Psychology

A new simulation called The Evolution of Trust does a good job of introducing the basic concepts of game theory. As described on BoingBoing, it demonstrates a range of strategies that are possible in a multiplayer game which is iterated and not zero-sum. Most of this was already familiar to me from the international relations […]

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One danger with relationships — from the professional to the familial — is to focus too closely on the recent past when deciding how to feel about them. I find that I have a tendency to feel like the emotional trajectory of the last few days or weeks offers the best chance for estimating what […]

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I had made a tactical error in allowing my personal views to cloud my political judgment. Even if I believed I was right on the merits, I was wrong about the politics. I should have known enough to warn my boss that the invasion [of Grenada in 1983] would be popular even as I advised […]

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It’s selfish, but one thing I hate about living in central Toronto is that there are sirens of one type or another audible almost all day and all night long. Even when no sirens can actually be heard, I hear them screaming in my imagination. The message: “It’s an emergency! But you can’t do anything […]

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A recent Slate article proposes a neurological mechanism for why human behaviour so frequently consists of choices where we harm our own long-term future prospects and those of others in order to satisfy near-term preferences. Not only do our brains seem to regard our future selves as strangers, but most people rarely think about the […]

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Charley Tilley has studied social movements overall and activism specifically as a set of “contentious performances”, in which organizers choose from a “repertoire” on the basis of who they want to influence and what opportunities exist for doing so. Repertoires which are familiar can easily become stale and ineffective, as Micah White discusses in the […]

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With the possible exception of short spur-of-the-moment missives or a transcribed stream of consciousness, it seems to me that all writing is a process of successive approximation in which you begin with something which isn’t what you want at the end, but which provides a structure that allows you to reach the objective. In part, […]

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One convincing argument made by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (author of The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness) is that we intuitively misjudge the importance of the newest information, which is actually the most likely to be trivial and wrong. I wrote about this before. It’s an especially important point in the Trump era, where I […]

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Former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum has been making the media rounds with some thought-provoking ideas about the Trump presidency and the risk that protests which lack a specific focus or which come across as a threat to public order may empower rather than constrain him. In “What Effective Protest Could Look Like“, Frum […]

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The January 21st issue of The Economist provides another strong example of how poorly our emotions serve us where it comes to evaluating and responding to abstract threats. They say: NOx emissions cause the premature deaths of an estimated 72,000 Europeans a year. This is in the context of carmakers like Volkswagen using software to […]

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