This category contains 6 posts

What do we need to know?

This video from the RSA is short but entertaining.… Read the rest

Synthesizing happiness (without a prescription)

Of all the primary emotions, happiness is the one we’re all aching for more of. And how do we get more? We go out and grab it, right? If we’re lucky enough to have a sufficient degree of freedom, we make our choices, act carefully, get what we want and happiness follows.

Or maybe not. The following talk by Dan Gilbert questions not only our ideas of where happiness comes from, but even the role freedom plays in acquiring it. Is happiness – I mean the lasting kind – more about making the best of our lot in life than about getting what we want?… Read the rest

Fake it until you become it

It is estimated that well over half of face to face communication is non-verbal, ie body language. The usual breakdown is 55% body language, 38% tone of voice and 7% the actual words. Much of the information being communicated is emotional; we look to someone’s body language to judge if they are sexually attracted, frightened, shy or aggressive. If you’re prone to evolutionary speculations as I am, it makes sense that as pack animals one of the first things we need to establish is hierarchy, and that our body language is a good indication of where we think we should be in the pecking order.… Read the rest

Seeing is believing. Almost.

Of all our senses, vision is the one we tend to trust most. Ask any group of people which of the five senses (accepting for a moment the conventional categorization of our sense perception into five categories), almost none will choose to give up their sense of sight. “Seeing is believing,” as the old saying goes. In this TED talk by Beau Lotto, however, we get a slightly different idea of the reliability of visual perception. Our senses, Lotto observes, evolved for specific adaptive reasons. And truth wasn’t necessarily one of them.… Read the rest

Metaphor and cognitive dissonance

Metaphor is everywhere – in fact, you can hardly string two sentences together without without including at least one metaphor. In this video, James Geary elaborates on how metaphor functions not only to adorn language but as a means of creating meaning.

 … Read the rest

The perils of reason

Reason is one of the most powerful tools we have in understanding the world around us. Most of us consider ourselves to be reasonable people, yet reason is a complicated business. Biases, fallacies, and unexamined suppressed premises can lead even careful thinkers astray and make reason a perilous road on the way to truth. This famous scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail underlines just how tricky the actual application of reason can be.… Read the rest

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