a path appears
link to kindle notes:
The more Slutkin looked at urban violence, the more he felt that it had been misdiagnosed as solely a crime problem when in many ways it was a contagion analogous to cholera or leprosy. As with other contagions, an infection depends upon exposure among susceptible people who have low resistance or compromised immunity.
We explore Mars and embed telephones in wristwatches, but we can’t keep families safe in the inner cities.
the divide et al
talent is universal, but opportunity is not
Susan Fiske, has used scans to show that the brains of high-achieving people see images of poor people and process them as if they were not humans but things
The upshot is that for now, one of the strongest determinants of who ends up poor is who is born poor
One study on mortality following 7,000 people found that the risk of death among men and women with the fewest social ties was more than twice as high as the risk for adults with the most social ties, independent of physical health.
Altruism is a powerful force for health and happiness alike, and it seems to be deeply embedded in human neurochemistry.
The “pleasure centers” in the brain that light up in brain scans when we receive gifts, eat fine food, flirt, or have sex also light up when we help others.
estimated that a bit less than one-third of overall charitable giving ends up helping the truly needy. Charities across the United States employ 13 million people and take in $1.5 trillion in revenues each year, not
Esther Duflo, an MIT economist who has pioneered the use of more rigorous experiments to determine what works or doesn’t in fighting poverty
In impoverished post-genocide Rwanda, survivor children did better even in child-headed households than in institutions. Worldwide, UNICEF says, there are up to 8 million children still raised in institutions
Mary Ainsworth, whose work at Johns Hopkins University led to our modern understanding of attachment, found that babies with the most attentive moms, those who picked them up and cooed to them at the first wail, actually cried less at a year of age. Ainsworth argued that maternal attachment creates more self-confident children who then feel secure enough to venture out
Childhood experts have long noted that poor and working-class families have a more authoritarian child-rearing style than middle-class families, with more spanking and peremptory orders. This authoritarian style can impair the child’s emotional development, but Olds saw that it was in part an outgrowth of living in a dangerous place. “Unless your children adhere to the rules, they’re at risk for getting killed,” he said.
One reason many people feel poverty is a hopeless cause is that they think some parents are inevitably going to do a wretched job and that there is no way for outsiders or governments to make a difference. Happily, a scholar named David Olds has shown that they are wrong
Here we have one of the most rigorously backed antipoverty programs in America, one that pays for itself several times over in reduced costs later on, and yet it has funds to serve only 2 to 3 percent of eligible families. That’s infuriating.
James Heckman, a Nobel Prize–winning economist at the University of Chicago, says that our society would be better off taking sums we invest in high school and university and redeploying them to help struggling kids in the first five years of life. We certainly would prefer not to cut education budgets of any kind, but if pressed, we would have to agree that $1 billion spent on home visitation for at-risk young mothers would achieve much more in breaking the poverty cycle than the same sum spent on indirect subsidies collected by for-profit universities.
States now spend $50 billion a year on the prison system, up from $9 billion in 1985. The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prisoners.
America detains children at a rate five times greater than any other country
California spends $216,000 per year on a juvenile delinquent in custody,
When people or animals learn they can escape their situation, they lose their passivity
Most studies find that each murder in America leads to costs of between $10 million and $12 million, including police and prison bills and social services for families of victims and perpetrators
The University of Chicago Crime Lab calculates that gun violence costs every Chicago household about $2,500 a year.
researchers have shown that children in high-violence inner cities suffer the same post-traumatic stress disorder that haunts many veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars
One promising effort to curb such blights is Cure Violence, inspired by an infectious diseases specialist, Dr. Gary Slutkin, whom we met earlier. Dr. Slutkin, who has taken a public health approach to curbing murders in Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods, has enjoyed such success that the program has been replicated around the United States and in many other countries
Chicago already had some of the toughest gun control laws in the country, but they had not been effective in eliminating guns. “It was like trying to get rid of mosquitoes in Africa,” Slutkin said. The more he pondered urban violence, the more he felt it had been misdiagnosed as solely a moral problem or a criminal issue. He decided it was in many ways more like a disease epidemic. Contagions spread among people who have low resistance, and that seemed true of violence
compromised immune systems
Like China Joe, they make themselves known in their assigned communities and encourage people to call them when they fear trouble
Cure Violence calculates that every $1 spent on its programs in Chicago saves $15.77 in medical and criminal justice costs alone, and Slutkin thinks that the approach is capable of lowering inner-city homicides by 70 percent
Yet Cure Violence has the funding to operate in only one-quarter of the neighborhoods where it’s needed. If only we were as willing to pay for prevention as for prisons
Because of the abuse she endured, Becca could relate to sex trafficking victims who had experienced so much abuse themselves. “Those couple of years were a huge gift to me,” Becca says. “The gift is that I get why people end up out on the streets. I get that it messes you up in relationships.” The roots of sex trafficking, she says, lie in rape of children, pointing to research indicating that a majority of prostitutes have been sexually abused as children.
