When a person receives unfair treatment or alienation due to a social stigma, the effects can be detrimental. Social stigmas are defined as any aspect of an individual’s identity that is devalued in a social context. These stigmas can be categorized as visible or invisible, depending on whether the stigma is readily apparent to others. Visible stigmas refer to characteristics such as race, age, gender, physical disabilities, or deformities; whereas invisible stigmas refer to characteristics such sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, early pregnancy, certain diseases, or mental illnesses.
When individuals possess invisible stigmas, they must decide whether or not to reveal their association with a devalued group to others. This decision can be an incredibly difficult one, as revealing one’s invisible stigma can have both positive and negative consequences depending on several situational factors. In contrast, a visible stigma requires immediate action to diminish communication tension and acknowledge a deviation from the norm. People possessing visible stigmas often use compensatory strategies to reduce potential interpersonal discrimination that they may face.
‘The Gift of Fear‘ (1997) is a nonfiction self-help book by security consultant Gavin de Becker. The book provides strategies to help readers avoid trauma and violence by teaching them various warning signs and precursors to violence. De Becker’s book presents a paradox of genre: described as a ‘how-to book that reads like a thriller.’ By finding patterns in stories of violence and abuse, de Becker seeks to highlight the inherent predictability of violence. The book explores various settings where violence may be found—the workplace, the home, the school, dating—and describes what de Becker calls pre-incident indicators (PINS). When properly identified these PINS can help violence be avoided; when violence is unavoidable, de Becker claims it can usually be predicted and better understood. ‘The Gift of Fear’ also describes de Becker’s MOSAIC Threat Assessment Systems, which have been employed by various celebrities and government agencies to predict and prevent violence.
PINS (Pre-Incident Indicators) include: Forced Teaming (when a person tries to pretend that he has something in common with a person and that they are in the same predicament when that isn’t really true); Charm and Niceness (being polite and friendly to a person in order to manipulate him or her); Too many details (if a person is lying they will add excessive details to make themselves sound more credible); Typecasting (an insult to get a person to talk, e.g. ‘Oh, I bet you’re too stuck-up to talk to a guy like me’); Loan Sharking (giving unsolicited help and expecting favors in return); The Unsolicited Promise (a promise to do, or not do, something when no such promise is asked for, e.g. an unsolicited ‘I promise I won’t hurt you’ usually means the person intends to hurt you); and Discounting the Word ‘No’ (refusing to accept rejection).
Among the Sleep is an upcoming dark and surreal first-person survival horror video game that Krillbite Studio is developing for Microsoft Windows and OS X for release in 2013. The game invites you into the mind and body of a two-year-old child being helped along the way by his beloved teddy bear. After being put to bed one evening, mysterious things start to happen.
Being played in first person, the game lets its players immerse themselves in a child’s limitless imagination. In the borderland between dream and reality, surreal creatures and diverse environments will present the player with both physical and mental obstacles that challenge the player’s creativity.
The Disposition Matrix is a database that United States officials describe as a ‘next-generation capture/kill list’ developed by the Obama Administration beginning in 2010. It is a blueprint for tracking, capturing, rendering, or killing terrorism suspects. It is intended to become a permanent fixture of American policy. The process determining criteria for killing is not public, but has been heavily shaped by presidential counterterrorism adviser John Brennan.
Under the Presidency of George W. Bush, Brennan served as top aide to CIA director George Tenet, where he defended the administration’s use of extraordinary rendition and enhanced interrogation, also described as torture. Brennan’s association with the CIA’s interrogation program was controversial, and forced him to withdraw his candidacy for directorship of the CIA or National Intelligence in 2008.
‘The Constitution is not a suicide pact‘ is a phrase in American political and legal discourse which expresses the belief that constitutional restrictions on governmental power must be balanced against the need for survival of the state and its people. It is most often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, as a response to charges that he was violating the United States Constitution by suspending habeas corpus (the right of detainees to contest their imprisonment) during the American Civil War. Although the phrase echoes statements made by Lincoln, and although versions of the sentiment have been advanced at various times in American history, the precise phrase ‘suicide pact’ was first used by Justice Robert H. Jackson in his dissenting opinion in ‘Terminiello v. Chicago,’ a 1949 free speech case. The phrase also appears in the same context in ‘Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez,’ a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision written by Justice Arthur Goldberg.
Thomas Jefferson offered one of the earliest formulations of the sentiment, although not of the phrase. In 1803, Jefferson’s ambassadors to France arranged the purchase of the Louisiana territory in conflict with Jefferson’s personal belief that the Constitution did not bestow upon the federal government the right to acquire or possess foreign territory. Due to political considerations, however, Jefferson disregarded his constitutional doubts, signed the proposed treaty, and sent it to the Senate for ratification. In justifying his actions, he later wrote: ‘[a] strict observance of the written law is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to the written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the ends to the means.’
