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The Ultimate Explanation of the Psychology Behind the Spread of Fake News

“Crazy fairy tales have become numbingly common,” Vox’s David Roberts recently observed. We are more apt to be wrong about basic facts than at any time in the recent past. I have often been left frustrated by someone who subscribes to absurd stuff — about evolution or immigrants or Obama’s birth certificate or you name it — and proceeded to shrugs off any appeal to facts or […]

Do We Really Disagree That Much?

Paradoxically, in our post-truth era of culture wars, echo-chambers, information overload and fake news, this is considered self-evident: “Each group lives in its own echo chamber, which it believes is the “true” reality” — Eli Pariser, The Filter Bubble In this essay, I argue that this is a wild exaggeration. Many people do not believe (i) their echo […]

Learn to Express, Not Impress

Leo Tolstoy famously observed it about families, but all happy individuals, too, are alike; each unhappy individual is, also, unhappy in its own way. We live in a time were, using Instagram, Facebook and whatnot, many (young) people curate their lives: we present ourselves to the world as how we want to be seen. And not as how we are. Of course, […]

Why Your Skepticism about Science and Journalism Is Dangerous

A lot of people, myself included, deep down feel there is such a thing as truth. And that it matters when it’s spoken, even if no one listens. When you see an expert, someone with access to the facts, what they say sounds like a lot of dark Balinese magic, perhaps. But we’re aware that’s […]

10 Projects Per Life

In his podcast interview with writer Susan Cain, Tim Ferriss accurately observed that “When the people see the finished product, it’s easy to assume that it comes from an attribute as opposed to a skill.” In other words: as soon as you’ve got something done, the thing, to outsiders, looks like it results from a […]

Why Truth Doesn’t Change People’s Minds (and What Does)

Today, everyone can get more information than ever. Paradoxically, this has made the truth less — not more — accessible. As ‘information’ became ideological, ‘the facts’ can no longer referee disagreements but are themselves contested. It’s easier than ever before for someone to live in a world built of his own ‘facts’. You might say: what happened to us? Why do facts not […]

100 Books a Year? Bad Idea

Conveying and containing knowledge are hard. Picture some serious non-fiction tomes. The Selfish Gene; Thinking, Fast and Slow; Guns, Germs, and Steel; etc. Have you ever had a book like this — one you’d read — come up in conversation, only to discover you’d absorbed what amounts to a few sentences? In a brilliant article, software engineer Andy Matuschak confesses: I’ll be honest: it happens […]

Why the Crisis of Expertise Is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

These days, sitting at McDonalds, it is possible to consume virtually every possible point of view on just about anything before you’re halfway through your burger. Economist Tyler Cowen estimates that the single biggest recent change in Western life has been the dramatic decline in the cost and inconvenience of getting information. Yet, as ellen rhymes points out, just the very high […]

The Fallacy of Origins and How to Be Less Wrong

Chris has grown up in an extremely religious family and as a result he grows a strong faith in God as well. Katie’s parents are politically liberal and she has been exposed to many of their arguments. As a result, she shares a lot of typically liberal beliefs. Caleb comes from southern USA and develops […]

The Complete Guide to Effective Reading

Learning is a heavily misunderstood concept. As a paradigm example of deep work, we understand that, when reading, directing your full attention to the material at hand is essential. Graspingcomplex information is hard. But this is only half the battle. After some string of words hits your retina and has made its way to your brain, you’re not done. In a cruel irony, these hours […]