12 ways to be a vigilant news consumer

In a talk about Journalism and News Literacy*, Howard Schneider, who is the dean of the School of Journalism at Stony Brook University, shared some of his experience about the way we consume news today. I share this with you so we will begin this wonderful new 2014 with a more self aware reading and information exchange.

One of the biggest problems in the digitalized era we live in is information. There is too much information and very little screening of that information. Blogs, News reports online, TV, Facebook, Twiiter, we are flooded with information, reports and rumors that in the end of the day we are left with selected information which in many cases we pass it along.

Obama’s co called Birth Cert. Kenya, Canada, US or Mars

First of all, most of us will forget the source within 72 hours. We will not be able to say where a certain information we have is originated, whether a blog, TV news, an Internet article, facebook etc. Actually, some will most likely confuse the source with a higher ranking one to give the information more credibility.

mires-prie-kompiuterioSecond, we are all experiencing what today in social psychology we call Confirmation Bias, or the Sleeper effect. Meaning we have an obvious Bias toward a piece of information that will confirm our preconceived notion about life, reality, moral, valor etc. There is an interesting example with a news report that was spread on the Internet as true about a guy (a certain New York proofreader George Turklebaum) that was found dead on his desk 5 days after his time of decease. Almost all people believe it because they actually believe it can happen in their work place (“where is this world going” etc.).

There are many more disturbing facts and examples about our daily habit as to how we consume information. Here are 12 ways to be a vigilant news consumer according to Schneider:

1 – Always know what news neighborhood you´re in.

2 – In the news neighborhood differentiate the news from opinions.

3 – Follow a story over time.

4 – Evaluate sources.

5 – Always ask: did the reporter actually verified the information or is relying on rumors?

6 – On the Internet, rank and popularity do not necessarily mean credibility.

7 – Choose multiple news brands.

8 – Be open to information that challenges your own biases and assumptions.

9 – Don´t judge the news media on the basis of one news outlet or story. Don´t judge one outlet on the basis of one mistake, look for patterns.

10 – Be an aggressive news consumer. It is hard work.

11 – In the digital age, we are all distributes of information.

12 – Make time for the news.

Also, a good point is to cross reference with multiple sources. This is essential to more accurate information. Cross references, like any historical event that want to be considered as closer to the truth, is where the biases of the reporter, editor and news source get diminished (of course not completely gone). Especially when it is from different sources that are from both side of political opinion, different languages, different countries etc. Personally, I have been reading newspapers from 4 different countries in the past 3 years and I have to say that the experience is sometime incredible seeing how news is distorted to fit the newspaper political opinion.

To a well informative and aware trispectivist this process will be much easier to do, for the news is simply the interaction between the individual All and the universal All. Thus, while recognizing this constant interaction, we, as the individuals, are aware that the information we receive is how we perceive the universal, and not necessarily a good mirror of what it is really is. The more we are sure in our “certainties” and truths, the less effective the interaction with the universal will be, leading to a more biased receptors from our part (if you happen to have Trispectivism at hand, I will refer you to the part about communication in page 235).

And lastly, for a useful tool to discard rumors and myth in the Internet, Schneider offers this website?

http://snopes.com/ – the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation. Use the search box to locate your item of interest.

* Watch Schneider’s full conference – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rv4YgX5udlM


Wishing a holiday spirit

In the power invested in me as being joyfully alive and amongst all of you, precious and beautiful fellow living, I wish…

For the ones that celebrate the birth of their savior:


For the ones that celebrate for celebrating and in search of a good excuse 🙂


* for those of you who wonder what it is, click here.

For the ones that celebrate simply to go with the flow:


And to all the trispectivists all around the world:



What ever the reason of the celebration let it be happy, merry and full of laughter and delight!!!
Merry Christmas everyone, see and read you next year!

Google Zeitgeist 2013:


Weekly choice, by peers

Self-Victimizing Again?

“Whether it is your weight, your emotions, your spouse, your children, your paycheck–if you continually find yourself feeling angry, resentful or upset by the events in your life, reflect on who you blame for life’s ups and downs. (…)How a person internalizes a particular point of view about control speaks volumes about their ability to live with a sense of wellbeing and contentment. If your philosophy about control is outside of your conscious awareness then you are essentially a slave to it, repeating the same negative dynamics again and again, all the while feeling at the mercy of circumstance. Over time, repeatedly reenacting the same problematic patterns of behavior causes a self-fulfilling prophesy to manifest. A person comes to believe that they truly cannot impact their own future; thereby sealing their fate as nothing more than a cog in a wheel that goes nowhere.”



