from the world's big
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A step-by-step guide to growing and monetizing your audience.
Sophists used rhetoric and debate to arrive at practical truths.
- Sophists were more interested in arriving at practical truths through rhetoric than an absolute Truth (Sophia).
- Their techniques were heavily criticized by Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates.
- Asha Rangappa and Jennifer Mercieca write that Sophist techniques are particularly useful for recognizing and fighting disinformation.
The Sophists (A History of Western Thought 8)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4ead64a2750164c4c913f5c772410d04"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2BkhnoQHxhs?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Initially, Sophists secured wealthy clients. In exchange for payment, they taught education and rhetoric, as well as music and other arts. Philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Xenophon were not fans; they believed Sophistry to be a lowly endeavor designed to sound deep. Socrates sang the praises of Truth (<em>Sophia</em>) alone; his student, Plato, thought Sophist rhetoric manipulated audiences. Sophistry could never lead to <em>Sophia</em>. </p><p>Mercieca and Rangappa believe Plato's <a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Plato/Dialectic" target="_blank">dialectic</a> was not sufficient to resolve political decisions, however. Socrates's insistence on Truth is debatable, as decades of neuroscience research on <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/media-memory" target="_self">memory</a> and perception now tell us. Arriving at one Truth on a planet of nearly eight billion people is impossible; we aren't designed to handle such volumes of data. Even 2,500 years ago, the Sophists strove for <em>Phronesis</em>, or practical truth. They knew that nuance matters. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Sophists taught the skill necessary for the practice of democracy—how to reach consensus about the truth. They taught people how to create arguments, to persuade audiences to believe their side, and to solve thorny political problems."</p><p>Mercieca, a professor, and Rangappa, a lawyer, argue that their professions are more like sophistry than philosophy. Whereas sophistry is usually portrayed as disingenuous, it accurately reflects the shared reality we experience in society. </p><p>We shouldn't get caught up in the current usage of sophistry. Words change meaning over time: the Hindu <em>svastik</em>, "auspicious," was co-opted by the Nazis; mythology, with an etymological root meaning "legend" or "story," became synonymous with myth, a falsity. Mythologies are the foundations of cultures, not fabrications. </p><p>Employed correctly, sophistry presents an argument that builds into a practical truth, not the Ultimate Truth. In this sense, Sophists and Buddhists share common ground in their love of debates. Monks have a long tradition of <a href="https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195393521/obo-9780195393521-0024.xml" target="_blank">critical inquiry</a> often accentuated with hand claps or loud syllables. A handclap (or for that matter, a koan) doesn't sound like a path to truth, yet in the right circumstance it reveals profound meaning. Not all learning is logical. </p><p>Debates are essential for democracy. Sadly, social media platforms are designed more for unfriending and trolling than introspection and dialogue. Screens are poor replacements for pantomimes. You read text in your voice instead of the writer's, skewing your understanding of their argument. Lack of intimate contact instigates retreat. You believe the fight is over when the bell hasn't even signaled round one. </p>
Tourists take pictures in front of the Athens Academy adorned with sculputures depicting ancient greek philosophers , Plato (L) and Sokrates (R) on June 10, 2016.
Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP via Getty Images<p>Disinformation is especially insidious in the digital age. Social media platforms allow for the quick spread of conspiracy theories. A particularly sophomoric form of persuasion is currently practiced by wellness influencers, who claim to be "just asking questions" while sharing anti-vaxx and anti-5G rhetoric. They then pretend to "not take sides." The problem, as Merciera and Rangappa allude to in the following sentiment, is that propaganda disguised as philosophy promotes an mindset made infamous by George Bush the younger: "You're either with us or against us."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Propaganda and disinformation are persuasion without consent: In fact, by offering new versions of "facts," their authors try to hide that they're persuading us at all. These forms of communication provide a conclusion based on manipulation rather than reason. Propaganda and disinformation create a realm where disbelief is disloyalty, rather than a shared attempt to search for truth."</p><p>Propaganda is compliance, they continue, the preferred vehicle for authoritarians. (Likewise, Plato wasn't a big fan of democracy; he didn't think everyone could access Truth.) Bringing it home to today, the authors cite Twitter fact-checking Trump: an old democratic method, yet one sadly ill-equipped to handle Truth when anything that questions the king is taking a "side." This trend of being "all in" for charismatic figures leaves us on shaky ground. It's how cults form. </p><p>A healthy democracy, they conclude, should promote curiosity and debate, tactics more aligned with Sophism than the search for an absolute yet ever-elusive Truth. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Accusations—rather than argument—and compliance—rather than persuasion—are incompatible with a democratic dialogue. The ancient Greeks rejected unquestioned propaganda and disinformation as well outside of democratic norms. So should we."</p><p>America isn't healthy. Our modern Octavian does far more damage than print slogans on coins. This administration has helped foment social conditions that reward vitriol over curiosity. Until a mechanism for questioning propaganda is invented—be it technologically or, more likely, rebooting the operating systems nature has endowed us with—constructive debate will always seem like ancient history. </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>
Was the hamburger menu always so ubiquitous?
Online dating has evolved, but at what cost?
- Some dating apps allow individuals to interact and form romantic/sexual connections before meeting face to face with the ability to "swipe" on the screen to either accept or reject another user's profile. Popular swipe-based apps include Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid.
- Research by Western Sydney University and the University of Sydney has linked the experience of swipe-based dating apps to higher rates of psychological distress and/or depression.
- Not all time spent on these apps is damaging, however. Up to 40 percent of current users say they previously entered a serious relationship with someone they met through one of these apps.
How swipe-based dating apps negatively impact your mental health<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMxNjM1OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMTIyMDIxOX0.hQtubGPxmKgUwtRgys2DzeuRjyfcQ9_0HlOV7lEYddI/img.jpg?width=980" id="7cbde" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c5df8a4a0d15ad4c0efc42db61917b5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="sad woman in bed looking at smartphone concept of mental health and dating apps swipe-based dating apps" />
Many people who use swipe-based dating apps report feeling psychological distress and depressive symptoms.
Image by Odua Images on Shutterstock<p>Research by Western Sydney University and the University of Sydney has linked the experience of swipe-based dating apps to higher rates of psychological distress and/or depression.</p><p>An online survey (published in <a href="https://bmcpsychology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40359-020-0373-1" target="_blank">BMC Psychology</a>) of over 430 individuals compared the impact of dating habits on the mental health of people who use swipe-based dating apps and those who don't. </p><p>The measures used during this evaluation were the <a href="https://www.tac.vic.gov.au/files-to-move/media/upload/k10_english.pdf" target="_blank">Kessler Psychological Distress Scale</a>, the <a href="https://www.hiv.uw.edu/page/mental-health-screening/gad-2" target="_blank">Generalised Anxiety Disorder-2 scale</a>, the <a href="https://www.hiv.uw.edu/page/mental-health-screening/phq-2" target="_blank">Patient Health Questionnaire-2</a>, and the <a href="https://fetzer.org/sites/default/files/images/stories/pdf/selfmeasures/Self_Measures_for_Self-Esteem_ROSENBERG_SELF-ESTEEM.pdf" target="_blank">Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.</a> An analysis of variance (a tool used in statistics that splits the data into two parts: systematic factors and random factors) was then used to consider all four mental health scores together. </p><p><strong>High psychological distress levels among swipe-based dating app users.