The Best of the Week
Endangered languages and the foundations of long-lasting love are part of this week’s best.
Dating, flouting authority and surrounding yourself with good-looking friends may make you popular when you’re 13, according to a study published online Wednesday. But don’t believe the media hype, psychologists say. Kids who try to act cool in early adolescence are more likely to have problems with drugs and alcohol, and have trouble managing friendships as they grow older. And their popularity tends to fade by the time they’re 22.
There are over 6,500 remaining languages spoken in the world and hundreds of them are critically endangered. Many of the lost words contain unique ideas, meanings and stories that we may not get back.
Just as ecosystems provide a wealth of services for humanity – some known, others unacknowledged or yet to be discovered – languages, too, are ripe with possibility. They contain an accumulated body of knowledge, including about geography, zoology, mathematics, navigation, astronomy, pharmacology, botany, meteorology and more.
Using location data to follow human patterns prompts a new way of thinking about society.
It could have a fascinating impact on the way anthropologists study migration and the way immigrants become part of a local community.
In this fantastic long piece, Emily Esfahani Smith lucidly distills the wealth of social science on what makes relationships work. As it turns out – genuine kindness and generosity is a biggie.
“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” [researcher John] Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. The disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”
Sleep is the world’s best medicine, improving everything from happiness, focus and memory, to sex, stress and the immune system.
Can sleeping twice a day for four hours replace sleeping once a day for eight? Are some people built to be late-risers and others early-risers? Does exercise help with sleep or does it keep you awake? The answers to those and more coming straight from the experts.
A new study shows having a lot of talented individuals can undermine their willingness to work together.
[Researcher Roderick] Swaab asserted that their latest research documenting a ‘too-much-talent effect’, revealed that for teams that required high levels of interdependence, like football and basketball, talent facilitates team performance, but only up to a point.
Could the effect be at work in other settings, like business or government?
“Has political hierarchy in the form of the state met its match in today’s networked world?” asks historian Niall Ferguson.
In today’s terms, the hierarchy is…the state itself, the vertically structured super-polity that evolved out of the republics and monarchies of early modern Europe.
To all the world’s states, democratic and undemocratic alike, the new informational, commercial, and social networks of the internet age pose a profound challenge, the scale of which is only gradually becoming apparent.
Featured Image: Dust Storm in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, United States. Credit: Brocken Inaglory.