Archive for the ‘Psychology’ Category

Beyond Quick Fixes

We seem culturally opposed to long-term solutions.  Our healthcare system is dramatically underperforming, as is our education system.  Perhaps an infusion of targeted incentives would fix things.  It hasn’t and won’t.  The consequences of climate change and global warming include fires, storms and flooding that are massively destructive.  We provide billions of dollars in disaster […]

Coming Together

The recent week of celebrations and funeral of Queen Elizabeth II has reminded me of several other recent funerals at the Washington National Cathedral.  I live across the street from the Cathedral and I am a member of the congregation.  I was not, of course, among the invitees to these services.  However, I stood outside […]

Hidden Taxation Math

Let’s say a university needs revenue of $25,000 per year per student.  What tuition should they charge?  Let’s assume there are three equal populations of students.  One third can afford to pay full tuition.  Another third can afford to pay 20% of full tuition.  The last third cannot afford to pay anything.  What should tuition […]

Lessons Learned

What happens if a fundamental tenet of life turns out to be wrong?  Does it depends on the nature of the premise or belief? How central is it to how you manage your life? Does this realization fundamentally change your subsequent behavior?  Do you become a different person than you would have become with this […]

We Only See What We Can See

Consider two recent pieces in the New York Times: “How Animals See Themselves” by Ed Young, and “In a Parallel Universe, Another You” by Michio Kaku, both published on June 20th. Young reports that animals sense light, sounds, smells, etc. much differently than humans do.  It helps them to identify food, mates, and other means […]

The Community of Pubs

Pubs are “public places” where we convene for drinks, meals, and often sporting events.  I always sit at the bar.  At a table, I am left to conversations with my colleagues with whom I entered the establishment or, if by myself, catching up with email with far-flung colleagues. At the bar, it is likely that […]

Appealing to Voters

Quite simplistically, assume that there are two populations of voters: X: A population that can easily be manipulated in terms of values, concerns, perceptions and decisions about consumption, health, education, and votes. Y: A population that reflects on what is knowable, explainable, and predictive, consciously deciding what is believable and the consequences for decision making. […]

Winning Ways

What do these three practices have in common? Selling exorbitantly-priced drugs that provide no relative health benefits, but one cannot buy particular patented drugs and devices from other suppliers Producing very expensive weapon systems that may no longer be needed, but one cannot buy these weapon systems and spare parts from other suppliers One cannot […]

Manipulation

I find it very interesting how easily people are convinced to behave in ways in conflict with their own self interests.  Advertisements for low-quality junk foods and vehicles that really will not increase your sex appeal are good examples. Advertisements for prescription drugs that may benefit a few, but are not beneficial for most people […]

Four Books I Highly Recommend

The time that I can devote to reading has soared over the past two years.  I spend much less time getting to and from meetings – typically zero.  Here are my four favorite books of the past two months.  I highly recommend them. Top of the list is Andy Norman’s Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind-Parasites, […]

Time Horizons

We seem to think of the future, and perhaps the past, in terms of decades.  We likely recall our grandparents and, of course, our parents.  We consider our own lives and those of our children in terms of employment, education and eventually retirement.  Our overall time horizon for planning is likely 20-40 years. Our plans […]

When Personalities Trump Competence

Donald Trump is, of course, the ultimate example of this phenomenon.  He is a narcissistic psychopath exhibiting extreme forms of grandiosity, exploitive behavior and a lack of empathy.  Fortunately, this severe personality disorder is not common.  There are much lessor disorders with which we must deal. One is fervent optimism.  We have all had colleagues […]

When No One Owns the Problem

There are many problems in our societies, our organizations, and our relationships that no one wants to own.  Owning a problem implies a responsibility for solving it.  If one recognizes a problem but does not own it, one can often comfortably wait for others to solve it.  After all, the problem is not yours. The […]

When Stakeholders Thwart Change

People who are advantaged by the status quo tend to be averse to changing it.  Consequently, those who are favored in this way tend to herald its merits and distain the alternatives.  Why wouldn’t we continue the policies and strategies that generously rewarded them in the past.  As leader of an organization needing to entertain […]

When the Organization Is in the Way

There are times when organizations are performing excellently but, despite their confidence, their futures are not bright.  Kodak and Polaroid dominated the film and instant photography industries, respectively.  My mother inherited a quantity of Kodak stock in the 1930s.  It provided generous returns for several decades.  People would always seek “Kodak moments” and needed a […]

N-Factor Authentication

2-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security to your account to prevent someone from logging in, even if they have your password. This extra security measure requires you to verify your identity using a randomized multi-digit code that your service provider texts to you each time that you attempt to log in.  Alternatively, they […]

How We Adopted Regrettable Practices

I recently finished reading Patrick Wyman’s The Verge: Reformation, Renaissance, and Forty Years that Shook the World: 1480-1520 (Grand Central, 2021).  He chronicles the transformation of business and political processes during these two decades that provided the foundations for Western European dominance over the successive generations. Military aggression and conquest, financed by new approaches to […]

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Charles Dickens’ immortal phrase portrays a time of radical opposites taking place at the same time in a 1859 historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities. set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution.  Are we at a similar time of radical contrasts?  Are similar consequences likely? Current technology and economic trends […]

Who Wants to Change?

What would you like to change?  Your eating habits and weight?  Your exercise habits and fitness?  Your salary and financial situation?  What about your opinions.  How about your fundamental beliefs?  It is much easier to avoid eating fried foods than to avoid flawed thinking.  Entertaining evidence that shows your opinions and beliefs to be simply […]

Stories

I have been thinking about the roles stories play in our lives.  By story, I mean an account of past events or the evolution of something.  Of course, a story can also be an entertaining account of imaginary or real people and events.  Many stories provide a combination of explanation and entertainment. Stories usually have […]

Intuitions That Mislead Us

One of my recent readings has been the late Hans Rosling’s Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think. (Flatiron Books, 2018).  It is a fascinating read, loaded with valuable insights. Hans Rosling asked chimpanzees to answer 13 multiple-choice questions about the state of the world.  […]