Last Week’s Links

Last Week's Links

Biden administration asks for public’s help to bring science back

It’s hard to believe that a news story like this exists. But here we are.

The White House is asking the public for help over the next 30 days on how to best restore scientific integrity to the federal government, as a part of its effort to bring science back to the forefront of policymaking and restoring faith in government — no small task.

5 Surprising Causes of Back Pain After 50

“About 6 million older adults in the U.S. live with chronic lower back pain,” reports AARP. Here’s an explanation of “five surprising culprits that may play a role in the pain in your back.”

Talking out loud to yourself is a technology for thinking

“Speaking out loud is not only a medium of communication, but a technology of thinking: it encourages the formation and processing of thoughts,” writes Nana Ariel, a writer, literary scholar, and lecturer in humanities at Tel Aviv University. 

Children commonly talk outloud to themselves while learning new activities such as tying their shoes. But as they get older, such rehearsal of learning switches to unvocalized thought—“inner speech” as opposed to talking out loud. But, Ariel writes, talking aloud to oneself can help people of any age: “Not only does speech retrieve pre-existing ideas, it also creates new information in the retrieval process, just as in the process of writing. Speaking out loud is inventive and creative – each uttered word and sentence doesn’t just bring forth an existing thought, but also triggers new mental and linguistic connections.”

How to Quiet Your Mind Chatter

“To break the tape loop in your head, talk to yourself as another person.”

There’s a type of inner speech different from the one discussed in the previous article: that nagging voice in our heads, sometimes called “monkey chatter.” Here Liz Greene takes a good long look at the voice in our heads that often becomes “a vicious nag, just looping uselessly over the same things, again and again and again.”

Greene emphasizes that she’s not writing about the voices of mental illness, but rather about “just the little voice we all have, cheerily (or naggingly) narrating our lives as we go about our days.”

Her discussion is based on the book Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It and an interview with the book’s author, Ethan Koss, an experimental psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of Michigan.

College can still be rigorous without a lot of homework

It’s not uncommon to hear people lament that college students are not learning to think critically because they don’t read and write enough. Here K.C. Culver, Senior Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Southern California, reports on her recent research into whether lots of reading and writing are necessary for students to develop critical thinking skills.

The study found that a curriculum that challenges students to use higher-order thinking skills like analysis and evaluation is more effective in building critical thinking than is a heavy workload measured by number of pages read and written.

Pandemic caused many boomers to retire. What that means for the economy — and everyone else

I’m old enough to have retired a few years before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This article in the Los Angeles Times reports on older workers who “have reassessed their finances and other factors and have concluded that they are about as well off retiring now as they would be going back to work and soldiering on for a few more years.” 

Anxious as we transition out of the pandemic? That’s common and can be treated, experts say

“If you are tense or anxious about reentering today’s so-called “normal,” experts say that’s understandable.”

“I think for many people this ‘return to normal’ feels awfully abrupt and jarring,” said [psychologist Kristen Carpenter, director of Women’s Behavioral Health at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center], adding that the pandemic has been an incredibly difficult period, “with lots of opportunity for confusion, for disagreement, and for discord.”

The article discusses anxiety, panic attacks, and depression and offers advice on how to seek help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

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