Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

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

Pedestrian attacks self-driving car

In a world of self-driving cars that are practically perfect at avoiding harm to pedestrians, I can see people walking all over the road without looking, slowing traffic and causing damage to cars without a care.  Swerve into a wall in order to avoid hitting a pedestrian stepping off the sidewalk without looking? Can they identify the pedestrian to make him pay for the damage before he disappears?  Will we be compelled to buy pedestrian insurance in order to walk on the streets?  We’re not quite there yet, but this incident is a start.  Something to think about.

Pedestrian attacks self-driving car in the Mission

Nobody was hurt, except our civic dignity

January 19, 2018 Posted by | behaviour | , , , | Leave a comment

Your Biology Runs on Feelings

From Damasio’s new book, an interesting explanation of the importance of feelings. Not an easy read, but worth the trouble to get through it.

Why Your Biology Runs on Feelings

By Antonio Damasio | January 18, 2018 | Nautilus

Think feelings are important? You’re more right than you know.

Continue reading

January 18, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, brain, 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

Us vs. Them

Quite insightful excerpt from Robert Sapolsky’s “Behave” book:

Why Your Brain Hates Other People

And how to make it think differently.


December 14, 2017 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, brain | , | Leave a comment

Plants think?!

Well, they make decisions, they learn and they remember.  Is that thinking?

Garden Greenery is Brainier Than You Think

They learn. They remember. They make decisions.
By Marta Zaraska|Monday, April 10, 2017 | Discover Magazine, May 2017 Issue

December 9, 2017 Posted by | behaviour | , , | Leave a comment

One Simple Way to Make a New Healthy Habit Stick

Research says, do it right after you wake up in the morning.  Your cortisol levels, which are highest in the morning, seem to make the transition from “chore” to “habit” easier.  Details:

One Simple Way to Make a New Healthy Habit Stick

Amanda MacMillan | Oct 26, 2017 | Time

October 30, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, health | , , | 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

Tips to skip junk food

Very useful. It didn’t mention the obvious — don’t have junk food at home where it becomes too easy to grab it — probably because it’s not an option for some.

Six strategies to help you say no to junk food

By CAITLIN DOW | MAY 3, 2017 |  Nutrition Action

Continue reading

October 11, 2017 Posted by | diet, health | | 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