The Strange Way We Care So Much About Fictional Characters
Louis Menand discusses the downright weird way we care about fictional characters we know perfectly well aren't really real.
Certainly one of the weirdest aspects of human nature is the way we get so invested emotionally in fictional characters, even though we know they’re just made-up, just words on a page somewhere. We shout a satisfied “Yippie-i-o-kayay, m$@#*^%!” when Hans Gruber finally gets his in Die Hard, and we use up all the Kleenex when Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling finally connect in the Notebook. What is wrong with us? We know these people aren’t real. Why do we care so much? I’m still ticked about Wash in Serenity.
Some neurologists swear by “mirror neurons,” a subset of neurons that fire when we observe someone else doing or feeling something as if it was us — they believe that the neurons provide an evolutionary benefit by endowing us with the empathy required to function in a group. Not everyone agrees.
There are psychologists who suggest that if we see a characters as having human motivations, we’re programmed to decide if we like and care about them or not, or if they make us furious or scare us.
And, of course, we can’t discount the purely manipulative power of a movie soundtrack. Artful soundtrack composers know how to work our feelings with music, even if no one really understands the mechanism that makes music so unbelievably effective at doing so — it’s another topic for another day.
Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.
- Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
- Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
- Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
A study on flies may hold the key to future addiction treatments.
- A new study suggests that drinking alcohol can affect how memories are stored away as good or bad.
- This may have drastic implications for how addiction is caused and how people recall intoxication.
- The findings may one day lead to a new form of treatment for those suffering from addiction.
A glass of juice has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as a full-calorie soda. And those vitamins do almost nothing.
Quick: think back to childhood (if you've reached the scary clown you've gone too far). What did your parents or guardians give you to keep you quiet? If you're anything like most parents, it was juice. But here's the thing: juice is bad for you.
As the world gets hotter, men may have fewer and fewer viable sperm
- New research on beetles shows that successive exposure to heatwaves reduces male fertility, sometimes to the point of sterility.
- The research has implications both for how the insect population will sustain itself as well as how human fertility may work on an increasingly hotter Earth.
- With this and other evidence, it is becoming clear that more common and more extreme heatwaves may be the most dangerous aspect of climate change.
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