Acting & Listening Advice from Alan Alda

Alan Alda bookMost communication is nonverbal. We want to look at the faces of those testifying in Congress and detect lies or deceit. They try to keep their faces blank in order not to telegraph this, but subtle clues or reactions are there in their voices and tone, too. Their pauses, gestures. Alan Alda talks about how the face is judged, not for just beauty or ugliness, but for believability. Why paying attention to people’s reactions or expressions when they talk is most important in understanding WHAT THEY MEAN. Mostly we misunderstand what people say or mean, but by truly listening and observing we have a better chance of connecting (and resolving conflicts too.) Instead of waiting for people to stop speaking so we can make another point, Alda’s point is to LISTEN with all our senses with the objective to UNDERSTAND. Not to “win” an argument by demeaning or defeating anyone (or everyone) seen as an opponent. Great new audiobook upcoming June 6. Preorder at Tower Review. As James Garner once put it: “I don’t act. I react. Give me a reactor over an actor any time. It puts you there in the moment, and you’re less likely to flub the way you read your lines, too.” Alda was in the movies Bridge of Spies, The Aviator, Everyone Says I Love You, Manhattan Murder Mystery, and Crimes & Misdemeanors. On TV’s MASH, and Scientific American Frontiers. He has won 7 Emmys, and is a big fan of science. “At first I think they just wanted a famous face do the introduction, and then narrate off camera, but I wanted to be there and interview the scientists.” He’s read Scientific American magazine since a kid.

Ariana Grande

The Future of Happiness

Brad Pitt

What kind of future does happiness have in an anti-science culture? 

In The Future of Happiness, author Amy Blankson, cofounder of the global positive psychology consulting firm GoodThink, unveils five strategies that successful individuals can use to not just survive but to actually thrive in the Digital Age:

  • Stay grounded to focus and channel your energy with intention
  • Know thyself through app-driven data to strive toward your potential
  • Train your brain to develop and sustain an optimistic mindset
  • Create a habitat for happiness to maximize the spaces and places in which you live, work, and learn
  • Be a conscious innovator to actively shape your future beyond social media obsession and distraction

By rethinking when, where, why and how you use technology, you will not only able to influence your own well-being, but also help shape the future of your community. Discover how futuristic technologies can transform the idea of “I’ll be happy when …” to your way of being now.

Speaking of a habitat for happiness, what constitutes a sense of place, and how is that sense forged in homes and neighborhoods and cities in order to meld function with style and beauty? What is beauty, anyway? In THE ARCHITECTURE OF HAPPINESS author Alain de Botton delves into the philosophy and psychology of art and architecture, describing how art affects our emotions and leads us to a higher understanding of ourselves and our desire for the pursuit of ideals. More a collection of essays than a textbook, it provokes reflection on where we have come from, and where we may be going. Narrated by Simon Vance, the audiobook shows that all the arts are mysterious and cannot be defined or owned, and so are more like pointers toward a higher goodness represented by perfection and ultimate truth. Yet art is only real when felt by and within the heart. An interesting and literate philosophical journey. Brad Pitt has long been a fan of architecture. Outside of making movies, it is his passion. My interview with Alain is HERE.

Greenville

Science Under Attack

Shawn Otto

Jonathan Lowe) You describe three areas in which science is under attack. How are they related philosophically, and is the intent short term profits at long term expense?

Shawn Otto) All three areas are motivated by protection of their vested interests, and they do this by attacking the objectivity of science. Science creates knowledge, knowledge is power, and that power is political because it either confirms or challenges someone’s power base. In the war on science, attacks are coming from the postmodernist academic left, the fundamentalist religious right, and industry whose business models are threatened by new advances in health or environmental science. Postmodernists argue that science is just one of many ways of knowing, and that there is no such thing as objectivity. What gives one authority to speak on a subject is one’s membership in a political identity group, eg, one’s race, creed, sexual orientation, gender, political party, etc. Instead of objectivity, authenticity is viewed as having more authority. But science was developed to strip what we actually know away from all those subjective biases. If it rains and we both stick a ruler in a bucket, we’re going to get the same objective result no matter out identity subgroup. Yet this false idea has been taught in journalism and education schools for forty years and has eroded the public’s capacity to think about what is real. Journalists are especially guilty of this when they take the view that the only thing they can do is be fair and balanced. They will present in one half of the story a scientist relaying all the objective knowledge created by scientists over thousands of experiments, and in the other half, to be “balanced,” they will present someone with an opposing opinion. This false equivalence of facts and opinions elevates extreme voices on our public dialog. And, it opens the way to authoritarianism, because if there is no objective standard on which we all agree, how do we settle arguments of contested facts, such as those made by Donald Trump? The only means left is by the person with the biggest stick or the loudest megaphone funded by the biggest wallet. Around the same time postmodernism was taking root in academia, fundamentalist religion found its power base threatened by advances in the bio sciences, particularly around human origins, especially reproduction and sexuality. So we began to see a very sophisticated development of alternative theories to compete with, attack, and cast doubt on or outright deny science around evolution, birth control, when pregnancy begins, sexuality, gender, sexual orientation, stem cells, abortion, HPV vaccination, sex education, and in-vitro fertilization. They took advantage of the foundation laid down by the postmodernists to argue that science was something you either believed in or not, rather than a matter of know-how. This view was also adopted by industries who sought to forestall or prevent science-based regulations that affected their business model. So we see industries opposed to pesticide regulation, tobacco regulation, CO2 regulation, farming regulation, pharmaceutical regulation, sugar regulation, and mining/extractive industries regulation all mounting sophisticated public relations campaigns taking advantage of postmodernist ideas to create public uncertainty about the science, and then argue that since we are uncertain it’s premature to do anything.