The women in the home run it themselves;
She never sought help from the police, partly because she had learned to distrust them: she had been arrested 167 times; her pimp, never.
As Daniel Borochoff, president of Charity Watch, puts it: “One reason people give is that they’re asked. And the groups that do the asking are usually the ones that are least efficient.”
Greyston Bakery would be a for-profit factory and would hire any homeless person seeking a job. “Whoever showed up, we took them in,” said Glassman. “We did not do any checks on backgrounds. If they did a good job, they’d remain. If not, they’d go.”
Today, Greyston has 150 employees and the foundation operates 300 housing units to ease homelessness. The bakery has sales of $13 million a year.
Among Whole Foods’ suppliers is Greyston Bakery, which provides—what else?—brownies. Greyston has hired thirty people to expand the Whole Foods brownie line.
Though the school lunch market is $16 billion nationwide, there are very few suppliers of healthy, fresh meals, especially for low-income students on government-subsidized meal plans.
Our guides were two of the country’s pioneering investigators into the neuroscience of altruism, Ulrich Mayr and William T. Harbaugh of the University of Oregon
a willingness to help others seemed more important to longevity than cholesterol levels.
One question that neuroscientists are attempting to answer is whether the happiness of giving comes from a pure desire to see others better off or whether it comes from basking in the respect of others for being generous. With a grin, Harbaugh cited Bernard Mandeville, a friend of Benjamin Franklin’s, who wrote in 1723, “Pride and vanity have built more hospitals than all the virtues together.”
That was the seed of his marketing strategy: offering groups of people an effective way to have fun together while also accomplishing something meaningful. Harrison has built a worldwide “water empire” based on facilitating these giving communities.
Paul Zak, at Claremont Graduate University, has found that watching a simple video about a child with cancer leads to the release of two brain chemicals. One is cortisol, a stress hormone reflecting the distress one feels about a sick child. It helps focus attention on a challenge. The other is oxytocin, the so-called trust molecule, which makes people want to help others. Viewers were given the chance to donate to charity after seeing the video, and those who produced more oxytocin gave more; indeed, the level of oxytocin in the blood was a strong predictor of the sum donated. Zak calls this “changing our behavior by changing our brain chemistry.” It seems as though Scott Harrison’s documentary style use of videos and photographs helps trigger the release of a great deal of oxytocin.
When Zak and his team sprayed oxytocin into people’s noses—a pathway to the brain—they found greater generosity at once. “We could turn the behavioral response on and off like a garden hose,” he writes. He has found that prayer and singing release oxytocin, and so does engaging on social media—where
In Africa, some 50,000 foreign-funded wells are said to be no longer working, with $300 million in well-drilling investment squandered
one key driver in altruism is oxytocin, the “trust molecule.” Saturn says, “It’s almost like a social glue” that promotes “survival of the kindest.” She calls it a compassion molecule that is like a “chill pill.” It calms down our stress responses and makes us more interested in others; in particular, we look into their eyes more. When we look gently into someone’s eyes, that person will probably release oxytocin and feel more compassion.
Restore Leadership Academy in Uganda. Its impoverished students raise money to help American kids. The academy was founded by Bob Goff
The academy chose as its target charity The Mentoring Project, which is based in Portland, Oregon, and supports at-risk boys who don’t have dads. Such an organization resonated with the Ugandan children, for many in their community had lost fathers and they intuitively understood the need for mentors. Helping kids in a rich country was novel for the Ugandan students. “They see Westerners come over on trips and they seem insanely wealthy,” Eriksson noted. “Kids probably think: ‘They could help me so much, they have so much money.’ We like the idea of switching that thinking because we don’t want them to just think that ‘people from the States are here to help me, pity me, and they have it all figured it out.’ We want them to think in terms of friendship, and all around the world there are folks who need help.”
Empowering these kids to give, Goff replied, is the best thing we can do for them
Paradoxically, it’s when people are feeling hurt and sad that they often benefit the most from turning outward and trying to help others.
Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity. —HIPPOCRATES
In the Bosnian camps, Greitens noticed that the parents and grandparents fared best because they had children to look after. The worst off were the teenagers. “They didn’t feel they had a social purpose,” he says.
What has struck us over and over is how often the drivers of change are not those who are the wealthiest or best-connected but those at the grassroots who are most persistent.