The Power of Empathy: A Quick Animated Lesson That Can Make You a Better Person

EmpathyRSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) created a series of distinctive animated shorts where heavy-hitter intellectuals presented big ideas, and a talented artist rapidly illustrated them on a whiteboard. This clip features Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, providing some quick insights into the difference between sympathy and empathy, and explaining why empathy is much more meaningful.”



High Emotional Intelligence Dramatically Improves Decision-Making

images“A new study finds that people with high emotional intelligence make smarter decisions because they aren’t swayed by their current emotional state. Yip and Côté (2013) ran two experiments to test how different people deal with spurious emotional states that are not related to the decision at hand. In one, participants were made to feel anxious by being asked to prepare an impromptu speech. Then they were asked whether they wanted to sign up to a flu clinic.

The results showed that people with higher emotional intelligence were more aware that the experimentally-induced anxiety they felt was not related to the decision about the flu clinic.

Those with high levels of emotional intelligence are more likely to ignore those emotions that have nothing to do with their decision. For those who find it problematic making sense of their emotions, the easiest solution is simply stated (although not always easy to execute): wait until later.”



TED’s best of the week

Paul Piff: Does money make you mean?

How does being rich affect the way we behave? In today’s talk, social psychologist Paul Piff provides a convincing case for the answer: not well.

“As a person’s levels of wealth increase, their feelings of compassion and empathy go down, and their feelings of entitlement, of deservingness, and their ideology of self-interest increases,” he says in his talk from TEDx Marin. Through surveys and studies, Piff and his colleagues have found that wealthier individuals are more likely to moralize greed and self-interest as favorable, less likely to be prosocial, and more likely to cheat and break laws if it behooves them.”



Book of the week! Ulysses by James Joyce

Ulysses_(1967_film_dvd_cover)Ulysses is a  novel written by the Irish writer James Joyce. It was first serialized in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach in February 1922, in Paris. It is considered to be one of the most important works of Modernist literature, and has been called “a demonstration and summation of the entire movement”. Joyce’s devoted fans can be seen celebrating June 16th every year, Bloomsday, the day in which all of the action of Ulysses takes place in the spinning clockwork of Dublin in 1904.

The celebrated novel was banned in America until 1934 because of its “pornographic” nature, a comical artefact of the country’s prudishness. The novel was also labeled as dirty, blasphemous, and unreadable.

The two main characters, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, go about their separate business, crossing paths with a gallery of indelible Dubliners. We watch them teach, eat, stroll the streets, argue, and (in Bloom’s case) masturbate. And thanks to the books stream-of-consciousness technique–which suggests no mere stream but an impossibly deep, swift-running river–we’re privy to their thoughts, emotions, and memories. As for the result, almost every variety of human experience is crammed into the accordion folds of a single day, which makes Ulysses not just an experimental work but the very last word in realism.

“Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.”

An interesting documentary about the author and his masterpiece:


The question of After-life

I´ve seen many debates between religious people and atheists, some (most) of which end up in a dead end as simply a question of faith. However, there are other debates that in spite of that fact, seem to incite and inspire the listener to engage in an introspective thought about themselves and about life. A recent debate I´ve seen is, by far, one of the latter.

In this remarkable and mind-altering debate, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris are giving a relatively calm responses to the variety of religious reasoning (for lack of a less antithetical term) two rabbis try to defend.

In one occasion during the debate, they referred to the significance of NDE (Near Death Experience) and discussed it by different names and experiences (personal as well as of others). This phenomenon is when the soul/consciousness/being (or whatever name we choose to call it) leaves the physical body and manages to fly/hover/transport itself to other locations (in most cases physical).

Now, the debate is obviously not about the question if people believe it happened to them or not, but what does it signify in the grand scheme of things. Meaning, can we collectively deduce the existence of “something out there” from an experience of that sort? While watching the debate, many things come to mind (many of which were told by the two astute liberal thinkers) but one of which I think to have a more interesting gray zone, and that is the commonly known Astral Traveling.

forest-path-mysticalA few years back, as part of my travels, I had a six month stay in a small village in a developing country. The village was fascinating and awe-inspiring with a hallo of the supernatural, surrounded by human beings with incredible powers and capacities. And still, more than anything, what was the most marvelous in this bucolic community were the stories. I have been told about many versions of miracles, metaphysical experiences and even natural born gifts of the people around me. However, no matter how hard I tried, I could not find not even one proof for the veracity of any of the stories. I was desperate, wanting so bad to believe, I walked around looking under every stone, entering all forbidden areas, asking human teleporters, psychics and astral travelers to show me, teach me, to give me a simple test demonstration just so I could live and believe what I wished so much to exist. I heard many firsthand experiences, magnificent epistemic unimaginable ones, yet, for the most part, after insisting on some proofs I was simply considered as another enthusiastic skeptic, materialistic in the need of unnecessary science. Other times, I was actually told to wait while they will show me their powers when I least expect it (note: I´m still waiting, 10 years later).

