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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Rx: Kindness?

Below, interview with David Fessler, Bedari Director.

We shall see. I applaud this effort. Lord knows we are living in increasingly unkind times.
The UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute seeks to advance scientific research into kindness and the barriers to it, and to share this knowledge through courses for UCLA students, and through information shared with the public...
Quite the faculty lineup.

A first paper (Creative Commons licensed pdf):
Elevation, an emotion for prosocial contagion, is experienced more strongly by those with greater expectations of the cooperativeness of others

A unique emotion, elevation, is thought to underlie prosocial contagion, a process whereby witnessing a prosocial act leads to acting prosocially. Individuals differ in their propensity to experience elevation, and thus their proneness to prosocial contagion, but little is known about the causes of such variation. We introduce an adaptationist model wherein elevation marks immediate circumstances in which generalized prosociality is advantageous, with this evaluation of circumstances hinging in part on prior expectations of others’ prosociality. In 15 studies, we add to evidence that elevation can reliably be elicited and mediates prosocial contagion. Importantly, we confirm a novel prediction–generated by our adaptationist account–that an idealistic attitude, which indexes others’ expected degree of prosociality, moderates the relationship between exposure to prosocial cues and experiencing elevation. We discuss how our findings inform both basic theorizing in the affective sciences and translational efforts to engineer a more harmonious world, and we offer future research directions to further test and extend our model… 
"Nature may be red in tooth and claw, but it is not merely so." --Sam Harris
Hmmm... Might there be any scholarly nexus between a "science of kindness" and that of "neuroaesthetics?" After all, the expressed moral value of "kindness" is in fact a cultural "aesthetic."

Truth and Nonviolence in Post-Truth Times: An International Conference on Mohandas Gandhi
January 30 @ 8:00 am - February 2 @ 5:00 pm

The UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute is a co-sponsor of Truth and Nonviolence in Post-Truth Times: An International Conference on Mohandas Gandhi, Thursday 30 January – Sunday 2 February 2020 at UCLA.

More information at
"Post-truth times." Yeah.

See also The Kindness Podcast.

BTW: My personal kindness coefficient is running at high tide this week.

Three weeks early. Momma and child doing fine.




See SBM's troubling "Is defending science-based medicine worth it?"
Pseudoscience, denialism, fake news, and disinformation about health are a bigger problem than ever, thanks to social media. As doctors and scientists join lay defenders of science on social media, will they be willing to pay the price in terms of harassment? Or will they decide it’s not worth the hassle. And what about our fellow docs who think that it’s beneath them to debunk quackery, that it is so easy as to be not worth their effort?
Read the entire post. I am a devoted daily SBM reader. I cite them frequently. From their astute commentariat:
So long as we are committed to improving the human condition and the condition of our planet it is worth standing up to the slings and arrows of quacks and profiteers. Many of us see this through the lens of science but the problem is widely pervasive. Political discourse at the highest levels of government is now little more than rabid attacks fueled with lies and innuendos leaving no oxygen for meaningful policy debate. Freedom of speech has dissolved into a sort of generalized license to say whatever one feels regardless of its grounding in fact or reality. This, my friends, is a descent into madness, into chaos.

A Cincinnati pediatrician who posted a pro-vaccine video on TikTok says she has been harassed by anti-vaxxers, including one who left the comment, “Dead doctors don’t lie.” Dr. Nicole Baldwin says the vaccine deniers deluged her office with calls and threats and gave her medical practice low ratings on Yelp. Baldwin said she won’t be cowed…

The day in Stupid.

More to come...

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