Writing science fiction not reports provided greater understanding of concepts – study

Abstract: Students in an introductory college geology course engaged in one of two exercises to learn more about the concept of cross cutting relationships, a major principle in stratigraphy. One exercise involved writing a report on the concept, the other involved writing a science fiction story based on the concept. Preliminary results suggest that students who engaged with the material within the context of science fiction writing gained a deeper understanding. As a professor of geology and a science fiction writer, I became curious this past academic term about how science fiction writing might influence students' perceptions of science or their understanding of science ideas. Science fiction is fiction of course, and not intended to be real science. However I thought that science fiction writing might engage students in thinking about science concepts and perhaps provide an educational tool comparable...

Read More

Learning is consolation for sorrow: What to do when the world gets you down

In his wonderful contribution to A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader, Yo-Yo Ma tells children about how books helped him survive his own childhood, listing King Arthur among his three great heroes; as a young boy born in France to Chinese parents, trying to find his mooring as an immigrant in America, he reaped great consolation and inspiration from the tales of the legendary medieval leader — stories of "adventure, heroism, human frailty and accidental destiny" that emboldened him to believe in the power of the quest for holy grails and improbable dreams — dreams as improbable as a small boy with no homeland growing up to be the world's greatest cellist. And, indeed, buried inside the adventure-thrill of these Arthurian tales are treasure troves of wisdom on fortitude, courage, and the art of honorable living, nowhere...

Read More

The Power of Bad: How to overcome your brain’s ‘negativity bias’

Why can't we pull our attention away from a traffic accident or stop watching news about the latest viral outbreak? Why are we waylaid by criticism or unable to get past a minor snub from our best friend? That's our negativity bias. We humans have a propensity to give more weight in our minds to things that go wrong than to things that go right — so much so that just one negative event can hijack our minds in ways that can be detrimental to our work, relationships, health, and happiness. Overcoming our negativity bias is not easy to do. But a new book, The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It, coauthored by social psychologist Roy Baumeister and New York Times writer John Tierney, inspires hope. The book not only covers...

Read More

Mysteries of the human heart: The communication between heart and brain

The human heart, the size of two adult fists, is mysterious, intelligent, powerful, and sometimes inexplicable. The Egyptians believed that Anubis, the god of the underworld and judge of the dead, weighed the hearts of the recently deceased against a feather — if the two balanced, the heart would be returned to owner. If the heart was heavier, it was weighted by bad deeds and fed to a monster. Heart as Ruler of the Brain Aristotle considered the heart as the center of reason, thought, and emotion, senior to the brain in importance. Ninth century Arabic philosopher Abu Nasr al-Farabi believed that, "The ruling organ in the human body is the heart; the brain is a secondary ruling organ subordinated to the heart." Auguste Comte, a 19th century French philosopher declared that the brain should be servant to the heart....

Read More

Question everything: The one habit that changed my life

It's 2020, you don't need a blogger, YouTuber, or social media person to tell you that reading, exercising, meditating, eating nutrient-dense food, journaling, and drinking enough water are good habits. I've written those types of articles as well. But society is slowly changing. People are waking up. We're more aware of what we do, what we put in our bodies, and how we live. There's a lot of personal growth advice everywhere you go. For the past few years, it seems like everyone is obsessed with self-improvement. You can tell that by the amount of self-help advice that you can get from mainstream media. Even traditional outlets like The WSJ feature articles about overcoming procrastination, personal finance, and healthy living. It's everywhere. You can't open Netflix without being bombarded with the latest health documentaries. But while this advice might look...

Read More