Archive | 2018

The Five-Second Rule

Thanks to Seinfeld, we know that double-dipping is bad for us. But what about the five-second rule? Conventional wisdom suggests it’s safe to eat food dropped on the floor – as long as you pick it up in less than five seconds. Presumably that’s not long enough for the food to get contaminated. In 2003,…

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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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Just Say No To Goals

People are obsessed with goals. You could fill a large library with books describing how to create and accomplish goals. But they don’t seem to be effective: Only 1/3 of people who make New Year’s resolutions keep them for longer than a few days. More than 70% of the people who set goals for themselves…

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How Bad Is Double-Dipping?

With a little more couch time than normal this flu season, I binge-watched some new TV series and rewatched some classics. After seeing George Costanza double-dip a chip during a wake, I started to wonder – is it really “like putting your whole mouth right in the dip!” Here’s the scene from a 1993 episode…

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The 90-Minute Rule

“Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.” – Tony Schwartz (source) In the late 1950’s, researchers William Dement and Nathaniel Kleitman documented that humans sleep in 90-minute cycles – from light to deep sleep and back to light sleep again. Professor Kleitman later discovered…

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