Monday, 23 February 2004

My favourite thing about Breeders? "Cannonball"

I'm currently reading Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. I've read parts of it before, but I'm still really impressed by the ideas on social epidemics. The idea's that really sticking in my head right now is that of Hartshorne and May's 1920s studies on cheating, where they concluded that honesty as a trait isn't "fundamental" in the way we tend to believe, but is often dependent on context: if someone is willing to cheat on a word completion test, it doesn't mean she's going to cheat on a different kind of test. Fascinating. So how much of personality can we directly infer from one person if we only know them in a specific context? I don't know, but it sure adds to my skepticism about how much outdoor activities can really help teach you about honesty, or to how much learning to be a risk-taker in the physical realm can help you in the business realm. If I trust someone in a trust fall, does that mean they're inherently trustworthy in other contexts?

Makes one think - if the Powers That Be in Singapore want to promote procreation, perhaps they need to engender a tipping point of their own... interesting article in the Boston Globe on the growing child-free movement in the US - showing that it is possible in an advanced society (in this case the US) to feel so much pressure to have kids that people have to actively rebel against it...

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