Recent Articles

Why Google doesn’t necessarily hire those who excel at college

| November 11, 2014 | Reply

What does Google look for in its new employees? This article explains. It’s not your typical high-grade college grad.

Megan McArdle argued recently that writers procrastinate “because they got too many A’s in English class.” Successful young graduates have been taught to rely on talent, which makes them unable to fail gracefully.

Google looks for the ability to step back and embrace other people’s ideas when they’re better. “It’s ‘intellectual humility.’ Without humility, you are unable to learn,” Bock says. “Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure.”

Related article: The research of Carol Dweck.

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Mormon Church start to come clean with truth about Joseph Smith’s many wives

| November 11, 2014 | 1 Reply

It’s a good first step, as presented in the NYT:

Mormon leaders have acknowledged for the first time that the church’s founder and prophet, Joseph Smith, portrayed in church materials as a loyal partner to his loving spouse Emma, took as many as 40 wives, some already married and one only 14 years old.

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The glue of high quality relationships

| November 10, 2014 | Reply

I’ve long ben familiar with John Gottman’s research on marital relationships. This Business Insider article sums up some of his main findings of what it is that makes a relationship work over the long term. Here’s an excerpt:

In the 2006 study, Gable and her colleagues followed up with the couples two months later to see if they were still together. The psychologists found that the only difference between the couples who were together and those who broke up was active constructive responding. Those who showed genuine interest in their partner’s joys were more likely to be together. In an earlier study, Gable found that active constructive responding was also associated with higher relationship quality and more intimacy between partners.

There are many reasons why relationships fail, but if you look at what drives the deterioration of many relationships, it’s often a breakdown of kindness. As the normal stresses of a life together pile up—with children, career, friend, in-laws, and other distractions crowding out the time for romance and intimacy—couples may put less effort into their relationship and let the petty grievances they hold against one another tear them apart.

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NYT features the story of the skepticism of James (The Amazing) Randi

| November 8, 2014 | Reply

The NYT has recently featured the story of the skepticism of James (The Amazing) Randi. Excellent detail on the battle between Randi and con man Uri Geller.

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Consumers do not understand arbitration

| November 7, 2014 | 3 Replies

How well do consumers understand arbitration? Not well at all. Almost everyone flunks a test containing basic questions.

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New Study: United States no longer a Democracy

| November 5, 2014 | 4 Replies

Is the U.S. government following the will of the People? The answer is no, according to a new study:

Asking “[w]ho really rules?” researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America’s political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power.

Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.

[Cartoon by Jonik reprinted here with his permission]

Jonik cartoon

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Apathist: New option for declaring one’s religious outlook

| November 4, 2014 | Reply

“Apathist”: someone not particularly interested in the God issue. I do think this is the direction in which I’m headed. Much more of a conversation piece than atheist and agnostic. I learned of the word “apathist” while reading Frans de Waal’s FB wall.

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Primaries for the one percent make elections irrelevant

| November 1, 2014 | Reply

Excellent 6 min video by Lawrence Lessig illustrates that a tiny slice of Americans control our Congressional primaries, making general elections unimportant. Our Owners run our elections much like the Chinese elites are running Hong Kong’s elections. What’s different is that residents of Hong Kong are demonstrating in huge numbers to force change and we are generally complacent. That is in large part because our “news” ignores our huge problem. We have allowed democracy to die in America. Lessig challenges us – are we willing to fight for it?

Quote by Boss Tweed near the beginning: “I don’t care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating.” Private money primaries make elections almost irrelevant. Lawrence Lessig nails it here.

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Why there are not any civilizations without temples – Video featuring Jonathan Haidt

| October 31, 2014 | 1 Reply

Jonathan Haidt explains why there are not any civilizations without temples, starting at minute 14 of this video. This is the 2013 Boyarsky Lecture at Duke University. About 10,000 years we went from an almost instantaneous transition from hunter-gathers to Babylon. A huge part of our evolutionary development is this newly learned ability of humans to circling around sacred objects (religious and political objects are two dominant examples) in order to form teams. As we circle around, we generate a social energy that knits the social fabric, but also encourages Manichean thinking–us versus them, blinding us to our own faults and faulty thinking. No shades of gray are allowed when we are intensely groupish. This kind of groupish thinking is radically incompatible with scientific thinking. Science is squeezed out, replaced by sacred objects, groupishness and authoritarian obeisance.

At min 24, Haidt gets to the crux of his talk. Those of us who focus on the “care” (empathy) foundation of morality, often circle about it bonding with others like us, rejecting and denigrating the impulses and ideas that tend to drive those who are politically conservative.

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