We're More Connected Than We Think
Other cultures may value conformity, but Americans are rugged individualists. For better or for worse, we think and choose for ourselves—from which indie band we listen to on the subway to which brand of candy bar we pick out at the supermarket to whether we give change to the homeless guy down the block. Right? Well, maybe not. Emerging social science research suggests that our smallest actions are far more susceptible than previously suspected to trends passing through our social networks. Here to reveal the power of your friend's friend's friend is Harvard sociologist Nicholas Christakis, in today's Big Think interview.
Christakis (co-author of "Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives") isn't here to flatter us—he compares the human "superorganism" to fungi—but he does bring some good news. Since the social networks we're part of "magnify whatever [effects] they're seeded with," positive or negative, understanding them better can inspire new ways to benefit from them. For example, if you're a startup business building a network of relationships from scratch, he suggests that you can optimize it by partnering with an even mix of similar and dissimilar companies, such that the network that forms is neither too rigid nor too diffuse.
These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.
We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.
Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.
For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.
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