Methods of Persuasion by Nick Kolenda Part 2 of 2

41SPzom4mjL._SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_ML2_.jpg (196×293)

A good way to build rapport with a potential customer is to point out similarities. We all have an inherent bias in favor of people who remind us of ourselves, even in trivial ways such as liking the same TV show. We even prefer products that have the same letters in their name as we do. Similarities that are less common, such as having the same birthday as someone else, enhances this effect. Also, using pronouns such as “we” and “us” can make someone feel more connected to you. We also tend to mimic people we like and like people who mirror our nonverbal behavior. Continue reading

Factfulness by Hans Rosling Part 2 of 2

818qWkHcICL.jpg (1650×2550)

Generalizing and categorizing are necessary for us to make sense of the world, however they provide an inaccurate picture and make us jump to conclusions. Many businesses miss out on opportunities for growth in other countries, falsely assuming the people there are too poor to buy their product. How you live has more to do with income than your country, religion, or culture. For example, westerners often lump all 54 countries in Africa together even though there’s immense difference in income from country to country and even within a single country. Continue reading

Factfulness by Hans Rosling Part 1 of 2

818qWkHcICL.jpg (1650×2550)

Most people think that the world is getting worse. However, when we look at the statistics, things have actually gotten much better. Why is our perception of reality so wrong? The media’s disproportionate focus on bad news is partly to blame, but the fundamental way our brains work is actually the biggest culprit. Evolution has made us good at making quick decisions. This is useful in many situations, but quickly jumping to conclusions without carefully considering all the facts also makes us prone to errors. Continue reading

The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe Part 5 of 5

38485991._UY500_SS500_.jpg (500×500)

This book covers many other things such as free energy, homunculus theory, vitalism, dualism, and pyramid schemes. An important take-away from the chapter on quantum woo is that quantum effects don’t apply to anything much bigger than an atom, so don’t believe anyone who tells you quantum effects apply to your day-to-day life. The chapter on N Rays demonstrates that intelligent people aren’t more likely to be good at critical thinking, just better at coming up with rationalizations. Continue reading

The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe Part 4 of 5

38485991._UY500_SS500_.jpg (500×500)

Data mining is sifting through large amounts of data looking for anything that stands out, even if it happened by chance. Astrologers are often guilty of this, using one study to claim people born under certain signs are more accident prone. However, a single study doesn’t prove anything until it’s replicated. A followup study actually demonstrated that people born under different signs are more likely to have car accidents. Continue reading

The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe Part 3 of 5

38485991._UY500_SS500_.jpg (500×500)

Cognitive biases are flaws in how our brain processes information and heuristics are mental shortcuts which are not always true. For example, we’re more likely to buy something that costs $19.99 rather than $20.00 due to our leftmost digit bias. Handedness bias makes right-handed people prefer the item on the right (and left-handed people the item on the left) when two similar items are presented. An example of framing bias is that we prefer something with a 90 percent survival rate over something with a 10 percent death rate, even though these are both the same. We also take bigger risks to avoid negative outcomes than to achieve positive outcomes. Continue reading

The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe Part 2 of 5

38485991._UY500_SS500_.jpg (500×500)

People will usually accept new information as long as it doesn’t conflict with an emotional belief that’s part of their identity. When this is challenged, they engage in motivated reasoning, defending their belief illogically and dismissing inconvenient facts. It’s triggered by cognitive dissonance, psychological discomfort which occurs when two ideas conflict. It’s human nature, but we can try to avoid it by not getting emotionally attached to factual beliefs that might turn out to be wrong. Continue reading

The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe Part 1 of 5

38485991._UY500_SS500_.jpg (500×500)

“So, while we cannot trust the stories we are told, tradition, faith, convenient or reassuring narratives, charismatic figures, or even our own memories, we can slowly and carefully build a process by which to evaluate all claims to truth or knowledge. A big part of that process is science, which systematically tests our ideas against reality, using the most objective data possible. Science is still a messy and flawed process, but it is a process. It has, at least, the capacity for self-correction, to move our beliefs incrementally in the direction of reality. In essence, science is the process of making our best effort to know what’s really real.” Continue reading

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot By The Taliban

514LSYyGCGL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg (327×499)

“It seemed to me that everyone knows they will die one day. My feeling was nobody can stop death; it doesn’t matter if it comes from a Talib or cancer. So I should do whatever I want to do.”

Malala Yousafzai was raised in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, often called the Switzerland of the East since rich people from around the world used to go on holiday there. Almost anywhere you go in Swat, you’ll find the remains of old Buddhist temples. Malala relates the ancient history of the area as if it were her own family history. Continue reading