I need to tell you about a cognitive bias that keeps cropping up. It’s a very human thing. And – as a species – we keep tripping over it. What I’m on about is a form of attribution bias, as applied to groups: the supposition that the behaviour or attitudes of a few reflects the… More One bad apple doesn’t spoil the barrel, does it
One of my pet peeves is judgementality – the way people draw a negative response to what they imagine to have happened, on what they superficially see – but without actually checking with the target of their judgement to discover the facts. It’s where the recent craze for ‘shaming’ comes from, among other things –… More Does judgementality annoy you?
I have never really understood the claim that the ‘old days’ were somehow simpler or easier. Actually, they usually weren’t. We only think they were. The cause is a curious mix of cognitive illusions, including the ‘recency’ phenomenon – by which whatever happened last week looms larger than something that happened last year or last… More The old days weren’t actually simpler – not really
An elderly woman boarded the train I was riding the other day. The carriage was crowded, but someone immediately gave up his seat for her. Random acts of kindness like this are what should happen in the world. They don’t – not nearly often enough. A lot of the problem, I think, flows from the… More It doesn’t take much to be kind – if we pay attention
The news from Paris has horrified me on so many levels. Part of the horror flows from the way the dark side of human nature has been – once again – starkly revealed by last week’s terror attacks. If we look across the world today – and back through history – that darkness is also evident in many… More Lessons of Paris: how to use kindness to defeat humanity’s dark side
A ‘boy racer’ car jammed with kids bra-a-a-atted past a while back, in apparent disregard of traffic rules, speed limits or other motorists, giving me pause to think about what happens inside the minds of teenage drivers, other than the dull buzzing sound some gadgets make when not under load. Put one of these inexperienced kids behind… More What is it about ‘boy racer’ thrill-seekers?
A while ago I found myself glancing at a copy of Fay Weldon’s Letters To Alice on first reading Jane Austen (1984) and wondering if such a book could ever be published today, mainstream. Call it meta-literature; a book by a writer thinking about someone’s response to another writer’s book. Which makes this post meta-meta literature,… More Thoughts about Shakespeare spurred by Fay Weldon’s ‘Letters to Alice On First Reading Jane Austen’