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The Simple Way to Encourage a Growth Mindset
We won’t try something that’s hard because we think that our ability is just our ability and we were born with it and that’s it.
Megan Gunnar from the University of Minnesota has studied stress for many years and she finds that stress is when the demands of our life, or expectations of what those demands are, exceed our ability to cope with them. So expectations is a very important word.
Sometimes we can expect the worst when the worst might not always be happening. So stress is brought on by both the realities of things that are difficult to cope with or expectations that they’re difficult to cope with.
There have been a number of studies that have shown how children and how adults not only cope with stress but how they try that next hard thing – how they take on a challenge. How they take that problem that they don’t think that they could do, and do it. Among the things that studies have found is that if we have some control over what’s happening, we cope with it better. One study that was done put kids in front of mechanical toys. They were loud and a little scary and the kids all freaked out. But if they had the switch they could turn the toys on and off and they were much better able to cope.
Another thing that matters is in taking on challenges and coping with stress is having support. Having the people around you help you either by thinking of what you’re going to do in a different way or by actually helping you deal with a challenge. And interestingly enough we communicate that support not just in words but by our faces.
There’s a wonderful study by Joe Campos that showed that when parents made different kinds of faces when children were supposed to do something hard – they were crossing a platform that was plexiglas on the top and then there was a visual cliff. The plexiglas went all the way across the top but the kids could now see down to the floor. You know, it’s like one of those places where you walk over a glass and you can see down to the floor below and it’s a little scary. You don’t feel quite as safe as if you can’t see down to the floor.
And if the parent made a fear face, the kids wouldn’t cross that visual cliff. If the parent didn’t make a fear face but made an encouraging, smiling, "it’s okay" face – and just their facial expressions or nodding, the kids were able to cross.
One thing that’s very important in taking on challenges is our mindset. If we think that we are born with the capacities that we’re born with – what Carol Dweck from Stanford University would call a fixed mindset - we won’t try something that’s hard because we think that our ability is just our ability and we were born with it and that’s it.
If we understand that we can always grow and learn from things, we have what she calls a growth mindset, we’re much more willing to take on a challenge. She has done studies with children that have found that the way that adults praise children affects whether or not they’ll take on the next hard problem. You can use the kind of problems that you give kids in intelligence tests. Like match this picture. And if the kids are praised when they have an easier problem to solve by, "Oh, you’re so smart" and then they’re given a choice about whether they would take a harder problem or an easier problem next, they’ll take the easier problem because they don’t want to lose that label of being smart.
If the kids are praised for having a good strategy or they’re praised for putting in a lot of effort, they will try that next harder problem. So the way that we praise our children or the way that we support each other by, in a sense, saying you can learn from your experiences, that was a good strategy – wasn’t quite the right strategy, makes all the difference in whether or not we’ll take on a challenge.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
These alien-like creatures are virtually invisible in the deep sea.
- A team of marine biologists used nets to catch 16 species of deep-sea fish that have evolved the ability to be virtually invisible to prey and predators.
- "Ultra-black" skin seems to be an evolutionary adaptation that helps fish camouflage themselves in the deep sea, which is illuminated by bioluminescent organisms.
- There are likely more, and potentially much darker, ultra-black fish lurking deep in the ocean.
