from the world's big
Sports and politics: How strong is group identity?
No matter how arbitrary the distinction, human beings take affiliation very seriously.
EZRA KLEIN: I think it's important that people's theories of politics are built on a foundation of a theory about human nature or some rigorous empirics about human nature. And something that I think we do a bad job understanding is the way the psychology of identity and group affiliation function in politics. We tend to suggest that identity politics is something that only marginalized groups do and in fact it's something we all do, all politics all the time is influenced by identity. In the 1930s and '40s a guy named Henri Tajfel, he was a Polish Jew, moved from Poland to France. He moved from Poland to France because in Poland he couldn't go to university because he was Jewish, in France he enlists in World War II. He's captured by the Germans, but he's understood by the Germans as a French prisoner of war so he survives the war. When he's released all of his family has been killed in the holocaust and he would have been killed as well if they had understood him to be a Polish Jew and not a French soldier. And he begins thinking and obsessing about these questions of identity what makes human beings sort each other into groups? Why when they sort each other into groups do they become so easily hostile to one another? And what does it take to sort into a group? What are the minimum levels of connection we need to have with each other to understand ourselves as part of a group and not individuals?
So, he begins doing a set of experiments that are now known as the minimum viable group paradigm. And it's a bit of an ironic term for reasons that I will get to you in a second, but he gets 64 kids from all the same school and he brings them in and he says you know we need you to do an experiment, could you look at this screen and tell many how many dots are on it just real quick do an estimation. And then researcher are busily scoring the work and deciding if the kids overestimated or underestimated. Then the researchers say hey while we've got you here would you mind doing another experiment with us not related to the first one in any way? We're just going to sort you into two groups people who overestimated the number of dots and the people who underestimated them, but a different experiment. Don't worry about it. In truth this sorting is completely random, it had nothing to do with dots, nobody cared how many dots anybody estimated. But immediately in this new experiment, which has to do with money allocation, the kids begin allocating more money, which they're not allocating to themselves it's only to other people. They begin allocating more money to their co-dot over or under estimators. And this was a surprise because the way this experiment was supposed to work was Tajfel and his co-authors we're going to sort people into groups but not enough that they would begin to act like a groups and they were going to begin adding conditions to see at what point group identity took hold. But even Tajfel, who had gone through such a searing traumatic horrifying experience with how easily and how powerfully group identity takes hold, he underestimated it, he felt this would be underneath the line almost like a control group, but it was already over the line.
This experiment was replicated by him in other ways and in other ways that actually showed not only would people favor members of their group but they would actually discriminate against the outgroup, they would prefer that everybody gets less so long as the difference between what their group and the other group got was larger. And again, these groups are meaningless and random even atop their meaninglessness. But look around, think about sports, think about how angry people get, how invested they get in their identity connection to a team that often times has no loyalty back to them that will move if it doesn't get a stadium tax break or players will leave if they get a better deal, but we get so invested in our local team and what it says about our identity and the group we're part of as fans of that team that in the aftermath of losses and wins we will riot, we will set things on fire, we will go on emotional roller coasters, we will cry, we will scream, we will listen endlessly to analysis of it. We're not there for the sportsmanship, we're there for the winning or losing, we're there for that connection to group psychology that is played out through sports and competition.
This is true in politics as well as we sort into groups as those steaks rise and become in many cases life and death as many different groups connect to one another, you're not just a Democrat but you're a Democrat and also you live in cities and also you're gay and also you're an atheist and so on, those things all begin to fuse together; it becomes what the political scientist Lilliana Mason calls a mega identity. And when you're dealing with two groups that are that sharply distinguished from each other and where the stakes are very, very high the power of that group identity and the power of the hostility to the other group becomes basically overwhelming. From a lot of different experiments we know this is a much larger driver of political behavior than even policy. We will follow parties and leaders around to policies that we didn't believe them to have just recently, I mean look at Republicans and Russia for instance, but what we will not do is change our group affiliation, certainly not easily. So, group identity is a fundamental fact about politics and it's a fundamental fact not just to the politics of marginalized groups but of majoritarian groups. An irony of our age is that we see identity politics more clearly now, not because it is stronger but because it is weaker. There is no one identity group with the power to fully dominate politics and so now that different groups are contesting they're all putting forward claims, they're all fighting for control, we can see that there is identity in our politics, but there always was it's just that when one group is strong enough they're able to make that identity almost invisible and just call it politics.
- It is often suggested that identity politics is something that marginalized groups do. American journalist and Vox co-founder Ezra Klein argues that it's something we all do. "All politics all the time is influenced by identity."