The sad and unfortunate fact is that in spite all of my will to believe (that actually I possess to this day), I couldn´t find a shred of proof. On the other hand, my understanding of basic psychology helped me more than once to understand the birth of those perspectives.

Like the time I was doing a meditation session to reveal who I was in my former life (regression to former life/s meditation). It was amazing, so vivid, so true, I still remember it to this day. I was lying on the mattress regressing step by step with the mellow, harmonious sound of the voice of the instructor, going back remembering year after year every step of this life. I saw my toddler’s years and me as a baby, all the way to the memory from the womb (that was, admittedly. a little vague) but when we reached the metaphysical space and then the former death, I was shocked. I did see myself in my former life (who I was and how I died is a story for another post).

José GUTIERREZ SOLANA, El espejo de la muerte, Ca. 1929
GUTIERREZ SOLANA, El espejo de la muerte

Needless to say it haunted me for days. However, the more I thought of it, the more I began to analyze it as I used to do for years with my dreams. You see, as a person with very vivid and dynamic oneiric life, I began to have a lot of interest in interpretation. When you do it long enough, one can start seeing a pattern of how it functions (both in the oneiric state as in the other ones). Remembering that event I began to see this pattern functions splendidly. After all, the soft meditation music with the fact that we are lying down, rapidly took us to a theta wave neural oscillation. I did some more reading and not much time later I found the experience rather explainable by simple self awareness. Of course, if I wanted to blindly believe what I had seen (or imagined) I would have simply blocked any possible explanation (rational and natural one). But I couldn´t. I say these words not without some sorrow because a part of me still wishes to simply avoid reason and let faith be the creator of magic and wonder. In fact, at times I would have liked to be able to wake up every day with the pure and irrevocable notion that my dream is, in fact, reality. Nevertheless, instead of believing it to be right and by that arguing the existence of other worlds and spiritual existence to all, I simply enjoy yet another lesson about the most magically and mysterious entity we can undoubtedly say exists… our brain.

So, enjoy this wonderful and inspiring debate, and if you have any comments or ideas, feel free to share them.

Weekly choice, by peers

10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science

A study in the Journal of Health Psychology found that people who exercise feel better about their bodies, even when they saw no physical changes.


Body weight, shape and body image were assessed in 16 males and 18 females before and after both 6 × 40 mins exercise and 6 × 40 mins reading. Over both conditions, body weight and shape did not change. Various aspects of body image, however, improved after exercise compared to before.



 TED’s Best of The Week:

Jackson Katz: Violence against women—it’s a men’s issue

domesticviolence1Domestic violence and sexual abuse are often called “women’s issues.” But in this bold, blunt talk, Jackson Katz points out that these are intrinsically men’s issues — and shows how these violent behaviors are tied to definitions of manhood. A clarion call for us all — women and men — to call out unacceptable behavior and be leaders of change.

Jackson Katz asks a very important question that gets at the root of why sexual abuse, rape and domestic abuse remain a problem: What’s going on with men?


“We need more men with guts, with the courage, with the strength, with the moral integrity to break our complicit silence and challenge each other and stand with women and not against them.”


Fearful ‘Memories’ Passed Between Generations Through Genetic Code

“A frankly mind-blowing new study suggests traumatic events that happen to a parent could be passed down through their genes onto their children. The research, published in Nature Neuroscience, was carried out on mice, which were conditioned to become afraid of a particular smell: in fact a smell not unlike cherry blossom (Dias & Ressler, 2013). Even the grandchildren showed the fearful response. So the fearful response towards this smell was passed down two generations. The mechanism for the transmission of this response across generations appears to be through the mice’s sperm.

The reason this study is so potentially exciting is that evolution is thought to occur mostly through random genetic mutations across many generations.”



