Thinker Thoughts: Articles That Made Us Think

Thinker Thoughts is evolving! Every Friday, we’re sharing our 3 favorite reads of the week and what they encouraged us to think about. Give them a think and let us know your thinker thoughts!

What We’ve Been Thinking About This Week

1. Why we might need to reconsider how much time we spend on our smartphones…

how smartphones affect our mindsAn article in the Wall Street Journal, “How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds” (10/6), has us thinking twice about our dependency on our smartphones, based on recent research that suggests “people’s knowledge and understanding may actually dwindle as gadgets grant them easier access to online data stores.”

The quote:

“It isn’t just our reasoning that takes a hit when phones are around. Social skills and relationships seem to suffer as well. Because smartphones serve as constant reminders of all the friends we could be chatting with electronically, they pull at our minds when we’re talking with people in person, leaving our conversations shallower and less satisfying…
But even in the history of captivating media, the smartphone stands out. It is an attention magnet unlike any our minds have had to grapple with before. Because the phone is packed with so many forms of information and so many useful and entertaining functions, it acts as what Dr. Ward calls a “supernormal stimulus,” one that can “hijack” attention whenever it is part of our surroundings—which it always is. Imagine combining a mailbox, a newspaper, a TV, a radio, a photo album, a public library and a boisterous party attended by everyone you know, and then compressing them all into a single, small, radiant object. That is what a smartphone represents to us. No wonder we can’t take our minds off it…
When we constrict our capacity for reasoning and recall or transfer those skills to a gadget, we sacrifice our ability to turn information into knowledge. We get the data but lose the meaning. Upgrading our gadgets won’t solve the problem. We need to give our minds more room to think. And that means putting some distance between ourselves and our phones.”

2. Just how much we’re willing to risk when it comes to space exploration…

space travel risksAn article in The Atlantic, “Space Travel’s Existential Question” (10/10), encourages us to weigh the value we place on space exploration against the cost and sacrifices made by individuals who have lost their lives since NASA’s inception in 1958.

The quote:

“Sometimes, you hear the phrase ‘Failure is not an option’ associated with NASA. But it was never a slogan at the agency; no one in mission control, that we know of, ever said it, and no manager passed it down. It was just a line in the movie Apollo 13. Failure is always an option: It has to be.
Of course, no one wants a rocket to blow up or a crew capsule to fall to Earth. But to undertake space travel, the undertakers have to acknowledge those possibilities and mitigate the risks. As NASA administrator William Gerstenmaier said in his paper ‘Staying Hungry: the Interminable Management of Risk in Human Spaceflight,’ ‘We never simply accept it, but NASA, our stakeholders, and the public must acknowledge the risk as we move forward.’The public, to some extent, also knows that’s the equation. But a 1/200 mission-failure rate means that one doesn’t happen very often, which means that every one comes as a shock.Still, astronauts’ deaths don’t always cause communal moral outrage. ‘A particularly risky venture can become socially acceptable in correlation with the value placed on it,’ Langston wrote in her risk paper. If people value a space-exploration program, in other words, they’re okay with others risking their lives to push it forward.”

3. How millennials are continuing to transform popular culture…

home improvement online classes for millennialsAn article in the Wall Street Journal, “America’s Retailers Have a New Target Customer” (10/10), had us chuckling with the fact that “The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has started offering gardening lessons for young homeowners that cover basic tips—really, really basic—like making sure sunlight can reach plants.”

The article reports that home goods, appliance and furnishing companies, such as Home Depot, Williams-Sonoma, Sherwin-Williams, etc., are hosting classes and online tutorials to teach millennials basic household maintenance skills they might not have learned growing up, i.e. how to mow the lawn, use a tape measure, mop a floor, hammer a nail and pick a paint color.

The quote:

“This generation, with its over-scheduled childhoods, tech-dependent lifestyles and delayed adulthood, is radically different from previous ones. They’re so different, in fact, that companies are developing new products, overhauling marketing and launching educational programs—all with the goal of luring the archetypal 26-year-old.
‘They grew up playing soccer, having dance recitals and playing an Xbox,’ says Scott’s Mr. King. ‘They probably didn’t spend as much time helping mom and dad out in the yard as their predecessors or their predecessors’ predecessors.’…
Baby boomers changed the consumer-products industry as they grew up, sending diaper sales soaring in the 1960s, buying power suits in the 1980s and luxury cars and handbags in the 2000s. Marketers promised goods and services that would enable boomers’ independent, free spirits.
Millennials are different, though, especially in the rate at which they achieve independence in adulthood. In 2016, just 24% of 25- to 34-year-olds had experienced all four of what the Census Bureau called major life milestones: having lived away from parents, having been married, having lived with a child and being in the labor force.”

