Jay Reads and Recommends

Did you know…

Did you know…

… that today is Lithuania Declaration of Independence Day? Lithuania was the first Soviet republic to declare its independence from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990. Its independence was recognized by many Western nations after the failed Soviet coup on August 19, 1991.

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Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“I’ve come to believe that seeking happiness is not a frivolous pursuit. It’s honorable and necessary. And most people forget even to think about it.”

— Goldie Hawn

Jay Reads and Recommends

Did you know…

Did you know…

… that today is Album Record Day? Pink Floyd’s rock epic “Dark Side of the Moon” set a record for having spent more time on the Billboard album charts than any other album: 1,093 weeks! Listen to your favorite music today!

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Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“If I have made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent.”

— Sir Isaac Newton

Jay Reads and Recommends

Hypocognition is a censorship tool that mutes what we can feel | Aeon Ideas

via Hypocognition is a censorship tool that mutes what we can feel | Aeon Ideas

It is a strange feeling, stumbling upon an experience that we wish we had the apt words to describe, a precise language to capture. When we don’t, we are in a state of hypocognition, which means we lack the linguistic or cognitive representation of a concept to describe ideas or interpret experiences. The term was introduced to behavioural science by the American anthropologist Robert Levy, who in 1973 documented a peculiar observation: Tahitians expressed no grief when they suffered the loss of a loved one. They fell sick. They sensed strangeness. Yet, they could not articulate grief, because they had no concept of grief in the first place. Tahitians, in their reckoning of love and loss, and their wrestling with death and darkness, suffered not from grief but a hypocognition of grief.

No one, in fact, is immune to hypocognition. In my research with the psychologist David Dunning at the University of Michigan, we asked American participants: have you ever heard of the concept benevolent sexism?

If you haven’t, this is a term describing a chivalrous attitude that appears favourable towards women, but actually reinforces traditional gender roles and perpetuates gender stereotypes. When a professor says ‘Women are fragile and delicate creatures,’ or when a neighbour jests ‘I let my wife deal with paint colours – women are good at that kind of stuff,’ you can sense the discomfort lingering in air. Such comments reflect benevolent sexism because they sound like compliments, but carry presumptions of women as either the fragile damsel in need of protection or the default caretaker laden with household labour.

We then asked: how often have you noticed benevolent sexist comments or behaviours over the past two weeks? The results were striking. People who were hypocognitive of a concept noticed instances of it less often around them, compared with the people who knew the concept. Lacking the concept of benevolent sexism blinds you to its occurrence. Knowing the concept of benevolent sexism renders visible its manifestation.

On the flip side, if you have never heard of shoeburyness, consider yourself blessed. People who know the concept (shoeburyness: the vague uncomfortable feeling of sitting on a seat that is still radiating warmth from someone else’s bottom) are plagued by the sensation more often than those who are hypocognitive.

Hypocognition is not readily cured by acquiring a new word. Nor do ‘Words of the Year’ frequently succeed in becoming permanent fixtures of the lexicon. Nevertheless, the proliferation of neologisms can lend affirmation to unspoken moments of disquietude, to an amorphous cloud of restlessness in the modern world.

Before I knew what phubbing was, I didn’t have the guts – or the word – to call out my friend for phubbing me (snubbing me for her phone) in the middle of a conversation. And now… I still don’t – not when I myself can barely resist the urge of being figital (excessively checking one’s digital device) and curb my own performative busyness. But alas, though I am far from escaping the sprawling influences of digital addiction, I am no longer hypocognitive of them. As cognitive psychology affirms, having a verbal label – even a nonsensical terminology, an apparent portmanteau – can distil a nebulous phenomenon into an experience that’s more immediate and concrete.