Top 10 Reasons why Diversity is Good for the Boardroom

  1. It reflects the real world – something every company should be sensitive to.

  2. Healthy debate can lead to better decisions.

  3. Divergent backgrounds mean tackling the same idea in differing ways.

  4. Great ideas come from disruption of the status quo.

  5. Your clients and customers are diverse.

Read the rest at:



Person of the week! Alfred Hitchcock, Master Of Suspense

alfred_hitchcock_master_of_suspense_two_headedHitchcock’s strength and reputation as a filmmaker was that he was able to visualize his subconscious fears and desires and turn them into waking nightmares on the silver screen. Many viewers share those feelings and emotions, which is why he will remain in the public consciousness for many years to come.

Hitchcock (1899–1980) was nominated for six Oscars throughout his career, receiving best director mentions for Rebecca (1940), Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945) Rear Window (1954) and Psycho (1960). Over three decades after his death, at the age of 81, Psycho, adapted for the big screen from a novel based on the life of American serial killer Ed Gein, remains Hitchcock’s greatest-ever film. Psycho is regarded as the world’s first ‘slasher’ movie, terrifying and shocking the public when it opened in 1960. It contained unprecedented levels of violence and sexuality, and its infamous ‘shower scene’ was later named the ‘Best Death’ in modern cinematography.

But Alfred Hitchcock, in a newly-unearthed interview, says he was ‘horrified’ when spectators took his subversive classic Psycho seriously.

Watch the 1964 sit-down uncovered found in the BBC archives, where the master of suspense says he intended the film to be a dark comedy made ‘rather tongue-in-cheek’.

“I never carry more than I can afford to lose” (Psycho)

Weekly choice, by peers

Hey Congress! 4 ways to break a stalemate!

Converse. Convince. Compromise. Cooperate

“Partnership is not easy but it requires the continual application of we can call the four C’s – conversing, convincing, compromising, and cooperating. These practices are fundamental to the biggest “c” word in management – communication – open, honest and mutual.

Mutual benefit requires mutual consent.”



Richard Dawkins answers the question: what makes us human? | BBC Radio 2

evolutionProfessor Richard Dawkins reflects on the qualities he thinks make us human, and discusses his influential theories with Jeremy Vine.

“Darwin would be fascinated if he could come back and see what is now known. We are very, very unique species. Make the point that other species are unique too. But we are unique in a very special way, in our ability to think, in our ability to place ourselves in universe, understand where we came from. No other species comes close to that.”


Here’s another link about some of the many talks by Dawkins:



Can Long Distance Relationships Work?

About three million Americans have long-distance relationships

“…our culture emphasizes being together physically and frequent face-to-face contact for close relationships, but long-distance relationships clearly stand against all these values. People don’t have to be so pessimistic about long-distance romance. The long-distance couples try harder than geographically close couples in communicating affection and intimacy, and their efforts do pay back.”

None of this research, though, tells us anything about which types of people can cope with long distance relationships. While some people may naturally have the skills required, others may not.



Ted’s best of the week!

iO Tillet Wright thanks to her parents for not asking her to define herself as a child. Her experience of growing up without check boxes like “female”, “male”, “gay” or “straight” thoroughly infuses her art.

“Sometimes just the question ‘what do you do?’ can feel like somebody’s opening a tiny little box and asking you to squeeze yourself inside of it.”

“There are just as many jerks and sweethearts and Democrats and Republicans and jocks and queens and every other polarization you can possibly think of within the LGBT community as there are within the human race.”



Person of the week! Homage a symbol of a century: Nelson Mandela


Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918 – 2013) was born in the village of Mvezo in Umtatu. Mandela was the person that brought peace to one of the most problematic regions in the XXth century. The first black president of South Africa united people, identities of different race, color and culture. All under the same roof and vision. This great man’s funeral will be held on Sunday, December 15, after the emotional 10 days farewell.

“Our family was deeply moved by our visit to Madiba’s former cell on Robben Island during our recent trip to South Africa, and we will forever draw strength and inspiration from his extraordinary example of moral courage, kindness, and humility,” Obama said in a statement.

Mandela ground breaking work was mainly political and social to end the South African apartheid regime. He was most known for his policy and attitude of forgiveness, fostering racial reconciliation while avoiding a failure in empty retaliation out of anger and vengeance. Thus this Rolihlahla (“troublemaker” in colloquial Xhosa) became the most appreciated peacemaker this modern world has even seen.

A short biography:


p.s. – Why Nelson?

“No one in my family had ever attended school […] On the first day of school my teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave each of us an English name. This was the custom among Africans in those days and was undoubtedly due to the British bias of our education. That day, Miss Mdingane told me that my new name was Nelson. Why this particular name I have no idea.”

