The Seven Sins of Memory

“Our memory is a more perfect world than the universe: it gives back life to those who no longer exist,” once said French author Guy de Maupassant. Whether it’s short-term memory allowing us to perform simple calculations on the fly, long-term memory which can store larger quantities of information, sometimes for a whole life span, …

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Egocentric bias: why we feel like the main character in our own movie

Do you have a burning memory of an embarrassing experience that happened to you, and can’t help but think that everyone who was present must still laugh about it to this day? Chances are, most of them don’t even remember any of it. Similarly, have you noticed how we tend to overestimate the amount of …

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Declinism: how rosy retrospection impacts decision-making

“It was better before,” says your friend. “Ha, those were the days,” your reply with a sigh. Declinism is the belief that societies tend towards decline, often linked with rosy retrospection—our tendency to view the past more favourably and the future more negatively. It may seem harmless, but declinism can cloud your judgement and lead …

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The Barnum Effect: why we love astrology and personality tests

What do astrology, aura reading, fortune telling, cold reading, and some personality tests such as the MBTI have in common? They all exploit the Barnum Effect to convince people that the generated statements are personal to them. The statements are so vague, we interpret our own meaning, sometimes feeling in awe of their accuracy. “That’s …

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Write things down and get them done with Amplenote

FEATURED TOOL Welcome to a new edition of our tools for thought series! We had the pleasure to chat with Bill Harding, one of the minds behind Amplenote, a note-taking app “to write things down and get them done.” Bill is the CEO of Alloy.dev, which builds productivity tools for busy people. Amplenote’s parent company …

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The power of simplicity: how to manage our complexity bias

We often tend to prefer complex solutions over simple ones; complicated marketing jargon over clear explanations; multi-steps implementations over more direct execution. Complexity can lend an aura of authority to products, which marketers are exploiting to project authority and expertise. Complex processes can also delay decision-making, giving us the illusion of productivity. Why is it …

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The fallacy of “what gets measured gets managed”

If there’s one quote that’s particularly popular in management circles, it’s “what gets measured gets managed”—often misattributed to famous management consultant Peter Drucker. First, Drucker never said this; second, he actually didn’t believe such a thing; third, the idea is flawed. A long game of telephone The idea probably originated from a paper published in …

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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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