Photoback: a compassion-building memory game (by Bansi Shah)
|"Depicting modern, urban lifestyles on mass media appears to set off a cascade of social forces." Although many variables besides television are at play behind the scenes, the arrival of “soaps” has been tightly correlated with falling fertility around the world. Because correlation does not imply causation, an emerging body of research has sought to explain how a television show could profoundly affect individuals’ behaviors in this way. Nowhere is the effect better documented than Brazil. In 1960, the average Brazilian family had 6.3 children. By 2000, the number was down to 2.3 (just above replacement level for the population), and stands at just 1.9 today. What happened? Women’s changing expectations about their lives, easy access to birth control, rapid urbanization and economic growth all accompanied this shift. These rising expectations, and their link to novelas, has proved fascinating for researchers. Brazil’s prime purveyor of novelas, the station Rede Globo, started rolling out its broadcast to the nation in the 1960s. Their arrival heralded falling birth rates in rural areas where no such programming existed before. The shows tended to depict aspirational, affluent families with fewer children than the norm. In the 115 novelas on Globo from 1965 to 1999, more than 90% of young female characters had one child or less, while 72% were childless--figures that are a dramatic break from Brazilian norms.
|"In 115 novelas 72% of the women were childless--a dramatic break from Brazilian norms." To control for other variables, researchers looked at programming content, key demographics, and timing of the show in specific markets. Their findings, updated and published last year in the American Economic Journal, showed fertility decreases were biggest in the years after novelas aired that portrayed upward social mobility. The effect was strongest among women who had lower socioeconomic status and were closest in age to main female characters. The evidence shows the novelas may have affected a woman’s decision to have more children, rather than preclude children entirely. The correlation has held up in other regions, such as in Africa and South Asia, reports USAID. But scientists caution against drawing definitive conclusions. The mechanism behind the phenomenon is still not fully explained, and the many confounding factors are hard to eliminate. And television is not a cure-all for social ills, as developed countries already well know. The modern lifestyles portrayed in soaps can do damage as well. Fiji stands as a cautionary tale. Researchers who were present at the arrival of Western television to the south Pacific islands watched as ethnic Fijian adolescent girls acquired eating disorders almost unheard of in the isolated archipelago before the arrival of Western television. In the British Journal of Psychiatry, they report that as television spread in the Nadroga province between 1995 and 1999, the frequency of dieting rose significantly, while self-induced vomiting to lose weight increased from 0% to 11.3%. All in all, whether governments should ever start encouraging more TV watching isn't quite so clear. [Image:||As The World Turns via FanPop]
"Columbia University researchers have factored Google search terms into a first-of-its-kind algorithmic model that can accurately predict flu outbreaks across the country. The flu forecast could be coming to a TV near you"
"Kurzweil explains, “is going to transform from having been a hit-or-miss affair where progress was linear … to where it is now an information technology and therefore subject to my law of accelerating returns."
"Prior to joining UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare Christabel Cheung, MSW, most recently served as Executive Director of San Francisco Village, a nonprofit membership organization within the grassroots national village movement for healthy, safe and active aging in place. Previous to San Francisco Village, Christabel served as director of diversity at the American Society on Aging, where she led and facilitated professional education to develop national leaders in the field of aging that reflect the changing landscape of racial, cultural and socioeconomic diversity of communities across the country."
"Probiotics are just bacteria thought to be beneficial, like the lactobacilli and other bacteria in some yogurts. In the future probiotics might be bacteria derived from those found in Amazonian Indians, rural Africans, even the Amish—people, in other words, who retain a microbial diversity that the rest of us may have lost. Already, the literature suggests that a gold rush has begun—a flood of what you might call “fecoprospectors” seeking to catalog and preserve the diversity and richness of the ancestral microbiota before it is lost in the extinction wave sweeping the globe."