Journalist Aditya Chakrabortty, in a commentary about last month’s massive earthquake in Japan, had previously wrote about our inability to comprehend widespread tragedy citing that overwhelming numbers impair our understanding of events:

The bigger the numbers of fatalities and injuries, the harder it is for audiences to comprehend them. This law of diminishing returns doesn’t just apply to natural disasters, but to other varieties of misery – from oil spills to famines and genocides.

Simply said, where the suffering of one might be easily fathomed, it is the agony of millions we are not just built to internalize. Knowing this doesn’t absolve us  of our responsibility to our fellow human beings though — there are still things that we can do.

Good thing there’s an accessible way to do so. If you’ve a Kindle and you want to help in Japan’s road to recovery, you could check out and read 2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake, an ebook chronicling stories revolving around the earthquake that’s also a charity effort. All proceeds from sales of the ebook — including my Amazon Associate fees — will be sent to earthquake victims through the American Red Cross. (Of course, you can also donate directly on their site.)

It’s only $9.99, so what have you got to lose?

[image credit: stupiddope.com]

BPS Research Digest has recently put up a list of books and journal articles ‘that every psychologist should read’. Notable inclusions are classics such as William James’ Principles of Psychology, essential textbooks such as Julie Pallant’s SPSS Survival Manual, mind-numbing works such as B.F. Skinner’s The Operational Analysis of Psychological Terms (Yes, I’ve read it), and contemporary finds such as Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works. Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking Glass is also on the list, as well as Plato’s Republic.

Time to start with my summer reading then.

// The Books and Journal Articles All Psychologists Should Read via BPS Research Digest

If you’re an avid user of social networks, you may be one of millions who populated their feeds last week with beach photos, destination tweets, and holiday raves — a chronicle of your fun in the sun, so to speak. ‘Life is great’, you post, but do you know that doing so may have actually made someone, somewhere feel crummy and miserable? A Stanford study tells us why.

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Stories about robots bonding with humans have been the stuff of science fiction, but if Sherry Turkle is to be asked, it’s actually becoming more of a science fact. Turkle tinkers with robots that could not only mimic human emotion but could also interact as if they’re like living organic entities. The aim of her research is for these machines to pass what she dubs the ‘Turkle Test’, an evaluation similar to the Turing Test but one that determines if a machine could form a genuine relationship with a human being. It’s a curious aim, to say the least, for we haven’t even been able to deconstruct our own social DNA for more positive purposes (world peace, anyone?) but of course, the march of science advances with the beat of its own drum.

// The Turkle Test via Science Not Fiction

[image via: Gizmowatch]

The immersive experience that computer games provide makes them the perfect candidates for conveying, well, almost everything. Games can be conscripted for non-entertainment purposes and are very much useful for initiating social change. It’s no surprise then that there are gameplay narratives that start out with a more fundamental premise: making you think about life. Here are ten games that do exactly that.

// Ten Games That Make You Think About Life via Casual Girl Gamer