Month: September 2017

#NISIS: Because you don’t bring a book list to a meme war

“Alexander Hamilton is one of American history’s most luminous figures…Yet in 1804 this brilliant man did something that by today’s standards was astonishingly stupid.” – Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature As fans of the hit musical Hamilton know that astonishingly stupid thing was that Alexander Hamilton engaged in a duel with Aaron Burr. As Pinker points out, the source of Hamilton’s stupidity was that he obeyed old cultural intuitions in the face of radically changed technology. Dueling to first blood with a fencing foil is one thing. Dueling to first blood with a giant musket ball...

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Humanity’s First Family Dinner

It is a truth universally acknowledged that one cannot avoid drama at a large family gathering. Within your nuclear family unit, you’ve learned to coexist; you can manage the emotions in that group. But once a year or so, you have to attend a gathering of all the relatives, and you can’t… get… out of it.
 For many Americans, that event is Thanksgiving. For others, it may be Passover, Christmas, Divali, or Iftar. The menus differ, but family dynamics are surprisingly universal. You arrive, happy to see everyone, but your appetizers taste of cheese and dread. Not ten minutes...

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Civilized to Stress?

At first glance, the notion that the color of our thoughts can dye our very biology seems like a giant leap. Upon closer inspection, however, it doesn’t seem so far fetched. Take the placebo effect or the healing power of faith, for example. These are things that – for the most part – have no scientific explanation yet are common and predictable factors in our world. Recently, researchers have operationalized this notion by examining the effects of negative and positive emotions on key markers of human health. Indeed, negative emotions and cognitions including hopelessness, pessimism, and anger have not...

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Staring at a Single Data Point: If You Want to Solve Problems At Home, Look at Your Neighbors’ Problems

Over the last thirteen years, I’ve tutored A LOT of kids and one of the most important things that it has taught me is that you can’t make sense of the world by staring at a single data point. And yet, that is exactly what most parents do because that’s how this culture has taught them to behave. Your kids are your responsibility and anybody else’s kids are none of your business. The result is that most parents have no clue what is really going on with other kids. I do. I get to see lots and lots of...

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