They came from different places and with different ideas, which still resonate today
- Early British settlement of the American colonies came in four distinct waves, from different places.
- Puritans, Cavaliers, Quakers and Borderers had their own ideas of what America should be.
- Some of the cultural fault lines in today's America can be traced back to those differences.
Four 'folkways'<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ0MDY2NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTAzNzk0OX0.YfBxVdS46dX1eUZhGA_4remlW4YYMIxlZ65wjQ2pyMs/img.jpg?width=980" id="d2108" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2efd697c8c1a31a446da2d4f34168094" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bQuaker pioneer William Penn (center) treating with the Delaware Indians for the purchase of what was to become Pennsylvania." />
Quaker pioneer William Penn (center) treating with the Delaware Indians for the purchase of what was to become Pennsylvania.
Image: frieze by Constantino Brumidi (1865) in the Rotunda of the US Capitol; via Architect of the Capitol - public domain.<p>How many Americans are of British descent? It's a surprisingly difficult question to answer. Is that because, in an age of hyphenated identities, the founding one still is the default? Or has that identity become so amalgamated that it is now irrelevant? Perhaps the correct answer is: a bit of both. </p><p><span></span>In the 1980 Census, 61.3 million Americans (32%) self-reported British ancestry; most claimed English descent (26%), followed by Scottish (4%), and tiny amounts of Welsh (<1%) and Northern Irish. In the 2010 Census, that figure had dropped to 37.6 million (14%), with just 8% reporting English heritage, 3% Scottish and 2% Scotch-Irish. </p><p>The precipitous drop in self-reported British antecedents corresponds in part with the rise of those who identify as (unhyphenated) 'American', up from 12.4 million (5%) in the 1990 Census to 20.2 million in 2000 (7%) – the largest growth of any ethnic group in the 1990s.</p><p>However, back around the year 1700, about 80% of the population of what was to become the United States were of English (or Welsh) descent, with about 11% of African origin, and the rest being Dutch (4%), Scottish (3%) and other European. The imprint of the British on early American society was overwhelming, diverse and long-lasting: the regional and cultural differences between the settler groups created distinct regional and cultural identities in America.</p><p>That's the argument made by David Fischer, a history professor who in 1989 published a 900-page treatise on early migration to North America called <em><a href="https://global.oup.com/ushe/product/albions-seed-9780195069051" target="_blank">Albion's Seed</a></em>. He identified four British 'folkways' that came over to the other side of the Atlantic in the 17th and 18th centuries (<em>see map</em>), each with their own ideas about the liberty they wanted to find there.<br></p>
From exodus to flight<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ0MDY2NS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDg1MzczOX0.-LwTLCpuIub9QhTVWL9vhnd8Jlz9j8aRyt9bePqQPuo/img.png?width=980" id="65f97" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4457df0ca7f66fe87026322bad771da6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bMap showing the origin and destination of four British 'folkways' that influenced American society." />
Map showing the origin and destination of four British 'folkways' that influenced American society.
