[Magazine] Scientific American Mind. Vol. 19. No 5 - download pdf or read online

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After all, anyone whom we see that often and know that much about must be socially important to us. News anchors and television actors we see every day in soap operas become familiar friends. In our modern world, celebrities may also serve another important social function. In a highly mobile, industrial society, celebrities may be the only “friends” we have in common with our new neighbors and co-workers. They provide a common interest and topic of conversation between people who otherwise might not have much to say to one another, and they facilitate the types of informal interaction that help people become comfortable in new surroundings.

And although males are usually more interested in news about other males, females are virtually obsessed with news about other females. This fact can be demonstrated by looking at the actual frequency with which males and females selected a same-sex person as the most interesting subject of the gossip scenarios we presented them with in one of our studies published in 2002. On hearing about someone having a date with a famous person, 43 out of 44 women selected a female as the most interesting person to know this about, as compared with 24 out of 36 males who selected a male as most interesting.

I I think I’ll just let the mystery be. t should strike us as odd that we feel inclined to nod our heads in agreement to the twangy, sweetly discordant folk vocals of Iris Dement in “Let the Mystery Be,” a humble paean about the hereafter. In fact, the only real mystery is why we’re so convinced that when it comes to where we’re going “when the whole thing’s done,” we’re dealing with a mystery at all. After all, the brain is like any other organ: a part of our physical body. And the mind is what the brain does — it’s more a verb than it is a noun.

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[Magazine] Scientific American Mind. Vol. 19. No 5

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