The Tyranny of Niceness

This post is inspired by reading this post from the The Advice Goddess Blog. I stole some of Christina’s lines directly and the general trend of the piece but I’d like to think my elaboration is of interest.

Our latest generation can’t argue. They think that creating tension is bad and a sign of something wrong or that something has gone wrong. It is part of the Tyranny of Niceness in which rocking the boat is the greatest sin and tolerance is the greatest virtue.

If you can’t argue then you can’t think.

One of the best ways to refine your ideas is to fight. A good vigorous debate between friends is a blast as well as a passionate argument between rivals. As long as your goal is to enhance your own understanding and delve into the truth such arguments are one of the best ways to enhance the mind. Those who argue with no intention of changing their mind and who openly state that no evidence will ever possibly convert them to any other view are already lost to reason.

If no one challenges your thoughts and opinions then the ruts of conventional thinking just grow deeper and stronger until you’re unable to critically examine your own beliefs and knowledge. Thus, the extreme polarization in America today where those who have the most extreme views are unopposed by the sensible majority and exist in an echo room listening only to those thoughts that agree with them. Those who dare challenge your paradigm are the enemy and whatever the enemy says is suspect as you already know and believe that passionately that your ideas are superior and correct.

The tradition upholding the ideals of free thought, liberty, and speaking your mind are quintessentially american. The latest generation has been raised without this and don’t know it and don’t appreciate it. One of the largest polls ever conducted on high school students showed that the vast majority think that the government should censor the media and those with unpopular opinions should be prevented from sharing their thoughts rather than being argued for and against in the free market of ideas. The ideas should just be quietly shut down and censored by central authority so as to avoid upsetting anyone. Again the tyranny of niceness rears its ugly head. As mentioned in the link Ethics Professors can’t find a single topic or ethical conundrum that their students will find objectionable and will actively stand up against! They just want SOMEONE else to make the decisions and shut up unpopular or divergent thoughts so they don’t have to critically apply their reason or make anyone uncomfortable.

The education system is partly to blame for this. An anecdotal story from an article in Newsweek I read years ago tells how a boy stood up and yelled at his teacher to stop being mean to a girl in their classroom. The girl had asked a question and the teacher mocked her calling her stupid and saying the question was dumb. The boy continued saying that in the first day of class the teacher had said to ask any questions you have and don’t worry there are no dumb questions so she was being mean AND being an hypocrite…the school’s response was to expel the boy for being intolerant and showing a lack of respect for authority.

Reminds me of a great speech given by Al Pacino in a Scent of a Woman.

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Music and the Brain

Music and the Brain

“Studies show that learning and memory linked to specific beats in a rhythm stimulated increased learning ability.”

Most anyone who has worked out or needed to focus on something has probably noticed the increase in competency and completion when listening to the right music. The ancients knew this by having drummers on ships provide the pace and rhythm of the rowers. I find that music can help put me in a “no-mind” state in which I am not necessarily conscious of each step of a process but it all just flows and often at an higher degree of quality be it a research paper or deep cleaning the kitchen.

Brain Aging May Depend on Childhood Intelligence

The research found that more than two-thirds of the association between cognitive ability in the elderly and cortical thickness was accounted for by differences in IQ decades earlier in childhood.

Health & Family

Older people who stay sharp tend to have a thicker cortex, which is the outermost region of the brain that includes the areas responsible for judgment and complex thought. But while preserving the cortex is important for successful aging, a new study suggests that childhood intelligence — not anything specific done in old age — largely accounts for why some elderly people have more cortical tissue and better cognition.

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Hidden Potential of Autistic kids

All too often people look at autism as a disease rather than as simply a different way to look at the world than that of neurotypicals. There are physical differences in brain structure which aren’t discussed in the article. I think that in the near future there will be better methods of teaching for autistic kids that will allow them to flower as already many of the best and brightest minds in the world today have autism but succeeded despite an inimical environment. Imagine what will happen once autistic kids are encouraged and autistic adults are given empathy and work environments that take advantage of their unique strengths without overly penalizing for their weaknesses.

 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-hidden-potential-of-autistic-kids&WT.mc_id=SA_DD_20111130