Non-financial: April - June 2016 articles archive home
 
Won't be so bad
People have a tremendous talent for changing their views of events so that they can feel better about them. We're not immediately delighted when our partner runs away with someone else, but we fairly quickly start to realize that he or she “was never really right for me" or that "we didn't have that much in common." Our friends snicker and say that we are rationalizing—as if these conclusions were wrong simply because they are comforting. In fact, rationalization doesn't necessarily mean self-delusion. These conclusions may actually have been right all along, and rationalization may be the process of discovering what was always true but unacknowledged.
Friday, June 24, 2016 ... more
 
 
Here's hoping
What holds true for the individual holds true for a society. It is never static; if it does not grow, it decays; if it does not transcend the status quo for the better, it changes for the worse. Often we have the illusion we could stand still and not alter the given situation in the one or the other direction. This is one of the most dangerous illusions. The moment we stand still, we begin to decay. - Erich Fromm

The world needs a new vision of what is possible, that can galvanize people to achieve higher levels of cooperation in areas of common concern and shared destiny ...
Friday, June 17, 2016 ... more
 
 
Creating wealth
Extracts of a letter written in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin to a friend:

The first Elements of Wealth are obtained by Labour, from the Earth and Waters. I have Land, and raise Corn. With this, if I feed a Family that does nothing, my Corn will be consum’d, and at the end of the Year I shall be no richer than I was at the beginning.
Friday, June 10, 2016 ... more
 
 
The role of luck
Seven years ago, Robert Frank, an economist at Cornell, went on Fox Business to speak with host Stuart Varney about a New York Times column Frank had written. In it, Frank had argued that, “Contrary to what many parents tell their children, talent and hard work are neither necessary nor sufficient for economic success.”
Friday, June 3, 2016 ... more
 
 
On being wrong
A whole lot of us go through life assuming that we are basically right, basically all the time, about basically everything - unconsciously assuming that we are very close to omniscient.
Friday, May 27, 2016 ... more
 
 
Animal Farm
From George Orwell’s Animal Farm:

Comrades! You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. It is for your sake that we drink the milk and eat those apples.

No one believes more firmly that all animals are equal.
Friday, May 20, 2016 ... more
 
 
Only now
We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present is felt as nothing but an infintesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas. ― Alan W. Watts
Friday, May 13, 2016 ... more
 
 
In the future
The problem lies in how we imagine our future hedonic states. We are the only animals that can peer deeply into our futures, that can travel mentally through time, preview a variety of futures, and choose the one that will bring us the greatest pleasure and/or the least pain. We don't have to actually have gallbladder surgery or lounge around on a Caribbean beach to know that one of these is better than another. We may do this better than any other animal, but we don't do it perfectly. Our ability to simulate the future and to forecast our reactions to it is seriously flawed, and people are rarely as happy or unhappy [in the future] as they expect to be.
Friday, May 6, 2016 ... more
 
 
Not knowing
Most of what is written about truth is the work of philosophers, who explain their ideas by telling little stories about experiments they conduct in their heads, like the time Descartes tried to convince himself that he didn’t exist, and found that he couldn’t, thereby proving that he did.
Friday, April 29, 2016 ... more
 
 
A great lie
Social relationships are a powerful predictor of happiness—much more so than money. Happy people have extensive social networks and good relationships. What's interesting is that while money is weakly and complexly correlated with happiness, and social relationships are strongly and simply correlated with happiness, most of us spend most of our time trying to be happy by pursuing wealth. Why?

Individuals and societies don't have the same fundamental need. Individuals want to be happy, and societies want individuals to consume.
Friday, April 22, 2016 ... more
 
 
Rebel, rebel
“True rebels hate their own rebellion. They know by experience that it is not a cool and glamorous lifestyle; it takes a courageous fool to say things that have not been said and to do things that have not been done.” ― Criss Jami

We would own no more, know no more, and be no more than the first apelike hominids if it were not for the rebellious, the recalcitrant, and the intransigent. As Oscar Wilde truly said, ‘Disobedience was man’s Original Virtue.’ ― Robert Anton Wilson
Friday, April 15, 2016 ... more
 
 
The invisible foot
Daniel Zizzo of Oxford University and Andrew Oswald of Warwick University conducted a series of experiments in which groups of four people were given nearly equal sums of money. The four had to gamble with their new wealth in random, computerised bets; two came out each time with more cash, and two with less. Richer or poorer, each was then given the chance to spend money on reducing the take of their fellow subjects.
Friday, April 8, 2016 ... more
 
 
Social status
Most social scientists estimate that it takes between three to five generations for a family’s wealth or poverty to dissipate, but Gregory Clark claims it takes a staggering ten to fifteen generations — 300 to 450 years — and there’s not much government can do about it.

“While conventional studies measure one aspect of status," he says, "there’s something deeper that’s changing much more slowly … that’s not amenable to social intervention, and seems very connected with families.”

Something cultural, or to do with biology?
Friday, April 1, 2016 ... more
 
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