Trump and the psychology of doom and gloom

Even if people are content with their own lives, their "a collectively shared sense of doom and gloom about society" is a major influence on their "decisions about divisive societal issues, such as voting for extremist parties" and Trump, according to psychological research from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, and elsewhere. From Scientific American:

Commentators have argued that people voted for Trump because of economic anxiety, negative attitudes toward immigration, religion and race, and “a class rebellion against educated elitists.” While many of these insights may contribute to an explanation, they do not reveal the whole story. For instance, the popular belief that Trump’s voters were mainly working class turns out to be inaccurate.

Instead, new psychological research suggests that it is not necessarily citizens’ personal (dis)content with their lives that matters as much as the perceived Zeitgeist of our time: a powerful shared feeling that society is taking a turn for the worse...

Recent research has found a way to capture, at least in part, the “spirit of the time.” We proposed that while Zeitgeist was originally a concept used by philosophers, it essentially describes a psychological experience. As such, in its broadest sense, the Zeitgeist can be defined as a collection of shared values, attitudes, norms, and ideas that exist within a society at a certain time. Measuring such a general phenomenon is difficult, but we found a way to capture the one aspect we were specifically interested in: our collectively shared awareness about the state of society, which currently is characterized by a sense of doom and gloom.

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How posterity will remember this decade

Warren Ellis: "We saw the best minds of our generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves after an Uber that isn’t actually there because Uber fake most of those little cars you see on the Uber app map." Read the rest

Each day's top-viewed Wikipedia article in 2014

What do Laverne Cox, Crimea, and Malware have in common? Each was a top-viewed Wikipedia article for at least one day in 2014. Read the rest

Principles for 21st century living

A list of principles for the 21st century, from Joi Ito, presently running the MIT Media Lab:

Ito: There are nine or so principles to work in a world like this:

1. Resilience instead of strength, which means you want to yield and allow failure and you bounce back instead of trying to resist failure.

2. You pull instead of push. That means you pull the resources from the network as you need them, as opposed to centrally stocking them and controlling them.

3. You want to take risk instead of focusing on safety.

4. You want to focus on the system instead of objects.

5. You want to have good compasses not maps.

6. You want to work on practice instead of theory. Because sometimes you don’t why it works, but what is important is that it is working, not that you have some theory around it.

7. It disobedience instead of compliance. You don’t get a Nobel Prize for doing what you are told. Too much of school is about obedience, we should really be celebrating disobedience.

8. It’s the crowd instead of experts.

9. It’s a focus on learning instead of education.

We’re still working on it, but that is where our thinking is headed.

Joi Ito of MIT Media Lab Read the rest