March 2012

A reuters report has some interesting numbers about Pew surveys of US citizens’ attitudes to religion and politics. There’s some encouraging stuff in there, with now a bare majority of respondents (even within the error margins) saying that they feel there is too much religiosity in elections. As with much American (and, as pointed out in the article, other industrialised countries’) politics there is polarisation going on as well, with people like white evangelicals and white catholics increasingly paranoid in their views of those with different religious views and seeing themselves as a persecuted minority (that’s a dangerous place to have a significant portion of your population and leads to the potential for radicalisation amongst a small proportion of that group). What bothered me the most about the piece, though, was the image from a Mitt Romney (I think it’s a Romney) rally showing him and his audience publicly praying. Look at the man on his right (left hand side of the photo) and at the back row of the audience visible behind him. That’s awfuly close to a nazi salute they’re giving, or is this just me and Godwin’s law comes into play?

Please complete with just one sentence “Facebook is…”.
We have some interesting results from Japanese students and I’m interested in gathering thoughts from other people.

Your Brain on Fiction (New York Times): excellent article giving brief details of recent(ish) results showing that reading descriptive text (not just fiction as the title suggests, but travelogues and descriptive biographies as well I would think) stimulates the parts of the brain involved in controlling movement and sensing things in much the same way as actually moving or sensing things stimulates them. Many years ago akicif described reading as “text-only cyberspace”. It seems he was very right.
Science fiction and fantasy, of course, are brilliant for this, as you can “experience” things which are impossible in reality.