The Semmelweis Reflex: when current beliefs trump new knowledge

Why do we often want to stick with our current beliefs, even when new knowledge seems to contradict them? Why does dogmatic belief habitually trump objective evidence? This effect is called the Semmelweis reflex, which Thomas Szasz described as “the invincible social power of false truths”—a phenomenon so dangerous it has caused many deaths throughout …

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Sophrosyne: the art of mindful moderation

From the doctrines of Confucianism to the cardinal virtues of Christianism, modern humanity has always sought to define the most desirable traits of mind and character. For the ancient Greeks, sophrosyne was an important concept describing a sound mind and an excellent character—a combination of moderation, self-control, and temperance. In today’s chaotic world, this ancient …

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Navigating the mind: 40 major fields of psychology and neuroscience

Psychology and neuroscience are such rapidly growing fields of research, it’s easy to get confused. Is a school psychologist the same as an educational psychologist? What’s the deal with neuroethics? Is nutritional neuroscience an actual area of research? What’s the difference between neuroinformatics and computational neuroscience? If you’ve sometimes been scratching your head trying to …

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The Nirvana fallacy: when perfectionism leads to unrealistic solutions

“Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien” wrote Voltaire in 1772—which translates to “better is the enemy of the good”, but is often translated as “perfect is the enemy of the good.” The Nirvana fallacy consists in comparing existing solutions with ideal, perfect ones—which are often unrealistic. A form of perfectionism, the Nirvana fallacy can lead …

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Why do we need to be right?

One of the most prevalent phenomena in our collective psyche is the need to be right. Pundits debate their views of climate change and political conflicts on television, we have arguments with friends as to who said what, and we often triumphantly proclaim: “I told you so!” This phenomenon starts early. From a very young …

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Jootsing: the art of jumping out of the system

“Constraints breed creativity” is such a popular principle, it has become a design trope. Think outside the box, they say. Rather than just thinking outside the box, “jootsing” is about destroying the box or completely ignoring its existence. The term was coined by Douglas Hofstadter, an American scholar of cognitive science, physics, and comparative literature. …

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Emotional fitness and leadership with Dr. Emily Anhalt

Welcome to a new edition of our interview series, where we ask researchers, creators, and entrepreneurs questions about how to make the most of our mind. Very excited to welcome Dr. Emily Anhalt, clinical psychologist, emotional fitness expert, speaker, author, and co-founder and Chief Clinical Officer of Coa, the world’s first “gym for the mind”. …

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5 thinking tools to add to your metacognitive toolbox

Developing metacognitive skills is essential to being productive while taking care of your mental health. While some tools such as journaling or the Eisenhower matrix are already well known, there are other tools borrowed from the world of education. Here are five thinking tools you can add to your metacognitive toolbox. 1. Bloom’s taxonomy of …

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The butterfly effect: the impact of deterministic chaos on our lives

The butterfly effect teaches us to ackowledge the chaotic nature of life, to be mindful of our starting conditions, to generate the best catalysts to achieve our goals, and to constantly adjust our forecast. What do predicting the weather, studying cognitive processes, and starting a war have in common? They all require to take into …

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The difference between efficacy, effectiveness and efficiency

Efficacy, effectiveness, efficiency… These terms sound confusingly similar. Commonly used in medical research, project management, and decision science, they are often mixed up in everyday conversations. If you’re in a hurry, here’s the difference: Efficacy means getting things done Effectiveness means doing the right things Efficiency means doing things right Sounds confusing? Don’t worry, I …

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