The ‘Rocky’ in Relationships
In 2008, a massive earthquake shook the Chinese province of Sichuan. Measuring 8.0, the quake killed more than 69,000, injured countless more, and left 4.8 million homeless. The Chinese government has spent billions on the region’s recovery, which even now is incomplete. The immediate devastation in Sichuan was also followed by a dramatic spike in the divorce rate, a phenomenon that captured international attention—and sparked widespread speculation—at the time. Did the deadly earthquake actually cause the jump in marital breakups? The spike might have been a coincidence, though that’s unlikely.
Mental Health for the Masses
Ricardo Muñoz thinks that MOOCs get a bad rap. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Courses, Internet-based higher education available to anyone in the world, regardless of age or qualifications, and usually for free. MOOCs have become very popular in recent years, and now attract millions of students who want to learn art history or calculus or abnormal psychology with some of the world’s best professors. Critics focus on MOOCs’ dismal attrition rates. While millions of eager students may sign up, they say, most of these drop out. They point to examples, including one MIT MOOC, in which 155,000 enrolled but only 7,157 passed the course. That’s a paltry 4.6 percent completion rate.
Choosing Sadness: The Irony of Depression
I knew a man some years ago who suffered from serious and chronic depression. He also lived what seemed to me a melancholy life, listening to sad, sentimental music, reading dreary existential novels, and rarely venturing out of his dark and gloomy house. I cared for this man, and I was perplexed by this. I knew that he suffered from a debilitating disease, but he also didn’t seem to be taking simple steps that might lift his mood. It was almost like he was choosing sadness. This seems like an ungenerous thought, I know, but it turns out there may be some truth to it.
Bridging the Conversation Gap
The Clinton Foundation sponsors an initiative called Too Small to Fail, which aims to help low-income parents better prepare their children for school. Many children who grow up in poverty enter school already far behind, and this achievement gap often persists into adulthood. Much of this achievement gap can be traced back to poor language skills, including stunted vocabulary development—the so-called “word gap.” It’s estimated that poor children, by the time they hit kindergarten, have heard 30 million fewer words than their more fortunate classmates.
Psychopath. Successful psychopath.
Forest “Tommy” Yeo-Thomas was a real-life swashbuckler, charismatic and daring. The World War II British spy, known as the “White Rabbit” to the Nazis, employed an array of disguises and fake documents to elude the enemy in Vichy France, once pretending to be a corpse while traveling in a coffin. He withstood severe torture by the Gestapo, leapt from a moving train, and strangled a prison guard with his bare hands. He was also known as a seducer of beautiful women. Most people have never heard of Yeo-Thomas, though most are familiar with his fictional incarnation. He was the inspiration for novelist Ian Fleming’s flamboyant hero Bond. James Bond.
Love in Mind: Cognitive Trickery
World literature is teeming with stories of unrequited love. Men and women fall in love and are not loved in return. Or love is mutual and wonderful, and then it fades for just one. Love deepens or dies unpredictably, and far too many lovers end up valuing and caring for someone who simply does not care for and value them in return. There is no literary theme more compelling, or sadder. This is true of life as well. Love only works when it is balanced, two-way. Indeed, the need for responsiveness is so powerful that lovers often distort reality in order to validate the emotional response they need and desire.