Skip to content →

Category: This or That?

We often think that decisions are made consciously by weighing the options objectively and logically. What science has found, however, is that this is rarely the case. Most often our decisions are swayed by emotion, they are biased in often times very predictable ways.

So where do our decisions really come from, and how can we improve on them?

Don’t Let Your Self-Image Fool You

Teasing apart luck from skill in our decisions is difficult. While most outcomes involve a combination of both, our improvement requires identifying what we should have done differently and what was out of our control. Trouble is, when we try to identify what we did right or wrong, and what was good or bad luck,…

Leave a Comment

The Price You Pay When You Pay Attention

You have to pay attention to your goals if you ever want to achieve them. But while you pay for this attention with your time, there is something else you sacrifice when you decide to attend to something: everything else you could be attending to.  When we sit down and write, we are also deciding…

Leave a Comment

Your Future-Self is Better at Taking Risks

Confronted with risks and gambles, people often make irrational decisions. This is no surprise—but what makes many of these errors in rationality so interesting is that we make them systematically. We are, to steal Dan Ariely’s words, predictably irrational.  One well-researched phenomenon is loss-aversion. Simply put, we prefer to avoid losses more than we enjoy equivalent…

Leave a Comment

Why The Sour Reaction to Rationalia?

On June 29, your personal astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson sent out this tweet: Earth needs a virtual country: #Rationalia, with a one-line Constitution: All policy shall be based on the weight of evidence — Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) June 29, 2016 I’m not sure even Neil deGrasse Tyson would have expected the reaction to this…

Leave a Comment

Molly Crockett on Our Susceptibility to Bullshit

We are not the logical, rational, thought-filled creatures we like to pretend we are. We are prone to misdirection, to being led up the garden path, to being taken for a ride. Molly Crockett, a neuroscientist focusing on judgment and morality. In her 2012 TED Talk she illustrates some of the “neuro-bunk,” a particular type pf…

Leave a Comment

The Allure of Simplicity Hints at a Cognitive Bias

Simplicity is now something we expect from design. Everything should be clear, obvious, intuitive—in other words, we should not have to think very hard. For the most part, this is a good thing. We don’t want to have to think about every small thing everyday—like whether to push or pull a door, it should be obvious! Making…

Leave a Comment

Relinquish Control and Embrace Uncertainty

In every moment of every day, we’re making predictions. Those predictions are mostly unconscious–we expect to see our bed when we walk into the room, we expect to get running water when we turn the tap, we expect our partners voice to sound the same as we remember it. As Benedict Carey writes: “The brain…

Leave a Comment