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To read the rest of this interview, go HERE.

sins of our fathers

The Hits Keep Coming!

science

But why? In the new book HIT MAKERS by Derek Thompson “hits” in music, movies, and books depend on Chaos theory: a “Happy Days” alignment of people, culture, ideas, and timing. Since we have moved to a Twitter society of many choices and low attention span, people tend to gravitate to fewer things by following what is most popular (instead of what is best.) This creates an environment of many failures and fewer successes, with a “microscopic few” reaping most of the benefits. Essentially, we are bewildered by choice, and look to social media to direct us…while social media platforms spy on us and direct our attention to those things which generate the most profit. (Junk food, prescription drugs, blockbuster cartoon movies, bestsellers.) An interesting psychology book with the subtitle, “The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction.” On audio, it is read by the author, who is an editor at The Atlantic and chosen by Forbes as a “30 Under 30.” Young, and bright. If you would like to read a portion of this or another book shown in the videos below, see the About for details.  

 

Is BioTech the Future?

Biopunk book“Yes,” says Bill Gates. And in the new book BIOPUNK a summary of what’s happening in the field of science, genetics, and engineering offers up a peek at that future. There are surprises, as hackers and tinkerers tweak what is known to discover what is possible. That is also how science works, from Cambridge to the University of Arizona. Scientists have always been tinkerers, as shown in “The Beginning of Infinity” by David Deutsch. The search for better explanations is a rocky path, but the method is to avoid past mistakes while making new ones. Without curiosity and risk there is no progress. In Biopunk, author Marcus Wohlsen chronicles a growing community of DIY scientists working outside the walls of corporations and universities who are committed to democratizing DNA the way the Internet did information. The “biohacking” movement, now in its early, heady days, aims to unleash an outbreak of genetically modified innovation by making the tools and techniques of biotechnology accessible to everyone. Borrowing their idealism from the worlds of open-source software, artisanal food, Internet startups, and the Peace Corps, biopunks are devoted advocates for open-sourcing the basic code of life. They believe in the power of individuals with access to DNA to solve the world’s biggest problems. This goes “against the grain” of fears inherent in a revolt to GMOs. It is interesting to note that the history of technology is such that if anything is possible it will be used. Now, despite fears of nuclear power, new and advanced nuclear power plants are in the works that do not work on the water cooled model. (This is necessary, as populations increase—with increased demand for power—due to the climate effects of coal powered plants.) So too, GMOs are needed to supply disease resistant crops to prevent starvation in the third world. This, despite whatever one feels about the greed of Monsanto and other giant corporations. And then there is artificial intelligence. Will the singularity of quantum computing result in creating a master race of robots that out-think us and may possibly destroy us? That is what Hollywood has hyped. The truth, as with alternative scifi thrillers like 2001 and Arrival, may be quite different. Higher intelligences (whether robotic or alien) will certainly have different views of both us and everything else. Our ego is derived from self illusion and experience. Without such egos or experience, it cannot be otherwise. So no one really knows. Yet. Thoughts? 

Twin Peaks

Tips and Traps of Shopping & Job Searching

Goodreads

In WEAPONS OF MATH DESTRUCTION by Cathy O’Neil you’ll learn some surprising things about the algorithms that now rule our society, as an expansion of the subject matter revealed in such books as The Filter Bubble, Utopia is Creepy, and Future Crimes. Narrated by the author in audio format.

cyber-security