If the prerequisite to addressing a problem is to identify it, what happens when the identifier remains hypocognised? In describing his nontraditional family arrangement, the American writer Andrew Solomon noted the poverty of language to mirror the modern complexities of relatedness. In the absence of an expanding lexicon, we default to denotations bounded by the traditional descriptors of a nuclear family. ‘My husband and I are often asked whether our son George’s surrogate mother is “like an aunt”,’ Solomon wrote in The Guardian in 2017. ‘We are asked which of us is “really the mom”. Single parents are routinely asked what it is like to be “both mother and father”.’

Jay Reads and Recommends

Hypocognition is a censorship tool that mutes what we can feel | Aeon Ideas

via Hypocognition is a censorship tool that mutes what we can feel | Aeon Ideas

It is a strange feeling, stumbling upon an experience that we wish we had the apt words to describe, a precise language to capture. When we don’t, we are in a state of hypocognition, which means we lack the linguistic or cognitive representation of a concept to describe ideas or interpret experiences. The term was introduced to behavioural science by the American anthropologist Robert Levy, who in 1973 documented a peculiar observation: Tahitians expressed no grief when they suffered the loss of a loved one. They fell sick. They sensed strangeness. Yet, they could not articulate grief, because they had no concept of grief in the first place. Tahitians, in their reckoning of love and loss, and their wrestling with death and darkness, suffered not from grief but a hypocognition of grief.

No one, in fact, is immune to hypocognition. In my research with the psychologist David Dunning at the University of Michigan, we asked American participants: have you ever heard of the concept benevolent sexism?

If you haven’t, this is a term describing a chivalrous attitude that appears favourable towards women, but actually reinforces traditional gender roles and perpetuates gender stereotypes. When a professor says ‘Women are fragile and delicate creatures,’ or when a neighbour jests ‘I let my wife deal with paint colours – women are good at that kind of stuff,’ you can sense the discomfort lingering in air. Such comments reflect benevolent sexism because they sound like compliments, but carry presumptions of women as either the fragile damsel in need of protection or the default caretaker laden with household labour.

We then asked: how often have you noticed benevolent sexist comments or behaviours over the past two weeks? The results were striking. People who were hypocognitive of a concept noticed instances of it less often around them, compared with the people who knew the concept. Lacking the concept of benevolent sexism blinds you to its occurrence. Knowing the concept of benevolent sexism renders visible its manifestation.

On the flip side, if you have never heard of shoeburyness, consider yourself blessed. People who know the concept (shoeburyness: the vague uncomfortable feeling of sitting on a seat that is still radiating warmth from someone else’s bottom) are plagued by the sensation more often than those who are hypocognitive.

Hypocognition is not readily cured by acquiring a new word. Nor do ‘Words of the Year’ frequently succeed in becoming permanent fixtures of the lexicon. Nevertheless, the proliferation of neologisms can lend affirmation to unspoken moments of disquietude, to an amorphous cloud of restlessness in the modern world.

Before I knew what phubbing was, I didn’t have the guts – or the word – to call out my friend for phubbing me (snubbing me for her phone) in the middle of a conversation. And now… I still don’t – not when I myself can barely resist the urge of being figital (excessively checking one’s digital device) and curb my own performative busyness. But alas, though I am far from escaping the sprawling influences of digital addiction, I am no longer hypocognitive of them. As cognitive psychology affirms, having a verbal label – even a nonsensical terminology, an apparent portmanteau – can distil a nebulous phenomenon into an experience that’s more immediate and concrete.

If the prerequisite to addressing a problem is to identify it, what happens when the identifier remains hypocognised? In describing his nontraditional family arrangement, the American writer Andrew Solomon noted the poverty of language to mirror the modern complexities of relatedness. In the absence of an expanding lexicon, we default to denotations bounded by the traditional descriptors of a nuclear family. ‘My husband and I are often asked whether our son George’s surrogate mother is “like an aunt”,’ Solomon wrote in The Guardian in 2017. ‘We are asked which of us is “really the mom”. Single parents are routinely asked what it is like to be “both mother and father”.’