Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘RSA Animate’

23 JUNE, 2011

Renata Salecl: How Limitless Choice Limits Social Change

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Why having more options makes us more critical of ourselves and more politically passive.

I love the work of RSA Animate. (Previously: Sir Ken Robinson on changing educational paradigms; Steven Johnson on where good ideas come from; capitalism explained five ways.) Last year, I recommended 5 essential books on the psychology of choice, and the latest RSA animation tackles the same subject through the work of professor Renata Salecl, who explores the paralysis, anxiety and dissatisfaction that come with limitless choice — a curious existential question about freedom and its flipside.

Having grown up in Eastern Europe, I can attest to this. As socioculturally toxic as communism was, before its fall, when we had to queue up for bananas once a year because that’s how rare this “exotic” fruit imported from the West was, people seemed somehow more content, more peaceful, even if that peace was really a trance state. After the initial exhilaration about democracy and capitalism in the early 90s, however, the marketplace exploded and this radical shift from extreme deprivation to extreme abundance made people ultimately more unhappy, unleashing a rapid rise in everything from crime to obesity to corruption — all expressions of the ceaselessly wanting self. Is contentment based on illusion worse than discontentment based on reality? I have no answer.

The ideology of choice is actually not so optimistic [and] it actually prevents social change.” ~ Renata Salecl

The problem is actually that today’s ideology of choice-led capitalism, the idea that everyone is a maker of his or her life, which goes very much the reality of the social situation, actually pacifies people and makes us constantly turning criticism towards ourselves instead of organizing ourselves and making a critique of the society we live in.” ~ Renata Salecl

Salecl is the author of Choice, a concise yet deeply insightful new read on the complexity of the human capacity to choose, drawing on everything from philosophy to pop culture to psychology to online dating.

via Open Culture

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02 FEBRUARY, 2011

Bill Gates on Vaccines: An RSA Animation

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We’re big fans of The RSA and their wonderful sketchnote illustrations of big ideas by big thinkers. Despite the signature fun format, their latest installment deals with a very serious issue surrounded by a tragic amount of public misinformation: Vaccines. The 4-minute animation distills the gist of Bill Gates’ 24-page annual letter, which focuses on the Gates Foundation’s vaccination advocacy as well as their work in HIV/AIDS, malaria, agriculture and education.

I like to say that vaccines are miracles. They’re miracles because giving children a couple of drops or a shot in the arm can prevent some of the worst childhood diseases for a lifetime. And that, for me, is a miracle.” ~ Bill Gates

Polio cases are 99% down. There are only 4 countries in the world where polio's transmission has never been stopped: Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria. Vaccination has the power to make polio the second disease in the history of humanity, after small pox, to be fully eradicated.

For more on the subject of vaccines and misinformation, we highly recommend the excellent new book The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear — a bold debunking of the misguided anti-vaccine movement, rooted in equal parts science and social psychology to reveal how media sensationalism and PR-hungry health authorities are obscuring some of modern medicine’s greatest achievements to a dangerous effect.

via Tactical Philanthropy via @simonmainwaring

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21 OCTOBER, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity and Changing Educational Paradigms

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What’s not to love about RSA Animate? Here’s their animated adaptation of Sir Ken Robinson’s talk about changing educational paradigms, based on one of the best TED talks of all time, in which Sir Ken makes a compelling case for how schools are killing creativity:

We have a system of education that is modeled on the interest of industrialism and in the image of it. School are still pretty much organized on factory lines — ringing bells, separate facilities, specialized into separate subjects. We still educate children by batches.

With his signature soundbite-ready cadence and perfectly timed wit, Sir Ken — always the intellectual showman — once again manages to ruffle some academic feathers while raising some important questions. I’m particularly on board with his emphasis on the role of divergent thinking:

Divergent thinking isn’t the same thing as creativity. I define creativity as the process of having original ideas that have value. Divergent thinking isn’t a synonym but is an essential capacity for creativity. It’s the ability to see lots of possible answers to a question, lots of possible ways to interpret a question, to think laterally, to think not just in linear or convergent ways, to see multiple answers, not one.

The full talk is well worth watching:

Robinson’s most recent book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, is an absolute must-read, wherever you may stand on education.

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