For newcomers to the site, here is a Google reader that allows you to sample large sections of On Second Thought.
Here’s a fun piece from Sal Alfano at Remodeling magazine. Alfano uses the Fluency Heuristic to explain to his readers why they might be uneasy with the magazine’s redesign–at first. Very cool.
Chapter 7 of On Second Thought, called The Arithmetic Heuristic: For Just Pennies a Day, is about the great difficult most of us have in dealing rationally with numbers. As much as we like to think of math and statistics as rational, numbers are in fact emotional quantities, influenced by our fears and hopes. The… Read more
I just wrote up a short essay on a new theory of motivation–one that might explain how we can set distant goals–like losing 100 pounds–and stay focused and excited for the months and months it takes to achieve the goal. Here it is. This also reminded me of this little meditation I did a while… Read more
Here is a short excerpt from On Second Thought‘s chapter on the Design Heuristic, which describes New York University psychologist John Jost’s work on the psychology of political persuasions. The gist is that conservatives are much more fearful than liberals are of ambiguity and change–any threat to the status quo. Here also is an interesting… Read more
I’ve just written an entire book on irrational decision making, and still I find this new study startling. It comes from the consistently good Ed Yong, who writes Discover magazine’s “Not Exactly Rocket Science” blog. Read it yourself, but the gist is that judges’ parole decisions are more favorable to defendants when the judges are… Read more
On Second Thought describes the automatic biases that can lead to unwise decisions in life, but it doesn’t explain why some people are more prone to such biases than others. It’s not fully understood why some people are conscientious and deliberate, while others are rash and impulsive, but the cause is almost certainly a combination… Read more
Here is a short excerpt from On Second Thought‘s chapter on “The Caricature Heuristic: Engineering Prejudice.” It describes a couple of psychological tests–one on engineers and the other on what’s called the “Linda Problem”–that demonstrate our powerful need for simple categories in a world that’s not simple. The need for order is so strong that… Read more