'If at first you don't succeed…' The science version!
"Women don’t like action, they skew towards romantic comedy and emotional drama. That’s just the way it is."
Using this argument is like feeding a lab mouse only cheddar cheese all it’s life and then saying it prefers the cheddar over the Gouda because reasons. No. No it doesn’t. That’s just all you’ve been giving it. You are a bad scientist. Hand in your goddamn coat and get the hell out of the lab.
Project for my Social Psych class last semester. This poster series was created to 1) challenge these internalized stereotypes by bringing them to the viewer’s attention and 2) expand the range of role models by including a diverse group of women. Each poster follows the same basic pattern: a woman who has demonstrated her competency in a particular area refutes the stereotype that appears above her in the form of “Girls can’t …”. While the posters target girls ranging from children to young adults, I expect the message would also cause people outside that demographic to question their own beliefs about women and power. I designed each aspect of the posters with several principles of social psychology in mind:
Peripheral route: When operating under the peripheral route, we judge persuasive appeal based on superficial characteristics such as attractiveness and credibility. I placed an attractive image of each woman over a black background, and the colors I chose complement each other well. I hand-lettered the main text to give each poster a sense of artistry, using an easy-to-read, official looking font as the basis for my work. Additionally, the women themselves are relatively well known. Their accomplishments, listed in the short blurb at the bottom of each poster, are impressive as well as irrefutable.
Relevance: We are more likely to be persuaded when we can relate the argument back to ourselves. These posters rely on the availability heuristic (since these stereotypes are readily available and common in society, media, and our own experiences) to establish an immediate relevancy. The statement at the top is attention grabbing by its controversial nature alone. However, it is also relevant to multiple groups, including but not limited to: 1) people who identify as girls, 2) people who have an opinion about girls, and 3) people who participate in the activity listed. I tried to include a wide range of activities (e.g., science, math, business, leadership, politics, athletics) and a diverse group of women (e.g., time period, nationality, ethnic background, age, area of expertise) to widen the range and appeal of the posters. The use of the term “we” also serves to compound the relevancy effect towards the main target audience by establishing in-group membership.
Central route: Because of the blatant use of stereotypes and the establishment of relevancy, the viewer now has a motivation to pay attention. Keeping the poster visually simple and limiting the biographical information helps by minimizing distractions. The QR code in the corner gives the viewer the means to access more information, if desired. Ideally, each QR code would link to the affiliated website (the URL would also be listed), but for now they link to relevant Wikipedia page.
Reactance and negative potency: Because we are less likely to change our minds when we feel like someone is trying to persuade us, I avoided mentioning the groups who held these stereotypes, so as not to alienate them, and did not use American political figures. I also did not attempt to convince girls to be more like the women portrayed. Additionally, because negative things are more potent than their positive counterparts, these posters run the risk of reinforcing the stereotype (“Girl’s can’t X”) rather than the counterargument (“Except we can”) or counterexample (the woman and her accomplishments). To minimize this, I placed the counterargument phrase in a speech bubble, portraying the woman as having a voice and worthy of our attention. I made the counterargument larger than any of the other text and placed it near the negative statement to provide an obvious, strong response. In some posters, the woman’s statement even breaks up the stereotype. I also colored the speech bubble and counterargument phrase, highlighting its difference from the preceding text as well as subtly raising its credibility through the color gold.
Attitude Inoculation: By exposing people to these stereotypes and providing notable counterexamples, these posters can potentially ‘vaccinate’ against the ubiquitous and persuasive sexism in our society. Viewers could then use the provided information to make their own credible and persuasive appeals against the stereotypes.
You shouldn’t aspire to be always enthusiastic - it’s a state of being that is quite impossible to constantly maintain and is an unrealistic expectation for yourself, as detrimental as wanting to look like skinny beautiful photo-shopped celebrities or the images that fast food companies put out of their mouth-watering foods. The truth is, I get totally bummed out sometimes. My job can be draining, confusing, and demanding on occasion. I’m in a new city and I miss my friends, familiarity. I spend weekends on my couch alone zoned out on reddit when I know I should be reading, researching, proactively doing. I’m learning to accept that sometimes it’s completely okay to do nothing. Your body needs time to process what you’ve learned, to ingest the information, and most of all to contextualize it.
I can’t tell you how to motivate yourself because I don’t know you, but partially what motivates me is my own frustration. After a while I get frustrated that I’ve been doing nothing, dissatisfied with watching the world continue while I sit idly by, seeing events and discussions carrying on which I am ultimately then compelled to contribute to. And I pick myself up and rejoin the conversation, I meet someone to start a dialogue with, I begin participating in collaborations. I go outside.
Don’t force yourself, and don’t feel guilty when you’re taking a break. You will last much longer if you don’t burn yourself out in the beginning.
“Climate change isn’t the news and it isn’t a set of news stories. It’s the prospective end of all news. Think of it as the anti-news.
All the rest is part of the annals of human history: the rise and fall of empires, of movements, of dictatorships and democracies, of just about anything you want to mention. The most crucial stories, like the most faddish ones, are — every one of them — passing phenomena, which is of course what makes them the news.
