Has Gossip Gotten A Bad Name?

There’s an important distinction to make here about how most of us define gossip – as a way of trash-talking someone not present – and how scientists do. In social science, gossip usually is defined as communication about a person who isn’t present in a way that involves evaluation of that person, good or bad. This kind of informal communication is crucial for sharing information. Gossip is necessary for social cooperation; it’s largely this kind of talk that cements social bonds and clarifies social norms. – BBC

Literary Hoaxes: Why They Work, And Why They Make Readers Angry (And Some Onlookers Gleeful)

Louis Menand: “If we pick up a novel about life in the barrio, or a book by a Tibetan monk, or an avant-garde literary magazine, we know what we expect to find. We are complicit in the attempt to get us to believe because we already want to believe. Writing … has to rely on readers bringing a lot of preconceptions to the encounter, which is why it is so easily exploited. Does this mean it’s all a game? Yes, in a sense.” — The New Yorker

Have We Made Technology Too Easy To Use?

There is nothing wrong with making things easier, in most cases, and the history of technology is filled with examples of amazing advances brought about by reducing complexity. Not even the most hardened Luddite, I suspect, wants to go back to the days of horse-drawn carriages and hand-crank radios. But it’s worth asking: Could some of our biggest technological challenges be solved by making things slightly less simple? – The New York Times