Feb. 28th, 2017

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Meanwhile the commotion in the East was rather pleasing to Tiberius, as it was a pretext for withdrawing Germanicus from the legions which knew him well, and placing him over new provinces where he would be exposed both to treachery and to disasters.

--- Tacitus. The Annals.
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I've always wondered why labeling something as "idiotic" or "very very bad" makes people happy. In rational thinking, labeling is considered fundamentally flawed because it simply shows how the labeler positions an object/event on his/her internal value map without explaining the reasoning why s/he does so. As John R. Searle would say, something is good or bad in virtue of something else, not because its intrinsic goodness or badness.

Yesterday, I found a review paper* that describes multiple psychological experiments on Schadenfreude. For example,
In the context of a real-world sports rivalry, Red Sox and Yankees fans report feeling pleasure, and show activity in reward- related brain regions (i.e., right ventral striatum including nucleus accumbens) when they watch their rival fail to score against their favored baseball team, and also against a less competitive team in the same league (i.e., the Orioles). Attaching positive value to outgroup members' suffering may provide motivation for inflicting suffering: People who show more reward-related activity when watching the rival team fail also report being more likely to actively harm the rival team’s fans (Cikara, Botvinick, & Fiske, in press). These findings extend to situations in which the rival fans themselves are in physical pain: Soccer fans exhibited reward-related activity (again, the right ventral striatum) when watching a rival team’s fan receive a painful electric shock; the magnitude of this activity predicted participants’ later unwillingness to relieve the rival’s pain by receiving half of the electric shock themselves (Hein, Silani, Preuschoff, Batson, & Singer, 2010).

It looks like, labeling facilitates Schadenfreude-based pleasure. In other words, a social activity that looks irrational from a purely logical perspective, has significant psychological advantages because it creates positive in-group empathy.

* Cikara, M., E. G. Bruneau, and R. R. Saxe. “Us and Them: Intergroup Failures of Empathy.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 20.3 (2011): 149–153. Web. 13 Apr. 2012.
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I'm thinking about teaching an online course next quarter. Should it be considered as an act of resistance against Bannon's ideology of Economic Nationalism?
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And coming to king Chilperic she was received with great honor, and united to him in marriage, and she was also greatly loved by him. For she had brought great treasures. But because of his love of Fredegunda whom he had had before, there arose a great scandal which divided them. Galsuenda had already been converted to the catholic law and baptized. And complaining to the king that she was continually enduring outrages and had no honor with him, she asked to leave the treasures which she had brought with her and be permitted to go free to her native land. But he made ingenious pretenses and calmed her with gentle words. At length he ordered her to be strangled by a slave and found her dead on the bed.

--- Gregory of Tours (539-594). History of the Franks.
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I can now hula-hoop at the rate of 157 rotations per minute.

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