What I learned from Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow”

I recently finished reading Thinking Fast and Slow, a book on behavioral psychology and decision-making by Daniel Kahneman. This book contains some profoundly important concepts around how people make decisions. It will help you understand why humans sometimes make errors in judgement, and how to look for signs that you yourself may be about to make a System 1 error. Here are some of the most important take-aways from the book. We have a Two System way of thinking — System 1 (Thinking Fast), and System 2 (Thinking Slow). System 1 is the intuitive, "gut reaction" way of thinking and making decisions. System 2 is the analytical, "critical thinking" way of making decisions. System 1 forms "first impressions" and often is the reason why we jump to conclusions. System 2 does reflection, problem-solving, and analysis. We spend most of our...

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Can loved ones in a coma hear us?

In a recent podcast, "Michael Egnor on Whether People in Comas Can Think," Robert J. Marks discusses with neurosurgeon Michael Egnor a difficult question many of us have had to ask: Am I heard? Or am I just doing this for myself? What can recent research tell us? A partial transcript follows. Can you still think in a coma? Robert J. Marks (right): If you're in a coma, can you still think? What does neuroscience say? Michael Egnor: First, people usually take "coma" to mean that a peron has no meaningful interaction with their environment. And there is a condition called persistent vegetative state which is thought to be the deepest level of coma. It's not brain death because brain death means actual death. But it's the closest thing there is...

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SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: Interview with Joseph Azize Pt. 2: The Usefulness of Gurdjieff’s Teachings For Our Times

Delving deeper into some of G.I. Gurdjieff's ideas and practices, we continue our discussion with Father Joseph Azize, author of the recently published book Gurdjieff: Mysticism, Contemplation, & Exercises. Among a broad range of related topics covered, Fr. Azize describes the esoteric dynamics of prayer as it relates to the "Four Ideals" exercises and the types of impressions that we may access and 'digest' as a result. The detrimental effects of 'negative emotions' are also examined - as they relate to the growing irrationality that surrounds us, and the necessary work of growing one's consciousness and conscience to counter these manifestations for one's self, and for others. Further to this is an increased awareness of one's own thinking and feeling centers and how strengthening these 'bodies' plays such a large part in the growth of an individual. On today's MindMatters...

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Welcome these hard times like a Stoic

We might all be quarantined for a while. There are worse uses of your time than reading the Stoics People around the world are feeling rudderless and adrift. There's conflicting information about the pandemic - but it's not just about health. People losing work, feeling frightened, being isolated at home, worried about their loved ones and wondering about getting basic supplies. We all must make ethical decisions in this pandemic. Should I take that second pack of toilet paper for my family, or leave it for the next? Should essential workers stay home to protect themselves? Responses are varied. Some people are showing grace under pressure. Some are responding with shock or panic, others seem to be wilfully ignoring the situation. Many have never experienced this type of crisis before, others are finding their traditional roadmaps breaking down: churches empty,...

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SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: Interview with Joseph Azize Pt. 1: Gurdjieff, Mysticism, Exercises

For several decades, numerous books and explications have been published on the profoundly insightful philosophy and teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff. Some were written by the man himself, and many by those who worked with him. But while Gurdjieff himself included a few of the guided exercises that formed a major part of the actual practice of his ideas in Life Is Real Only Then, When "I Am", until recently no other book has focused on these exercises, which are designed to bring those practicing them to a greater state of self-awareness and 'conscious evolution'. Though the exercises have been carried on by some, many have fallen out of practice, been forgotten, altered, or replaced by exercises Gurdjieff never taught. And there has been a reluctance to share with those not directly part of these groups - leaving few, if any,...

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BEST OF THE WEB: Memento mori, or love in the age of corona

In recent weeks, I've learned not to post anything on Facebook, because people decide I'm a hater if I so much as suggest that there might be another metric worth considering besides the coronavirus mortality rate. So I won't open that can of worms here, except to say that risk management entails looking at a variety of factors, not exclusively public health. The strength of the economy, the stability of society, the prevalence of psychological illness, and the death tolls of other diseases - all these are relevant factors to take into account. A purely epidemiological approach is necessarily narrow-minded. It doesn't do us much good to save, say, one thousand lives from COVID-19 if we've condemned our nation to a decade or more of grinding poverty. Chronic unemployment, bankruptcy and foreclosure, the loss of businesses and the lifetime of...

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SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: The Hidden Psychological Depth of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

The tragic fall that started it all... Darth Vader: we're all familiar with the hulking half-man half-machine embodiment of inhuman domination, brutal ambition and a malevolent will to rule the galaxy with a robotic fist - as portrayed in the very widely seen and loved Star Wars series. But as we look back at what made these almost mythical stories great to begin with, we are reminded of who this character was before he became such a powerful agent of the dark side. As shown in the Star Wars prequels, and particularly in the mostly-overlooked film, Episode III: Revenge of The Sith, we learn that the person who was to become Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker, was first a Jedi, a prodigious and sincere student of the force, and one of a number of warrior priests who sought to protect the...

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Musical scales are a prehistoric gift to the modern world

During the last a few months, several groups have come up with interesting publications on how music affects the mind. The first is a report on March 1 from a group from Indiana University in the U.S., stating that music may overcome delirium in critically ill patients. Such patients experience acute mental disturbance, with speech disorder and hallucinations. The researchers attempted to try music as a drug-free intervention in 117 such patients, and gave half of them music - either their own personally chosen music (PM), or relaxing slow tempo music (STM), and compared them with a control group which was not offered music. The music was offered to the experimental group for 1 hour, twice daily for a week, and their progress noted. Results revealed that such music delivery (PM or STM, either was OK) reduced the incidence of...

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Science review confirms yoga benefits your brain

With a history spanning thousands of years, yoga (in a wide variety of forms) has proven its benefits experientially across generations. Modern science is also confirming its usefulness for people seeking improved mental and physical health and fitness conditioning. Like many (if not most) other forms of exercise, yoga, though mild in comparison, has also been shown to support healthy brain function and stave off neurological decline. ...

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