Tag: Psychology

1987, Books, Non-Fiction

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (1987) by Susan Jeffers

This self-help book is only 34 years old, yet it feels like it was written some time earlier, perhaps in the ’60s even. Reading this book, especially after you’ve read more recent self-help books, is like going back in time. It’s incredible how sophisticated self-help and “wellness” has gotten in the interim. (That is both …

2016, Books, Non-Fiction

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions (2016) by Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths

This is a pretty excellent overview of computer science theories relevant to our daily lives. As someone who took computer science only once, in high school, I didn’t know so much of this and found most of it (accept the game theory chapter) basically entirely new. Every chapter contains new discoveries and new, provocative ideas.

2019, Books, Non-Fiction

Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business and Life (2019) by Rory Sutherland

Reading this book, I can’t help but wonder “who is this for?” It’s like a Greatest Hits or Best of for evolutionary psychology and behavioural economics but filtered through the mind of someone with no attention span (or who strongly believes his readers don’t have one). It’s utterly bizarre and works only as a very …

2020, Psychology, Society

Journal of the Pandemic Year: Vaccine!!!!!!

The first people in my region will be vaccinated next week, roughly a year after the virus first started spreading. It’s one of the great achievements in medical history. By summer or fall I should be vaccinated and I am already planning a party to take advantage of our fantastic new backyard which somebody else …

2020, Politics, Psychology, Society

70 Million Americans Voted to Re-Elect a Con Man to the Presidency [Updated]

In August of 2016, before his election to President, I wondered whether or not Donald Trump was the Greatest Con Man of All Time. (The GOAT-Con? The Con-GOAT? The GCMOAT?) A year and a half later, still mystified by his support, I wondered how people continue to trust him, as he burns one after the …

2020, Movies, Sports

4 Issues You Have To Overlook In Sports Films

We all have our favourite sports movies. But it’s fair to say that there’s a lot that Hollywood ultimately gets wrong about our favourite sports. That’s why documentaries like The Last Dance feel like such a breath of fresh air. It provides an honest perspective of the game. So, let’s run down some of the …

1984, 1994, 2007, Books, Non-Fiction

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (1984, 1994, 2007) by Robert Cialdini

When this book was published in 1984, it was probably one-of-a-kind, and an absolute must-read. A pop psychology treatment on how businesses (and con men) manipulate us into buying things we don’t want, there was probably not much else out there like it. It’s a landmark and it was likely essential reading pre-internet.

Economics, Politics, Psychology, Society

Status Rewards for Paying Taxes

As I have written elsewhere, I feel like tax avoidance/evasion is the second biggest problem humanity faces right now. The rich move most of their money out of the societies they earned that money in, and it sits in off-shore bank accounts, benefiting the account holder far more than it benefits the society where it …

Psychology, Society

How Do People Create Conspiracy Theories?

How do people come up with conspiracy theories? I was a former koolaid drinker, but I discovered a preexisting conspiracy theory (Oswald was a patsy) and drank it up. I never created my own, I just read about one that was already extremely popular. But someone had to be the first person to suggest that …

2015, Books, Non-Fiction

Intelligence: All That Matters (2015, Stuart Ritchie)

I am of a generation where skepticism over IQ was widespread. I don’t know where it comes from exactly but I know that it is everywhere. Essentially I was raised with the idea that IQ had been “debunked”. The reason I read this book is because I got into an argument with someone and afterwards …

2019, Books, Non-Fiction

Evil: The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side (2019) by Julia Shaw

So I listened to the audio book, which I think made a pretty big impression on me. I think I might have enjoyed the book more had I read it instead. This is a wide-ranging examination of the nature of “evil” from the perspective of psychology and, occasionally, philosophy. (Nietzsche gets a lot of references.) …

2018, Books, Non-Fiction

Rule Makers, Rule Breakers (2018) by Michelle Gelfand

This is a fascinating book about how cultural norms impact our lives. You might not get that from the title, but I’d say ignore the title and look at the subtitle. (The title, to me, sounds like it’s some kind of business success book or something.)

2018, Books, Non-Fiction

The Misinformation Age (2018, Cailin O’Connor, James Owen Weatherall)

This is a compelling examination of mathematical models about the way beliefs spread through human social networks.

2018, Personal, Philosophy, Psychology, Society

What if One of Your Core Beliefs is Based Upon a Lie?

Like any self-reflective adult, I like to believe that the beliefs I hold are based upon facts, not other beliefs. I spent a long time between the ages of 18 and 25 working to come to what I thought were defensible beliefs, beliefs based upon objective reality (as much as possible), rather than what I …

2008, Books, Economics, Non-Fiction

Predictably Irrational (2008) by Dan Ariely

This is a fascinating and sometimes amusing exploration of behavioural economics through descriptions of experiments that the author has conducted, and some he’s read about. It’s a pretty good introduction to behaviourial economics and social psychology. A number of these experiments were unfamiliar to me and some of them are really illuminating. I’m particularly interested …

Psychology, Society

How Does Donald Trump Have Friends?

This morning, I read an excerpt from the new book about Donald Trump’s first year in office as President of the United States of America. It was a fascinating read, confirming many things I believed and giving me much more of an in depth portrait into the madness that is the White House currently.  But …

2001, Books, Non-Fiction

Fooled by Randomness (2001) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This is an important, valuable book. It’s basically a must-read. It would go on my list of essential non-fiction only I have a few reservations (all of them stylistic). Still, very, very important stuff.

1994, Books, Non-Fiction

Jung: A Very Short Introduction (1994) by Anthony Stevens

When I was a teenager, some adult told me about Jung’s collective unconscious. I didn’t read a thing about it, but took whatever they told me and created my own elaborate theory about our thoughts influencing others (which has nothing to do with Jung). Ultimately, that theory was a responsible for a lot of mental …

2011, Books, Non-Fiction

The Better Angels of Our Nature (2011) by Steven Pinker

If you watch the news today, you will be told the world is awful. Even if, like me, you do not have cable, you can still get enough news of the awfulness of the world from your antenna or the internet. The news is an endless barrage of controversy and tragedy; controversy over the supposedly …

2016, Psychology, Society

We do not want to know what we do not want to know

People say we’re rational. Human beings may be animals, but we are animals who have overcome our animal natures to make calculated decisions about our choices. I mean, look at all we’ve accomplished with our big brains. We tell each other we think rationally, even logically. And we  want rational explanations for what is happening …

Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Society

The belief in Justice is probably the breeding ground for injustice

I have long identified myself as an atheist – even though I’m an agnostic – in religion, an existentialist in philosophy and “anti-apocalyptic” or “anti-ideological” person in politics (i.e. a pragmatist). I have long struggled with this last definition, not because I don’t know what I am – I know exactly what I am, politically …

Politics, Psychology, Society

Proposal for Improved Voter Turnout

The Proposal A number of years ago, a friend of mine proposed an interesting idea for promoting voter turnout in Canada during one of our writer’s group meetings: turn voting into a lottery. The idea is relatively simple: each ballot cast is also a ticket for Canada’s largest lottery. Every voter is only allowed one …