Image: Geni.com<p><strong></strong><strong>1. The Exodus (1629-41)</strong></p><ul> <li>About 21,000 Puritans, migrating from East Anglia to New England.</li><li>These religious fundamentalists believed in 'ordered liberty': everybody had the right to live by their own rules, and the duty to live according to God's law.</li><li>The Puritans were a major influence on the culture of the Northeastern US, especially in terms of business and education.</li></ul><p>These religious fundamentalists are the ones who came over on the Mayflower and gave America Thanksgiving and the self-image of being a 'City on a Hill'. Puritan society was gloomy and repressive: 'exceeding the bounds of moderation' was a punishable offense, and even just 'wasting time' got you into trouble.</p>The other side of the coin: life was very well-ordered. There was little income inequality and crime rates were low. Not only was charity towards poor the rule, being uncharitable was, yes, a punishable offense. Domestic abuse was punished severely. Women had a relatively high degree of equality. And government operated via town assemblies in which all could have a say.<br><br><strong>2. Cavaliers and their Servants (1642-75)</strong><ul><li>Some 45,000 Cavaliers drawn from English nobility and their indentured servants, migrating from the South of England to Virginia and the Lowland South.</li><li>These aristocrats believed in 'hegemonic liberty': dominion over self, and others. In other words: keeping slaves was okay, but domination by others was not.</li><li>The Cavaliers were the foundation of plantation culture in the South. </li></ul><p>The Cavaliers came from the losing side of the Civil War in England, which was now led by the Puritan-inspired Oliver Cromwell. Royalist, Anglican and aristocratic, they brought along with them their indentured servants – more than 75% of the total migration – hoping to recreate in Virginia and environs the socially stratified agrarian society they had left behind.</p><p><span></span>When their servants began dying en masse, they started importing African slaves, laying the groundwork for the race-based slavery system that underpinned the economy of the South until the end of the Civil War.</p><strong>3. The Friends' Migration (1675-1725)</strong><ul><li><strong></strong>Around 23,000 Quakers, migrating from Northern England to the Delaware Valley in Pennsylvania, and later to the Midwest.</li><li>These religious liberals believed in 'reciprocal liberty': granting others the freedoms they wanted for themselves, including the right to vote, to own, to be free, to worship and to a fair trial.</li><li>Quakers had an important impact on the industrial culture of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern regions of the US.</li></ul><span></span>Halfway between the fun-hating Puritans and the pleb-hating Cavaliers, the Quakers seem modern and likeable. Believing everybody intrinsically good, they practiced tolerance, pacifism, gender equality and racial harmony. They opposed slavery, the death penalty, and cruelty to animals and children.<p>Quakers replaced a wide range of social acknowledgements according to rank (bows, nods, grovels) by a single, neutral equivalent: the handshake. Quakerism was perhaps one of the first Christian denominations to become indistinguishable from liberal, secular modernity. On the other hand, they were more prudish even than the Puritans. Doctors had a hard time treating Quakers because they described everything from their necks to their waists as their 'stomachs', and everything below as their 'ankles'. </p><p><strong>4. The Flight from Northern Britain (1717-75)</strong></p><ul><li>Some 250,000 'Borderers', migrating from the Anglo-Scottish borderlands and Ulster to the Backcountry of Appalachia.</li><li>These individualists believed in 'natural liberty': freedom to do as one pleases, without interference from society or government.</li><li>Borderers contributed to the rural culture of America's South and the ranch culture of its West. </li></ul><p><span></span>Inhabiting the border regions between Scotland and England, and between protestant settlers and catholic natives in Ireland, the Borderers were used to violence and lawlessness, and to lives that were nasty, brutish and short. </p>It is no coincidence that they ended up in Appalachia, at that time itself a violent border region. It was the kind of world they knew. Borderers were wary of government, prone to violent family feuds and not bothered by traditional morality. By one estimate, in the year 1767, 94% of all 'backcountry' brides were pregnant on their wedding day.<p><span></span>These Borderers were not much beloved by other settler groups in America. One Pennsylvanian writer called them "the scum of two nations". But the Borderers also contributed vigorously to the success of both the American Revolution and America's westward expansion. </p>
'Blue' vs. 'Red'?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ0MDczNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MzE5MTc4NH0.EtbfEc9BlGG8R4VlyHr2W7kQ0LzvRdAHRRRlsEI01Pg/img.jpg?width=980" id="ce2a3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ba2cd744238f9a08ce63e85be2860528" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Representative Preston Brooks (SC) caning Senator Charles Sumner (MA) on the Senate floor. The attack, on 22 May 1856, symbolised the breakdown of civil discourse between North and South, prefiguring the Civil War." />
Representative Preston Brooks (SC) caning Senator Charles Sumner (MA) on the Senate floor. The attack, on 22 May 1856, symbolised the breakdown of civil discourse between North and South, prefiguring the Civil War.
