Japanese government appoints new "Minister of Loneliness"

While not the first such minister, the loneliness epidemic in Japan will make this one the hardest working.

Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images
  • The Japanese government has appointed a Minister of Loneliness to implement policies designed to fight isolation and lower suicide rates.
  • They are the second country, after the U.K., to dedicate a cabinet member to the task.
  • While Japan is famous for how its loneliness epidemic manifests, it isn't alone in having one.
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What is the ‘self’? The 3 layers of your identity.

Answering the question of who you are is not an easy task. Let's unpack what culture, philosophy, and neuroscience have to say.

  • Who am I? It's a question that humans have grappled with since the dawn of time, and most of us are no closer to an answer.
  • Trying to pin down what makes you you depends on which school of thought you prescribe to. Some argue that the self is an illusion, while others believe that finding one's "true self" is about sincerity and authenticity.
  • In this video, author Gish Jen, Harvard professor Michael Puett, psychotherapist Mark Epstein, and neuroscientist Sam Harris discuss three layers of the self, looking through the lens of culture, philosophy, and neuroscience.
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A new essay takes a holistic look at the trolley problem

Knowing what to do is one thing, doing it is another.

Credit: Paul Basel from Pexels
  • The trolley problem is a well-known thought experiment, and its variations provide the source of endless discussion.
  • However, few people consider the problem holistically. Would you actually be able to pull the lever?
  • A new essay reminds us that many philosophies have a holistic approach to moral problems that we should consider.
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An ancient migration across the ocean was no accident

A new study shows that at least one long-ago journey would have required deliberate navigation.

Credit: Yosuke Kaifu/University of Tokyo
  • Historians have wondered whether ancient mariners drifted from Taiwan to Japan or navigated there on purpose.
  • The passage between Taiwan and the Ryukyu islands contains one of the world's strongest currents.
  • Thousands of buoys suggests that the journey was anything but an accident.
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"Clean meat" approved for sale in Singapore

Singapore has approved the sale of a lab-grown meat product in an effort to secure its food supplies against disease and climate change.

Credit: Adobe Stock / Big Think
  • Singapore has become the first country to approve the sale of a lab-grown meat product.
  • Eat Just, the company behind the product, will have a small-scale commercial launch of its chicken bites.
  • So-called "clean meats" may reduce our reliance on livestock farming, which kills billions of animals worldwide every year.
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