The selective exposure theory is a concept in media and communication research that refers to individuals’ tendency to favor information that reinforces pre-existing views while avoiding contradictory information. In this theory people tend to select specific aspects of exposed information based on their perspective, beliefs, attitudes and decisions. People can determine the information exposed to them and select favorable evidence, while ignoring the unfavorable. This theory has been explored using the cognitive dissonance theory, which suggests information consumers strive for results of cognitive equilibrium (consistent rather than conflicting thoughts). In order to attain this equilibrium, individuals may either reinterpret the information they are exposed to or select information that are consonant with their view.
The premise of selective exposure relies on the assumption that information-seeking behavior continues even after an individual has taken a stance on an issue. Previous information-seeking behavior will be colored by various factors of the issue that is activated during the decision-making process. Thus, selective exposure operates by reinforcing beliefs rather than exposing individuals to a diverse array of viewpoints, which is considered an important aspect of a functioning democracy.
Countersignaling is the behavior where agents with the highest level of a given property invest less into proving it than individuals with a medium level of the same property. This concept is primarily useful for analyzing human behavior and thus relevant to economics, sociology and psychology; there is no known animal behavior which conforms to the predictions of the countersignaling model.
Many of the things – such as toughness, cooperativeness or fertility – that people and animals want to know about each other are not directly observable. Instead, observable indicators of these unobservable properties must be used to communicate them to others. These are signals. Signaling theory deals with predicting the level of effort that individuals, the signalers, should invest to communicate their properties to other individuals, the receivers, and how these receivers interpret the signals.
Within evolutionary biology, signalling theory is a body of theoretical work examining communication between individuals. The central question is when organisms with conflicting interests should be expected to communicate honestly (no presumption being made of conscious intention) rather than cheating. Mathematical models in which organisms signal their condition to other individuals as part of an evolutionarily stable strategy are important for research in this field.
Signals are given in contexts such as mate selection by females, which subjects the males’ signals to selective pressure. Signals thus evolve because they modify the behaviour of the receiver to benefit the signaller. Signals may be honest, on average conveying information that is actually useful to the receiver, increasing its fitness, or dishonest. A cheat can give a dishonest signal, gaining an advantage, but potentially undermining the signalling system for all.
The word ‘tomato‘ may refer to the plant (Solanum lycopersicum) or the edible, typically red, fruit that it bears. Having originated in America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler climates. The tomato is consumed in diverse ways, including raw, as an ingredient in many dishes and sauces, and in drinks. While it is botanically a fruit (a plant structure that contains its seeds), it is considered a vegetable for culinary purposes. The fruit is rich in lycopene (a carotene), which may have beneficial health effects.
The tomato belongs to the nightshade family. Aztecs and other peoples in Mesoamerica were the first people to use the fruit in their cooking. The exact date of domestication is unknown: by 500 BCE, it was already being cultivated in southern Mexico and probably other areas. The Pueblo people are thought to have believed that those who witnessed the ingestion of tomato seeds were blessed with powers of divination. The large, lumpy tomato, a mutation from a smoother, smaller fruit, originated in Mesoamerica, and may be the direct ancestor of some modern cultivated tomatoes.
Quorum [kwawr-uhm] sensing is a chemical messaging system employed by bacteria to determine the presence of other bacteria. It is part of a system of stimulus and response correlated to population density (e.g. some bioluminescent bacteria will not produce light unless in sufficient concentration). Many species of bacteria use quorum sensing to coordinate gene expression according to the density of their local population. In similar fashion, some social insects use a form of quorum sensing to determine where to nest. In addition to its function in biological systems, quorum sensing has several useful applications for computing and robotics.
Quorum sensing can function as a decision-making process in any decentralized system, as long as individual components have: (a) a means of assessing the number of other components they interact with and (b) a standard response once a threshold number of components is detected.
The bias blind spot is the cognitive bias of failing to compensate for one’s own cognitive biases. The term was created by Emily Pronin, a social psychologist from Princeton University’s Department of Psychology, with colleagues Daniel Lin and Lee Ross. Pronin and her co-authors explained to subjects the better-than-average effect (illusory superiority), the halo effect, self-serving bias, and many other cognitive biases.
According to the better-than-average bias, specifically, people are likely to see themselves as inaccurately ‘better than average’ for possible positive traits and ‘less than average’ for negative traits. When subsequently asked how biased they themselves were, subjects rated themselves as being much less vulnerable to those biases than the average person.