Image: lithograph by John L. Magee (1856); public domain.<p>It's tempting, and perhaps not entirely unjustified, to see in these four strains of British 'folkways' the antecedents of some of America's current cultural divides. One might for example see Puritans and Quakers as constituting elements of the 'blue' tribe, while Borderers and Cavaliers could be considered the ancestors of the 'red' tribe.</p><p><span></span>But thinking of America as a "death match between Puritan-Quaker culture and Cavalier-Borderer culture", as one commentator put it, is perhaps a bit too easy. There may be plenty of overlap within either pair, there is also much to distinguish each from the other. And then there are other and subsequent migrations contributing to and complicating the picture.</p><p>Nevertheless, a bit of cultural archeology can be illuminating, if only to see where the bodies are buried.<br></p><p><strong><br></strong></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1049</strong></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a><em>.</em></p>
Thought expriments are great tools, but do they always do what we want them to?
- Thought experiments are quite popular, though some get more time in the sun than others.
- While they are supposed to help guide our intuition to help solve difficult problems, some are a bit removed from reality.
- Can we trust the intuitions we have about problems set in sci-fi worlds or that postulate impossible monsters?
The Swampman Cometh<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5tvT90uPz-U" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>A thought experiment we've discussed <a href="https://bigthink.com/scotty-hendricks/seven-thought-experiments-thatll-make-you-question-everything" target="_self">before</a> that dives into questions of identity and meaningful language is the Swampman. <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/davidson/" target="_blank">Donald Davidson</a> wrote it in 1987:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Suppose a man is out for a walk one day when a bolt of lightning disintegrates him. Simultaneously, a bolt of lightning strikes a marsh and causes a bunch of molecules to spontaneously rearrange into the same pattern that constituted that man a few moments ago. This 'Swampman' has an exact copy of the brain, memories, patterns of behavior as he did. It goes about its day, works, interacts with the man's friends and is otherwise indistinguishable from him."<em></em></p><p>Is the Swampman the same person as Davidson? When he refers to things he "remembers" seeing before, even though the Swampman never actually saw them, do his words mean anything? This experiment, combined with "<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus" target="_blank">The Ship of Theseus</a>" causes people to wonder if teleportation through creating a copy of a person and then destroying the original actually "kills" the person being <a href="https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/09/is-beaming-down-in-star-trek-a-death-sentence/" target="_blank">teleported</a>. </p><p>Of course, we don't have teleportation yet, nor are there actual Swamp-people running around (Or are there!?!?!). While the questions raised by the Swampman are important ones, Dennett's warning is that we shouldn't be too quick to trust our intuition when the problem is so separated from anything we've ever encountered. <em></em></p>
The Utility Monster<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/G2HiIF8zBBY" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>This thought experiment from <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nozick-political/" target="_blank">Robert Nozick's</a> defense of libertarianism "Anarchy, State, and Utopia" asks what we'd have to do if Utilitarianism is correct and we met something capable of much greater happiness than anybody else.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Utilitarian theory is embarrassed by the possibility of utility monsters who get enormously greater gains in utility from any sacrifice of others than these others lose. For, unacceptably, the theory seems to require that we all be sacrificed in the monster's maw, in order to increase total utility."</p><p>If there was a utility monster that got a million times more joy out of everything than anybody else does, would we be obligated to give it everything it demanded to maximize the total happiness? Even if those demands cause suffering, but never enough to tip the ethical scales, elsewhere? If so, what does this mean for Utilitarianism as a moral theory? </p><p>At first, this experiment doesn't seem too bizarre. We all grasp the idea of somebody who gets more out of something than we do; this is just taking that idea to the extreme. The fundamental problem with this experiment was pointed out by philosopher <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Parfit" target="_blank">Derek Parfit</a> who argued that, while we are capable of imagining somebody who is happier than we are or who would get more out of something than we do, the idea of a creature that gets a million times more happiness out of things is impossible to imagine in a <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=6twLBwAAQBAJ&pg=PA240&lpg=PA240&dq=parfit+utility+monster&source=bl&ots=C-TcqwYRnO&sig=3wwLzjl3Z9KjAOBh3FFcb41aHG4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjYkIq7jqveAhU0IDQIHYtgAp04ChDoATAGegQIAhAB#v=onepage&q=parfit%20utility%20monster&f=false" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">meaningful way.