One of the stories Freakonomics is best known for is their research into whether your name has any positive or negative impact on your economic destiny, particularly if you had a rare name, or name associated with cultures discriminated against widely. The study was focused on African-Americans, as heard in the podcast below from some time back.
Data, though, doesn’t always tell the full story. In fact, it doesn’t tell anybody’s story, just a group’s outcomes. Freakonomics recently followed up this story with one where Dr. Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck successfully defended a PhD about what it’s like for African-Americans with almost unique names to go through life, to get the personal stories of real people and see if their names really mattered in their lives. Have a listen to hear how the stories differ from the data, even if they may end up in the same outcome, and why the how makes a huge difference!
Zoochosis is a word used to explain the stereotypical behavior of animals in captivity, which tends to be ones that show a creature going crazy since it is not in its natural environment, as I discussed in this post. But here’s an interesting question. As a nomadic species for tens of thousands of years, and a rural one at that as little as a few decades ago that is but a blink in our evolutionary history, are we suited to the urban lifestyle that is not unlike a zoo for us? And can we answer that by seeing if we suffer similar symptoms to zoochosis we diagnose in animals, when we live in dense urban areas lacking much nature?
This Hidden Brain podcast provides some pretty interesting, if not conclusive, answers, even though the research wasn’t quite framed like that. I’m actually surprised they didn’t make the connection. It would have made the story and research a lot more relatable as we all know the concept of zoos and what it must be like to be an animal trapped in there for people to see, pet, and such, in a place very different than the ones they belong in, despite our best efforts to make the zoo areas similar to their natural environment.
How much value can a miniature model of a city have? Why don’t you ask the citizens and officials of San Francisco? They have a roughly 40 feet x 40 feet model of the city from the 1930s that is a buzz in the city today for conversations around the city’s history, present, and democratic urban planning for the future. That’s despite the model having been recently rediscovered and restored, some 80 years after it was built and 70 years after it had been put away? But if you can’t talk to the San Franciscans, or the right ones, have a listen to the 99% Invisible podcast below and hear for yourself!
Every city needs a decent city model, it would seem to me. There seems to be something about seeing the entirety of something in front of our eyes that changes our minds and feelings about it. Think about the Blue Marble photo of planet Earth taken over 50 years ago. It still inspires many. But so few cities have such a model, probably for the worse, and that’s too bad.