Category Archives: Videos

Technology is not a success in itself

In this TED presentation, Malcolm Gladwell argues that countless technological inventions are not the ends in themselves; technology is designed to solve a problem… but the problem is not always solved by technology. American drones may be 95% accurate, but it has only led to increased violence against Americans. Technology is not a success story by itself.

A history of racism: BBC Documentaries

Excellent video resource:

A great overview (if a little theatrical at times) of the history of racism as an invented concept with the onset of the colonialism and the slave trade. Watching all the way till part 6 gives you an in-depth understanding of how racism has manifested across the centuries, and the web of causes that shape discriminatory practices.  The world’s first death camp – the Heroro tribe in central Africa is also explained here.

For the scientifically inclined:  Looking at Scientific Racism, invented during the 19th century, an ideology that drew on now discredited practices such as phrenology and provided an ideological justification for racism and slavery. These theories ultimately led to eugenics and Nazi racial policies of the master race

– The third and final episode examines the impact of racism in the 20th Century. By 1900, European colonial expansion had reached deep into the heart of Africa. Under the rule of King Leopold II, The Belgian Congo was turned into a vast rubber plantation. Men, women and children who failed to gather their latex quotas would have their limbs dismembered. The country became the scene of one of the century’s greatest racial genocides, as an estimated 10 million Africans perished under colonial rule. Contains scenes which some viewers may find disturbing.

A Mean World Syndrome?

For years, debates have raged among scholars, politicians, and concerned parents about the effects of media violence on viewers. Too often these debates have descended into simplistic battles between those who claim that media messages directly cause violence and those who argue that activists exaggerate the impact of media exposure altogether. The Mean World Syndrome, based on the groundbreaking work of media scholar George Gerbner, urges us to think about media effects in more nuanced ways. Ranging from Hollywood movies and prime-time dramas to reality programming and the local news, the film examines how media violence forms a pervasive cultural environment that cultivates in heavy viewers, especially, a heightened state of insecurity, exaggerated perceptions of risk and danger, and a fear-driven propensity for hard-line political solutions to social problems

Men, women and power

Some interesting view points here, and key facts about the disparity between men and women in the economic sector. Feminist Gloria Steinem gives her opinion about not ‘fitting into’ male-dominated and created leadership model, but transforming it –  creating an equally respected, alternative model.

Have we evolved to become religious?

Faith makes social groups stronger and confers an evolutionary advantage

Time, Jonathan Haidt

Read more:

We humans have many varieties of religious experience. One of the most common is self-transcendence — a feeling becoming part of something larger, grander and nobler. Most people experience this at least a few times in their lives. When the self thins out and melts away, it not only feels good but can be thrilling.

It’s as though our minds contain a secret staircase taking us from an ordinary life up to something sacred and deeply interconnected, and the door to that staircase opens only on rare occasions. The world’s many religions have found a variety of ways to help people find and climb the staircase. Some religions employ meditation. Others use spinning, dancing and repetitive movements in combination with music. Some use natural drugs. Many secular people have used these methods too — think of the popularity of rave parties, which combine most of these techniques to produce feelings of “peace, love, unity and respect.” As the great French sociologist Emile Durkheim put it, we are “homo duplex,” or a two-level man.

The big question is, Why do our minds contain such a staircase? I believe it’s because there was a long period in human evolution during which it was adaptive to lose the self and merge with others. It wasn’t adaptive for individuals to do so, but it was adaptive for groups. As evolutionary biologists David Sloan Wilson and Edward O. Wilson have proposed, religiosity is a biological adaptation for binding groups together and helping them enter a mind-set of “one for all, all for one.” Groups that developed emotionally intense, binding religions were able, in the long run, to outcompete and outlast groups that were not so tightly bound.

If the human capacity for self-transcendence is an evolutionary adaptation, then the implications are profound. It suggests that religiosity may be a deep part of human nature. I don’t mean that we evolved to join gigantic organized religions — that kind of religion came along too recently. I mean that we evolved to see sacredness all around us and to join with others into teams that circle around sacred objects, people and ideas. This is why politics is so tribal. Politics is partly profane, it’s partly about self-interest. But politics is also about sacredness. It’s about joining with others to pursue moral ideals. It’s about the eternal struggle between good and evil, and we all believe we’re on the side of the good.

Most social scientists have assumed that religion is not an adaptation. They try to explain the rise of civilization using ideas about kinship (we can be nice to those who share our genes) and reciprocity (we can be nice to those who might return the favor some day). Cooperation with strangers that we’ll never see again is assumed to be an evolutionary “mistake.” But if you see religion as an adaptation that helps groups compete, then religions make a lot more sense.

This perspective also helps explains the persistent undercurrent of dissatisfaction in modern life. Ever since the Enlightenment, modern secular society has emphasized liberty and self-expression. We exult in our freedom, but sometimes we wonder: Is this all there is? What should I do with my life? What’s missing? What’s missing is that we are homo duplex, but only our first-floor, profane longings are being satisfied.

One great challenge of modern life is to find the staircase then to do something good and noble once you climb to the top. I see this desire in my students at the University of Virginia. They all want to find a cause or calling that they can throw themselves into. They’re all searching for their staircase. Most people long to become part of something larger. And this explains the extraordinary resonance of this simple metaphor conjured up nearly 400 years ago. “No man is an island entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

This essay is adapted from the conclusion of a talk that Haidt gave at TED 2012.

Can social media help hunt down a Ugandan warlord?

KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.

News of the World phone hacking scandal – media ethics (BBC video)

Broadcast on BBC News Channel, Thu, 21 Jul 2011

Rupert Murdoch has held a unique position of power in Britain through his media empire. After the revelations of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, Panorama tells the inside story of how the media giant’s influence was dramatically challenged.

The unethical side of science: Syphilis “Laboratory” in Guatemala

We studied this in last year’s Science package – here is a hard look at the legacy left behind by the deliberate infection of Guatemalans with Syphilis in the bid to study the disease.

“Obama may have apologised last year for the 1940s US medical experiments that intentionally infected Guatemalans with syphilis, but as this startling report shows, its legacy continues to destroy lives.

Soldiers, prostitutes, the mentally ill and even orphaned children; no one was safe from the American government’s decision to deliberately infect them with syphilis. The costs are still being felt today in Guatemala as the infected and their descendants, who have inherited the disease, all bear the painful scars of those experiments. Dr Cutler moved his base when he was banned from practising in the States, after watching the effects of syphilis on African-American men who had no idea they were infected. Treating the disease “would interfere with the study”, Cutler said. All are victims of a “serious crime” says the lawyer pressing a lawsuit against the US government on behalf of the Guatemalans. Obama’s apology for this atrocity is a start but it isn’t enough to mend the ruined lives of the surviving human guinea pigs.”