Required Reading, Second Week of April 2016

Throughout the week, I read a LOT of online articles. What follows are the two I found most interesting:

Why Most People Don’t Learn From Their Mistakes, via Maneatingrobot–This blog post by Shane Snow is the shortcomings inherent in the cliche “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” As he says, “What doesn’t kill you doesn’t make you stronger if it puts you in a lifelong coma.”:

Researchers interviewed 500 prisoners about how they felt about their crimes, and then kept tabs on them after release to see whether they ended up re-committing similar crimes. The researchers catalogued the prisoners in two categories: those who felt guilt and those who felt shame. Guilt means that you feel badly for your actions. Shame means that you feel badly about who you are.

Though guilt and shame sound like similar emotions, they proved highly predictive of the ex-cons’ future behavior. Prisoners who felt guilty for what they’d done tended to do better post-parole; they focused on the actions they could do differently since it was their own actions that got them locked up in the first place. Prisoners who felt shame tended to blame their circumstances in order to preserve their self-esteem—both regarding their crimes and in their general lives—and so they didn’t actually learn from the mistakes and continued on to lives of crime later. Many in the “shame” category ended up back in the slammer.


The Voyeur’s Motel, via The New Yorker–Here is a long expose about a man who purchases a motel in Aurora, Colorado in order to fulfill a lifelong ambition: to be able to spy on the personal lives of strangers. Over the years, this man is witness to all shades of depravity and tedium and has finally gone public with his story. Perhaps, in a way, we’re all voyeurs:

A voyeur is motivated by anticipation; he invests endless hours in the hope of seeing what he wishes to see. Yet for every erotic episode he witnesses he is also privy to hundreds of mundane moments representing the ordinary daily human routine—people channel-surfing, snoring, urinating, primping, and doing other things too tediously real for reality television.

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