Thinking | Teaching | Talking - March 2021

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About 10,000 articles scanned each month to bring you this distilled selection - 19 choice pieces

The reading list for March 2021. Here it is, plain vanilla.

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‘I don’t smell!’ Meet the people who have stopped washing

David Whitlock has not showered or bathed for 15 years, yet he does not have body odour. “It was kind of strange for the first few months, but after that I stopped missing it,” he says. “If I get a specific part of my body dirty, then I’ll wash that specific part” – but never with soap. As well as germs, soap gets rid of the skin’s protective oils and...


How to have constructive conversations | Julia Dhar

"We need to figure out how we go into conversations not looking for the victory, but the progress," says world debate champion Julia Dhar. In this practical talk, she shares three essential features of productive disagreements grounded in curiosity and purpose. The end result? Constructive conversations that sharpen your argument and strengthen your...

by Julia Dhar via TEDTalks (video)

5 ways to boost your focus, even for short periods of time

We’re all tired, and it’s hard to focus. Here’s how to get your concentration back so you can get things done. It’s been roughly a year since many workers were sent home “for a couple of weeks” because the pandemic was beginning to ravage the country. Overnight, millions of people had to learn how to work remotely—if they were lucky enough to keep...

by Gwen Moran via Fast Company

The Case for Not Listening to Music When You Work Out

For as long as I can remember, I’ve listened to music while working out.  When I lifted weights with my football team back in high school, Metallica and DMX usually blared over the crappy PA system in our dank weight room. When the iPod came on the market while I was in college, I created a workout playlist consisting of an eclectic mix of indie...

by Brett and Kate McKay via The Art of Manliness

How to Quiet Your Mind Chatter - Issue 98: Mind

We’ve all been there. Stuck in our own heads, fixated on a two-minute conversation from three days ago. We replay it over and over. I shouldn’t have snapped at Dad. He was always so patient when I was growing up. We get stuck. The voice in our heads goes from an ally to a vicious nag, just looping uselessly over the same things, again and again and...

by Liz Greene via Nautilus

5 ways to spot if someone is trying to mislead you when it comes to science

ShutterstockIt’s not a new thing for people to try to mislead you when it comes to science. But in the age of COVID-19 — when we’re being bombarded with even more information than usual, when there’s increased uncertainty, and when we may be feeling overwhelmed and fearful — we’re perhaps even more susceptible to being...

by Hassan Vally  via The Conversation

Six tips for coping when the news is getting to you

Bad news. Shutterstock/WAYHOME studioIt can often feel difficult to escape a bad news story. The news plays a prominent role in our lives, something that has been emphasised even further during the past year. The pandemic has brought with it daily news briefings and a seemingly never-ending influx of COVID related headlines. Staying informed and...

by Dawn Branley-Bell via The Conversation

Your Thinking Rate Is Fixed

You can’t force yourself to think faster. If you try, you’re likely to end up making much worse decisions. Here’s how to improve the actual quality of your decisions instead of chasing hacks to speed them up. If you’re a knowledge worker, as an ever-growing proportion of people are, the product of your job is decisions. Much of what you do day to...

by Rosie via Farnam Street

Napping in the afternoon can improve memory and alertness – here's why

Short and long naps both have benefits. ShutterstockSome people swear by an afternoon nap – whether it’s to catch up on lost sleep or to help them feel more alert for the afternoon ahead. Even Boris Johnson supposedly favours a power nap during his work day (though the prime minister’s staffers contest this claim). Winston Churchill, Albert...

by John Axelsson via The Conversation

10 ways office work will never be the same

One of the many conference rooms at the then-startup Gusto, in San Francisco in 2018. | Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images From where we work to how our work is measured, office work will be permanently different after the pandemic. Someday, perhaps someday soon, when vaccination rates are high enough...

by Rani Molla via Vox - All

How to say no politely – 6 tips for professionals

"The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful person say no to almost everything." - Warren BuffetBuffet got it right when he claimed that saying no is what makes you successful. Denying little requests opens up your schedule to say yes to the right opportunities. The ones that make a change in your career...


'Failing up': Why some climb the ladder despite mediocrity

Allowing workers to 'fail up' can yield talented leaders. But only some people are allowed to fail without penalty, while others never get the chance.It’s the lacklustre associate who makes partner despite a poor record, even though you’ve been working around the clock at the same firm without even a glance from the bosses. It’s getting passed up for...


Gigerenzer’s simple rules

This is the age of big data. We are constantly in quest of more numbers and more complex algorithms to crunch them. We seem to believe that this will solve most of the world’s problems - in the economy, society and even our personal lives. As a corollary, rules of thumb and gut instincts are getting unfairly downplayed.


Everything is broken, and it’s okay – Increment: Reliability

Everything is a little bit broken. Nothing made by human hands or minds is perfect. Every car you’ve ever ridden in, every elevator you’ve ever taken, every safety-critical computer program you’ve ever trusted your life with was flawed in some way. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend—your system’s uptime will always be measured in 9s, a percentage...


Eight of Literature's Most Powerful Inventions—and the Neuroscience Behind How They Work

Shortly after 335 B.C., within a newly built library tucked just east of Athens’ limestone city walls, a free-thinking Greek polymath by the name of Aristotle gathered up an armful of old theater scripts. As he pored over their delicate papyrus in the amber flicker of a sesame lamp, he was struck by a revolutionary idea: What if literature was an invention...


Is Consciousness Everywhere?

Experience is in unexpected places, including in all animals, large and small, and perhaps even in brute matter itself.Honey bees can recognize faces, communicate the location and quality of food sources to their sisters via the waggle dance, and navigate complex mazes with the help of cues they store in short-term memory. Image: Boba Jaglicic/UnsplashBy:...


The OODA Loop: How Fighter Pilots Make Fast and Accurate Decisions

The OODA Loop is a four-step process for making effective decisions in high-stakes situations. It involves collecting relevant information, recognizing potential biases, deciding, and acting, then repeating the process with new information. Read on to learn how to use the OODA Loop. When we want to learn how to make rational decisions under pressure,...

Rosie via Farnam Street

Staying creative in extreme isolation: Lessons from Japan’s ‘hikikomori’

Artists and designers can learn from the different ways people who withdraw from society have navigated experiences of isolation. The Japanese word hikikomori translates to “pulling inward.” The term was coined in 1998 by Japanese psychiatrist Tamaki Saitō to describe a burgeoning social phenomenon among young people who, feeling the extreme pressures...

by Jessica Holtaway via Fast Company

I asked hundreds of people about their biggest life decisions. Here's what I learned

shutterstock You make decisions all the time. Most are small. However, some are really big: they have ramifications for years or even decades. In your final moments, you might well think back on these decisions — and some you may regret. Part of what makes big decisions so significant is how rare they are. You don’t get an opportunity to learn from...

by Adrian R. Camilleri via The Conversation