This week I learned …
As a writer, I consume a lot of media in the form of books, podcasts, and videos. Alongside traveling to new places, this information helps fill my creative ‘well’ and provides inspiration for the stories I create.
In other words: I’m a learner and I love learning. Each day, I keep a quick list of things I learned and save it for future reference.
I also love sharing what I learned. However, I can only bombard my partner, friends, and family with so many “Did you know …” conversations. Hence, here’s a blog post about the things I learned this week.
You’ll find my tweet-sized summaries and a few takeaways for each topic. As well as the source, in case you want to take a deep dive into the topic yourself.
Let me know in the comments which topic is your favorite. Happy learning!
Human hair? No, it’s human fur! (via NPR’s Short Wave)
Calling the follicles on your head ‘hair’ is just another example of human vanity. It’s really just fur. And it’s style (straight vs. curly) evolved as an adaptation to the environment our ancestors lived in.
- Humans lost their fur everywhere else on their body in exchange for sweat glands to cool the body BUT they retained the fur on their heads to help reduce heat & protect the brain from radiation
- The more curly your head fur is the better it is at protecting your head from those dangerous solar rays from the local star (i.e. the Sun).
- Human head fur varies not just from head to head but also follicle to follicle.
U.S. News Media is negative (via Freakonomics Radio)
Okay, you’re probably not surprised with that statement, but I did find it interesting that there’s research to back it up. In this episode, Stephen Dubner looks at why the U.S. media is so negative. He interviews some researchers that looked at media news outlets reports—both during and before the pandemic—and compared them to regional and international news outlets reporting.
- The U.S. national news media tends to skew more negative compared to regional and international counterparts.
- Some blame the business model of the news media (including social media), but another thing to consider is the English language itself. Unlike other languages, it has a higher proportion of words to describe negative things vs. positive things. For example, we have the words ‘shame’ and ‘guilt’ to describe negative emotions, but only ‘happy’ (or some synonym of it) to describe positive emotions. Some other languages have a specific word to describe the happiness of a delicious meal, whereas in English we’ll simply say, “That was delicious.” Or “That was good.” More frequent examples occur with verbs; we use the verb ’to lie’ for when someone has been deceitful but there isn’t an opposite version when you’re being truthful. It’s a whole phrase like “to tell the truth” or “they’re a straight shooter.”
- With regards to social media, both positive and negative posts have an equal chance of going ‘viral,’ but currently the Algorithms in place put more emphasis on negative posts (with negative words). A simple change to the Algorithms could change what goes viral and shows up in our feeds. I personally would love more cute puppy pics and videos please!
- Also, negative posts have a higher chance of going ‘viral’ when they include in-group and out-group dynamics. For example, if I were a democrat posting something negative and included the words ‘republican,’ or ’Trump’ it’s more likely to be picked up by the Algorithm and negatively (or positively?) reacted to by my followers. The opposite is also true; if I were a republican, posting about democrats in a negative manner. This of course extends beyond politics and can apply to any in-group/out-group dynamic.
Why Music Sticks in Our Brains (via NPR’s Short Wave)
Music sticks in our brains because it engages multiple areas of our brains.
- We remember things better w/ music b/c of how it gets encoded in our memory. It can engage the auditory, visual, motor, and emotional regions of our brains
- It’s been documented in Alzheimer’s patients that even though they can’t remember the names of their loved ones, they can remember songs or how to play a music instrument.
- Music also engages muscle memory. Not just rhythm & dance moves, but also words. You can hear a song you haven’t heard in a long time, perhaps forgotten the words, but the muscles in your lips will still remember how to form the words. Giving you a hint at what the lyrics are.
Thanks for reading!
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Don’t forget to leave a comment: which topic was your favorite?
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