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 […]

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 […]

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 Empowerment Paradox: Why Mastery Won’t Set Us Free

If I increase my ability to reach my goals, that’s a good thing, right? Not always. There’s a surprising way in which empowerment can come full circle and become powerlessness. How to achieve a goal Let’s see getting what you want as a two-step process: Discover what the cause-effect relationships that govern reality are Figure out how to set theright cause-effect […]

How Wrong Ideas about Knowledge Can Ruin Decisions

Let’s do a quiz! What do these things have in common? My happiness level; The job performance of a knowledge worker; The societal engagement of young people; How democratic a country is. Well? ‘Things’ like happiness, job performance, democracy, and societal engagement don’t exist in a concrete sense. You can’t see or touch a happiness-particle or a democracy-atom. The things […]

Life’s Most Uncomfortable Question and Two Ways to Answer it

I thought it was a gift from heaven. About two years ago, some uni was crazy enough to offer me a position as PhD-candidate in philosophy. Ever since I was small I imagined grown-up me as a wise university professor with a grey beard. And landing a spot at a top-50 uni is hard. I was […]

Philosophy of Consciousness: Why You Are Not Stronger Than Your Environment

A lot of us overestimate our psychological independence, and I am no exception. Surely, I can flourish anywhere, can’t I? Making friends is not that hard — and really, how different is the daily grind going to be whether me, my laptop and my brain do their thing in The Netherlands, Budapest, or anywhere else? There is […]

The Most Important Question

In the good old days, philosophy existed for the sake of human beings. To address our deepest needs, confront our most urgent perplexities, and elevate us from misery to flourishing. It’s with great fondness that I recall the days of Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, except for the fact that I wasn’t there. In those days, […]

Nothing Matters. But That’s Not What Matters

“I wake up in the middle of the night and notice tears in my eyes. … I know that I’m not depressed; not anxious; I don’t even think I’m lonely. But what’s left? I can’t put my finger on it. It feels like the whole Universe is silent — that it’s right here, everywhere, inside of me, outside of me, […]

Evolution And The Myth Of The Selfish Human

Why do people do good things? Answer: “Because they benefit, stupid!” It hardly seems an exaggeration to say that it’s a truism in Western culture that human beings are self-interested animals driven by a desire to maximize pleasure or wealth or reproductive advantage. Many people just accept that this is how humans are and that they can’t be otherwise. […]