Reading, fast and slow.

Reader, Come Home by Maryanne Wolf explores the disappearance of deep reading and charts what we have lost. Then, suggests how we might get it back. Three lessons: 1- Reading is complicated neurologically. One word involves more or less the whole brain in a 400ms dance. Neuroimaging can’t keep up with more. 2- Deep, slow, … Read more

Lessons from our history as Homo Sapiens

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari explores our chaotic and unpredictable past as a species, in an attempt to open up how we think about the present and the future. Three lessons are presented: 1- Our development from insignificant creatures 2.5 million years ago to where we are now was enabled primarily by language – shared … Read more

On Happiness

Richard Layard’s Happiness (2005) was about the ‘new’ science of happiness. Depressingly, it feels current and we all need reminding of three things:  What makes us happy? Family, finances, work if we want it, community, health, personal freedom, personal values.  The main measure governments use to determine policy has for decades been GDP. But happiness should be central to … Read more

Breaking ‘The Knowledge Illusion’.

How much do you really know? The Knowledge Illusion by Philip Fernbach and Steven Sloman suggests that you know a lot less than you think you do. It’s most valuable interventions are within and surrounding cognitive science; but there are lessons of value for you all, too. Particularly if you were educated recently and think humans use reason rationally and progress individually or … Read more

Listen to People With Some Skin in the Game

Nassem Taleb’s Skin in the Game argues, among other things, that much of our knowledge about people comes from small scale studies and is then generalized to “Americans”, or even “humans”. Taleb exposes some of the flaws behind this method of reasoning. He argues that instead of listening to social scientists, we’d be better listening … Read more

How to Avoid Being Misled by Statistics

You all know, I’m sure, that 95% of statistics are made up on the spot. But can we trust those that are published in scientific journals and circulated elsewhere? Should we change our behavior when a particular study seems to recommend it? Probably not, argues Jordan Ellenberg. How Not to be Wrong is a book … Read more

Grow Your Empathy

Empathy is a skill: something you can improve with the right practices. This is one of the fundamental arguments of Jamil Zaki’s War for Kindness. Those who partake in regular meditation see measurable growth in their empathy, emotional intelligence and attention span. Just reading this argument might even shift you to being slightly more empathetic. … Read more