Everyone who is in any kind of serious relationship—with a partner, a child, a close friend—has been guilty of transgression as one time or another. That’s because we’re not perfect. We all commit hurtful acts, violate trust, and hope for forgiveness. That’s simply a fact, and here’s another one: Nine out of 10 Americans say… Read more
Thanksgiving kicks in the holiday season. Unhappily for many, the day and the weeks ahead loom as a nightmare of temptation, whether the lure is fruitcake or martinis. Most dieters and abstainers think of willpower as the key to success. Bite the bullet; just say no. Yet paradoxically, the cornerstone of most addiction recovery programs… Read more
I wrote a somewhat different version of this essay for the magazine Scientific American Mind a while back. It also makes up part of On Second Thought’s chapter on the Fluency Heuristic, which has to do with the cognitive palatability of information. I didn’t really see the connection to recovery when I was first writing… Read more
The Futuristic Heuristic makes us lousy prognosticators of our future emotions. Here is more on why. And also some more insight into satisficing and optimizing.
I had a brief stint teaching writing and rhetoric to college freshmen, and I tried to pass on to my students a valued lesson a favorite professor had given me. Nuance is good; generalities are facile. Be wary of any thinker who thinks in black or white, insists on yes or no, or argues without… Read more
Experts on human performance and expertise are discovering On Second Thought, especially the chapter on the Foraging Heuristic, curiosity and mastery. It’s not just about hobbies. it’s about life, as this short essay noted.
One of the cornerstones of many addiction treatment programs is what’s called “moral inventory.” Rather than just white-knuckling it through day after miserable day without drugs or alcohol, recovering addicts and alcoholics are taught to honestly and rigorously monitor their daily thoughts and behavior and relationships, and when they do something wrong to promptly set… Read more