- In social psychology, experiments in the minimum viable group paradigm methodology have shown that no matter how arbitrary the distinction, those who belong to one group tend to favor that group and discriminate against others.
- Group identity trumps all else when it comes to politics and policy decisions.
- Check out new episodes of Klein's podcast, The Ezra Klein Show, every week.
Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as 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>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.
A time for sleep<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="Mt29uUqI" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="931343dee3c02121445e51e94ba22446"> <div id="botr_Mt29uUqI_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/Mt29uUqI-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Previous studies had already suggested a link between persistent nightmares in childhood and psychosis and borderline personality disorder (BPD) by adolescence, but researchers at the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology wanted to see if a similar connection existed between these mental disorders and other childhood behavioral sleep problems.</p><p>To do this, they scoured data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a longitudinal cohort study that followed approximately 14,000 children born in Avon, England, in the early 1990s. The study followed the children for more than 13 years. During that time, mothers filled out questionnaires asking about the children's lives. Factors looked at included housing, parenting, nutrition, physical health, mental wellbeing, environmental exposures, and so on. </p><p>The cohort study inquired about sleep routines, sleep duration, and awakening frequency when the children were 6, 18, and 30 months old, and then again at 3.5, 4.8, and 5.8 years. It also assessed mental health in adolescence using semi-structured interviews, such as the Psychosis-Like Symptom Interview.</p><p>"We know that adolescence is a key developmental period to study the onset of many mental disorders, including psychosis or BPD. This is because of particular brain and hormonal changes which occur at this stage," <a href="https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/profiles/psychology/marwaha-steven.aspx" target="_blank">Steven Marwaha</a>, professor of psychiatry at Birmingham and senior author on the study, <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200701125431.htm" target="_blank">said in a release</a>. "Sleep may be one of the most important underlying factors—and it's one that we can influence with effective, early interventions, so it's important that we understand these links."</p><p>After compiling the data, the researchers discovered an association between children with irregular sleeping patterns and teenagers with <a href="https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/psychosis/about-psychosis/" target="_blank">psychotic experiences</a>—that is, episodes when the person perceives reality differently than those around them. Even when depression at 10 years old was considered as a mediating factor, their findings still suggested "a specific pathway between these childhood sleep problems and adolescent psychotic experiences." </p><p>Toddlers with shorter nighttime sleep duration and late bedtimes were likewise associated with a <a href="https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml" target="_blank">borderline personality disorder</a>—a disorder marked by a pattern of varying moods, self-images, and behaviors—in their teenage years. Depression at age 10 did not mediate this particular association, suggesting a separate and more specific pathway. </p>
A more restful tomorrow<p>While the sample size was large and mental health was assessed with a validated interview, there nevertheless remain limitations to this data. For starters, sleep habits were based on mothers' reports. Because they came from memory, versus a more direct observation method such as actigraphy, these data may be prone to imperfect recollection and reporting error. There are also many confounders that could be secretly nudging the results, such as family conditions, prenatal medicines, and a host of environmental factors. Finally, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024884/#:~:text=Sleep%20difficulties%20in%20youth%20with,fear%20of%20dark%20%5B13%5D." target="_blank">the relationship between sleep problems and mental disorders</a> is both complex and two-way.</p><p>As such, the study shows an association between poor childhood sleep later mental disorders but does not prove a causal link. Parents need not worry that a string of nightmares or the eternal struggle settle into bed will be the first ingredients in a witches' brew of debilitating mental disorders. The goal of the study, the researchers point out, is not to create undue worry but improve our ability to recognize the signs of at-risk children and deliver necessary interventions earlier.</p><p>"The results of this study could have important implications for helping practitioners identify children who might be at higher risk for psychotic experiences or BPD symptoms in adolescence, and potentially lead to the design of more effectively targeted sleep or psychological interventions to prevent the onset or attenuate these mental disorders," Isabel Morales-Muñoz, the study's lead researcher, <a href="https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20200702/childhood-sleep-problems-linked-to-adolescent-psychosis-borderline-personality-disorder#:~:text=Sleep%20problems%20during%20early%20childhood,study%20published%20in%20JAMA%20Psychiatry." target="_blank">told Healio Psychiatry</a><u>.</u></p><p>If a parent reading this is worried that their child's sleep patterns are deleterious, the take away should not be despair over an unyielding fate. It should be to seek professional help as soon as possible to begin improving sleep duration and quality. Even if you aren't worried, it's worth remembering that childhood experiences lay the foundation for a lifetime of salubrious sleeping habits. It's so much more than beauty rest.</p>
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
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.