Artist & Writer, San Francisco Bay Area

Connected Brains Make a Social Group

This is a list of links I gathered back in June about some of what I heard & read & watched & thought about at the beginning of the summer. (I didn’t finish the list at the time, and there have been other topics since then… .) If I’m able, I’ll go back to some of what I’ve consumed, and going forward I hope to keep posting these Gathered Links. So I expect this to be an ongoing thing. 🙂
~ maritza
What I think about as I go through these links:
– our minds as individual parts of the whole in which each influences the other
– thinking of a community as one organic connected entity (connected brains, etc)
– how social maladies are infectious and hard to eradicate
– how deeply we must look into ourselves (not just out at others) to ensure change
– how we are incapable of complete isolation (not to be confused with introversion)
– social groups as single organisms
– social groups as In Real Life organisms

LISTEN: Hidden Brain, “‘The Thumbprint of the Culture’: Implicit Bias and Police Shootings”

Jun 5, 2017
VEDANTAM, HOST: Implicit bias is like the smog that hangs over a community. It becomes the air people breathe. Or, as Mahzarin [Banaji] might say, the thumbprint of the culture is showing up in the minds of the people living in that community. There are many examples for this idea that individual minds shape the community, and the community shapes what happens in individual minds.
BANAJI: What we’re discovering here is that the individual mind sits in society. And the connection between mind and society is an extremely important one that should not be forgotten and that more than any other group of people, social psychologists owe it to the beginnings of their discipline to do both and to do it even-handedly, to be focused on the individual mind and to be talking about how that mind is both influenced by and is influencing the larger social group around her.

LISTEN: Invisibilia, “The Culture Inside”

Jun 9, 2017
Is there some other ‘me’ in there I don’t know about? We … ask this question about one of the central problems of our time: racism. Scientific research has shown that even well meaning people operate with implicit bias – stereotypes and attitudes we are not fully aware of that nonetheless shape our behavior towards people of color. We examine the Implicit Association Test, a widely available psychological test that popularized the notion of implicit bias. And we talk to people who are tackling the question, critical to so much of our behavior: what does it take to change these deeply embedded concepts? Can it even be done?

WATCH: The Brain”Why Do I Need You?”

Nov 11, 2015
In ‘Why Do I Need You?’ Dr. David Eagleman explores how the human brain relies on other brains to thrive and survive. … As we grow up it becomes important for us to be able to understand, and decode, the intentions of others. … We unconsciously mirror the facial expressions of others, which allows the brain to get a sense of how another person feels and the brain mirrors other people’s emotions at a deeper level. … One brain unconsciously simulating another’s, feeling what that person is feeling.  … Our social brain draws us together into groups. An experiment with a simple game of catch reveals that the pain we feel when we are excluded from the group is the same kind of pain as when we hurt ourselves. … In groups humans have accomplished great things but there’s a darker side. For every ‘in group’ there is an ‘out group’. Dr. David Eagleman’s lab has shown that at an unconscious level our brains care less about members of the ‘out group.’ … Dr. Lasana Harris at Leiden University has discovered that the brain can dehumanize people, registering some people as little more than objects. … When we perceive others as less than human it’s easier to ignore them, and it’s easier to suspend the moral and social rules we normally live by. Dr Eagleman reveals that Propaganda is an important step from dehumanization to the mass atrocities of genocide, [plugging] directly into circuits in the brain, dialing down the degree to which one group cares about another group.

LISTEN: Hidden Brain, “Inside The Hole: What Happens to the Mind in Isolation?”

Apr 3, 2017
SHANKAR VEDANTAM, HOST: This week on HIDDEN BRAIN, we thought we’d take a look at what happens inside the prison cells that few people ever see and the psychological effects of being alone for long periods of time.
KARAMET REITER, INTERVIEWEE, professor of criminology at the University of California Irvine and the author of the new book “23/7: Pelican Bay Prison And The Rise Of Long-Term Solitary Confinement.”: So people talk about not having seen the moon in years or decades and how much they miss that. And then people talk about missing just pure human touch. And, you know, I tell a story in the book about a prisoner who – his cell door and the cell door of the prisoner next to him were accidentally opened at the same time. And they were rival gang members, but they had been talking to each other shouting through the cell walls. And when the cell doors opened, they just reached around and grabbed each other’s hands and held on because it had been so long since either of them had had a gentle, human touch like that.

READ: Financial Times, “Yuval Harari Challenges the Future According to Facebook”.” 

Maritza Ruiz-Kim, Progress #7, 2017, acrylic on wood panel, 22 inches x 17 inches

March 25, 2017
Zuckerberg correctly points out that any effort to build a global community must go hand-in-hand with protecting and strengthening local ones. For millions of years, humans have been adapted to living in intimate communities of no more than a few dozen people. Even today most humans find it impossible to really know more than 150 individuals, irrespective of how many Facebook “friends” they boast. No nation, corporation or global network can replace communities of people who actually know each other intimately. Without these groups, humans feel lonely and alienated. … Zuckerberg … never acknowledges that in some cases online comes at the expense of offline, and that there is a fundamental difference between the two. Physical communities have a depth that virtual communities cannot hope to match, at least not in the near future. … Zuckerberg says that Facebook is committed “to continue improving our tools to give you the power to share your experience”. Yet what people might really need are the tools to connect to their own experiences. In the name of “sharing experiences”, people are encouraged to understand what happens to them in terms of how others see it. If something exciting happens, the gut instinct of Facebook true-believers is to draw their smartphones, take a picture, post it online, and wait for the “likes”. In the process they hardly pay attention to what they actually feel. Indeed, what they feel is increasingly determined by the online reactions rather than by the actual experience. … it is extremely difficult to know each other as “whole” people. It takes so much time and direct physical interaction.


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