What makes climate change so challenging is that the carbon dioxide (and methane) being generated by the extraction, production, and burning of fossil fuels supports the most profitable corporations in history, as well as energy states like Saudi Arabia and Russia that are, in essence, national versions of such corporations. The drive for profits has so far proven unstoppable. Those who run the big oil companies, like the tobacco companies before them, undoubtedly know what potential harm they are doing to us. They know what it will mean for humanity if resources (and profits) aren’t poured into alternative energy research and development. And like those cigarette companies, they go right on. They are indeed intent, for instance, on turning North America into “Saudi America,” and hunting down and extracting the last major reserves of fossil fuel in the most difficult spots on the planet. Their response to climate change has, in fact, been to put some of their vast profits into the funding of a campaign of climate-change denialism (and obfuscation) and into the coffers of chosen politicians and think tanks willing to lend a hand.
In fact, one of the grim wonders of climate change has been the ability of Big Energy and its lobbyists to politicize an issue that wouldn’t normally have a “left” or “right,” and to make bad science into an ongoing news story. In other words, an achievement that couldn’t be more criminal in nature has also been their great coup de théâtre.
In a world heading toward the brink, here’s the strange thing: most of the time that brink is nowhere in sight. And how can you get people together to solve a human-caused problem when it’s so seldom meaningfully in the news (and so regularly challenged by energy interests when it is)?
This is the road to hell and it has not been paved with good intentions. If we stay on it, we won’t even be able to say that future historians considered us both a wonder (for our ability to create world-ending scenarios and put them into effect) and a disgrace (for our inability to face what we had done). By then, humanity might have arrived at the end of history, and so of historians.
- Tom Engelhardt, “The End of History?”
Read all of this.
|—||Bonnie Bassler (via thatssoscience)|
There’s a relatively long tradition, in the field of data visualization, of tracking the way we swear. This makes sense. Not only is it fun to track, but cursing is also conveniently specific as a data set; you’ve got your f-bombs and your double hockey sticks and your bodily functions, and, factoring in their permutations, you’re good to go. Plus, you don’t need much sophisticated sentiment analysis to ensure that your data are accurate: An f-bomb is pretty much an f-bomb, regardless of the contextual subtleties. As a result of all this, we, the public, get treated to sweary heat maps. And more sweary heat maps. And sweary interactive maps. There’s just something about big data and sailor-cursing that complement each other—like peanut butter and mothereffing jelly.
Traditionally, those maps are based on text—on swears that are typed into Facebook or, even more publicly, Twitter. Making a map of the sweariest states requires simply gathering geocoded posts, isolating the swears, and going from there.
Read more. [Image: Marchex]
Of course Jersey is in the top three. Of course.
Fearful Memories Passed Down to Mouse Descendants
Genetic imprint from traumatic experiences carries through at least two generations.
Certain fears can be inherited through the generations, a provocative study of mice reports. The authors suggest that a similar phenomenon could influence anxiety and addiction in humans. But some researchers are sceptical of the findings because a biological mechanism that explains the phenomenon has not been identified.
According to convention, the genetic sequences contained in DNA are the only way to transmit biological information across generations. Random DNA mutations, when beneficial, enable organisms to adapt to changing conditions, but this process typically occurs slowly over many generations.
Yet some studies have hinted that environmental factors can influence biology more rapidly through ‘epigenetic’ modifications, which alter the expression of genes, but not their actual nucleotide sequence. For instance, children who were conceived during a harsh wartime famine in the Netherlands in the 1940s are at increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and other conditions — possibly because of epigenetic alterations to genes involved in these diseases. Yet although epigenetic modifications are known to be important for processes such as development and the inactivation of one copy of the X-chromsome in females, their role in the inheritance of behaviour is still controversial.
Kerry Ressler, a neurobiologist and psychiatrist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and a co-author of the latest study, became interested in epigenetic inheritance after working with poor people living in inner cities, where cycles of drug addiction, neuropsychiatric illness and other problems often seem to recur in parents and their children. “There are a lot of anecdotes to suggest that there’s intergenerational transfer of risk, and that it’s hard to break that cycle,” he says.
Studying the biological basis for those effects in humans would be difficult. So Ressler and his colleague Brian Dias opted to study epigenetic inheritance in laboratory mice trained to fear the smell of acetophenone, a chemical the scent of which has been compared to those of cherries and almonds. He and Dias wafted the scent around a small chamber, while giving small electric shocks to male mice. The animals eventually learned to associate the scent with pain, shuddering in the presence of acetophenone even without a shock.
This reaction was passed on to their pups, Dias and Ressler report today in Nature Neuroscience. Despite never having encountered acetophenone in their lives, the offspring exhibited increased sensitivity when introduced to its smell, shuddering more markedly in its presence compared with the descendants of mice that had been conditioned to be startled by a different smell or that had gone through no such conditioning. A third generation of mice — the ‘grandchildren’ — also inherited this reaction, as did mice conceived through in vitro fertilization with sperm from males sensitized to acetophenone. Similar experiments showed that the response can also be transmitted down from the mother.
These responses were paired with changes to the brain structures that process odours. The mice sensitized to acetophenone, as well as their descendants, had more neurons that produce a receptor protein known to detect the odour compared with control mice and their progeny.
A new Hunger Games video with graphs about the magical regeneration of Katniss’s arrow supply, the dangerous fire safety lessons children are learning from this movie, and more.