Featured, Nexus »

Is Our Culture of Empathy Perpetuating Inequality?

By | July 19, 2017

We desperately need more empathy. At least, that’s what we are told—in political rhetoric, in bestselling popular science books, in international development discourse, in feminist and anti-racist activism. Among current political antagonisms, especially the rise of Trumpism, many are worried about the deleterious effects of “empathy erosion.”
Empathy has been touted as a necessary quality in leadership, the solution to a wide range of social …

Featured, Nexus »

No, Empathy Isn’t a Universal Value

By | July 19, 2017

Empathy varies a lot among people, psychological research has found. But it also varies widely among countries and cultures. When my colleagues and I set out to analyze the largest study on empathy ever done—104,365 people from 63 countries—we expected to learn whether the extent to which we tune into others’ emotional cues clearly differs by culture. Instead, we were left with a number of …

Headline, Nexus »

Emmanuel Macron’s Centrist Victory May Only Add Fuel to the Populist Fire

By | July 19, 2017

Last year, the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President sparked fears of a worldwide populist revolt. But when Geert Wilders’s right-wing populist Freedom Party finished second in the Dutch general elections in March 2017, and Marine Le Pen was defeated in the run-off of the French presidential elections two months later, some political commentators were quick …

Featured, Nexus »

How Our Evolving Understanding of Individual Autonomy Led to Human Rights for All

In Inventing Human Rights: A History, UCLA historian Lynn Hunt traces the modern concept of Human Rights to a series of mid-18th century epistolary novels with a strong first person perspective, including Julie by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Samuel Richardson’s Pamela and Clarissa. Male and female readers got passionately engrossed in the experience of being “in” the body and position of the heroines of these novels. …

Featured, Nexus »

Empathy’s Evolution in the Human Imagination

By | July 18, 2017

Empathy seems to be one of the most “natural” emotions, but before 1908, no one in the English-speaking world had heard of it.
And when it did appear, “empathy” was a translation from the German Einfühlung, literally “in-feeling,” with the surprising meaning of projecting one’s own feelings into nature and objects of art.
This meaning is strange to us now. But the feeling we call …

Headline, Nexus »

Why We Should Fear Emotionally Manipulative Robots

“Keep going straight here!”
“Err, that’s not what the app is telling me to do.”
“Yes, but it’s faster this way. The app is taking you to the beltway. Traffic is terrible there!”
“Okay. I don’t know these roads.”
So went a conversation with an Uber driver in northern Virginia recently. But imagine it was a self-driving Uber. Would you even have that conversation, or would you be doomed …

Featured »

The Weaponization of Empathy in a Hyper-Connected World

By | July 17, 2017

Every time I go on Facebook I end up staring into the eyes of a puppy. Sometimes it has been mistreated, has a bad case of mange, or worse. Sometimes it’s looking for a home. I feel a tug on my heartstrings: What if I were that homeless puppy? It also makes me feel very important: Only I can save this puppy!
But in real …

Connecting California, Featured, Joe Mathews »

L.A.’s Revelatory Light Rail for Nerds

By | July 17, 2017

My train line is smarter than your train line.
I’m a regular rider of “The Brain Train,” officially known as the Gold Line on the L.A. Metro system’s. The Gold Line is light rail running from the eastern San Gabriel Valley into downtown L.A. and then back out again to East L.A. Along the way, it connects enough smart institutions—from innovative community colleges, to a …

Headline, Inquiry »

Is Empathy the 20th Century’s Most Powerful Invention?

By | July 17, 2017

 
This is a Zócalo Inquiry, Is Empathy the 20th Century’s Most Powerful Invention?

Featured, Poetry »

I hold history’s hand in mine #poem

By | July 14, 2017

darling. beloved. come closer.
I hold history’s hand in mine, an old friend
we walk together along the paved zanja madre
a river of dirt and water. small tribes of seagulls
nest in the shifting sediment
come, beloved. walk with me.
I am as determined as clover
plant the self where you find hope. fly
land. root. you don’t need permission to exist
I take out my ancestor’s artifacts
and strap them to my …

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