Why The World Doesn’t Want You to Succeed (and What to do About it)

Truth one: “Our days are filled with the path to future skills, tasks and commitments that we believe we can’t possibly take on. We’ve seduced ourselves into believing that we’re not born with the talent, or that the obstacles to doing the work are just too great.” —Seth Godin Truth two: “Attempting [to have a huge positive impact […]

The Dark Side of Changing Your Perspective

Neuroscientists can now identify how happiness and unhappiness are physically inscribed inside our skulls They even report the precise parts of the brain which generate positive and negative emotions. And also uncover more and more neural explanations for why particular deeds like singing and loving and following Maarten van Doorn on Medium seem to improve our mental well-being. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Sleepwalking Through Life

People say we live in bubbles and echo-chambers and wait I thought echoes were about babies. I don’t think that’s true (I’m not sure about the babies part). There’s more confrontation with those characters who have other opinions than ever. If you don’t buy it, just ask your grandmother how many non-Christians, or non-Muslims, or […]

Human Nature Is Created, Not Discovered

Barry Schwartz is one of the most interesting thinkers of our time. He is most famous for his work on The Paradox of Choice.Where conventional wisdom tells us that more possibilities is better, Schwartz makes a compelling case that the abundance of choice in today’s western world is actually making us worse off. Infinite choice is paralyzing, Schwartz argues, and exhausting to […]

How Andy Won The Game Of Life

The Shawshank Redemption is the most gripping film I’ve ever seen. It tells the story of an innocent man’s (Andy) hell in prison, his unusual friendship with an inmate and prison contraband smuggler serving a life sentence (Red), the former’s miraculous escape and the friends’ reunion as free men. My favorite scene is a very short one. It features Andy in the prison […]

The Protestant Work Dilemma: Why We Won’t Stop

A once-influential group of Christians called Calvinists convinced many that it was predestined where you’d spend your Afterlife. Heaven or hell, your fate was already determined. Nothing you could do. So naturally, they set out to figure out who the elect were. And according to a then-accepted piece of reasoning, if one managed to accumulate tons of […]