friday five 6.16.17

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1. why do people join cults? - janja lalich

The origin of "drinking the Kool-Aid." I've always found cults morbidly fascinating, particularly the psychology of them. But I think the most amazing thing is that we have this antiquated stereotype of what a cult should be, but cults are alive and well today, and they're much modern than we imagine, which is the dangerous part.

2. rich, cultured, and lonely: how india’s rising class looks for love now

I have my reservations about internet dating, but I also acknowledge that it's a stigma that's rapidly disappearing (same with Tinder). People just don't have time anymore. And the social conventions in India are much different than they are in the U.S., which adds a layer of complexity to dating. But I also can't help but wondering if not having time for personal relationships is an indication of weaknesses in global working culture...?

3. inside the bizarre human job of being a face for artificial intelligence

I never really considered that this was someone's job, to be a model for an AI. And I wonder if a human interface actually does help with engagement and responsiveness, or it most people find it "creepy." I think I'm in the latter group. But also I think the reason for that is that AI isn't commonplace yet. When it is, perhaps it will seem normal for you to talk to a computer like you would a human. But I think part of the comfort of Alexa, Siri, Google, is that they're human-like but not yet "human." So there's still a distance between human and machine. I think the discomfort of things with a human face is that they're a bit eerie.

4. neuroscience backs up the buddhist belief  that “the self” isn’t constant, but ever-changing

I love this. I've always been enamored with Buddhism, particularly because it doesn't claim to be a religion, but identifies as a spiritual philosophy. Its tenets apply to a lot of aspects of life, religious or not. Like the "stream of consciousness," or the sense of self as it relates to mind and body; it's just amazing to see that modern neuroscience reflects an actual connection between the two.

5. alt-right, white nationalist, free speech: the far right's language, explained

I used to have a theory that ignorance and pointless belligerence are a byproduct of American obsession with freedom. Think about it...our country was literally founded on the belief that no one should be able to tell us what to do, and honestly, what did we think was going to happen? But the hoopla surrounding the French election and terror attacks in the Iran have proved that hatred and xenophobia is universal. I was talking with a friend about racism within Asian culture (like Chinese vs. Japanese vs. Koreans vs. Filipinos vs. Vietnamese) and it just amazes me that some people still don't think identity politics are significant. It's always well-meaning people that say that "everyone should be treated the same" (the same, not equally) and are the most ignorant to the fact that yes, it would be ideal if we could treat everyone the same, but the playing field is fundamentally uneven so that argument is ridiculous. That was a bit of a tangent, but the point is, the term "alt-right" is stupid because let's just call it neo-Nazism, and "free speech" is a cowardly excuse for hate speech.