We are who we say we are

This is a good article on literary darwinism, or at least one that agrees with my preconceived notions of it. I was smitten from the line, “[Evolutionary psychology] is the Malcolm Gladwell of science: facile and glib, but so persuasive and charming that no one wants to ruin the fun.”

Evolutionary Psychology is usually just BS that sounds vaguely correct; some of it is good, but it is usually in more of an evolutionary biology sense than psychology sense. [Via]

I also found this article on how language shapes who we are to be fairly interesting. For example:

Even basic aspects of time perception can be affected by language. For example, English speakers prefer to talk about duration in terms of length (e.g., “That was a short talk,” “The meeting didn’t take long”), while Spanish and Greek speakers prefer to talk about time in terms of amount, relying more on words like “much” “big”, and “little” rather than “short” and “long” Our research into such basic cognitive abilities as estimating duration shows that speakers of different languages differ in ways predicted by the patterns of metaphors in their language. (For example, when asked to estimate duration, English speakers are more likely to be confused by distance information, estimating that a line of greater length remains on the test screen for a longer period of time, whereas Greek speakers are more likely to be confused by amount, estimating that a container that is fuller remains longer on the screen.)

How does Thomas Friedman sell books?

Bad writing sometimes seems endemic among best-selling writers. One pertinent example is Thomas Friedman. I first got my taste of Friedman while I was driving home from Montana and put on a book-on-tape version of The World Is Flat. I listened to about half of it before deciding the guy sounded like he was just making stuff up, riffing on some pretty obvious themes that had been in the air for a while and writing a book on it. Apparently he now has a new book! Huzzah! Here is an excellent review that sums up how I feel about Thomas Friedman. An example quote:

Remember Friedman’s take on Bush’s Iraq policy? “It’s OK to throw out your steering wheel,” he wrote, “as long as you remember you’re driving without one.” Picture that for a minute. Or how about Friedman’s analysis of America’s foreign policy outlook last May:

“The first rule of holes is when you’re in one, stop digging.When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels.”

First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once? Secondly, what the fuck is he talking about? If you’re supposed to stop digging when you’re in one hole, why should you dig more in three? How does that even begin to make sense?


Congratulations to…

I’d like to give a heart congratulations to one of my arch-nemeses, Colin Farrell, for winning Best Actor In A Comedy at the Golden Globes last night.  It is a well-known fact that every movie he’s in is terrible, despite his pretty decent acting ability.  Now I haven’t seen In Bruges yet, but there’s one thing I’m pretty sure of: even if he did a good job at acting, I’m probably not going to like the movie.