Archive | books

Rethinking the way we learn

Last summer I read Daniel Willingham’s fascinating book ‘Why Don’t Students Like School?’ and immediately put it on my list to blog about. Willingham, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, applies the principles of cognitive psychology to the world of education. Essentially, his goal is explain to teachers how their students’ brains work. The…

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The Poison of Food

For reasons I’d rather not go into, I decided to do a little research into food poisoning with a seemingly simple question: How does food get poisoned? It turns out that most food-related illnesses can be separated into two types: toxins and infection. The traditional use of the term food poisoning stems from the existence…

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But Wait… There’s More!

Ever watch those TV infomercials late at night when you’re bored and can’t sleep?  Of course you do. And you’re likely to buy things you don’t really need as well. The most fascinating book I’ve read in a long time, ‘But Wait… There’s More,’ explains the science behind infomercials. Virtually every element of an infomercial is based…

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Is There An ‘I’ In Team?

Many popular phrases have their roots in sports. For example, the cliché “there is no ‘i’ in team” comes from the idea that a cohesive team of players is more likely to win games than a collection of individual superstars. Players are told to focus on the team’s overall success rather than their individual performance. The…

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The science of subtle signals

Mark Buchanan is a theoretical physicist who writes about how physics can be used to understand biology, economics, psychology and other social sciences. His book, “The Social Atom: Why the Rich Get Richer, Cheaters Get Caught and Your Neighbor Usually Looks Like You” is a fun read in the style of The Tipping Point and Freakonomics. In an article…

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Origin of the Word Upset

The English word upset has multiple definitions.  The most common implies an anxious uneasiness; as in “I am too upset to say anything.”  This emotional version also has a physical equivalent; “My stomach is too upset to eat anything.” Watching sports on a lazy Saturday, I’m reminded of another common usage.  In sports and in…

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The Myth Of Fair Value

To prepare for the upcoming holiday shopping season, I’m reading ‘Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)‘ by William Poundstone. Poundstone references a wide variety of psychology studies that show consumers are unable to accurately estimate fair prices and are “strongly influenced by the unconscious, irrational, and politically incorrect.” …

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