from the world's big
Are You Living In The Real World?
The accusation “you are not living in the real world” is always either ideological, narcissistic, or a poorly phrased attempt to say something else. But it is frequently used. I will explore its meaning here.
Let me first offer some stipulative definitions.
By ideological I mean: complicit in a distortion of the truth that benefits some class of people at the expense of others.
By narcissistic I mean: characterized by an inability to perceive the lives of others as anything other than examples of one’s own idiosyncratic preconceptions.
Political conversations are often rife with ideological usages.
“You’re not living in the real world! Social welfare programs don’t actually help anyone – they just waste money on government bureaucracy and get exploited by lazy people!”
“You’re not living in the real world! Lower taxes for people in the top brackets will not boost the economy – it is just one of the many strategies used by rich racist elites to maintain their hegemony!”
Probably both of these are false or at least not entirely true. In the first case, the accuser is distorting the truth that many social welfare programs provide essential services to people who would not be disqualified even if you accept the precondition that only “hardworking” people deserve such services. To the extent that it succeeds, this distortion benefits those who do not want to pay higher taxes to fund social welfare programs. Its success would come at the expense of people who need such programs.
In the second case, the accuser is distorting the truth that some people who want lower taxes on individuals with wealth and high incomes take this position on the basis of a principled view about how to promote the common good. To the extent that this distortion succeeds, it benefits those who want American politics to be widely perceived as a Manichaean struggle in which “the Left” represents the forces of good and “the Right” represents the forces of evil. The success of this distortion would come at the expense of those principled conservatives who are thereby preemptively branded as evil.
In both cases, “you’re not living in the real world!” functions as an ad hominem preface to a distortion. Particularly nefarious, it turns a conversation that should be about political values into a conversation about one’s credentials as a citizen of “the real world.” Instead, all parties involved should take for granted and readily admit that they are susceptible to false beliefs about history, society, policy, and so forth. They should also confess their predispositions. With these background conditions in place, the conversation ought then to proceed in conditional statements: “If X is true, then Y seems like the right policy for promoting the common good.”
This kind of conditional construction can be a paradigm for non-ideological political discourse. You can use it to regulate your own predispositions and susceptibility to false beliefs. And you can look for it in the rhetoric of others in order to measure the extent to which their political language is ideological. When the conversation is thus framed it is easier to stay focused on questions of value: what is “the common good”? What would our society look like at its best? What is every person entitled to by virtue of being a person? How can we measure the degree of justice in our society? And so on.
The phrase “you are not living in the real world” is also used in less directly political contexts. I have often heard it deployed against “academics in the Ivory Tower,” who, it is suggested, live among abstract theories and speak to each other in insider jargon far away from the everyday concerns and language of “real” people. Going over to the Dark Side, a scholar might level the same accusation against his accusers: professionals, politicians, people muddling through the daily grind cannot perceive their own lives in an historical or comparative context or with any analytic clarity – they are the ones so mired in the contingencies of each passing moment that they are “not living in the real world.”
Secularists and religionists likewise accuse each other of “not living in the real world.” And we can come up with many more examples. All such cases of ideological rhetoric pose the question: who stands to benefit from the distortion? Cui bono?
The quintessential narcissistic usage is the kind addressed by an “adult” to his younger: “You’re not living in the real world! Majoring in Classics with a focus on ancient Greek drama is a waste of time! Your political idealism will mature into cynical self-interest when you grow up! If you get a tattoo no one will ever take you seriously!”
There is a wonderful community of Classics scholars teaching and writing around the world and anyone would be privileged to join it. There are many genuine adults whose political motivations derive from moral ideals rather than cynical self-interest. And tattoos are only taboo in very specific social sectors. In other sectors, a good tattoo will garner respect.
The response to the narcissist prescribed by the Sages is: “Yeah, well, ya know, that’s just like, uh, you’re opinion, man.”
When “you are not living in the real world” is ideological or narcissistic, is it not in fact the case that the one who makes the accusation is the one who, ironically, is not living in the real world?