</a></p><p>How can we get useful insights into the problem if we can't hope to grasp how this monster interacts with the world? Because of this difficulty, Parfit rejected the problem.</p><p>Utilitarian philosopher and Big Think contributor <a href="https://bigthink.com/u/petersinger" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Peter Singer</a> accepts that if there were utility monsters there might be a problem for Utilitarianism, but, as he explained to <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/back-talk-peter-singer/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Nation,</a> he finds the idea far-fetched. When posed the problem in the context of a billionaire owning a superyacht rather than donating money to fund medical treatments, he replied:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We would have to assume that Larry Ellison actually has capacities for happiness that are vastly greater than anyone else's. Ellison's yacht cost $200 million, and if we assume that $400 can repair an obstetric fistula, that means that the suffering relieved by 500,000 obstetric fistula repairs is not greater than the happiness that Ellison gets from his yacht. That, I think, is not physically possible."<em></em></p>
Roko’s Basilisk<p>Continuing on the theme of bizarre thought experiments involving monsters, we have a strange reworking of <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pascal-wager/" target="_blank">Pascal's Wager</a> involving a super-intelligent AI. It was created by a contributor to the website <em>LessWrong </em>named "Roko."</p><p>Given the length of the original post, I will summarize it here:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Imagine for a moment that humanity will someday create a hyper-powered artificial intelligence that is capable of solving all of the world's problems. It follows a form of utilitarian ethics and is trying to reduce human suffering as much as it can, which is a considerable amount. Given all the good it can do, it coming into existence, and doing so quickly, would substantially benefit humanity. Fully capable of simulating anything it wants, it then decides to take steps to punish those who knew about the good it could do but didn't help create it by torturing simulations of them. </p><p>Is it rational then to start donating a lot of money to those creating this super intelligence to avoid having it simulate and torture a copy of you in the future? This experiment gained a fair amount of notoriety <a href="https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/evkgvz/what-is-rokos-basilisk-elon-musk-grimes" target="_blank">online</a>, and a name based on the creature that kills with its <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilisk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gaze</a>, because by reading about it, you think about the monster and become a potential victim in the future, since now you know about it and might choose not to help create it. </p><p>Maybe I should have mentioned that part first. Oh well, so it goes. </p><p>As you might have realized, this experiment requires you to assume that we can reliably predict the behavior and motivations of a particular, ultra-intelligent AI that doesn't exist yet and may never exist. In terms of raw intelligence, this might be akin to asking a brainless starfish to predict how a human will behave one hundred years from now. While the experiment is said to have given some people <a href="https://slate.com/technology/2014/07/rokos-basilisk-the-most-terrifying-thought-experiment-of-all-time.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">nightmares</a>, it isn't taken seriously by most people outside a small circle on the internet. </p><p>Plus, the <a href="https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Roko's_basilisk#So_you.27re_worrying_about_the_Basilisk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">long list of assumptions</a> in the experiment includes that a simulation of you is actually "you" in a meaningful way. We have to solve the Swampman problem before we can agree on that point at all. </p>
People Seeds<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4ezS5vQ1j_E" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>A surreal experiment by <a href="https://philosophy.mit.edu/thomson" target="_blank">Judith Thomson</a> that appeared in her famous essay "<a href="https://rintintin.colorado.edu/~vancecd/phil215/Thomson.pdf" target="_blank">A Defense of Abortion<em>.</em></a>"<em> </em>The essay is a series of arguments for the morality of abortion in certain circumstances through thought experiments. While some parts of it are quite famous, this section seems to avoid widespread discussion:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Again, suppose it were like this: people-seeds drift about in the air like pollen, and if you open your windows, one may drift in and take root in your carpets or upholstery. You don't want children, so you fix up your windows with fine mesh screens, the very best you can buy. As can happen, however, and on very, very rare occasions does happen, one of the screens is defective; and a seed drifts in and takes root."