Interesting Ideas

And, right on cue…

from the New York Times 4 Feb 2014


Here is an article in today’s New York Times about parents’ decisions regarding genetic selection and their children.  Is this related in any way to the eugenics programs of the Progressive Era or the Social Darwinists?  Or are the situations of the families like these different enough that they shouldn’t really be compared to the topics we were discussing in class.

What decisions do you suppose you may face when you are at the stage in life to think about having kids?  What principles will you use to make those decisions?

What would Tocqueville have made of the NYA athletic requirement?

de Tocqueville football

Here is a really fascinating short article that brings some of Alexis de Tocqueville’s most famous observations into a discussion of high school sports.  What would he have thought about sports at NYA, do you think?

Why do teenagers like horror movies?

Here’s one possible answer:  it has to do with gender.    Does this theory ring true to you?

Hat tip: Marginal Revolution

From a survey on the psychology of scary stories:

With regard to age, there’s a suggestion that enjoyment rises through childhood, peaks in adolescence and then gradually fades with age. Related to this is the ‘snuggle theory’ – the idea that viewing horror films may be a rite of passage for young people, providing them with an opportunity to fulfil their traditional gender roles. A paper from the late 1980s by Dolf Zillmann, Norbert Mundorf and others found that male undergrads paired with a female partner (unbeknown to them, a research assistant), enjoyed a 14-minute clip from Friday the 13th Part III almost twice as much if she showed distress during the film. Female undergrads, by contrast, said they enjoyed the film more if their male companion appeared calm and unmoved. Moreover, men who were initially considered unattractive were later judged more appealing if they displayed courage during the film viewing. ‘Scary movies and monsters are just the ticket for girls to scream and hold on to a date for dear life and for the date (male or female) to be there to reassure, protect, defend and, if need be, destroy the monster,’ says Fischoff. ‘Both are playing gender roles prescribed by a culture.’


Even staying up late has a history…


Do you often find yourself staying up late to finish your homework?  Back in the day, of course, everyone would have worked on the land according to the schedule of daylight.  It turns out that staying up after dark is a practice that has a certain kind of history.

Here is an interesting article on that history in Europe:

During the previous generation or so, elites across Europe had moved their clocks forward by several hours. No longer a time reserved for sleep, the night time was now the right time for all manner of recreational and representational purposes. This is what Craig Koslofsky calls “nocturnalisation”, defined as “the ongoing expansion of the legitimate social and symbolic uses of the night”, a development to which he awards the status of “a revolution in early modern Europe”.


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