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Bettina Ascaino
Attends School of Life
Lives in Camden, NSW Australia
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Bettina Ascaino

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The Pendulum Effect

This past week two events could not have been further apart in either history or effect. The US celebrated America Independence Day with the customary 4th of July celebrations and Greece entered a watershed moment in European history:   

Considering the broad complexity of what social critic Anna Deavere Smith would call “the American character” ( and the far from clear, emergence of a European identity:, it would be inconceivable to think ( that there is anything but the most abstract of connections between the two peoples, divided by an ocean and living in different continents. 

Yet, both are in the grip of a devolution of sorts, their sense of solidarity waning ( as each withdraws into an increased polarization of views ( based upon ideology, rather than practicality or, even, common sense. 

In a world where ‘conversation’ is a constant and narrative is seen as something that can be analyzed and discussed, polarization, a communication issue ( appears to be winning. The inevitable “why?” may be answered with, perhaps, the issue of identity: which is as core to the European problems as it is to the American ones: It seems counter-intuitive to suggest that after a good, sound, discussion we all end up having wackier notions and ideas than before:, but that seems to be exactly what’s happening. 

There are several important points here. When polarization occurs, politics becomes more entrenched ( and its effects more severe: The middle ground, moderation, becomes no-man’s land, with fewer and fewer people tending to stray there (, and each camp, launches upon an escalating trajectory of vilification of the other until the perception that remains is that of the chasm dividing each side, rather than the similarities that might bring them together. 

Those of us who inhabit the digital space may think we are above all that. Politics and ideologies matter less to us than the commonality of the human condition and our willingness to listen to others’ points of view, but that is not entirely true. Politics, in the 21st century, touches everywhere. Points of view on subjects that may appear to be ideological and therefore abstract, translate themselves into actions ( that have real-world impact. 

And that’s just it. In the real-world no one lives in a vacuum even if geographic distances and context may differ sufficiently to impact upon what is only important to each group: What each of us does defines the world we want to see and the world we deserve to get for everyone else. In a connected world we’ve all become each other’s keeper and it’s happened as part of the unintended consequences of connection and interdependency, rather than planning. 

It would be great, at this stage, to think that there is a path that’s clear to us. That there is a course of action we can embark upon that will help dispel all fears and provide us with a black & white playbook we can uniformly apply to every situation. Unfortunately as we move across countries, cultures and even socio-economic groups it is our differences, rather than similarities that seem to come to our attention as social psychologist Alana Conner says:  

G+ sometimes seems to be such an anomaly in its ability to allow so many of us from so many parts of the world to get together and interact without much friction that hardly anyone outside it knows what to make of its culture and its impact. What this social network has mostly done is provided us with the space to engage, learn and grow and the means to do it at our own pace. Empathy, and our ability to learn it: is not something we automatically employ every time we encounter differences and conflict. Increasingly, however, we are learning, by degrees, to be smarter. And in smarts lies power. 

Former Liberal Democrats leader Paddy Ashdown ( in a riveting TED Talk that opens with Houseman’s poem of Shropshire Lad ( explains this shift in power from local (where it is clearly understood and historically regulated) to global (where the rules of the game are still pretty vague). This transition comes with turbulence. Turbulence is what’s experienced in the polarization of US politics and European nationhood. Turbulence is experienced in the lack of empathy and the apparent shrinking of the middle ground of moderation, globally. 

We’re experiencing an unusual combination of shifts. We’re ever more powerful and yet more afraid. Ever more capable and yet more uncertain. Ever more connected and yet struggling to understand others. But in our direct experience of turbulence there is also hope. The hope that as turbulence is normal in the context we experience it, so is its opposite. Polarization itself is part of the pendulum effect where, eventually, the sense of ideologies that guide us will have us return to a swing towards consensus, cooperation, greater understanding and empathy. How soon that happens, how well, is really dependent upon us. All of us. Each of us. The effort we’re prepared to make and the thinking we’re ready to do. And the time is now.

I hope you’ve managed to plan ahead. Coffee, chocolate cake, croissants, cookies and donuts are what power Sundays. I am beginning to think that should we fail to get all these provisions we may well adversely affect the health of the confectionery industry and the well-being of coffee growers everywhere. Have one awesome Sunday, wherever you are. 

