Psychology

I have heard the theory that every time we remember something it is influenced by our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs at the time of remembering. That implies that the memories we think most about are the ones that have been most distorted from their original form. An exaggerated version is in effect for stories recounted […]

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Back in 2008, I wrote about the Future Leaders Survey and the gloomy views it uncovered among young people about the future of the planet. Recently, The Lancet published a study based on a survey of 10,000 people aged 16–25 in 10 countries. It demonstrates that apocalyptic psychology is a broad-based phenomenon, not exclusively concentrated […]

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America’s unravelling continues, with the Supreme Court declining 5-4 to hear an emergency appeal of Texas’ bizarre and cruel fetal heartbeat anti-abortion law. Laurence Tribe has written about what the law’s bounty system will do: It wasn’t just Roe that died at midnight on 1 September with barely a whimper, let alone a bang. It […]

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In fact, there’s one activity that is almost tailor-made to work [at helping you distance yourself from a problem you’re working on]. And it is a simple one indeed: walking (the very thing that Holmes was doing when he had his insight in “The Lion’s Mane”). Walks have been shown repeatedly to stimulate creative thought […]

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There’s a voguish argument that in an era of easy information availability there is less cause to have any substantial body of knowledge memorized. I have seen articles arguing that the crucial cognitive skills for young people today are the ability to find what they are looking for, given access to the internet. I think […]

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My friends Patrick and Margot gave me a paperback of Mikhail Lermontov’s 1840 novel A Hero of Our Time, translated by Paul Foote. Reading the introduction, I was struck by the similarity between the idea of the protagonists of Russian novels from this period as “superfluous men” “set apart by their superior talents from the […]

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I was surprised just now to see that I don’t think I have a general thread on climate change and human health. I’d say there are at least two big relevant dimensions to it. First, because fossil fuel use causes so many bad health impacts, phasing out fossil fuels brings major co-benefits in terms of […]

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One element of a science fiction future which I expect to see in my lifetime is the ability to directly connect human brains with computers and share instructions back and forth. That seems especially plausible now that Neuralink has demonstrated a high bandwidth BCI with two tetraplegic people. This evokes the idea of a Ghost […]

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There is an intriguing hypothesis about the rational mind: while we think of it as a weigher of evidence that contributes to the decisions we make when faced with a choice, it’s possible that its real role is to construct a story after the fact about why we made the choice we did for instinctive […]

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The gradual sorting of partisans into the “correct” parties during the last fifty years has transformed a nation of cross-cutting political identities into a nation of increasingly aligned political identities. As Democrats and Republicans grow socially sorted, they have to contend not only with the natural bias that comes from being a partisan but also […]

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