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Hive mind: The good, the bad, and the viral
What is the hive mind? Turns out there are antisocial and prosocial dimensions to it.
SARAH ROSE CAVANAGH: The hive mind is a couple of different things. It is firstly the idea that we are a collective as much as we are individuals and that we can enter this frame of mind where we're sharing attention and we're sharing goals and we're sharing emotions. You can feel this most often if you think about your own experiences in attending rock concerts or sporting events, singing together in a choir where we seem to meld together a bit and share these experiences. But the hive mind is also the extent to which our understanding of the world is sourced collectively from each other, from our social others rather than just through independent decisions and experiences. So much of what we think is acceptable, what we think is fashionable and even what we think is true is sourced from other people and not ourselves.
We are tremendously influenced by the people that we admire and the people that we feel close to. Without even realizing it we can be shaped by these ideas. A good example of that I think is the ice bucket challenge which was a really odd thing if you stop to think about it. It's wonderful that we raised all that money for ALS but this impulse to do this thing just because everyone else is doing it and to do something so uncomfortable and strange as pour a bucket of ice over your head just spread like wildfire. And you can see this with most things that go viral. They don't always make complete sense. People aren't always thinking through. They just do it because we're influenced by each other so profoundly.
We are such an individualistic society that we tend to focus more on the bad aspects of the collective. We talk a lot about conformity. We talk a lot, especially since the 2016 election people are focusing a lot on echo chambers, on group polarization which refers to the fact that when we talk to only people who agree with us we not only become more entrenched in our views but we move more extreme. And we've been focusing a lot of our discussion on those dangers of collective thinking and I absolutely believe that there are many dangers of collective thinking. But at the same time we can source that collective thinking in powerful ways. So some of the best approaches to disinformation that I have seen involve relying more on the hive mind. Not expecting every individual person to go through every step of digital literacy and to evaluate each piece of information, but rather to source broadly and look for things that other people have already done. Not recreate the wheel but see if this idea has been debunked by other reputable sources at the same time. And so I think that there are ways that we can tap into the collective that are positive and prosocial as well as negative and antisocial.
If we believe that we're complete individuals and that all of our opinions and all of our thoughts are clearly our own, then we're more susceptible I think to those dangers of the hive mind. If we question – and this is something I do with my students all the time is to try to get both them and me into a place where we can question our own beliefs, where we can ask where are these coming from. What's the source of these beliefs. To think carefully and to think rationally about those things I think can get us to a safer place.
- The hive mind is a shared intelligence or consciousness between groups of people. It determines what we think is culturally acceptable, what we think is fashionable, and even what we think is true. We source most of our information and beliefs from other people and not from ourselves, says psychology professor Sarah Rose Cavanagh.
- The hive mind often comes under fire in the U.S. because it is a highly individualistic culture that frowns upon things like mindless conformity, echo chambers, and group think. Those are the antisocial aspects of collective thinking.
- There are also prosocial features, explains Cavanagh. The hive mind allows us to draw on collective knowledge in positive ways, without needing to reinvent the wheel each time.
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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>
Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.
- Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
- One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
- "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
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>
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.