The just-world bias

From a Guardian opinion piece: Believing that life is fair might make you a terrible person

You needn’t be explicitly racist or sexist to hold such views, nor committed to a highly individualistic political position (such as libertarianism); the researchers controlled for those. You need only cling to a conviction that the world is basically fair. That might be a pretty naive position, of course – but it’s hard to argue that it’s a hateful one. Similar associations have been found between belief in a just world and a preference for authoritarian political leaders. To shield ourselves psychologically from the terrifying thought that the world is full of innocent people suffering, we endorse politicians and policies more likely to make that suffering worse

It's very easy to fall into traps of this type, living in our little bubbles of relative harmony.
I do it and have to fight my personal biases on a regular basis.

The conclusion says it all:

if there’s no good explanation for why any specific person is suffering, it’s far harder to escape the frightening conclusion that it could easily be you next.

Ghent Light Festival

Two weeks ago, we hopped on a train and spent the evening wandering around Ghent, exploring the installations dotted around the city for their annual light festival.

Besides getting a good workout, that included climbing the steps to the top of the belfry for a panoramic view, we got to experience some really beautiful pieces of light art.

I highly recommend a visit next year. Ghent is beautiful at night, even without the temporary art.


Surviving climate change: low marks for Belgium

An article at Motherboard maps out countries based on their vulnerability to climate change and their readiness for adaptation to the upcoming changes. This seems to be mainly based on technological preparedness, so I assume mass immigration from affected countries is not part of the risk assessment here.

In general, the richer you are, the better. Notice little Belgium not doing that great compared to its neighbours though.


Quick review: Dinosaur 13

I just watched and thoroughly enjoyed Dinosaur 13.

It could be the title of a cheap sci-fi movie, it's not. Dinosaur 13 is a gripping, albeit biased, documentary that could rival many thrillers. It paints the story behind the South Dakota discovery of the largest T-Rex skeleton ever unearthed which, on the surface, sounds quite boring, but the David-vs-Goliath story of government overreach, bewildering courtroom drama and obsession that ensues is quite moving.

I suggest you just dive in without looking up the story, that's what I did.

Best movie posters of 2014

Mubi have published their best movie posters of 2014 list. I'm partial to the city-themed Birdman ones myself, but they're all great.

By the way, if you like cinema, and you haven't checked Mubi out yet, you probably should. They offer a rotating set of curated films — a sort of indie alternative to Netflix.
If you sign up via this link, you get your first 30 days for free and, if you decide to subscribe I get a free month too (if you don't like affiliate links, here's a standard link to their site).

Reboot

Yet again, I've started from scratch with this weblog.

The last version was just annoying to use for me, and a barrier to posting. Hopefully, this simpler solution will get me back into proper publishing habits. Time will tell…

I have archives of previous posts, most of them being pointers to dead content, so I'll avoid polluting the web with them once again. A few of the more compelling ones will probably trickle back into this edition at some point in the future.

So, let's begin!