Psychology

[James] March and his colleagues, Michael Cohen and Johan Olsen, developed an extremely important perspective on organizational behaviour, with the infelicitous title of the “garbage can model,” which seeks to explain how complex organizations make decisions under conditions that differ radically from those that reign under rational models. According to the model, such “organized anarchies” […]

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Staying at Oxford after my degree and often revisiting it in the late 1950s, I occasionally glimpsed W.H. Auden around town… He invited me to visit, and I would sometimes go to his apartment on St. Mark’s Place for tea. This was a very good time to see him, because by four o’clock he had […]

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Conversing with my friend Nada about in-group dynamics, the psychological property of agreeableness, and group cohesion, she raised the matter of the difficult psychological disjoint between the change which activists desperately desire in the world and the practical realization that they generally aren’t achieving it. There have been moments of triumph for some social justice […]

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Life has suddenly become exceptionally lonely. August is always a trying time in a PhD program. The lack of any real income since spring is naturally biting, and I have always had trouble dealing with the heat. There’s a breakdown of social structure and support, with no classes to teach or take, and friends and […]

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The discount rate is a basic tool of accounting and economics: people and institutions often need to deal with costs and benefits which will arise in the future, and it doesn’t usually make sense to simply value them as if they were happening today. A person expecting pension payments of $1,000 per month in thirty […]

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In an effort to control my insomnia, I bought some protective goggles which exclude blue light. On the first night, when I put them on at 9pm, the psychological effect is profound. Suddenly, it seems obvious everywhere that I should be asleep or preparing for sleep. I will try putting them on sometime between 9pm […]

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I have been listening to an audiobook of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s: Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets. It’s full of interesting concepts and engaging writing. In one passage, Taleb describes the anxiety of the investor who feels the need to constantly check on how well an investment […]

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Finally, and very subjectively, there is an inauspicious storyline surrounding second-term secretaries of defense: none has ever finished his second term, each having been asked by the president to leave before his term was over. I believe that this is not coincidence; that there is something about this particular job that causes it to go […]

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I think perhaps I need to undertake a befriending exercise with drivers. My universal doctrine is not to hate anybody, but I do hate people who drive cars, pickup trucks, military vehicles rebranded as family transport, motorcycles, and taxis (I would prefer an all-taxi world to one where people have private cars, but taxi drivers […]

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When making decisions about technology, both false positive and false negative errors are possible. By that, I mean it’s possible for us to miss or ignore how a technology has unacceptable consequences for people and the rest of nature. DDT or the drug thalidomide were such false negatives: wrongly considered to be acceptable for use […]

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