut is right by you? That kind of sensibility & clarity is something I continue to learn from, even in mistakes."
design  process  reflection  howwework  productdesign  risk  hunches  risktaking  clarity  sensibility  learning  julianbleecker  curiosity  doing  priorities  tcsnmy  cv  glvo  business  science  engineering  rationality 
july 2010 by robertogreco
BigThink videos: Penn Jillette and Dan Ariely - Boing Boing
"A couple of great videos from BigThink. First, Penn Jillette on how reading the great religious texts will make you into an atheist, the future of magic, and how he and Teller work together."

[Videos are at: http://bigthink.com/pennjillette AND http://bigthink.com/danariely ]
behavior  rationality  religion  pennjillette  skepticism  atheism  irrationality  primarysources  criticalthinking  magic  pennandteller  performance  business  partnerships  ikeaeffecy  ikea  onlinedating  math  politics  tolerance  respect  morality  right  wrong  glenbeck  abbiehoffman  libertarianism  honesty  humility  tcsnmy  classideas  civics  policy  humanity  context  media  perspective  evil  good  wisdom  disagreement  debate  philosophy  drugs  alcohol  modeling 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The Coming Barbarism | Adbusters Culturejammer Headquarters
“People feel they can rely on the irrational. It offers the only guarantee of freedom from all the cant and bullshit and sales commercials fed to us by politicians, bishops and academics. People are deliberately re-primitivizing themselves. They yearn for magic and unreason, which served them well in the past and might help them again. They’re keen to enter a new Dark Age. The lights are on, but they’re retreating into the inner darkness, into superstition and unreason. The future is going to be a struggle between vast systems of competing psychopathies, all of them willed and deliberate, part of a desperate attempt to escape from a rational world and the boredom of consumerism.”
adbusters  freeculture  geny  internet  politics  generations  generationy  millennials  consumerism  unreason  magic  superstition  boredom  rationality  mysticism  altermodern  capitalism  globalization  postmodern  postmodernism  culture  ideology  philosophy  future  music  art  nicolasbourriaud 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Rusting Buicks and the destruction of wealth :: Grant McCracken
"Which brings us back to British Columbia, and an aboriginal practice called "potlatch" when rival communities would take turns dumping Hudson Bay blankets and other valuables into the Pacific ocean. One of the explanation for this practice is that it is undertaken as a very deliberate act of wealth destruction. ( I don’t know the literature here as well as I should so I am penciling these data in provisionally.)
potlatch  wealth  wealthdestruction  economics  pirates  loggers  rationality  irrationality  grantmccracken 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Greater Good Magazine | The Compassionate Instinct
"Parents who rely on induction engage their children in reasoning when they have done harm, prompting their child to think about the consequences of their actions and how these actions have harmed others. Parents who rely on power assertion simply declare what is right and wrong, and resort more often to physical punishment or strong emotional responses of anger. Nancy Eisengerg, Richard Fabes, and Martin Hoffman have found that parents who use induction and reasoning raise children who are better adjusted and more likely to help their peers. ... Parents can also teach compassion by example. A landmark study of altruism by Pearl and Samuel Oliner found that children who have compassionate parents tend to be more altruistic. In the Oliners' study of Germans who helped rescue Jews during the Nazi Holocaust, one of the strongest predictors of this inspiring behavior was the individual's memory of growing up in a family that prioritized compassion and altruism."
science  collaboration  psychology  humanity  adaptive  morality  empathy  compassion  rationality  ethics  self-interest  religion  evolution  parenting 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Bunchberry & Fern: Learning Styles: fable-ous and tragic
"Here's a post/comment thread on Stephen Downes' blog where he has a lot to say on the subject of Learning Styles - or, more accurately, he criticises Daniel Willingham's 'facile treatment' of the subject on YouTube (and, elsewhere, Making up Facts). Like, Howard Rheingold, Stephen knows a thing or two about crap detection. Here are his own Principles for Evaluating Websites, for example, written in 2005. It's obviously something he's been thinking about a fair bit.*