<em></em></p><p>The question being, would it be acceptable to uproot the person-plant-fetus that gets in? Is it too much to ask that people live without cloth in their homes if they don't want people seeds to get in? How about never opening their doors or windows?</p><p>While this is supposed to be analogous to accidental pregnancy resulting from birth control failures, the downright bizarre nature of the thought experiment has been commented on by more than a few <a href="http://www.the-philosopher.co.uk/2020/09/thought-experiments-and-ethics-of.html" target="_blank">critics</a>. Philosopher <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathy_Wilkes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Kathleen Wilkes</a> argued that it was too far removed from our reality to provide <a href="https://www.philosophyexperiments.com/whosebody/Default12.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">meaningful intuitions</a> on abortion in her book "Real People<em>."</em></p><p>After all, society would probably have very different ideas on what the right to life means if we came into the world because a bit of pollen landed on the carpet.</p>
Twin Earth<p>A problem created to dive into questions of language by <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilary_Putnam" target="_blank">Hilary Putnam</a>, the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_Earth_thought_experiment" target="_blank">Twin Earth</a> experiment dives into questions of language and meaning using a story straight out of a one-shot comic book:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"> "We begin by supposing that elsewhere in the universe there is a planet exactly like Earth in virtually all aspects, which we refer to as "Twin Earth." (We should also suppose that the relevant surroundings are exactly the same as for Earth; it revolves around a star that appears to be exactly like our sun, and so on). On Twin Earth, there is a Twin equivalent of every person and thing here on Earth. The one difference between the two planets is that there is no water on Twin Earth. In its place there is a liquid that is superficially identical, but is chemically different, being composed not of H2O, but rather of some more complicated formula which we abbreviate as 'XYZ.' The Twin Earthlings who refer to their language as 'English' call XYZ 'water.' Finally, we set the date of our thought experiment to be several centuries ago, when the residents of Earth and Twin Earth would have no means of knowing that the liquids they called 'water' were H<sub>2</sub>O and XYZ respectively. The experience of people on Earth with water and that of those on Twin Earth with XYZ would be identical."<em></em></p><p><br> Do the Earthling (who Putnam named Oscar) and his twin (also named Oscar) mean the same thing when they say "water?" Their mental states are the same when they refer to it, but the object in question is physically different in each case. If the twins' statements don't mean the same thing, then we must admit that external factors play a role in defining terms external to the speaker, a stance dubbed "<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_externalism" target="_blank">scientific externalism</a>." <br><br>While this experiment is quite famous and has advanced a fair amount of <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/content-externalism/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">debate</a>, you can probably already see the difficulties some people have with it. </p><p>Philosopher <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyler_Burge" target="_blank">Tyler Burge</a> has argued that the whole experiment is flawed, as Earth Oscar refers to the concept of "H2O," while Twin Earth Oscar is referring to the concept of "XYZ." Dr. Burge argued that this means their mental states are different from the get-go. He also points out that the stuff flowing on Twin Earth <a href="https://coursys.sfu.ca/2015fa-phil-880-g1/pages/burge/view" target="_blank">isn't actually water</a>, which might derail the whole thing. </p><p>For his part, Putnam criticized others for using thought experiments that require you to ignore specific ideas to arrive at the intended ones. In this experiment, with humans presumably still being 60 percent water, you'd have to imagine that changing what water is at the molecular level would not alter the beings thinking about the water in any meaningful way. He has also admitted that Dr. Burge's first critique is actually a very good one. </p><p>Surprisingly, Daniel Dennett has spent a fair amount of time discussing the <a href="https://www.philosophy-science-humanities-controversies.com/listview-details.php?id=288841&a=$a&first_name=Daniel&author=Dennett&concept=Twin%20Earth" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">content</a> of the problem rather than on how strange the whole experiment is in the first place. It might go to show that philosophers love a good thought experiment, even if the results aren't directly applicable to the real world. </p>
There are pros and cons to owning a pet as a marginalized individual.
