Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

The surprising reason people change their minds

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The surprising reason people change their minds

We usually believe that our opinions are stubborn and fixed. But new research shows that our views, even on politics, are changing all the time – just not for the reasons you’d expect.

Claudia Hammond | BBC Future | 22 June 2018

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June 23, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making | | Leave a comment

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

If there is an emotion involved in acquiring a belief, there is a much lower chance of changing it, even if it is a false belief.  And the excitement of getting a new social media  message seems to be a perfect way to cement information, true or not.  Think about it — do you have false beliefs that cannot be corrected by data?

Neuroscientist Tali Sharot has been investigating what determines whether someone can be persuaded by an argument. You can read about it in her book, The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others, or check out this article for a taste of what you can do to avoid getting stuck with false beliefs:

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

By TALI SHAROT | September 19, 2017 | Time magazine

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January 20, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, emotions, neuroscience | , , | Leave a comment

How to Choose Wisely

Advice column by the author of the book You May Also Like: Taste in An Age of Endless Choice.

How to Choose Wisely

From Yelping to dating, there’s a better way.

By Tom Vanderbilt | Sept. 7, 2017 | Nautilus

December 16, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, decision making | , | Leave a comment

Your Smartphone Controls Your Mind

Apps are designed to maximize the amount of time you spend on them — even if that is wasting your precious time.  Tristan Harris explains in his TED talk:

How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day

And check out this article to see what he is planning to do about it:

Smartphones Are Weapons of Mass Manipulation, and This Guy Is Declaring War on Them

October 19, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, decision making, psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

How our biases divide us

This article explains the cognitive biases that are at work to divide “us” and “them”.  Since meditation weakens the power of these biases, the hope is that the more we meditate the more we can unite.  Even if the meditation part seems a bit far fetched, the description of the biases is very useful.

How Mindfulness Meditation Can Save America

Robert Wright | 10.08.17 | Wired

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October 10, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, decision making, psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

She’ll Text Me, She’ll Text Me Not

Did you know uncertainty leads to romantic attraction?  For more on that and other juicy psychological tidbits relating to texting read comedian Aziz Ansari’s funny article:

She’ll Text Me, She’ll Text Me Not

The science of waiting in modern courtship.

 

September 19, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, decision making, psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

Two related articles on how people end up with such divergent views from the same set of facts, and how the gap between the two sides keeps getting larger.

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

Tali Sharot | September 19, 2017 | Time Magazine

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September 19, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, emotions, information, psychology | , , | Leave a comment

First impressions count

Fascinating article on how humans judge competence based on facial features, and how that affects politics. For example, in one study judgments of who appeared more competent  predicted about 70% of elections.  The article is an excerpt from the author’s new book, Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions (2017).

First impressions count

Alexander Todorov  | 30 May, 2017 | Aeon

June 11, 2017 Posted by | brain, decision making, politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

How racism can hijack perception

If you just watched a really scary movie, a noise from another room (that you would normally ignore) could set your heart racing, as you perceive it as an intruder set to kill you rather than just the cat playing.  The same principle can apply to police shootings — did they perceive a phone as a gun just because they were primed for danger?  The article below describes how this is quite likely.  Gives a whole different perspective of the police racism problem.

The brain-heart dialogue shows how racism hijacks perception

Manos Tsakiris |14 April, 2017 | aeon

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April 16, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, psychology | , , | Leave a comment

How Trump screws with your mind

Emily Dreyfuss, Wired magazine editor, has a couple of illuminating articles on how President Trump screws with your mind for his own benefit. He’s not the only one to do so, so it’s in your interest to find out how and what to do about it.

The Cognitive Bias President Trump Understands Better Than You

Want to Make a Lie Seem True? Say It Again. And Again. And Again

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February 18, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment