Readings and Recommendations

by Scott London

Scott London on TwitterThe world is getting freer, quantum physics is getting weirder, multitasking is a myth, Americans are full of doubt, and the Norwegians have it best. Here’s a sampling of interesting articles and other stuff on the web.

These links were culled from my Twitter feed. If you don’t already, feel free to follow me on Twitter.

  • The long-term trend is clear — the world is becoming increasingly free and democratic. But there have been setbacks in recent years. Growing human rights abuses in places like Russia and China are perhaps especially worrisome. See Freedom House’s 2010 Freedom in the World Survey
  • American Grace, a new book by Robert Putnam and David Campbell, documents a new and remarkable trend in America: the mass defection of young people away from organized religion. See American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us
  • Quality work and multitasking are incompatible. People simply can’t do two or more thinking tasks simultaneously. See E-Mail is Making You Stupid
  • In a provocative article in Fast Company magazine, Richard Watson cites two interesting studies. The first claims that we last, on average, three minutes at work before something interrupts us. The other suggests that constant disruption has a greater effect on IQ than smoking marijuana. See The Rise of Connectivity Addition
  • According to an interesting piece in the New York Times, unhappiness often comes as a result of letting our minds wander. While there’s no doubt that distraction can lead to discontent, it can also lead people to creative solutions, which might make them happier in the long term. See When the Mind Wanders, Happiness Also Strays by John Tierny
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger represents yesterdays California Dream, Richard Rodriguez observes in a terrific video interview with Sandip Roy. But tomorrow’s California Dream belongs to men like Steve Jobs and Sergey Brin. See Richard Rodriguez talks about California
  • Spiegel Online reports that some 47 percent of Americans no longer believe in the American Dream. See Is the American Dream Over?
  • For the eighth straight year, reports Time, Norway has topped the United Nations’ quality-of-life list in its annual Human Development Index. Oh, come on, Norway. The competition isn’t even fun anymore. See Norwegians Have It Better Than You
  • Quantum mechanics is getting weirder and weirder. Experiments show that “reality is truly in the eye of the beholder.” See After a Short Delay, Quantum Mechanics Becomes Even Weirder in ScienceNOW