The promise and peril of social media

Short summary In the Hype Machine, Sinan Aral talks through the promise and peril of social media. Three lessons that will hopefully push you to being more intentional in how you use it: 1- Social media is designed to be habitual, to grab your attention and not let go. 2- It amplifies, scales and hypes … Read more

Think about setting aspirations, not goals

Seeing everyone else setting goals for next year, and confused? Try thinking about aspirations instead. Two suggestions: 1- Know what makes you happy, really. It’s not money or material things or skills. If you think it is, keep asking why. 3 most common answers: purpose, close relationships, living a live aligned with a personal ethic. … Read more


How do you pick books to talk about? I usually pick books that are useful for clarifying something, opening up a new point of view, or in helping me work out how I want to contribute to the worldand where my focus should lie in the future. I also find books from my resea when … Read more

How to become a better forecaster

In Superforecasting Phil Tetlock explores how his team of volunteer amateurs beat CIA analysts and University researchers at forecasting complex events. I draw out three points: 1- Some context on the project and forecasting in general. How do you measure a forecaster’s accuracy? What have a talking-head forecaster and a dart-wielding chimp got in common? … Read more

The Future of the Mind

How do we think, and how much of how we think is understood by contemporary science? What is consciousness, anyway? Machio Kaku, in his Future of the Mind (2014), covers a lot of ground. I draw out three things:.  A history of neuroscience which has important lessons for people who listen to science-backed advice.   Kaku’s model of consciousness, which places … Read more

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:  Want to know more? This blog post is part of a series I am making called Reading For The Aspirational Self. Don’t think of this as book summaries – I’m not doing that. Instead, I’m drawing out … Read more