psychology

 

The Mesh of Civilizations in Cyberspace

Posted 20 June 2016 by Jalees Rehman

"The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics." —Samuel P. Huntington (1972-2008) "The Clash of Civilizations" In 1993, the Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington published his now infamous paper The Clash of Civilizations in the journal Foreign Affairs. Huntington... Read more

Nostalgia is a Muse

Posted 29 March 2016 by Jalees Rehman

"Let others praise ancient times. I am glad that I was born in these."                                                                                                 - Ovid in "Ars Amatoria" When I struggle with scientist's block, I play 1980s music with the hope that the music will inspire me. This blast from the past often works for me. After listening to the songs, I can sometimes perceive patterns between our various pieces of cell biology and molecular biology data that had previously eluded me and design new biological experiments. But I... Read more

Shame on You, Shame on Me: Shame as an Evolutionary Adaptation

Posted 1 March 2016 by Jalees Rehman

Can shame be good for you? We often think of shame as a shackling emotion which thwarts our individuality and creativity. A sense of shame could prevent us from choosing a partner we truly love, speaking out against societal traditions which propagate injustice or pursuing a profession that is deemed unworthy by our peers. But if shame is so detrimental, why did we evolve with this emotion? A team of researchers led by Daniel Sznycer from the Center for Evolutionary... Read more

We Have Become Exhausted Slaves in a Culture of Positivity

Posted 4 January 2016 by Jalees Rehman

We live in an era of exhaustion and fatigue, caused by an incessant compulsion to perform. This is one of the central tenets of the book "Müdigkeitsgesellschaft" (translatable as "The Fatigue Society" or "The Tiredness Society") by the German philosopher Byung-Chul Han. Han is a professor at the Berlin Universität der Künste (University of the Arts) and one of the most widely read contemporary philosophers in Germany. He was born in Seoul where he studied metallurgy before he moved to... Read more

Feel Our Pain: Empathy and Moral Behavior

Posted 14 October 2015 by Jalees Rehman

"It's empathy that makes us help other people. It's empathy that makes us moral." The economist Paul Zak casually makes this comment in his widely watched TED talk about the hormone oxytocin, which he dubs the "moral molecule". Zak quotes a number of behavioral studies to support his claim that oxytocin increases empathy and trust, which in turn increases moral behavior. If all humans regularly inhaled a few puffs of oxytocin through a nasal spray, we could become more compassionate and... Read more

The Long Shadow of Nazi Indoctrination: Persistence of Anti-Semitism in Germany

Posted 25 June 2015 by Jalees Rehman

Anti-Semitism and the holocaust are among the central themes in the modern German secondary school curriculum. During history lessons in middle school, we learned about anti-Semitism and the persecution of Jews in Europe during the middle ages and early modernity. Our history curriculum in the ninth and tenth grades focused on the virulent growth of anti-Semitism in 20th century Europe, how Hitler and the Nazi party used anti-Semitism as a means to rally support and gain power, and how the Nazi... Read more

Murder Your Darling Hypotheses But Do Not Bury Them

Posted 28 April 2015 by Jalees Rehman

"Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings." Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863–1944). On the Art of Writing. 1916   Murder your darlings. The British writer Sir Arthur Quiller Crouch shared this piece of writerly wisdom when he gave his inaugural lecture series at Cambridge, asking writers to consider deleting words, phrases or even paragraphs that are especially dear to them. The minute writers fall in... Read more

“She’s strong for a girl”: The Negative Impact of Stereotypes About Women

Posted 8 March 2015 by Jalees Rehman

This is a guest blog post by Ulli Hain (Twitter: @ulli_hain, Email: hain.ulli[at]gmail.com). Ulli is a postdoctoral researcher in the field of autophagy and also a science writer/blogger. Her blog Bench and Beyond reports on interesting scientific studies and explores life as a scientist including issues of gender and science. We have all heard the stereotypes: women can’t drive, they don’t understand computers, and how many blondes does it take to screw in a light bulb? But those are all in good... Read more

Does Thinking About God Increase Our Willingness to Make Risky Decisions?

Posted 2 March 2015 by Jalees Rehman

There are at least two ways of how the topic of trust in God is broached in Friday sermons that I have attended in the United States. Some imams lament the decrease of trust in God in the age of modernity. Instead of trusting God that He is looking out for the believers, modern day Muslims believe that they can control their destiny on their own without any Divine assistance. These imams see this lack of trust in God as... Read more

Typical Dreams: A Comparison of Dreams Across Cultures

Posted 5 January 2015 by Jalees Rehman

But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.                                     William Butler Yeats – from "Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven"       Have you ever wondered how the content of your dreams differs from that of your friends? How about the dreams of people raised in different countries and cultures? It is not always easy to compare dreams of distinct... Read more