</strong></p><p>20 percent of participants who use swipe-based dating apps reported a significantly higher level of psychological distress compared to those who didn't use these apps. </p><p>Sabrina Pit, one of the researchers on the project, explains: "We found an increased frequency of use and longer duration of time using the apps were both associated with greater psychological distress and depression." </p><p><strong>Current swipe-based dating app users show more depressive symptoms than non-users. </strong></p><p>19 percent of current users reported more depressive symptoms as a result of swipe-based dating app use, compared to 9 percent of the people surveyed who did not use a dating app. </p><p>"People who are currently using dating apps for a year or more were 3.5 times more likely to be distressed and 4 times more likely to report probable depression," Pit explains in an interview with <a href="https://www.globaldatinginsights.com/uncategorised/swipe-based-dating-apps-can-negatively-affect-mental-health-research-finds/" target="_blank">Global Dating Insights</a>. </p><p><strong>People are spending more and more time on dating apps. </strong></p><p><a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/dating-apps-millenials-10-hours-per-week-tinder-bumble-romance-love-a8174006.html" target="_blank">A study of 5,000 people</a> between the ages of 18-30 years old shows that people are spending an average of 10 hours per week on dating apps alone. Men were logging on to check their status on dating apps 9 times a day, with women logging on 10 times per day to check their potential matches. How much time are they spending on these apps? Well, men were found to be spending 85 minutes per day on these apps, with women spending 79 minutes each day. </p><p>This amount of time spent on dating apps could boost the negative impacts we have seen through the study listed above.</p>
Are there benefits to using swipe-based dating apps?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMxNjM2MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5OTY0MjE4N30.oMyNFdBj2GcEAFB2f3EE5c1naT71Q8L-eYAJcsezuB8/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C874%2C0%2C875&height=700" id="a00f2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="12bb0ad1095271a1dc83f2a157d52c4a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of online dating swipe-based dating apps mental health" />
It's not all bad - 40% of current swipe-based dating app users report a positive mental health impact from using these apps.
Image by Jambulart studio on Shutterstock<p>While the study proved that there are significant negative mental health risks that follow using swipe-based dating apps for longer periods of time, not all time spent on these apps is damaging.</p><p>"The findings highlight that dating apps with swiping functions have a complex impact on the psychological well-being of users," Pit explains. Although the findings of this study are worrisome, there are some benefits that were also highlighted in the results. </p><p><strong>Connections and serious relationships are being formed. </strong></p><p>Up to 40 percent of current swipe-based dating app users said they had previously entered a serious relationship with someone they met through one of these apps. 77 percent of people who reported using these apps also said they had met people face-to-face, with 26 percent of these people saying they had met more than 5 people through the apps.</p><p><strong>This connection with others leads to a positive impact on self-esteem. </strong></p><p>Meeting people, dating, and finding serious relationships through swipe-based dating apps has proven to have a positive impact on mental health as well, with up to 40 percent of individuals using these apps claiming it's had a positive impact on their self-esteem. </p><p><strong>Dating apps connect us with people we'd never meet otherwise. </strong></p><p>Back in 1995 when Match.com launched, there was <a href="https://www.ajc.com/lifestyles/dating/this-how-online-dating-changing-who-marry-unexpected-ways/cTWkpOjH1rGnJJNHm1irhN/" target="_blank">a spike in interracial marriages</a>. In today's society, these swipe-based dating apps allow you to browse based on where you are. If you move to a new city, your dating pool changes. The benefits of being able to connect with people we otherwise wouldn't meet is one of the best things dating apps have given us. </p><p><strong>Did you know that 70 percent of same-sex relationships start through dating apps? </strong></p><p>With the launch of Grindr in 2009, there was what can only be described as a <a href="https://www.stylight.com/Magazine/Lifestyle/Love-First-Swipe-Evolution-Online-Dating/" target="_blank">sexual revolution</a> within the LGBTQ+ community. Finding a partner became easier, safer, and more common. Not only was Grindr the first dating app that focused on the LGBTQ+ community, but it was also one of the first to use geolocation technology. </p><p>It's safe to say that digital dating isn't leaving us anytime soon, and neither is the use of swipe-based dating. There are negative and positive impacts of swipe-based dating apps on our mental health, but the questions is how can we increase the positive and decrease the negative? </p><p>The study by these two Australian universities isn't the first to question the mental health impact of dating apps. Back in 2017, <a href="https://www.globaldatinginsights.com/news/new-study-shows-tinder-affects-users-mental-health-self-esteem/" target="_blank">an unrelated study</a> linked the use of Tinder with negative self-esteem and body shame. </p><p>One of the researchers on the Australian-based study explains: "We are calling for app developers to take a more active role in the promotion of positive mental health messages, particularly on swipe-based dating applications." </p>