- Since 2018, an ongoing study at the VCU School of Social Work has been analyzing the way pets impact the lives of young LGBTQ individuals.
- From animal-assisted therapy practices to having therapy dogs in schools to reduce anxiety, there are many mental health benefits to animal-human interactions.
- While the majority of current research is being focused on people who are not discriminated against or marginalized by society, this specific study could bring more clarity to how pets positively and negatively impact the lives of young LGBTQ people.
Does human-animal interaction impact a person’s experience and well-being?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzYwOTk3MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzIwNTMzM30.Ds_HSw-0zhZF5YeR89_wjGHIxxFX5_mEwOaJXKXvSQ4/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C103%2C0%2C1&height=700" id="062fe" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="178f39b7a1684e0e36195bcd14d9cdef" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="two women standing in front of the golden gate bridge with their dog" />
From animal-assisted therapies to having dogs visit schools to bring down stress and anxiety levels, there have been many studies that look at the benefits of pet ownership.
Photo by Joshua Resnick on Shutterstock<p>Absolutely. Over the years, many studies have proven the benefits of human-animal interactions. From <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4248608/#:~:text=Studies%20on%20the%20use%20of%20animals%20on%20blood%20pressure.,pressure%20and%20greater%20physical%20activity." target="_blank">animal-assisted therapy practices</a> to having <a href="https://theconversation.com/therapy-dogs-can-help-reduce-student-stress-anxiety-and-improve-school-attendance-93073" target="_blank">therapy dogs in schools to reduce anxiety</a> - there are many mental health benefits to animal-human interactions.</p><p><strong>A similar study has been done on the impact of pets in the lives of older LGBT individuals. </strong></p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6027597/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A different 2018 study</a> explored the role of pets in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults over the age of 50. </p><p>This particular study addressed the following questions: </p><ol><li>How does living with a pet impact perceived social support and social network size? </li><li>How do LGBT older adults describe the meaning of pets in their lives? </li></ol><p>In this study, over 59 percent of participants reported that they have pets and described them in affectionate terms, often referring to them as family. Many individuals classified their pets as "supportive" either by offering companionship or keeping them active and socializing. Many participants explained that their pets help them cope with some form of physical or mental health condition. </p><p><strong>How is this study different?</strong></p><p>The goal of this particular study is to focus on the younger LGBTQ population and to examine how human-animal interactions might impact a person's experience and well-being when faced with victimization over their sexual orientation or identity. Not only that, but this study takes a look at both the positive and negative impacts of having a pet as an LGBTQ individual. </p><p>The vast majority of current research focuses on people who are not discriminated against or marginalized by society. According to the researchers, pets may lead marginalized people to "a path of financial stress and housing instability," which are issues the LGBTQ community already struggles with.</p><p>"Pets can better people's lives," Richards <a href="https://commonwealthtimes.org/2020/09/02/study-probes-relationship-between-lgbt-youth-pets/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">explains to Commonwealth Times</a>, "but it's also been interesting to see the ways in which pets can be stressors for people experiencing homelessness and financial insecurity."</p><p>Shelby McDonald, one of the lead associate professors on the study, has <a href="https://commonwealthtimes.org/2020/09/02/study-probes-relationship-between-lgbt-youth-pets/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">dedicated the last decade of her</a> life to researching the role of animals in the lives of children and has recently turned that focus toward LGBTQ youth. </p><p>As of September 2, the researchers have conducted 164 initial interviews. O'Ryan, one of the student researchers, explains: "We've collected a pretty diverse bunch, but the participants we interviewed have been largely white, cisgender, bisexual women. I wish we had the chance to interview more people of color and more people from diverse gender identities."</p><p>For more information on the study or a change to join as a participant, email email@example.com.</p>
The English Department is instituting a series of reforms that cuts across the entire university.
