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Jim Davies

  • Mt Hagen Cultural Show hero

    Mutation Helps Create the Most Durable Religions

    Traditional performers at the 2007 Mt. Hagen Cultural Show in Papua New GuineaIan @ ThePaperboy When people think of religions, they tend to turn to of the big five: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Although these are the most popular religions in the world, they are a minuscule sample of the thousands of religions […]

  • Hands touching

    So Human, So Beautiful

    I look into the mirror and try to see what another human would see. My beard is months old, scraggly and dirty, my balding head covered with wisps of gray. I take out the scissors and start to clean it up. Thoughts of other people, being with other people, force their way to the surface, […]

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    Iron Curtain of the Mind—Our Tangled Thoughts on Geography

    An East German border guard keeps a lookout for people trying to escape from communist Berlin to freedom on the other side of the wall. US National Archives How well do we know the countries we call home? It seems obvious that travel and study would improve a person’s knowledge of geography. But could attitudes […]

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    Education Is a Waste of Effort—But It Doesn’t Have to Be

    In the nearly 25 years that I spent in school, I produced countless term papers, exams, and presentations, nearly all of which of no value to anyone else. And that goes for most of the 20 million or so college and graduate students currently pursuing higher education in the United States. They produce thousands of […]

  • Twain working

    Fame Is a Magnet that Reveals Our Weak Hold on Reality

    This past July the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a baby boy. An international press corps was parked in front of the entrance of the hospital for over four weeks before that. The UK’s Daily Mail interviewed a woman who’d flown in from New Zealand to camp out in front of Buckingham Palace awaiting the […]

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    Explaining the Unexplainable

    When logic fails, stories and superstitions prevail.

  • Davies_HERO_1280x546

    Explaining the Unexplainable

    When logic fails, stories and superstitions prevail.

  • Young Man Reading

    Why Do We Get Transported by Stories We Know Are False?

    In Jasper Fforde’s lighthearted “Thursday Next” series of books, people can use a “prose portal” to enter the world of a book, to change the plot or kidnap a character. The prose portal is an imaginative metaphor for a familiar experience: feeling taken away by a narrative, sucked into a good book so that we […]

  • reading

    Why People Love to Get Lost in Books

    In the huge range of different human cultural inclinations, one of the most widespread is a fondness for stories. We just love to get lost in a good book or movie. When we do, we tend to ignore where we are and become completely absorbed in the story. Psychologists call this “transportation,” and have conducted […]