Why We’re Not as Hardwired as We Think: All Think is Groupthink

To survive, reproduce, and flourish, species have to develop ecological adaptations to their environment. Humans have mastered the art of living in every possible climate and landscape on earth—provided we’re in groups. Our natural environment, the one we’ve evolved special adaptations to, is the presence of other humans. Since humans and chimpanzees split from a…

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No one knows anything

It’s really easy to overestimate how much you know about a topic. Even—or especially—if you’re an expert. A lot of academics/psychologists I know or have worked with have a tendency to overlook what Daniel Kahneman called the most common bias: the “What You See is All There Is” bias.   “Moreover, for many current scientific fields,…

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Why It’s So Easy to Overestimate How Much You Know About a Topic

Based on years and years of writing about science and studying psychology, here is my Grand Unified Theory for Why It’s So Easy to Overestimate Our Knowledge of a Topic. Let’s say you want to learn about psychology/architecture/physiology. First, that’s easy! We’re all lifelong students of behavior/buildings/bodies. So you’re starting here: Then you start reading…

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How to Make Smarter Decisions About What You Eat

Forming opinions about things is a process of noticing good/bad information until we’ve crossed a magical “I have decided what I think about this thing!” threshold. When you’re selecting between two different kinds of food—a salad or a brownie—how do you decide what to eat? Your choices depend on the marbles you pick up, information…

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How to build a better future

It appears that in one of the final round of edits, I deleted my favorite bullet point from the book, in the chapter on self-control. I’ll put it in the paperback version, but in the meantime: Compared to people who stick with the salad, those who repeatedly eat the brownies severely undervalue their future self…

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Thinking, Fast and Slow

Am I a little embarrassed that it took me to long to read Thinking, Fast and Slow? Yes, yes I am. My excuse is that I savored this book over the course of several months, reading it, bit by bit, taking notes and trying to fully ingest each insight. I can’t recommend this book enough…

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The Story in the Science

I’m completely jealous of those who were able to attend the National Association of Science Writers conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Angela Herring, versatile science writer at Northeastern University who blogs here, was kind enough to post some notes here on the panel discussion on “Unearthing Narrative,” a panel discussion that kept popping up on my…

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