Phrase of the week: “Every problem on this planet, including our problem, must be solved with respect and mutually acceptable [solutions].”

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of the Tibetan nation, spoke at a conference of Tibet supporters in northern India this past week, sharing concerns about President Trump’s “America first” policy, while also praising the ideals of liberty, freedom, and democracy. Offering wide ranging remarks on everything from the U.S. to China and the European Union, he aptly noted, “Every problem on this planet, including our problem, must be solved with respect and mutually acceptable [solutions].”

See our previous Thinker Thoughts here, here and here, covering everything from Facebook’s domination of the world to how we might already be living inside a computer.

Thinker Thoughts: Articles That Made Us Think

Thinker Thoughts is evolving! Every Friday, we’re sharing our favorite reads of the week and what they encouraged us to think about. Give them a think and let us know your thinker thoughts!

What We’ve Been Thinking About This Week

1. How Facebook has, quite literally, taken over the world…

how facebook is taking over the worldAn article in New York Magazine, “Does Even Mark Zuckerberg Know What Facebook Is?” (10/2), encourages us to think about the role that Facebook plays in safeguarding democracy and fostering a global community. Read more

Thinker Thoughts: Articles that Made us Think

Thinker Thoughts is evolving! Every Friday, we’re sharing our 3 favorite reads of the week and what they encouraged us to think about. Give them a think and let us know your thinker thoughts!

What We’ve Been Thinking About This Week

1. How our brains react when we experience a beautiful masterpiece…

how our brain responds to balletA fascinating, animated feature in The Washington Post, “This is Your Brain on Art” (9/18), stimulates our brain by examining the science behind our brain’s response to seeing and experiencing art (i.e. ballets, theater shows, etc.). Read more

Thinker Thoughts: Articles that Made us Think

Thinker Thoughts is evolving! Every Friday, we’re sharing our favorite reads of the week and what they encouraged us to think about. Give them a think and let us know your thinker thoughts!

What We’ve Been Thinking About This Week

1. How technology and automated algorithms are robbing us of our humanity…

An essay for The Washington Post, “How Silicon Valley is Erasing Your Individuality” (9/8), forces us to confront the perils and consequences of a world governed by the tech giants (i.e. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple). Read more

Thinker Thoughts: Storm Surge

Given the calamity of last week’s Hurricane Harvey in Houston and this week’s Hurricane Irma pummeling the Southeast, our Thinker Thoughts comes from a commentary in the New York Times (September 3, 2017) entitled,

Climate Science’s View of the Hurricane“, written by Katharine Mach and Miyuki Hino: Read more

Through the Realms: Tales from Isle of Skye

Through the Realms: Tales from Isle of Skye
It’s been a busy summer, but we’re excited to be back and grateful for all your support and emails as ATG continues to evolve! 
“To visit Skye is to make a progress into the dark backward and abysm of time. You turn your back on the present, and walk into antiquity. You see everything in the light of ossian, as in the light of a mournful sunset.”  –Alexander Smith, A Summer in Skye (1865)

A summer trip to Skye does wonders for the soul, drawing one into a state of meditative awe at the vast expanse of uninhabited land and transporting one into a strangely fascinating, other-worldly realm that seems to exist outside of time.

Siloed from the world by limited technology, you become unaware of – and uninterested in – anything but the magnificent display of nature’s grandeur unfolding before you: sheep-dotted hills, jagged peaks, “velvet moors, sparkling lochs and towering sea cliffs” cast their spell, suspending you in a timeless wonder. Read more

Isle of Skye’s Old Man Storr

Isle of Skye’s Old Man Storr
It’s been a busy summer, but we’re excited to be back and grateful for all your support and emails as ATG continues to evolve! 

It happens naturally in the ascent, to shed the duties and disappointments that weigh one down in daily living. At the summit, one is rewarded with a lightness of being. A step and a glance up, a step and a glance up, the breathing becomes deep and rhythmic, and listening, I no longer know where I am or where I came from. But I know that I have become enfolded in the immense green beauty of this ancient mountain in a surreal landscape, and that I am where I should be. I understand that it is not about power. For here alone, there is no need of power. On top now, I am free to just be…in the warm golden glow of an early summer evening. This is nature’s gift to those in search of truth and beauty. Read more

Thinker Thoughts: “iGen”

It’s been a busy summer, but we’re excited to be back and grateful for all your support and emails as ATG continues to evolve! 
We’re delving back into our Thinker Thoughts this week, bringing you an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal book review entitled, “An Aversion to Adulting” (August 24, 2017). The book under review is Jean M. Twenge’s iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood: 

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