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Viewing entries posted in April 2011

28
Apr
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Jules Evans on How Bad Situations Can Bring Out Good Behaviour

In a 1961 study called Disasters and Mental Health: Therapeutic Principles Drawn From Disaster Studies, the sociologist Charles Fritz pondered: Why do large scale disasters seem to produce such mentally healthy conditions? Fritz noted that disasters often seemed to bring out the best in people...
Posted by Jules Evans
28
Apr
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We All Need Words on death. And how to write condolence letters.

We don't like writing about death any more than we like thinking about it. Just listen to the string of euphemisms in Monty Python's Dead Parrot Sketch: He has ceased to be! He's expired and gone to meet his maker! He's's a stiff! Bereft of life! He...
Posted by We All Need Words
20
Apr
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Bertrand Russell and Socrates on Being Agnostic

In a magazine called Look, published in 1953, the philosopher Bertrand Russell clarified what being an atheistically-inclined agnostic meant for him, via a series of questions. There is, perhaps, some benefit in juxtaposing excerpts from some of the actual answers he gave with ones Socrates...
Posted by Mark Vernon
18
Apr
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Christopher Hamilton On Scepticism

Socrates said that the only thing he knew was that he knew nothing. We're all cleverer than Socrates now. We all know what he didn't know. Politicians know how to get the economy growing again (which we all know to be a good...
Posted by Christopher Hamilton
12
Apr
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John Lidwell-Durnin on Parenting

Parenting is that grey area between inviting complete strangers to live in your house and shaping your own friends out of papier mache. An age past, and responsible parenting amounted to little more than being in a calm and contemplative frame of mind at the...
Posted by John Lidwell-Durnin
11
Apr
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Simon Williams on Napping

There's a joy to napping; an art or pleasure too, perhaps. Who hasn't enjoyed the odd 40 winks, on or off the job? History is littered with nappers as well as modern-day despisers of sleep such as Thomas Edison or Margaret Thatcher. Other countries have long...
Posted by Simon Williams
06
Apr
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Jules Evans on Neuroscience and Polytheism

In the old, old days, the ancients understood that we had many different ruling systems in our brains. They called this polytheism. The Greeks, for example, knew that humans were swung this way and that by a rowdy assembly of competing impulses, which they...
Posted by Jules Evans
05
Apr
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We All Need Words On Finding Wedding Readings That Mean Something.

Love lifts us up where we belong. Does it? 'I know you get asked to do this a lot, but will you do a reading at our wedding?' My friend was right. I'm popular on the wedding reading circuit. I'm at that 'Four Weddings'...
Posted by We All Need Words
04
Apr
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David Eagleman On Being Ourselves

Imagine a hostess pressing a piece of cake upon you. Some parts of your brain want the glucose, while other parts care about your diet; some parts look at the short-term gain, others at long-term strategy. Perhaps the battle tips towards your emotions and you...
Posted by David Eagleman
01
Apr
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Robert Rowland Smith on Misquotation

'Quote me that I was misquoted': so joked Groucho Marx, in a famous quote that I hope I've not wrongly quoted. You don't have to be famous, however, to suffer the ignominy of misquotation. It happens all the time, especially in relationships. Just think...
Posted by Robert Rowland Smith

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