Let’s begin with two simple premises: The amount of climate change the world experiences depends on the total quantity of fossil fuels that get burned. As such, there is little value in avoiding burning particular coal, oil, and gas reserves in one time period if we then burn them in another In Canada, the US, […]


780 km of exercise walks since August have brought me much into contact with people on the sidewalks and pathways of Toronto. Particularly in the last couple of months, I have had the sense that people in general are stressed, frayed, and emotionally on-edge. I see this in their egocentrism: their determination to do as […]


Alie Ward’s Ologies postcast about gratitude was a reminder of the benefits of in-person activities and the problems which arise from the incentives of social media firms. Like casinos that profit mostly from people mindlessly putting money into slot machines, platforms like Facebook and Twitter are just designed to keep people on and coming back, […]


On an exercise walk tonight in the Bridle Path area I listened to Alie Ward’s recent podcast on happiness research: Awesomeology (GRATITUDE FOR LITTLE THINGS) with Neil Pasricha. It reinforced how the smartphone and the media in general is “the slot machine in your pocket“, with intermittent variable rewards that habituate you into scrolling through […]


Operation DeFam


in Psychology

In Jurassic Park, the t-rex isn’t able to see people unless they are moving. Something similar really happens in our own brains: once we expect to see something in a certain place and arrangement with other things we effectively stop seeing it. We’re habituated and it becomes part of the background. In life generally I […]


Even without a pandemic-driven lockdown and absence of in-person social life, grad school involves a lot of psychological and mental health challenges. It’s extremely hard to work on a gigantic solo project for years on end and to structure your time with no day-to-day management or supervision. It’s also hard when most people in your […]


Toronto is returning to a partial COVID lockdown because of rising case numbers. It has limited practical effect on me since I have been in isolation anyway since early March, only going out for groceries and socially distanced walks for exercise. I suppose the pandemic and the public policy response will always be subject to […]


I find it’s good practice to approach literally anybody, from a municipal worker who I am passing on the sidewalk while they’re performing official duties to clerks in shops with an immediate attempt at a substantive conversation, not just a rote exchange of greetings or well-wishes. By that means the other morning I got the […]


Describing the period in the 1980s when Osama bin Laden was emerging as a major private fundraiser for the mujahideen resisting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan: The lure of an illustrious and meaningful death was especially powerful in cases where the pleasures and rewards of life were crushed by government oppression and economic deprivation. From […]


The most common physical health symptom described by the participants was chronic insomnia. Heidi explained: ‘One of the first indicators for me is insomnia. . . . I’m waking up in the middle of the night thinking about how I need to do this or bring this in or what time I am meeting with […]