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jerryking : cultural_identity   5

What meeting Bernie Madoff taught me about our inability to read others
October 2, 2019 | Financial Times | by Gillian Tett.

Books:
Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell.
The Human Swarm, by Mark Moffett.

Malcolm Gladwell, the writer, earned fame — and fortune — by producing books such as The Tipping Point (2000) that popularised human psychology. In his new study, Talking to Strangers, he looks at our propensity to misread other people. It is an increasingly pressing question for our polarised, fake-news era.

How should we interpret the signals we receive from others? This matters when it comes to detecting fraud, of course......It also matters in other ways. Today more than ever, we all suffer if we misread the signals we receive from different social groups. It is human nature to assume our own culture is the definition of “normal”, and to use this lens when we view others.....even traits that we assume are ­“universal”, such as [jck: visual cues] facial expressions, can vary hugely between cultures — and, of course, within societies that speak the same language.

Gladwell describes, for example, how social interactions between black and white communities in America are regularly marred by misunderstandings, with tragic consequences. “[This] is what happens when a society does not know how to talk to strangers,” he concludes.......Moffett then advances two broader points. First, he argues that humans (like ants) need a sense of tribal identity and belonging, with specialisations clearly defined; but, second, he insists that the way humans develop this tribal identity is crucially different from other animals.

Among some species, such as chimpanzees, trust only emerges through face-to-face contact between individuals in small groups; in others, creatures only co-operate if they can be instantly identified as coming from the same species. Ants kill anything that smells different.....what is amazing about humans – albeit rarely celebrated – is how we generally tolerate outsiders ­without instantly needing to kill them.

“Being comfortable around unfamiliar members of our society gave humans advantages from the get-go and made nations possible,” Moffett writes. “Chimpanzees need to know everybody [to ­tolerate them]. Ants need to know nobody. Humans only need to know somebody [for society to function.]” This achievement deserves far more attention, since it only works in two conditions. First, humans must feel secure in their own group (which they signal with symbols and rituals); second, “strangers” can only be smoothly absorbed if everyone learns to read different symbols too....If we want to “talk to strangers”, we need to teach our kids (and ourselves) to try to look at the world through strangers’ eyes – even if we must also recognise that we will never truly succeed.
assumptions  Bernard_Madoff  books  character_traits  cultural_identity  deception  Gillian_Tett  misinterpretations  psychopaths  signals  strangers  tribes  group_identity  lying  Malcolm_Gladwell  misjudgement  psychology  trustworthiness  visual_cues  writers 
october 2019 by jerryking
The Last Ship: Jan Lowe Shinebourne: 9781845232467: Literature: Amazon Canada
For Joan Wong, growing up in a Chinese family in the political turmoil of 1960s Guyana, family history is never straightforward. There are the examples of her grandmothers - Clarice Chung, iron-willed matriarch who has ensured the family's survival through unremitting toil, with her pride in maintaining racial and cultural identity, and Susan Leo, whose failures have shamed the family, who found comfort from harsh poverty in relationships with two Indian men and adopting an Indian life-style. Later, when Joan Wong makes her own pilgrimage to ancestral China at the turn of the twenty-first century, there are surprises in store.
ancestry  books  Chinese  cultural_identity  Diaspora  Guyanese  history  homecoming  pilgrimage 
february 2018 by jerryking
Courses in Manhood for African-American Boys - The New York Times
FEB. 4, 2016 | NYT | By PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN.

While lower grades focus on the stories, legacies and images of black people, high school students take a deep dive into African-American history and culture, from ancient civilizations to the civil rights movement to contemporary media. All classes are taught by black male instructors whose own experiences and perspectives provide a multidimensional understanding of the students they mentor (in Oakland, as elsewhere, more than half the teachers are white and most are women).
African-Americans  coming-of-age  cultural_identity  high_schools  history  life_skills  male  masculinity  mentoring  Oakland  rituals  students  values 
february 2016 by jerryking

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