Is ‘Wisdom of the Elders’ a Myth?


Cover of "The Power of Babel: A Natural H...

Cover via Amazon


Do we make poorer decisions as we age?
‘When it comes to making boneheaded choices, teenagers usually win society’s award for overall poor decision-making.

‘Yet a study published recently in the journal PNAS suggests that our ability to make wise choices changes over time, and actually declines with old age.

‘In fact, the study found that in certain situations, the decision-making ability of people older than 65 was worse than that of adolescents. While teens were more apt to drive carelessly, study authors argued that seniors were more likely to make poor medical or financial decisions…’
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What is Real Language?
‘Language, Darwin believed, was not a conscious invention but a phenomenon “slowly and unconsciously developed by many steps.” But what makes a language a language? In this short animation from TED Ed, linguist John McWhorter, author of the indispensable The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language (public library), explores the fascinating world of fantasy constructed languages – known as conlangs – from Game of Thrones’ Dothraki to Avatar’s Na’vi to Star Trek’s Klingon to Lord of the Rings’ Elvish. Though fictional, these conlangs reveal a great deal about the fundamentals of real human communication and help us understand the essential components of a successful language – extensive vocabulary, consistent grammar rules but peppered with exceptions, and just the right amount of room for messiness and evolution…’
full story

Prosthetics and a Question Of Ethics
Men with bionic eyes or ears can spy on anyone unknowingly
‘Bertolt Meyer, the academic known as “the bionic man”, said yesterday that scientists and engineers should not be allowed to launch some technological advances on the open market without a prior ethical debate.

‘Meyer, a key speaker at the first FutureFest event in east London this weekend, has had a cutting-edge £40,000 artificial lower arm and hand since 2009. Talking to an audience in Shoreditch town hall, he asked whether the public ought to let the laws of supply and demand decide how the human race moves towards a probable “bionic” future; a time where the bodies of those with access and money can be enhanced and augmented. “We are reaching the point where people with artificial limbs may have an advantage. It they start to appeal to everyone, a mass market will develop,” he said…’
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Become a Lyft Driver to Help Pay the Rent
‘Writers have many funny jobs while they are working on their novels and screenplays, many of which have nothing to do with writing. Waiting tables, bartending and dog walking have all helped a hungry writer pay the rent. In this era of technology, I propose another job for a writer: Lyft driver.

‘Lyft is an app that like Uber lets users find a kind of taxi ride. Unlike Uber, it’s not a towncar that you get, it is a ride from someone within your Facebook network. Users pay as they would pay for a taxi through a credit card saved in the app. Drivers earn cash, as a taxi driver would. It’s like Airbnb for taxis.
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About DigitalPlato

Poch is a Bookrix author and a freelance writer. He is a frequent contributor to TED Conversations.
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