Archive | psychology

Can You Create A Dictionary of Cultural Literacy?

Almost exactly 25 years ago, a close friend gave me a book called “The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.” The book contains 23 sections, representing “major categories of knowledge”, each containing hundreds of entries discussing ideas, events, and individuals that were “essential for understanding American discourse”. At first, I thought…

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The Unintended Consequence Of The Cobra Effect

Whenever plans don’t work out the way someone expects them to, I’m reminded of the cobra effect. Coined in a book written by the late German economist Horst Siebert, the cobra effect is a cautionary tale of unintended consequences during British rule in India. The British government was concerned that venomous cobra snakes were common…

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Napping is Good For You

I’m tired. The reason is pretty simple: I haven’t been sleeping 8 hours a night. I know better too – I wrote an article which quoted research showing that only 2.5% of people really need less than 7 hours of sleep every night. Everyone else needs 8 or more hours. Unfortunately, I haven’t been following…

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The Curious Case of Clever Hans

Long before Mr. Ed, the talking horse, Clever Hans was a horse who apparently could understand human language and answer mathematical questions. In the late 1800s, a German high school mathematics instructor named Wilhelm Von Osten believed humans had underestimated animal intelligence and that animals could learn to read or count. Von Osten’s initial attempts…

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The Parable of the Kid and the Barber

A few years ago I read psychologist Walter Mischel’s book, “The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control,” which provides recommendations on how to substantially increase your ability to control your impulses, including: Create good habits Visualize long-term consequences Disassociate from situations so they are less personal This strategy even managed to teach self-control to Sesame Street’s Cookie…

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