Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

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

How to Stop Being a Control Freak

Even though I didn’t think I was a control freak, this article was very helpful in both me coming to realize that I just might have a bit of control freak in me, and, most importantly, how I can deal with it.

How to Stop Being a Control Freak

The desire for control is a form of perfectionism, and we can alleviate it by learning to embrace uncertainty.


February 22, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, psychology | , | Leave a comment

Why we love tyrants

I’ve always wondered how some leaders can sway people to do things rational thought would exclude, for example how Hitler managed to convince ordinary Germans that Jews must be exterminated.  Would I fall for such a message?  Have I?

The article below looks at the psychology used in these type of speeches. It seems to boil down to three steps:

  1.  We are mightily suffering:  _____________,
  2.  and that is the fault of ____________, who is our enemy.
  3.  The magic solution to this is ___________.

It’s scary how something this simple can work so well.  And it’s even scarier how it is being used today.

Why we love tyrants

Psychoanalysis explains how authoritarians energise the hatred, self-pity and delusion while promising heaven on Earth

David Livingstone Smith | aeon | 

February 16, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, history, psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Does Depression Have an Evolutionary Purpose?

Interesting point of view: depression is a cry for help, just like the loud chirping of a hungry baby bird.  Worth reading if you, or someone you know, has battled depression or suicidal tendencies.

Does Depression Have an Evolutionary Purpose?

Some psychologists believe suicide and depression can be strategic.

Matthew Hutson | Feb 9, 2017 | Nautilus

Continue reading

January 28, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, evolutionary psychology, psychology | , | 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

Anger is Temporary Madness

Why it’s better to remain calm and how to do it.

Anger is Temporary Madness: the Stoics knew how to curb it

Massimo Pigliucci | October 13, 2017 | Aeon

Continue reading

October 13, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, 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

Continue reading

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

Why immoral actions seem impossible

It seems we are blind to the possibility of immoral actions — but that allows us the ability to trust people.

‘But you can’t do that!’ Why immoral actions seem impossible

Jonathan Phillips | 29 September 2017 | aeon

Continue reading

October 1, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, psychology, sociology | , | 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

Continue reading

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

How to achieve your goals

Based on solid science, these tips actually work if you follow through ( I used a version of them to successfully get into a regular exercise habit). Worth keeping a copy for reference.

How to Get Better at Achieving Your Goals

Christine Carter follows these research-backed steps to turn her good intentions into successful achievements.

September 2, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, lifehack, psychology | , , | Leave a comment