Archive | September, 2014

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A Sense of Fairness is Genetic

Posted on 28 September 2014 by Jerry

It has long been demonstrated that when self-interest is absent, kindergartners have a sense of fairness.  Now, arguably even before the notion of self-interest, it has been shown that 19 – 21 month old children already have a sense of fairness.

Three researchers from the universities of Illinois and Pennsylvania believe they have proven one of two possible conclusions.  The first is that the sense of fairness is one of the innate and universal conditions with which we all come equipped or the second is a behavioral rule acquired by infants derived from observing or participating in everyday social interactions.  The researchers have left both as possible sources.

However, since the study conducted is on children younger than ever before, the researchers tend to believe the former or that a sense of fairness is innate and universal.  This is because the tests conducted were on 1½ year olds who barely have developed language and have almost no social interactions outside those with siblings and parents.

The outcome of the research is described as follows, “In Experiment 1, 19-month-olds expected an experimenter to distribute two items equally between two individuals; in Experiment 2, 21-month-olds expected an experimenter to distribute rewards equally between two individuals when both had worked, but not when one had worked while the other had chosen not to.”

The report continued that, “The same behavior on the part of the experimenter – giving one item to each individual – was thus viewed as expected in the first context, but not in the second.  Together these results suggest that, by 19 – 21 months, infants show context-sensitive expectations about the allocation of resources and dispensation of rewards, at least in simple situations.”

Even the site in the brain for fairness was found in 2010.  This plus the conclusion that a sense of fairness, representing equal reward for equal effort, is innate in all of us raises the issue of how and when self-interest, causing us to take a larger share, was introduced into personalities.  Simple observation shows that self-interest and making/getting more than the other guy is the much stronger motivation as life progresses.

When does this type of self-interest begin?  Is it the parent’s first admonishment that we should not allow another child to take our toy?  Is it the result of all the competitive situations we put our children in?  Does it start when we let a sibling take a larger piece of something?  Is it reinforced by the endless personal greed in competitions fostered by being in business or by playing the market?

In any case it is clear the society and its parents should foster and emphasize this sense of fairness and discourage the type of behavior that allows a disproportionate share to be seized by the greedy.  Fairness in the distribution of assets and rewards should be a singular objective of both individuals and of societies.

Use the following links to obtain more information or access the source documents.


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A Helping Hand from Carl Sagan: The Pale Blue Dot

Posted on 11 September 2014 by Jerry

It isn’t often a video is brought to my attention that perfectly represents a large portion or set of conclusions reached in my book, Beyond Animal, Ego and Time: the Human Odyssey.  While the book contains much more and even in this area a slightly different point, this video by Carl Sagan is well worth watching by any person today.

With nothing else to say, use the following link to access and watch the video.   I recommend you get rid of the brief advertisement and enjoy the video while taking its message to heart.;_ylt=A2klo9bxnxjunxal2t7w8qf;_ylu=x3odomtb2dtu1am43bhnlywnzcgrzbgsddmlkbhz0awqdvje2oqdvje20qrncg9zaze-?p=carl+sagan+pale+blue+dot

Thank you Kate Parrick for finding and forwarding this video.

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The Oceans are Taking the Heat

Posted on 11 September 2014 by Jerry

It’s the oceans.  They have absorbed the additional planetary heat generated since 2000.  Scientists and others have observed how the annual mean temperature of the world has not changed since the beginning of the new century.  The believers in a continuation of climate change have narrowed to two principal causes for keeping the same annual mean temperature, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

According to new data, “The latter part of the 20th century saw rapid global warming as more heat stayed near the surface.  In the 21st century, surface warming slowed as more heat moved into deeper oceans.  In situ and reanalyzed data are used to trace the pathways of ocean heat uptake.” The researchers of this study identified the Atlantic Ocean as having absorbed the world’s heat.  This conclusion was released in a Science magazine study reported in the August 22, 2014 issue.

While another research report reaches the same conclusion it cites a different ocean, the Pacific, as acting as the primary cause for the rising ocean temperatures.  It does identify what is happening in the Pacific Ocean as the main reason for the effect on the Atlantic.

Kevin Trenberth argues that climate change has not stopped but rather is simply “manifested in different ways.”  An article that appeared in June of 2013, in states that the “El Nino caused a large loss of heat from the deep ocean to the sea surface that resulted in a cooling of the oceans.  Since then the deep ocean has been absorbing heat back from the upper ocean and so cooling the atmosphere.”  He continues, “the centre of action is the Pacific Ocean but the main places where heat goes deep into the ocean are the Atlantic and Southern Oceans rather than the Pacific.”

Those of us who hoped this stability in the annual mean world temperature meant there was some slowing of the pace of climate change are disappointed.  These findings are conclusive even though there is some “chicken and egg” argument around which ocean has the greatest responsibility for the Atlantic Ocean acting as a heat sink and taking on more of the world’s heat.

There is no break in the inevitable escalation of the world’s heat even as its manifestation is not what was expected.  We need to redouble our efforts to weather the changes (no pun intended) that are coming as a result of climate change.  At this point many of us have given up on trying to stop climate change and are now focused on slowing its progress and figuring out what humanity is going to do in each local environment to survive its effects.

Use the following links to access additional information or see the source documents for this article.

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