Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

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

You’re probably addicted to tech

You’re probably addicted to tech.  You may not realize it, or think you’ve got it under control, or know the problem but hide it.  Addiction does not have to be chemical, it could be behavioural — and it’s the latter that tech hooks you with.  Apps, websites, social media are engineered to be irresistible.

“There are a thousand people on the other side of the screen whose job it is to break down the self-regulation you have.” — Tristan Harris, “design ethicist”

Adam Alter’s book, Irresistible, looks at addictive behaviours and what we can do about it.  A fascinating excerpt from his book is published in Wired:

Tech Bigwigs Know How Addictive Their Products Are. Why Don’t the Rest of Us?

Check it out.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, psychology | , | Leave a comment

Gut bacteria affect your brain

More and more evidence is showing up that your microbiota can affect your mental health.  In other words, eat you probiotic yogurt.

Is Your Gut Making You Depressed or Anxious?

Turns out “gut feeling” is more than just a fancy name for intuition. Our small and large intestine, and the trillions of bacteria that call it home, are more important than ever imagined for influencing our mood, our anxiety, our choices, and even our personalities. This week Savvy Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen goes straight for the gut with three surprising mind-gut connections.

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD | December 23, 2016 | Quickanddirtytips.com

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February 17, 2017 Posted by | brain, diet, health, nutrition, psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feeling down? Take a hike.

Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature

Study finds that walking in nature yields measurable mental benefits and may reduce risk of depression.
Rob Jordan | June 30, 2015 | Stanford News

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February 17, 2017 Posted by | brain, emotions, psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to disagree (according to science)

Good, to the point advice.

How to Politely Disagree, According to Science

Michelle Kinder | Jan 27, 2017 | Time magazine

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February 7, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wanna go to luck school?

It looks like “luck” is more of a frame of mind.  And luck school actually helped unlucky people:

How to Be Lucky

It pays to imagine your life is on a winning streak.

By Chelsea Wald | January 26, 2017 | Nautilus

“Luck is believing you’re lucky.”
—Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

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February 5, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, psychology | , , | Leave a comment

How to Convince Someone When Facts Fail

Good article.

How to Convince Someone When Facts Fail

January 1, 2017 Posted by | brain, decision making, information, psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Why bullshit is no laughing matter

In this era of fake news all around us, detecting is a major concern, and it looks like we are not very good at it.  I like the definition:

“…bullshit is something that is constructed absent of any concern for the truth.”

As the article explains below,

“Bullshit is much harder to detect when we want to agree with it.”

Why bullshit is no laughing matter

Gordon Pennycook |06 January, 2016 | aeon Continue reading

January 1, 2017 Posted by | brain, decision making, psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Addiction seen as a habit

An interesting perspective on addiction.  Has a very good section on explaining the science of habit-formation. A long read, but if you ever struggled with addiction, depression, anxiety or just a bad habit, it’s worth reading it just to see it from a different point of view.

The addiction habit

Addiction changes the brain but it’s not a disease that can be cured with medicine. In fact, it’s learned – like a habit

Marc Lewis | 14 December, 2016 | aeon

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December 30, 2016 Posted by | behaviour, brain, psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

No anger when the boat is empty

I came across this zen parable about anger:

If a man is crossing a river
And an empty boat collides with his own skiff,
Even though he be a bad-tempered man
He will not become very angry.
But if he sees a man in the boat,
He will shout at him to steer clear.
If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
And yet again, and begin cursing.
And all because there is somebody in the boat.
Yet if the boat were empty.
He would not be shouting, and not angry.

The Empty Boat by Chuang Tzu (excerpt)

It made me think about why we even have an emotion we call anger on the first place, evolutionarily speaking, and why we don’t get angry at an empty boat.  It’s probably an incentive to ensure you will not get hurt again, physically or mentally (I’d consider threats to your social status a form of mental pain).

For example, if you get cut off in traffic (or a boat hits your skiff), you’d get angry because it’s an automatic assumption that someone is deliberately trying reduce your social status by putting himself to be more important than you.  Anger would incentivize you for revenge or confrontation to ensure that the person will never do that again to you.  In a tribal society, such revenge/confrontation would likely work to guarantee a better future for you as you will be dealing with the person responsible on a daily basis.  But in our society, where we are dealing with people that we may never see again, it has the exact opposite effect: your actions of chasing the car that cut you off could put you at risk of an accident, physical harm and even jail.  The person responsible is someone whom you will probably never see again so cannot possibly hurt you again, whether you got angry or not.  So rationally speaking, your actions and anger would be wasted and would reduce your quality of life (you could have been doing something you enjoyed instead).

It would make sense then to think of other cars in traffic (or any people you will likely never see again) as empty boats — just automatons doing things for themselves, without giving you a thought.  Don’t be self-destructive — save yourself the costs of getting angry when it has no positive effects for you.

(Not everyone would stay calm at an empty boat. There are people who would try to find a scapegoat no matter what, and get angry at whoever was responsible for not tying up the empty boat on the first place. Anger in overdrive? Is it possible it will eventually be classified as a psychological condition?)

 

 

 

 

December 5, 2016 Posted by | behaviour, evolutionary psychology, psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Your social class determines how you look at others

Upper class folks spend less time looking faces of random strangers, which could be the reason they have less empathy.  Details in article below:

Social attitudes to faces

Not worth a second glance

Oct 15th 2016| The Economist Oct 15th 2016

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November 14, 2016 Posted by | behaviour, psychology | , , | Leave a comment