The Pacific blackdragon
Credit: Karen Osborn/Smithsonian<p>When researchers first saw the deep-sea species, it wasn't immediately obvious that their skin was ultra-black. Then, marine biologist Karen Osborn, a co-author on the new paper, noticed something strange about the photos she took of the fish.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I had tried to take pictures of deep-sea fish before and got nothing but these really horrible pictures, where you can't see any detail," Osborn told <em><a href="https://www.wired.com/story/meet-the-ultra-black-vantafish/" target="_blank">Wired</a></em>. "How is it that I can shine two strobe lights at them and all that light just disappears?"</p><p>After examining samples of fish skin under the microscope, the researchers discovered that the fish skin contains a layer of organelles called melanosomes, which contain melanin, the same pigment that gives color to human skin and hair. This layer of melanosomes absorbs most of the light that hits them.</p>
A crested bigscale
Credit: Karen Osborn/Smithsonian<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"But what isn't absorbed side-scatters into the layer, and it's absorbed by the neighboring pigments that are all packed right up close to it," Osborn told <em>Wired</em>. "And so what they've done is create this super-efficient, very-little-material system where they can basically build a light trap with just the pigment particles and nothing else."</p><p>The result? Strange and terrifying deep-sea species, like the crested bigscale, fangtooth, and Pacific blackdragon, all of which appear in the deep sea as barely more than faint silhouettes.</p>
David Csepp, NMFS/AKFSC/ABL<p>But interestingly, this unique disappearing trick wasn't passed on to these species by a common ancestor. Rather, they each developed it independently. As such, the different species use their ultra-blackness for different purposes. For example, the threadfin dragonfish only has ultra-black skin during its adolescent years, when it's rather defenseless, as <em>Wired</em> <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/meet-the-ultra-black-vantafish/" target="_blank">notes</a>.</p><p>Other fish—like the <a href="http://onebugaday.blogspot.com/2016/06/a-new-anglerfish-oneirodes-amaokai.html" target="_blank">oneirodes species</a>, which use bioluminescent lures to bait prey—probably evolved ultra-black skin to avoid reflecting the light their own bodies produce. Meanwhile, species like <em>C. acclinidens</em> only have ultra-black skin around their gut, possibly to hide light of bioluminescent fish they've eaten.</p><p>Given that these newly described species are just ones that this team found off the coast of California, there are likely many more, and possibly much darker, ultra-black fish swimming in the deep ocean. </p>
Using machine-learning technology, the genealogy company My Heritage enables users to animate static images of their relatives.
- Deep Nostalgia uses machine learning to animate static images.
- The AI can animate images by "looking" at a single facial image, and the animations include movements such as blinking, smiling and head tilting.
- As deepfake technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, some are concerned about how bad actors might abuse the technology to manipulate the pubic.
My Heritage/Deep Nostalgia<p>But that's not to say the animations are perfect. As with most deep-fake technology, there's still an uncanny air to the images, with some of the facial movements appearing slightly unnatural. What's more, Deep Nostalgia is only able to create deepfakes of one person's face from the neck up, so you couldn't use it to animate group photos, or photos of people doing any sort of physical activity.</p>
My Heritage/Deep Nostalgia<p>But for a free deep-fake service, Deep Nostalgia is pretty impressive, especially considering you can use it to create deepfakes of <em>any </em>face, human or not. </p>
How long should one wait until an idea like string theory, seductive as it may be, is deemed unrealistic?
- How far should we defend an idea in the face of contrarian evidence?
- Who decides when it's time to abandon an idea and deem it wrong?
- Science carries within it its seeds from ancient Greece, including certain prejudices of how reality should or shouldn't be.
Plato used the allegory of the cave to explain that what humans see and experience is not the true reality.
Credit: Gothika via Wikimedia Commons CC 4.0<p>When scientists and mathematicians use the term <em>Platonic worldview</em>, that's what they mean in general: The unbound capacity of reason to unlock the secrets of creation, one by one. Einstein, for one, was a believer, preaching the fundamental reasonableness of nature; no weird unexplainable stuff, like a god that plays dice—his tongue-in-cheek critique of the belief that the unpredictability of the quantum world was truly fundamental to nature and not just a shortcoming of our current understanding. Despite his strong belief in such underlying order, Einstein recognized the imperfection of human knowledge: "What I see of Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility." (Quoted by Dukas and Hoffmann in <em>Albert Einstein, The Human Side: Glimpses from His Archives</em> (1979), 39.)</p> <p>Einstein embodies the tension between these two clashing worldviews, a tension that is still very much with us today: On the one hand, the Platonic ideology that the fundamental stuff of reality is logical and understandable to the human mind, and, on the other, the acknowledgment that our reasoning has limitations, that our tools have limitations and thus that to reach some sort of final or complete understanding of the material world is nothing but an impossible, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01K2JTGIA?tag=bigthink00-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">semi-religious dream</a>.</p>