The introspection illusion is a cognitive bias in which people wrongly think they have direct insight into the origins of their mental states, while treating others’ introspections as unreliable. In certain situations, this illusion leads people to make confident but false explanations of their own behavior (Causal theories’) or inaccurate predictions of their future mental states. The illusion has been examined in psychological experiments, and suggested as a basis for biases in how people compare themselves to others. These experiments have been interpreted as suggesting that, rather than offering direct access to the processes underlying mental states, introspection is a process of construction and inference, much as people indirectly infer others’ mental states from their behavior.
When people mistake unreliable introspection for genuine self-knowledge, the result can be an illusion of superiority over other people, for example when each person thinks they are less biased and less conformist than the rest of the group. Even when experimental subjects are provided with reports of other subjects’ introspections, in as detailed a form as possible, they still rate those other introspections as unreliable while treating their own as reliable. Although the hypothesis of an introspection illusion informs some psychological research, the existing evidence is arguably inadequate to decide how reliable introspection is in normal circumstances. Correction for the bias may be possible through education about the bias and its unconscious nature.
Lilith is a female demon in Jewish legends, found first in the Dead Sea scrolls (the earliest known copy of the old testament, discovered in 1947 and written between 408 BCE and 318 CE). The legend is related both to a Hebrew language term ‘lilith’ which appears in a list of wilderness animals and birds in the ‘Book of Isaiah,’ and also is linked to beliefs about demons called ‘lili’ (‘spirit,’ associated with the night, wind, and owls.) in ancient Babylon. Evidence in later Jewish materials is plentiful, but little information has been found relating to the original Akkadian and Babylonian view of these demons. The relevance of two sources previously used to connect the Jewish ‘Lilith’ to an Akkadian ‘Lilitu’ – the ‘Gilgamesh’ appendix and the Arslan Tash amulets – are now both disputed by recent scholarship.
The Hebrew term ‘Lilith’ first occurs in ‘Isaiah 34:14,’ either singular or plural according to variations in the earliest manuscripts, though in a list of animals. In the Dead Sea Scrolls ‘Songs of the Sage’ (a fragmentary Hebrew language manuscript of a Jewish magical text of incantation and exorcism, specifically for protection against a list of demons) the term first occurs in a list of monsters. This liturgical text both cautions against the presence of supernatural malevolence and assumes familiarity with Lilith; distinct from the biblical text, however, this passage does not function under any socio-political agenda, but instead serves in the same capacity as ‘An Exorcism’ and ‘Songs to Disperse Demons.’ The text is thus, to a community ‘deeply involved in the realm of demonology,’ an exorcism hymn.
‘Colorless green ideas sleep furiously‘ is a sentence composed by linguist Noam Chomsky in his 1957 book ‘Syntactic Structures’ as an example of a sentence that is grammatically correct, but semantically nonsensical. The term was originally used in his 1955 thesis ‘Logical Structures of Linguistic Theory.’ Although the sentence is grammatically correct, no obvious understandable meaning can be derived from it, and thus it demonstrates the distinction between syntax (linguistic rules) and semantics (symbolic meaning). As an example of a category mistake (a property is ascribed to a thing that could not possibly have that property), it was used to show inadequacy of the then-popular probabilistic models of grammar, and the need for more structured models.
The sentence can be given an interpretation through polysemy (the capacity for a sign to have multiple related meanings). Both ‘green’ and ‘colorless’ have figurative meanings, which allow colorless to be interpreted as ‘nondescript’ and green as ‘immature.’ The sentence can therefore be construed as ‘nondescript immature ideas have violent nightmares,’ a phrase with less oblique semantics. In particular, the phrase can have legitimate meaning too, if green is understood to mean ‘newly-formed’ and sleep can be used to figuratively express mental or verbal dormancy.
Borg is a collective proper noun for a fictional alien race that appears as recurring antagonists in various incarnations of the ‘Star Trek’ franchise. The Borg are a collection of species that have been turned into cybernetic organisms functioning as drones of the Collective, or the hive. A pseudo-race, dwelling in the Star Trek universe, the Borg force other species into their collective and connect them to ‘the hive mind’; the act is called assimilation and entails violence, abductions, and injections of cybernetic implants. The Borg’s ultimate goal is ‘achieving perfection.’
Aside from being the main threat in ‘Star Trek: First Contact,’ the Borg play major roles in ‘The Next Generation’ and ‘Voyager’ television series, primarily as an invasion threat to the United Federation of Planets, but also of some use to the Voyager. The Borg have become a symbol in popular culture for any juggernaut against which ‘resistance is futile.’