Psychology

CBC’s Ideas with Nahlah Ayed ran a good segment on Stoicism during the coronavirus pandemic. It covers a lot of what I find appealing about philosophy and the contrast with the “power of positive thinking” notion which I dispute both factually and ethically. We can’t make things happen by wanting them or “thinking positive”, and […]

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Scientists alert people to the problem. Environmentalists are the first to believe them. Corporations that are implicated as contributing to the problem either deny the threat or balk at the cost of addressing it, fearful of government red tape and loss of profits. Eventually, enough public concern prompts politicians to act. They respond with tougher […]

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Fossil fuel-endowed regions would benefit if some of their trusted leaders questioned the prudence of doubling-down on coal, oil, and even natural gas. Such visionaries would argue that fossil fuel expansion increases the region’s economic vulnerability to the future time when humanity finally accelerates on the decarbonization path. Unfortunately, such regions tend to produce political […]

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The November 2nd Economist included an article with some interesting claims about lies, politics, and identifying deceit: But even in daily life, without the particular pressures of politics, people find it hard to spot liars. Tim Levine of the University of Alabama, Birmingham, has spent decades running tests that allow participants (apparently unobserved) to cheat. […]

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Professor Joe Curnow, now at the University of Manitoba, studied the Toronto350.org / UofT350.org divestment campaign at the University of Toronto, in part using multi-angle video recordings of campaign planning meetings. Her dissertation is now available on TSpace: Politicization in Practice: Learning the Politics of Racialization, Patriarchy, and Settler Colonialism in the Youth Climate Movement

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PowerPoint is the scourge of critical thinking. It encourages fragmented logic by the briefer and passivity in the listener. Only a verbal narrative that logically connects a succinct problem statement using rational thinking can develop sound solutions. PowerPoint is excellent for displaying data; but it makes us stupid when applied to critical thinking. Mattis, Jim […]

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“A lot of people talk about expecting the best but preparing for the worst, but I think that’s a seductively misleading concept. There’s never just one “worst.” Almost always there’s a whole spectrum of bad possibilities. The only thing that would really qualify as the worst would be not having a plan for how to […]

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I have long been skeptical about the prospects for off-world human colonies. Given that the International Space Station is the most expensive thing we have ever built and it is entirely reliant on supplies from Earth, it would be a gigantic leap just to make a self-sustaining closed life support system. Beyond that are many […]

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Andy Weir’s hard sci-fi novel The Martian has a protagonist whose sense of humour was part of why he was selected as part of a crew for a Mars mission: “They all showed signs of stress and moodiness. Mark was no exception, but the way he showed it was to crack more jokes and get […]

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With the Trudeau cabinet’s approval of the Trans Mountain extension everyone is talking abut hypocrisy: “The day before they passed a climate change emergency resolution and now they are approving a pipeline for the dirty tar sands: the hypocrisy!” The trouble is, arguments based on accusations of hypocrisy often don’t hold up logically. “Al Gore […]

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