No. While this irony would undoubtedly satisfy the accused, it is not in fact the case.
Everyone who is living is living in the real world.
At the same time, life generally includes ample distortions and misperceptions of what is true and what false. It includes acts of simple lying, the state that we describe as “in denial,” instances of believing something to be true that you have every reason to believe is true even though it is actually false, and so on.
When “you are not living in the real world” is leveled non-ideologically and non-narcissistically I assume that the intended meaning is usually something like: “you are making a mistake.” The intention is to communicate to the accused that something he takes to be true is actually false or that he is failing to perceive something appropriately.
There is nothing wrong with telling another person that you think he is making this kind of mistake. But there are more and less tactful ways to do so. It is always better to address the mistake directly and to set about clearing it up with further argumentation or verifiable evidence. Telling someone that he or she is naïve is never anything more than gratuitous and insulting.
So the ideological and narcissistic accusers should not be mocked for ironically diagnosing others with a condition that they in fact have. There is no such condition as “not living in the real world”! Such an accusation should be criticized for being ideological or narcissistic. In the other cases, the phrase is just unproductive and rude.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
How can we promote the creation of new neurons - and why is it so important?
- Neurogenesis, the birth of neurons from stem cells, happens mostly before we are born - as we are formed in the womb, we are generating most of what we need after birth.
- After birth, neurogenesis is still possible in two parts of the brain: the olfactory bulb (which is responsible for our sense of smell) and the hippocampus (which is responsible for memory, spatial navigation, and emotional processing).
- Research from the 1960s proves creating new neurons as adults is possible, and modern-day research explains how (and why) we should promote new neuron growth.
Two parts of the brain can continue growing through neurogenesis<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjkyMzk2NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwOTAwODc1MH0.4GDLlZmkwuD0-pJ0s0UWcUoYXMy95a-AM61a_QAlAeA/img.jpg?width=980" id="2e77e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4e23499fdf3b2185533979083fd02db7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="brain made of twigs and plants concept of neurogenesis" />
Neurogenesis is still possible well into adulthood in two very important parts of the human brain.
Image by EtiAmmos on Shutterstock<p>Although most people are aware that aging or bad habits such as heavy alcohol use can contribute to the deterioration of our brains, not many of us give thought to how we can generate new brain cells.</p><p>Neurogenesis, the birth of neurons from stem cells, happens mostly before we are born - as we are formed in the womb, we are generating most of what we need after birth. </p><p><strong>After birth, however, neurogenesis is still possible in two parts of the brain:</strong></p><ul><li>The olfactory bulb, which is a structure of the forebrain that's responsible for our sense of smell. </li><li>The hippocampus, which is a structure of the brain located within the temporal lobe (just above your ears) - this area is important for learning, memory, regulation, of emotions and spatial navigation. </li></ul><p>Of course, when this information first came to light <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13860748" target="_blank">back in the 1960s</a>, the next natural question was: How do we promote neurogenesis in those areas where it's still possible? </p><p>Researchers today believe there are activities you can do (some of them may be things you already do on a daily basis) that can promote neurogenesis in your brain. </p><p><strong>Why is it important to promote the growth of new neurons in adulthood?</strong></p><p>We produce an estimated 700 million neurons per day in the hippocampus - this means by the time we reach the age of 50, we will have exchanged the neurons we were born within that area of the brain with new (adult-generated) neurons. </p><p>If we don't promote this exchange with the growth of new neurons, we may block certain abilities these new neurons help us with (such as keeping our memory sharp, for example). </p>
4 ways to promote neurogenesis in your brain<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjkyMzk2Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTE3NjczNH0.qyzh_AIUPKfaQIa1QEq4yTNCAAK9nYkH3HFV9vWXwww/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C104&height=700" id="64a68" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ee1307fe2dd61ae425552da56db3c5ff" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="child playing trumpet concept of learning a new instrument neurogenesis" />
Learning a new instrument helps promote neurogenesis.
