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Posts categorised ‘Quite Interesting’

Link: “Lashon Hara – Director’s Cut HD Remaster” by Shel

Original post found at: https://cohost.org/shel/post/29079-lashon-hara-direct

Very good post about an element of Jewish law called lashon hara. Read the whole post, because it deserves it, but the crux of lashon hara is: don’t just shit-talk people non-constructively. That is, if you have a disagreement with someone, your first port of call should be to take it up privately with them, not to talk shit about them behind their back. Secondly, if someone’s done or said something wrong in the past, but they’re genuinely remorseful and aren’t continuing that same harm, you should not keep bringing that wrong action up. You’re not obliged to forgive them yourself, but you are obliged not to try to cause harm to them purely out of revenge.

The post does talk about cases where “shit-talking” may not rise to the level of lashon hara. If it’s not feasible to raise a disagreement with someone privately (e.g. because they’re a politician or major businessperson, rather than someone you know personally), you’re not expected to try to before you’re allowed to criticise them to others. And “whisper networks”, where you’re actually trying to protect others from ongoing harm by criticising someone who is still engaging in malign activity (like abuse), are also fine.

I feel like this is an eloquent explanation of a practice I’ve been trying to implement in my own life anyway, and I really appreciate it being there. We need ways to de-escalate conflict – an off-ramp, if you will – in a way that isn’t just sticking one’s head in the sand, pretending harms never happened, etc.. People can learn and grow from their mistakes and it’s better for our communities, our extended families, etc. if we have the grace to accept that. This is not to say that we’re obliged to forgive people who aren’t remorseful (or even people who are!) just that our goal should be de-escalation wherever possible. And not shit-talking behind people’s backs, which achieves nothing.

Link: “That siren-imitating lyrebird at Taronga Zoo? He lost his song culture – and absorbed some of ours

Original post found at: https://theconversation.com/that-siren-imitating-lyrebird-at-taronga-zoo-he-lost-his-song-culture-and-absorbed-some-of-ours-192929

Superb lyrebirds are arguably the bird world’s greatest mimics. Using their phenomenal voiceboxes, males will sing elaborate songs and perfectly imitate sounds made by other birds to impress prospective mates.

Not only this, they share songs in a form of cultural transmission. In the wild, some songs become more popular while others wane. Think of it as pop charts for the bush.

But Echo was bred in captivity. He wasn’t exposed to wild song culture. Instead, he learned from what he was exposed to – and that includes “songs” like the alarm call. Echo had been practising this call for years to get it that good – not just the two weeks after the lions escaped.

The ability of these birds to imitate sounds is rightly world-famous. But for their song culture to continue, we need healthy wild populations. Otherwise, they could face a future like critically endangered regent honeyeaters, which are now borrowing mating songs from other birds.

Link: “Why women aren’t from Venus, and men aren’t from Mars

Original post found at: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-03782-6

Article about the efforts of one neuroscientist, Gina Rippon, to counter the prevailing myth that men and women are substantially different at the “brain wiring” level. There’s no real evidence for it. I’m a little surprised by the implication that this is only just now being challenged, because in 2010 I attended a talk by Cordelia Fine about her own book challenging the exact same myth!

Link: “First-ever study shows bumble bees ‘play’

Original post found at: https://phys.org/news/2022-10-first-ever-bumble-bees.html

Bumble bees play, according to new research led by Queen Mary University of London published in Animal Behaviour. It is the first time that object play behavior has been shown in an insect, adding to mounting evidence that bees may experience positive “feelings.”

The team of researchers set up numerous experiments to test their hypothesis, which showed that bumble bees went out of their way to roll wooden balls repeatedly despite there being no apparent incentive for doing so.

Link: “A belief in meritocracy is not only false: it’s bad for you

Original post found at: https://aeon.co/ideas/a-belief-in-meritocracy-is-not-only-false-its-bad-for-you

Meritocracy is the most self-congratulatory of distribution principles. Its ideological alchemy transmutes property into praise, material inequality into personal superiority. It licenses the rich and powerful to view themselves as productive geniuses. While this effect is most spectacular among the elite, nearly any accomplishment can be viewed through meritocratic eyes. Graduating from high school, artistic success or simply having money can all be seen as evidence of talent and effort. By the same token, worldly failures becomes signs of personal defects, providing a reason why those at the bottom of the social hierarchy deserve to remain there.

Link: “What the Science on Gender-Affirming Care for Transgender Kids Really Shows

Original post found at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-the-science-on-gender-affirming-care-for-transgender-kids-really-shows/

Basically: the side effects of hormone blockers are nowhere near as bad as the impact on trans kids’ mental health of being denied access to gender-affirming care. I think back to the Australian Story ep I watched on the Royal Children Hospital Melbourne’s Gender Service (see relevant link post) and I just feel like that model of care should be available in more places.

a cartoony avatar of Jessica Smith is a socialist and a feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.