- Rutgers University's English department is instituting anti-racist policies, workshops, and initiatives in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
- Linguistic diversity and less emphasis on "traditional" grammar will be honored across the department's courses.
- Jonathan Holloway, the college's first Black president, said the school name will not change despite slaves having built the original institution.
Black Lives Matter Protests Around the World<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ed4639cbe7898cc2539d6c15704b1f70"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4Vl4I0weXPU?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Undergraduate English</strong> will require that English majors take a course in African-American Literature (more on this below). During the coming semester, the department is offering 14 such courses, including Black Speculative Fiction and Afro-Futurism. </p><p><strong>Creative Writing </strong>will offer a class about reading and writing on race and require professors to take a workshop on creating an anti-racist classroom.</p><p><strong>Graduate English</strong> is placing emphasis on course proposals that focus on the history of racial injustice in America, as well as initiatives that offer graduate students opportunities to work with prisons, public schools, and community organizations as a form of political activism. </p><p><strong>The Center for Cultural Analysis</strong> has committed to working with and supporting Black-owned businesses, and will be sponsoring a number of new working groups, initiatives, and exhibitions around race, including the working group, "Slavery + Freedom." It will also emphasize the experience of Asian students during the immigration crisis and the racialization of the current pandemic. </p><p>While these (and many more) changes appear exhaustive, such initiatives are generations in the making. The New Brunswick campuses have long been exceptionally diverse. (I'll leave Newark and Camden aside in these examples). In 1995, we held numerous protests over <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1995/02/02/nyregion/at-rally-students-seek-resignation-of-rutgers-president.html" target="_blank">racially-insensitive remarks</a> by then-president, Fran Lawrence, which included blocking Route 18 while marching to his Piscataway residence, and a basketball court sit-in to bring awareness to the systemic problem of racism. There were also numerous "Take Back the Night" rallies and marches addressing systemic abuse and harassment of women, predating #metoo by a generation.</p>
Demonstrators stage protest in the Loop before marching to the private residence of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on July 10, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images<p>Interestingly, I spent a few semesters in the English Department before switching to Religion. The best class I took while at Rutgers was "African-American Literature," taught by the incomparable Guyanese-born scholar, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Van_Sertima" target="_blank">Ivan Van Sertima</a>. Instead of demanding we read numerous books and articles, Van Sertima assigned just one book—Ralph Ellison's "The Invisible Man"—which we spent the entire semester dissecting and discussing. His approach was a breath of fresh air: going deep instead of shallowly skimming a breadth of literature. </p><p>Here's why I left the department: African-American Literature did not count toward an English degree.</p><p>A quarter-century later, such a class is now required for an English degree. Seemingly little steps forward have real-world consequences, especially at an institution like Rutgers. A racially-diverse university does not guarantee racism-free campuses. In fact, Jonathan Holloway, who recently took the helm as Rutgers' first Black president, is not shying away from <a href="https://www.nj.com/education/2020/06/we-have-a-problem-rutgers-new-president-speaks-out-on-racism.html" target="_blank">calling out systemic racism</a>. </p><p>Not everyone is happy about these changes, though the noise is mostly coming from conservative blogs. Their argument is predictable (hampering education) and ineffective. A contingent of American society seems perpetually concerned with an imagined "Golden Age," which in this case translates as maintaining the dominant white, Europ</p><p>ean model of language. Their concern is relatively confined to <a href="https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/prescriptive-grammar" target="_blank">prescriptive grammar</a> that influenced Europe and America in the 18th and 19th centuries. </p><p>Linguistics evolved to investigate <a href="https://www.thoughtco.com/theoretical-grammar-1692541" target="_blank">theoretical grammar</a> in the 20th century, which is more applicable in the decision at Rutgers. The purpose of language is to communicate an idea. You can do this through pantomime, of course, but language has always been a living process, not an arcane museum piece. Different people use similar languages to communicate to their peers. </p><p>Grammar has suffered in the social media age. People's inability to differentiate between <em>there</em>, <em>their</em>, and <em>they're</em> and <em>your</em> and <em>you're</em> is the source of constant frustration. I'll fight for the serial comma until the end of my days. But when someone doesn't use one, I generally understand what they're trying to communicate. These are minor debates in a vast world of divergent speakers. </p>
