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Say “I Don’t Know” More Often

Most topics are ones where either we hardly know anything or where we think know so much that we are very confident. Funny thing: regardless of the topic of discussion— whether we are uninformed or knowledgeable on it — when someone asks for our view, most of us can’t resist the urge. Many of us, my past […]

Why I Hate to Talk About What I Do

When someone asks me how I’m doing, I’ll honestly reply “Excellent!” and after I’ve returned the question and you’ve also answered affirmatively, I’ll fire a follow-up, and another, and we’ll end up talking about you, and about non-personal stuff like the weather and politics. Then it’s goodbye. “Wow, you must be such a great listener […]

This Is Water: Overcoming Bias and How to Think Real Good

Once upon a time, there used to be a great and acrimonious debate in philosophy about whether people had “mental imagery” — whether or not people actually see a little picture of an elephant when they think about an elephant. Is “imagination” merely a way of speaking or a real phenomenon? Upon reading this, my intuition shouted: […]

Yes, Your Feelings Are Fooling You

So I was lying in bed, half-naked in my underwear, studying the physician Hans Rosling’s book Factfulnesswhen a biting passage made me want to jump out of bed and shout from the rooftops. Rosling, by the way, is the guy from the famous colorful bubble charts. The statistician who proved most of us walk around with […]

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 […]