News and Features

Social science for your weekend: #TDOPicks of the week

Editor’s Note: On weekends we bring you #TDOPicks – our picks for the best social science features we’ve found on the Internet this week. We feature a variety of content aimed at both the layman and the social science professional. Tell us what you’re reading or watching by tweeting @theDailyOpium with #TDOPicks or posting links on our Facebook page.

Science is not your enemy,” Steven Pinker, The New Republic.

We’re starting off this weekend reading list with a big one: psychologist Steven Pinker delivers a call for a truce between the humanities and the sciences. His characterization and subsequent terms of detente should prove controversial:

“In other words, the worldview that guides the moral and spiritual values of an educated person today is the worldview given to us by science. Though the scientific facts do not by themselves dictate values, they certainly hem in the possibilities.”

The Nudge Debate,” David Brooks, The New York Times.

Are nudges – small interventions designed to mitigate typical human cognitive errors – desirable as public policy? David Brooks argues for a moderate dose:

“In theory, it is possible that gentle nudges will turn into intrusive diktats and the nanny state will drain individual responsibility. But, in practice, it is hard to feel that my decision-making powers have been weakened because when I got my driver’s license enrolling in organ donation was the default option. “

“Why We Keep Playing the Lottery,” Adam Piore, Nautilus Magazine.

An examination of the wide-ranging science behind the lottery. We don’t buy the minute chance of winning the lottery; we buy the dream of hitting the jackpot:

“But to really understand why hundreds of millions of people play a game they will never win, a game with serious social consequences, you have to suspend logic and consider it through an alternate set of rules—rules written by neuroscientists, social psychologists, and economists.”

“Too much information: do we have an instinct for privacy?” Ian Leslie, Aeon Magazine.

Do people really think about their privacy on the Internet? Ian Leslie argues that our “privacy instincts” – how we’ve dealt with privacy since premodern times – have not caught up with the opportunities and threats afforded by modern technology:

“And it’s certainly true that for most of human existence, most people have got by with very little private space, as I found when I spoke to John L Locke, professor of linguistics at Ohio University and the author of Eavesdropping: An Intimate History (2010). Locke told me that internal walls are a relatively recent innovation. There are many anthropological reports of pre-modern societies whose members happily coexisted while carrying out almost all of their lives in public view.”

“In the eye of the storm,” Sara Grace C. Fojas, Angelo G. Garcia and Ronald S. Lim, The Manila Bulletin.

In a free-wheeling interview, Kilusan ng Wikang Filipino Chair Virgilio Almario, lays out the case for the use of “Filipinas,” discusses the work of the KWF, and more. Filled with a lot of small, intriguing details about Philippine languages:

“Naniniwala sila sa paggamit ng F as Filipinas, dahil ang espirito ng F doon ay hindi ‘yung F na original na Filipinas, kundi ang F doon ay simbolo ng exclusiveness ng wikang pambansa. Napakaraming wika sa Pilipinas na may F, may V, may J, na wala sa Tagalog at wala sa Cebuano.”