The Situationist

Archive for April 8th, 2009

Situationism in the News

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 8, 2009


Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quote from some of the Situationist news items of March 2009. (They are listed in alphabetical order by source.)

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From Wired Science: “Religion: Biological Accident, Adaptation – or Both

Whether or not God exists, thinking about Him or Her doesn’t require divinely dedicated neurological wiring. Instead, religious thoughts run on brain systems used to figure out what other people are thinking and feeling. The findings, based on brain scans of people contemplating God, don’t explain whether a propensity for religion is a neurobiological accident. But at least they give researchers a solid framework for exploring the question.” Read more . . .

From Guardian: “This column will change your life”

“You’re a reasonable, warm-spirited person. You sometimes get irritable, after a stressful day, when it’s raining and you forgot your umbrella, but who wouldn’t? That doesn’t make you an unpleasant person. It’s others who are irredeemably, intrinsically awful. (See also Sartre’s famous remark that “hell is other people, especially the ones who linger pointlessly at the cash machine for 45 seconds after withdrawing their money.”)  We think this way because we’re hypocrites, certainly – but also thanks to one of the most important phenomena in social psychology, the fundamental attribution error (FAE). In accounting for others’ behaviour, we chronically overvalue personality-based explanations, while undervaluing situational ones. “When we see someone else kick a vending machine for no visible reason, we assume they are ‘an angry person’,” writes Eliezer Yudkowsky at  “But when you kick the machine, it’s because the bus was late, your report is overdue, and now the damned machine has eaten your lunch money.” Read more . . .

From Huffington Post: “To Forgive, Correct the Fundamental Attribution Error”

“Willingness to forgive is dependent on our explanatory or attributional style, on why we think people do what they do. People are scientists by nature: when we observe an event, we attempt to make sense of it. Making sense of the world is adaptive, necessary for survival. The more we understand about the world, the safer we feel. Say we just had a meeting with a co-worker, and after the meeting is over, we observe the co-worker forcefully shut the door as she enters her office. Without a moment’s delay, almost automatically, we search for an explanation. And in doing so, we are limited to essentially two types of explanations for things that happen: we can either attribute the event to a force within the person (personal attribution), or to a force outside of the person (contextual attribution). ” Read more . . .

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