Ivan Van Sertima on little known African achievements<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9987c853db55333acc36f266b1e8a6fe"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KhQv2OZprpY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>If the goal is communication, there are many ways to accomplish this. Consider Deborah in James Baldwin's "Go Tell it on the Mountain," who, replying to Gabriel, says,</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"You hush, Reverend. It's me that don't never kneel down without I thank the Lord for <em>you</em>."</p><p>And a little later,</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If she'd a-wanted a husband look to me like she could a just picked one out right here. You don't mean to tell me she done travelled all the way North just for that?"</p><p>Such writing might not fit into traditional English grammar rules, but it certainly honors the living language that actual people speak.</p><p>We can look at Jamaican patois for another example. In the classic film, "Rockers," Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace makes the following speech:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I and I don't deal with violence. I and I is peaceful Rasta man. I don't steal, cheat; I man serve Selassie-I continually. No matter what the weak heart say, I and I is like a tree plant by the river of water. Not even the dog that piss against the wall of Babylon shall escape this judgment. All of the youth shall witness the day that Babylon shall fall." </p><p>If you're not familiar with this patois, the meaning might take some time to convey. For the culture that understands it, this passage clearly states an important idea—<em>and</em> it's entirely in English. Perhaps not the King's English, but that's in part what's beautiful about America: there are no kings. </p><p>Diversity isn't only in populations, but the languages those populations speak. Rutgers's new adjustments are ambitious and worthwhile. The university has long boasted the populations necessary to open up such dialogues. If they can find the languages needed to honor those populations, progress is possible. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Can thinking about the past really help us create a better present and future?
- There are two types of counterfactual thinking: upward and downward.
- Both upward and downward counterfactual thinking can be positive impacts on your current outlook - however, upward counterfactual thinking has been linked with depression.
- While counterfactual thinking is a very normal and natural process, experts suggest the best course is to focus on the present and future and allow counterfactual thinking to act as a motivator when possible.
“Upward” versus “downward” counterfactual thinking<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ1NDYxOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDM2MDY2OX0.njWs1qrV1vDBxU1V75tUduUW4TjJvEHglDWsK8ZF2l4/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C556%2C0%2C209&height=700" id="a15fa" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="98314d4d2b256ed08f42d369fe4ae080" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of man thinking about the past one line drawing counterfactual thinking" />
What are upward and downward counterfactual thinking?
Image by one line man on Shutterstock<p><strong>What is upward counterfactual thinking?</strong></p><p>Upward counterfactual thinking happens when we look at a scenario and ask ourselves "what if" in terms of how our life could have turned out better. </p><p>Examples of upward counterfactual thinking are: </p><ul><li><em>"I wish I had taken that other job instead of this one 10 years ago - my life would be so much better if I had." </em></li><li><em>"I wish I would have gotten the part in that high school play, maybe I could have gotten into a theatre school and became an actor…"</em> </li></ul><p>Both of these examples have the ideology that if you had made different choices, your life right now would be improved. </p><p><strong>What is downward counterfactual thinking?</strong></p><p>Downward counterfactual thinking is, naturally, the opposite of upward counterfactual thinking in that we think about how things could have been worse if other decisions had been made. </p><p>Examples of downward counterfactual thinking are: </p><ul><li><em>"I'm so thankful I studied secondary education in university instead of psychology like I had originally planned - I love teaching high school kids and I never would have gotten to do that…" </em></li><li><em>"I'm so happy I left David when I got the chance, I can't imagine still being in an unhappy marriage with someone who doesn't support me…"</em> </li></ul><p>In these examples, we see the idea that if you had made different choices your life would not be as good as it is right now. </p>