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Where the Children have to go by Kuldar Leement
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A new gel helps wounds heal 
Researchers from UCLA have developed an injectable hydrogel that helps skin wounds heal faster.  

The new synthetic polymer material creates an instant scaffold, sort of like stacked gumballs, that allows new tissue to latch on and grow within the cavities formed between linked spheres of gel.



#health   #research   #science   #bioengineering  
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Bacon Sushi Rolls Stuffed With Meat And Cheese
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Moss heaven! #bluemountains
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First stop Leura then Black Heath~* 
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Synchronized Marching in China.
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For mechanical efficiency, opposite arms usually swing with each leg while marching. British and Commonwealth armed forces keep their arms straight and swing the hand as high as the shoulder while forward and in theory to the level of the belt when backward. US troops swing the arm six inches to the front and three inches to the rear, and the elbow bends slightly and naturally. Some European armies bend the arm during the swing. Most foot drill instructors believe these differing practices are efficient i.e. maintain rhythm for long route marches
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Manuka honey is used in hospitals.on wounds and as antibiotic too! 100 times more healing power than any other honey.
Manuka Flowers - the nectar from this New Zealand flower combined with honey has amazing healing power upon ugly sores and wounds.
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"You're pretty smart right? Clever, and funny too. Of course you are, just like me. But wouldn't it be terrible if we were mistaken? Psychologists have shown that we are more likely to be blind to our own failings than perhaps we realise. This could explain why some incompetent people are so annoying, and also inject a healthy dose of humility into our own sense of self-regard.

In 1999, Justin Kruger and David Dunning, from Cornell University, New York, tested whether people who lack the skills or abilities for something are also more likely to lack awareness of their lack of ability. At the start of their research paper they cite a Pittsburgh bank robber called McArthur Wheeler as an example, who was arrested in 1995 shortly after robbing two banks in broad daylight without wearing a mask or any other kind of disguise. When police showed him the security camera footage, he protested "But I wore the juice". The hapless criminal believed that if you rubbed your face with lemon juice you would be invisible to security cameras.

Kruger and Dunning were interested in testing another kind of laughing matter. They asked professional comedians to rate 30 jokes for funniness. Then, 65 undergraduates were asked to rate the jokes too, and then ranked according to how well their judgements matched those of the professionals. They were also asked how well they thought they had done compared to the average person.

As you might expect, most people thought their ability to tell what was funny was above average. The results were, however, most interesting when split according to how well participants performed. Those slightly above average in their ability to rate jokes were highly accurate in their self-assessment, while those who actually did the best tended to think they were only slightly above average. Participants who were least able to judge what was funny (at least according to the professional comics) were also least able to accurately assess their own ability.

This finding was not a quirk of trying to measure subjective sense of humour. The researchers repeated the experiment, only this time with tests of logical reasoning and grammar. These disciplines have defined answers, and in each case they found the same pattern: those people who performed the worst were also the worst in estimating their own aptitude. In all three studies, those whose performance put them in the lowest quarter massively overestimated their own abilities by rating themselves as above average.

It didn’t even help the poor performers to be given a benchmark. In a later study, the most incompetent participants still failed to realise they were bottom of the pack even when given feedback on the performance of others.

Kruger and Dunning's interpretation is that accurately assessing skill level relies on some of the same core abilities as actually performing that skill, so the least competent suffer a double deficit. Not only are they incompetent, but they lack the mental tools to judge their own incompetence.

In a key final test, Kruger and Dunning trained a group of poor performers in logical reasoning tasks. This improved participants’ self-assessments, suggesting that ability levels really did influence self-awareness.

Other research has shown that this "unskilled and unaware of it" effect holds in real-life situations, not just in abstract laboratory tests. For example, hunters who know the least about firearms also have the most inaccurate view of their firearm knowledge, and doctors with the worst patient-interviewing skills are the least likely to recognise their inadequacies.

What has become known as the Dunning-Kruger effect is an example of what psychologists call metacognition – thinking about thinking. It’s also something that should give us all pause for thought. The effect might just explain the apparently baffling self belief of some of your friends and colleagues. But before you start getting too smug, just remember one thing. As unlikely as you might think it is, you too could be walking around blissfully ignorant of your ignorance."
Psychologists have shown humans are poor judges of their own abilities, from sense of humour to grammar. Those worst at it are the worst judges of all.
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