Thinking | Teaching | Talking - February 2021

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About 10,000 articles scanned each month to bring you this distilled selection - 18 articles

The reading list for February 2021. I realise that some of you may not like the idea of having to click one more time to view the list. So, here it is, plain vanilla.

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Do Adults Really Not Remember School Sucked? - Ian Welsh

One of the constant refrains which has bemused me during the pandemic is all the people saying how much kids want to go back to school. What? This has struck me as crazy, because I don’t seem to have childhood amnesia. I didn’t like school, and I remember that almost no kid I ever met, even those who did, preferred school to days off. But I shrugged... via

Want to Reduce Brain Fog And Improve Clear Thinking? Give up These Things Immediately

Mental fog is often described as a “cloudy-headed” feeling. Common conditions of brain fog include poor memory, difficulty focusing or concentrating, and struggling with articulation. Imagine if you could concentrate your brain power into one bright beam and focus it like a laser on whatever you wish to accomplish. Many people struggle to concentrate.... via

Science fiction hasn’t prepared us to imagine machine learning.

Science fiction did a great job preparing us for submarines and rockets. But it seems to be struggling lately. We don’t know what to hope for, what to fear, or what genre we’re even in. Space opera? Seems unlikely. And now that we’ve made it to 2021, the threat of zombie apocalypse is receding a bit. So it’s probably some kind of cyberpunk. But there... via

The Pattern Inside the Pattern: Fractals, the Hidden Order Beneath Chaos, and the Story of the Refugee Who Revolutionized the Mathematics of Reality

“In the mind’s eye, a fractal is a way of seeing infinity.” I have learned that the lines we draw to contain the infinite end up excluding more than they enfold. I have learned that most things in life are better and more beautiful not linear but fractal. Love especially. In a testament to Aldous Huxley’s astute insight that “all great truths... Maria Popova via Brain Pickings

Money vs. Happiness

NEW DELHI, India, Feb 19 (IPS) - Subjective wellbeing and income are intricately linked.This article studies the relationships between subjective well-being, which is narrowly defined to focus on economic well-being in India, and variants of income, based on the only panel survey in India Human Development Survey (IHDS).Read the full story, “Money... via Global Issues News Headlines

Why Making Our Brains Noisier Feels Good - Rewired

Not since World War II has there been as great a threat to mental health as the current COVID-19 pandemic, according to Aiden James. The challenges to our mental health won’t “stop when the virus is under control and there are few people in hospital,” the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the United Kingdom told The Guardian recently.... Thomas Nail via Nautilus

I let algorithms randomize my life for two years | Max Hawkins

What if everything in your life was randomized: from the food you ate to the things you did and the places you traveled? Computer scientist Max Hawkins created algorithms to make decisions like these for him -- and got hooked on the experience for two years. He shares how relinquishing choice sent him across the world and opened him up to the beautiful... Max Hawkins via TEDTalks (video)

The abuses of Popper

A powerful cadre of scientists and economists sold Karl Popper’s ‘falsification’ idea to the world. They have much to answer for.  Charlotte Sleigh via Aeon Magazine

5 ways to improve your ability to have meaningful conversations

Many people are feeling more disconnected these days, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Today, many of us feel disconnected from each other. The pandemic has created a world where we talk to each other via Zoom, wave at our neighbors from a distance, and rarely interact with new people. Judith Humphrey via Fast Company

Talking with your hands alters the perception of your words

A team of researchers from the Netherlands found that hands gestures, when used strategically, influence how certain words are heard. Participants were 20% more likely to hear and interpret the words being spoken when accompanied by a matching hand gesture, and 40% as likely to hear the wrong word when the gestures did not match. Molly Hanson via Big Think Expert Ideas

Do we really need to walk 10,000 steps a day?

When it comes to being fit and healthy, we're often reminded to aim to walk 10,000 steps per day. This can be a frustrating target to achieve, especially when we're busy with work and other commitments. Most of us know by now that 10,000 steps is recommended everywhere as a target to achieve – and yet where did this number actually come from? Lindsay Bottoms via Big Think Expert Ideas

These self-sufficient robots can have ‘babies’ and colonize distant planets

It’s been suggested that an advance party of robots will be needed if humans are ever to settle on other planets. Sent ahead to create conditions favorable for humankind, these robots will need to be tough, adaptable, and recyclable if they’re to survive within the inhospitable cosmic climates that await them. The Conversation via The Next Web

A philosophical approach to routines can illuminate who we really are

There are hundreds of things we do – repeatedly, routinely – every day. We wake up, check our phones, eat our meals, brush our teeth, do our jobs, satisfy our addictions. In recent years, such habitual actions have become an arena for self-improvement: bookshelves are saturated with bestsellers about 'life hacks', 'life design' and how to 'gamify' our [lives]... Elias Anttila via Big Think Expert Ideas

Do you see red like I see red?

It's disconcerting to think the way two people perceive the world might be totally different. Mads Perch/Stone via Getty ImagesIs the red I see the same as the red you see? At first, the question seems confusing. Color is an inherent part of visual experience, as fundamental as gravity. So how could anyone see color differently than you do? Bevil R. Conway via The Conversation

Albert Camus on why accepting absurdity is the start of a fruitful life

Camus thought that life was absurd, but that knowing that was a beginning, not an end. By realizing it is all absurd, you have the opportunity to rebel against the meaninglessness. Søren Kierkegaard, another philosopher, went with a different answer. If you haven't noticed, life is absurd. We humans strive to find meaning in the world, ... Scotty Hendricks via Big Think Expert Ideas

Money impacts happiness more than previously thought, study finds

A new study examined how income affects experienced and evaluative well-being, which are two measures researchers commonly use to evaluate happiness.The results showed that both evaluative and experienced well-being tend to increase alongside income.Still, the results don't suggest you should assign more importance to money, ... Stephen Johnson via Big Think Expert Ideas

Meet the Most Passionate Admirers of India’s Rail Network

Mani Vijay remembers his mother telling him how, as a child, he would move a measuring tape across the table, mimicking the movement of a train. The IT professional, who grew up in India and is now based in New Hampshire, says he has been passionate about trains for as long as he can remember. There is something about the Indian Railways (IR) in particular,... Deepa Bhasthi via Atlas Obscura

The Myth That Gets Men Out of Doing Chores

“Birds at Home,” 2006 (Julie Blackmon)When you think of messiness, you might think of the unsavory ways it manifests: sweaty socks left on the floor, food-encrusted dishes piled in the sink, crumbs on the counter. Messes themselves are easy to identify, but the patterns of behavior that produce them are a bit more nuanced. Joe Pinsker via The Atlantic