Science vs pseudoscience

Atul Gawande explains on The New Yorker how to differentiate pseudoscience from real science. The main idea is that a lot of people mistrust science because they cannot tell the two apart. A compounding problem is that research shows that trying to debunk specific examples of pseudoscience doesn’t work to convince people to believe in the true facts (science). So how do we go about increasing knowledge and decreasing misinformation in ourselves and others?

The power of incentives

It’s imperative that we think very literally about the incentive systems we create. Farnamstreet illustrates this point with three examples where incentives went horribly wrong: The British wanted to get rid of cobras in Delhi so they started paying people for every dead cobra brought in. Result: people started breeding cobras. Belgian soldiers in Congo were told to bring severed hands as proof that they were using bullets to kill those who didn’t meet certain rubber production quotas.

How Experts Think

Kasparov vs Karpov Kevin Ashton recently wrote on Medium about How Experts Think. The main idea is that experts think faster and more efficiently than non-experts because they have acquired great doses of selective attention through years of practice. However the article doesn’t mention the mental models that experts develop through those years of practice. Those mental models are what allow them to filter out irrelevant stimuli and bad options.

How to let go of perfectionism

Do you have any pending project or task that you really want to do but that you haven’t started yet because the conditions are not ideal? In Managing your Day-To-Day Elizabeth Saunders suggests the following mindsets to overcome perfectionism when it’s blocking us from doing those highly desired projects. On starting I know there will never be an ideal time to begin so I set aside time to get started on one part of the process.

Cognitive biases

Cognitive biases are known shortcuts that our brains take when we make decisions or form opinions. They are tempting because they allow us to make quick decisions with an aura of intuition or gut feeling around them that, we believe, gives them validity. Most of the time, though, the attractive low upfront cost is not worth the long term high interest rate we will have to pay. Making decisions while ignoring these biases is like furnishing your house with cheap and low quality items hoping to save money.

How to systematically make better decisions

Our brains are wired to make quick decisions: get food, escape the predators and pass our genes. Stopping to make deliberate decisions sounds like a very bad idea and not worth the effort. However if we mainly rely on cavemen Joe and Jane’s gut in today’s world we are going to make decisions that we will regret later like not saving enough money to become financially independent, staying in the wrong job or wasting time in useless mind-numbing activities.

Como eliminar los malos hábitos

Tengo buenas noticias para aquellos que piensan que, para bien o para mal, una persona nunca cambia: ¡NO ES VERDAD! Una gran parte de nuestro comportamiento está basado en hábitos o acciones que le hemos enseñado a nuestro subsconciente, a lo mejor involuntariamente. Pero, al igual que le hemos enseñado esas acciones le podemos enseñar otras. En el caso de los malos hábitos una de las formas más efectivas de vencerlos es desarrollando la cualidad opuesta.