But even if Stephen Downes is right and Daniel Willingham lying and facile (this is a very big 'if') then, surely, the dozens of Learning Styles Inventories can't all be right. But neither can they all be wrong? A practitioner who ignores all new ideas until they're 'scientifically proven' runs the risk of sabotaging innovation. Who are we to turn to?"
learning  information  learningstyles  cognition  cognitive  rationality  studies  science  existence  communication  stephendownes  howardrheingold  crapdetection  literacy  danielwillingham  education  research  howardgardner 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Researcher Condemns Conformity Among His Peers - TierneyLab Blog - NYTimes.com
"“Academics, like teenagers, sometimes don’t have any sense regarding the degree to which they are conformists.”
science  rationality  conformity  psychology  academia  logic  groupthink 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Alison Gopnik, The Philosophical Baby - B&N Review
""Children are unconsciously the most rational beings on earth," says Alison Gopnik, "brilliantly drawing accurate conclusions from data, performing complex statistical analyses, and doing clever experiments." And not only does empirical work reveal this about babies and small children, but what is thus revealed throws light on some of philosophy's more intriguing questions about knowledge, the self, other minds, and the basis of morality."
alisongopnik  education  children  psychology  rationality  books  religion  reason  knowledge  self  morality 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Edge 279 - THE END OF UNIVERSAL RATIONALITY
""Who knows what the situation is now, but as of the numbers last year, it continued to be one of the three most productive plants in the U.S. Same people, same industry, very different organizational structure built a lot less on hierarchy, a lot less on precise specification of exactly what everybody needs to do. Much more on teamwork, much more on supporting normative commitment to innovation, to process innovation. And still relatively very constrained. It is the automobile industry.

"We're not talking about high-tech industries. But there you have a very different orientation in terms of setting up the motivation and relationships among workers, between workers and management. You move from having 70 process engineers on the floor telling each employee exactly what to do, to having none. And having the teams have a lot of autonomy on how they do things."

[via: http://blog.wired.com/sterling/2009/04/yochai-benkler.html ]
hierarchy  autoindustry  yochaibenkler  psychology  rationality  economics  publishing  journalism  wikipedia  administration  management  leadership  toyota  gm 
april 2009 by robertogreco
Dan Ariely on our buggy moral code | Video on TED.com
"Behavioral economist Dan Ariely studies the bugs in our moral code: the hidden reasons we think it's OK to cheat or steal (sometimes). Clever studies help make his point that we're predictably irrational -- and can be influenced in ways we can't grasp."
stockmarket  psychology  behavior  ethics  morality  danariely  ted  economics  rationality  trust  bias  cheating 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Irrational Intelligence; Get Smarter - ChronicleReview.com
"Stanovich suggests that IQ tests focus on valuable qualities and capacities that are highly relevant to our daily lives. But he believes the tests would be far more effective if they took into account not only mental "brightness" but also rationality — including such abilities as "judicious decision making, efficient behavioral regulation, sensible goal prioritization ... [and] the proper calibration of evidence.""
education  learning  teaching  intelligence  iq  testing  rationality  psychology  decisions  decisionmaking 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Prospect theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"theory that describes decisions between alternatives that involve risk, i.e. alternatives with uncertain outcomes, where the probabilities are known. The model is descriptive: it tries to model real-life choices, rather than optimal decisions."
psychology  rationality  risk  strategy  motivation  behavior 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: The Law of Unintended Consequences
"Unintended consequences are not restricted to government regulation of society but can also happen when government tries to regulate other complex systems such as the ecosystem...can even happen in the attempted regulation of complex physical systems"
regulation  economics  government  management  policy  rationality  incentives  complexity  marginalrevolution  leadership  politics  nature 
january 2008 by robertogreco

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