Photo by DenisProduction.com on Shutterstock<p><strong>Intermittent fasting</strong></p><p><a href="https://law.stanford.edu/2015/01/09/lawandbiosciences-2015-01-09-intermittent-fasting-try-this-at-home-for-brain-health/" target="_blank">A 2015 Stanford study</a> examined the link between <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-ways-to-do-intermittent-fasting#section1" target="_blank">intermittent fasting</a> and neurogenesis. Calorie restriction and fasting can not only increase synaptic plasticity and promote neuron growth but it can also decrease your risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases and boost cognitive function. </p><p><u>Two of the most common ways you can intermittently fast are: </u></p><ul><li>16 hours per day every day - this is a method where you are able to eat for an 8 hour period of the day and fast for 16 hours of the day. Many people begin their "fast" after dinner, pushing their morning meal far enough towards lunch that most of their "off" eating time happens while they are asleep anyways. </li></ul><ul><li>24 hours every week - this is a method where once a week you fast for an entire day. Some people prefer this method because the rest of the week can resume as normal - but for many, this is a difficult way to fast. </li></ul><p><strong>Traveling to new places</strong></p><p>While traveling is something many of us enjoy — scenic routes and new fun experiences — these things also promote neurogenesis while we're on vacation. <a href="https://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/ct-xpm-2014-01-28-sc-trav-0128-travel-mechanic-20140128-story.html" target="_blank">Paul Nussbaum</a>, a clinical neuropsychologist at the University of Pittsburgh, explains that the mental benefits of traveling are very clear.<br></p><p><em>"When you expose your brain to an environment that's novel and complex or new and difficult, the brain literally reacts. Those new and challenging situations cause the brain to sprout dendrites (dangling extensions) which grow the brain's capacity." </em></p><p><strong>Learning a new instrument</strong></p><p>The mental health benefits of music have long been studied, but did you know that learning a new instrument can promote new neuron growth? </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996135/" target="_blank">this 2010 study</a>, learning to play a new musical instrument is an intense, multisensory motor experience that requires that acquisition and maintenance of skills over your entire lifetime - which of course, promotes the new formation of new neural networks. </p><p>When is the best time to begin learning a new instrument? Childhood, of course. </p><p><em>"Learning to play a new musical instrument in childhood can result in long-lasting changes in brain organization," </em>according to the study mentioned above. </p><p>While learning an instrument in adulthood will also promote neurogenesis, children who began training with a musical instrument before the age of 7 have shown that they have a significantly larger corpus callosum (the area of the brain the allows communication between the two hemispheres of the brain) than many adults. </p><p><strong>Reading novels</strong></p><p>A study from <a href="http://esciencecommons.blogspot.com/2013/12/a-novel-look-at-how-stories-may-change.html" target="_blank">Emory University</a> showed there was an increase in ongoing connectivity in the brains of participants after reading the same (fiction) novel. </p><p>In this study, enhanced brain activity was observed in the region that control physical sensations and movement. Reading a novel, according to lead researcher Gregory Berns, can transport you into the body of the protagonist. </p><p>This ability to shift into another mental state is a vital skill that promotes healthy neurogenesis in those areas of the brain. </p>
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.
Paul Krugman on the Virtues of Selfishness<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="7ZtAkm6C" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="828936bf6953080e9018307354c0c02b"> <div id="botr_7ZtAkm6C_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7ZtAkm6C-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/7ZtAkm6C-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7ZtAkm6C-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> The Nobel Prize-winning economist on the virtues of selfishness.
Evolution Is Moving Us Away from Selfishness. But Where Is It Taking ...<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cyeqmYCb" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="6c5efecb56456e9acc25cf36935b1826"> <div id="botr_cyeqmYCb_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cyeqmYCb-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cyeqmYCb-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cyeqmYCb-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Exploring Morality and Selfishness in Modern Times<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="02eX1Cag" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="45cc6180db791f32683988fb52faff26"> <div id="botr_02eX1Cag_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/02eX1Cag-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/02eX1Cag-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/02eX1Cag-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> Philosopher Peter Singer discusses the state of global ethics.
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Ernest Hemingway was affectionately called “Papa," but what kind of dad was he?