Non-financial: April - June 2012 articles archive home
Crumbs on the shirt
A few years ago … a pair of researchers in the psychology department at Berkley staged an experiment. They grabbed students, as lab rats, broke them into teams, segregated by sex - three men, or three women, per team. Then they arbitrarily assigned one of the three to act as leader.
Friday, June 29, 2012 ... more
Faulty appeal
Fallacious Appeal to Authority - the endorsement of a position or statement simply based on the social stature of the person making it. Example: “My uncle says the earth is flat. He has a PhD in geophysics”.
Friday, June 22, 2012 ... more
I want you to learn …
… right at the outset not to play with the spoon before you take the medicine. Putting off an easy thing makes it hard, and putting off a hard one makes it impossible.
Friday, June 15, 2012 ... more
Two worlds
We live simultaneously in two different worlds – one where social norms prevail, and the other where market norms make the rules. The social norms include the friendly requests that people make to one another. Could you help me move this couch? Social norms are wrapped up in our social nature and our need for community.
Friday, June 8, 2012 ... more
But there are rules
The mediocrity principle simply states that you aren't special. The universe does not revolve around you, this planet isn't privileged in any unique way, your country is not the perfect product of divine destiny, your existence isn't the product of directed, intentional fate, and that tuna sandwich you had for lunch was not plotting to give you indigestion.
Friday, June 1, 2012 ... more
What a wonderful thing …
… is this Man! How surprising are his attributes! Poor soul, here for so little, cast among so many hardships, savagely surrounded, savagely descended, irremediably condemned to prey upon his fellow-lives,—who should have blamed him, had he been of a piece with his destiny and a being merely barbarous?
Friday, May 25, 2012 ... more
Learning from experiments
Every time we take a prescription drug we are conducting an experiment. But, we don't carefully record the results after each dose, and we don't run controls, and we mix up the variables by not changing only one thing at a time, so that when we suffer from side effects we can't figure out what might have been the true cause.
Friday, May 18, 2012 ... more
Open to doubt
Lack of certainty is precisely what makes conclusions more reliable than the conclusions of those who are certain: because the good thinker will be ready to shift to a different point of view if better elements of evidence, or novel arguments emerge.
Friday, May 11, 2012 ... more
What is indifference?
Is it a philosophy? Is there a philosophy of indifference conceivable? Can one possibly view indifference as a virtue? Is it necessary at times to practice it simply to keep one's sanity, live normally, enjoy a fine meal and a glass of wine, as the world around us experiences harrowing upheavals?
Friday, May 4, 2012 ... more
The best medicine
Guffaws in a crowded bar, childish giggles, a blaring TV laugh track - laughter is very much a part of our existence. All members of the human species understand it, but unlike English or Swahili, we don’t have to learn it. We’re born with the capacity to laugh. Starting from about 3 to 4 months of age, long before we’re able to speak.
Friday, April 20, 2012 ... more
Collective intelligence
Brilliant people assume that brilliance is the key to human achievement. [But] they are barking up the wrong tree. The key to human achievement is not individual intelligence at all. The reason human beings dominate the planet is not because they have big brains.
Friday, April 13, 2012 ... more
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