— Mandela, 1994

Inspirational task of the week

Recently I decided to take a course in one of the many MOOCs available. Being a fan of writing I chose a course titled The Future of Storytelling. Today we are at the six week and I have to admit this is a great experience. Every week they offer weekly video material, lessons, interviews and tasks on the following topics (not necessarily in this order):
– Storytelling basics.
– Serial formats (on the TV, web and beyond) – Theoretical lesson, extremely interesting.
– Storytelling in role-playing games.
– Interactive storytelling in video games.
– Transmedia storytelling.
– Alternate-reality gaming.
– Augmented reality and location-based storytelling.
– The role of tools, interfaces and information architectures in current storytelling.


The first Storytelling-MOOC will focus on fictional formats. The goal is to inspire and help understand as well as broaden our horizon of what is and might be possible and what has already been attempted, and what has succeeded or even failed – and why.

And yes, for all of you who are wandering if there are some of those pesky assignments we all loved so much in out toddler years, yes, the task (homework) of the week is indeed given. However, taking under consideration we are all somewhat busy adult.

I have to admit that I didn´t do all of my homework but here’s one for the last week. The task was to take a camera, be it you mobile phone, a webcam… , and introduce oneself to the other StoryMOOCers, telling the viewers which works inspired your interest in storytelling most up to know. In the task you should pick out 1-3 works of art, literature, film, TV, game, a website or else and tell what’s so special about it that you think it might help inspire somebody else anywhere on this planet.

This is my video (which I promise to improve in future posts):

*If you would like to post your personal advice of the books and inspiration and share it with us please send it to me to sicohenmail@gmail.com and I´ll upload it. If you don’t want to be in the video, you can simply make it just about your piece of inspiration.

Weekly choice, by peers

How to have courage?

“I’m afraid of what people are saying about me behind my back. I’m afraid that when I’m an old man I will be too sick to move and nobody will visit me. I want to practice courage. Courage is caring but not having to care. Helping but not forcing. Saying no without being afraid of consequences. Doing your best every moment but letting go of the results. Being loving with no expectation of love. You become what you practice.”




Like to Stay Up Late? Different Neural Structures Found in the Brains of Night Owls

“Night owls make up around 20% of the population, with about 10% of us being larks–preferring to sleep early and rise early. As night owls find it difficult to get to sleep early, they tend to carry large amounts of sleep debt. In other words, they’re exhausted all the time.As a result, they tend to be larger consumers of caffeine and other stimulants, in order to counteract their sleep debt.”

Owl http://www.spring.org.uk/2013/11/like-to-stay-up-late-different-neural-structures-found-in-the-brains-of-night-owls.php



Your Reality Is a Reflection of What You Believe You Deserve

“At the time I wasn’t able to see that what I had chosen was a reflection of my low self-worth. I felt like dirt and lived in it.  As I started to look at self-love, and practice affirmations, yoga, and meditations in nature, it was like a light went on, mostly unconsciously, until the day came when I consciously realized: I deserve better. (…) Once you are aware of this, you can change it. Once you can see that you are sabotaging yourself, you can choose to deepen your spiritual practices. This will energize you and increase your faith, helping you take action, which always leads to a more fulfilling reality.”



Ted’s best for the week

John McWhorter: Txtng is killing language!

Does texting mean the end of good writing skills? John McWhorter says that there’s much more to texting — linguistically and culturally — than it seems, and it’s all good news. The famous linguist thinks about language in relation to race, politics and our shared cultural history. We all keep hearing about how technology is destroying our culture, fatigue our mind and ruin our culture, we hear it in almost every getting together. This talk reminds us something important, every generation leaves a change in life and while we are alive can we really say that it is good or bad. Does it really the technology, that we so easily target as the source of all wrongdoing, is to be blamed. In this talk we become see a different perspective we might want to take into consideration.


“[Texting] is a whole new way of writing that young people are developing, which they’re using alongside their ordinary writing skills… It’s an expansion of their linguistic repertoire.”


Person of the week! Steve Jobs, Genius Of Modern Age

Steven Paul, aka Steve, Jobs (1955-2011), is widely recognized as a charismatic pioneer of the personal computer revolution and for his influential career in the computer and consumer electronics fields, transforming “one industry after another, from computers and smartphones to music and movies”.


“Stay hungry, stay foolish.”

“There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love, – says Jobs at the end of his speech at the Macworld Conference and Expo in January 2007, – ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very very beginning. And we always will.”