The Adverb Is Not Your Friend: Stephen King on Simplicity of Style “Employ a simple and straightforward style,” Mark Twain instructed in the 18th of his 18 famous literary admonitions. And what greater enemy of simplicity and straightforwardness than the adverb? Or so argues Stephen King in On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft (public library), one of 9 essential books to help you write better. While he may have used a handful of well-placed adverbs in his excellent recent case for gun control, King embarks upon a forceful crusade against this malignant part of speech: The adverb is not your friend.Adverbs … are words that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. King uses the admonition against adverbs as a springboard for a wider lens on good and bad writing, exploring the interplay of fear, timidity, and affectation: I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing. This latter part, touching on the contrast between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, illustrates the critical difference between working for prestige and working for purpose.
Why are we getting smarter? Further reading on the “Flynn effect” James Flynn points out a fascinating dynamic at TED2013, that we appear to be getting smarter. Photo: James Duncan Davidson In the 1980s, psychologist James Flynn discovered that, over the past century, our average IQ has increased dramatically. The difference, in fact, is so stark that the phenomenon garnered its own name: the Flynn effect. In today’s talk, Why our IQ levels are higher than our grandparents’, given at TED2013, Flynn explains that if you scored people a century ago against today’s norms, they’d have an IQ of 70, while if you score us against their norms, we’d have an average IQ of 130. James Flynn: Why our IQ levels are higher than our grandparents'Flynn argues that the effect comes down to three types of thinking we currently practice that we didn’t a century ago: “classification, using logic on abstractions, taking the hypothetical seriously,” as he puts it. Flynn delves into this dramatic change in his book, Are We Getting Smarter?
Freud’s Life and Legacy, in a Comic by Maria Popova “You have to listen carefully. The unconscious mind is crafty.” While Freud may have engineered his own myth and many of his theories may have been disputed in the decades since his heyday, he remains one of the most influential figures in the history of psychiatry and psychology. And yet for many, Freud is more metaphor than man and his name summons only a vague idea of his work — “something to do with penises,” our marginally informed collective conscience might whisper — rather than a true understanding of just how profoundly he influenced contemporary culture, from our mechanisms of consumerism to our notions about the self. From how his own childhood informed his ideas to his most famous cases, the captivating story weaves its way through Freud’s life to shed light on both the man and his metaphors for the mind. Freud is absolutely fantastic from cover to cover. Images courtesy of Nobrow Donating = Loving Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. Share on Tumblr
Read me Dare to Disturb the Universe: Madeleine L’Engle on Creativity, Censorship, Writing, and the Duty of Children’s Books by Maria Popova “We find what we are looking for. If we are looking for life and love and openness and growth, we are likely to find them. If we are looking for witchcraft and evil, we’ll likely find them, and we may get taken over by them.” On November 16, 1983 — just two weeks before her 65th birthday and twenty years after winning the prestigious Newbery Medal — Madeleine L’Engle, author of the timeless classic A Wrinkle in Time, delivered a magnificent lecture at the Library of Congress. L’Engle begins by making a point about children’s capacity for handling darker emotions that would’ve made Tolkien proud, one that Maurice Sendak has also asserted and Neil Gaiman has recently echoed. The writer whose words are going to be read by children has a heavy responsibility. Though she did eventually find a publisher who believed in the book heart and mind, this still left the question of the general public, where ignorant self-appointed censors lurk. We find what we are looking for.
The Germ Theory of Democracy, Dictatorship, and Your Cherished Beliefs One morning last fall, the evolutionary biologist Randy Thornhill was standing with me in front of the gorilla enclosure at the Albuquerque zoo. He was explaining a new theory about the origins of human culture when Mashudu, a 10-year-old western lowland gorilla, decided to help illustrate a point. In a very deliberate way, Mashudu sauntered over to the deep cement ravine at the front of his enclosure, perched his rear end over the edge, and did his morning business. Mashudu, I suspected, had just displayed what evolutionary theorists call a “behavioral immune response”—a concept central to Thornhill’s big theory. It might seem strange to fixate on how a gorilla goes about answering the call of nature. What kind of government do you live under? Anyone with a basic grasp of biology knows that all animals have immune systems that battle pathogens—be they viruses, bacteria, parasites, or fungi—on the cellular level. The threat of disease is not uniform around the world.
The 13 Best Psychology and Philosophy Books of 2013 by Maria Popova How to think like Sherlock Holmes, make better mistakes, master the pace of productivity, find fulfilling work, stay sane, and more. After the best biographies, memoirs, and history books of 2013, the season’s subjective selection of best-of reading lists continue with the most stimulating psychology and philosophy books published this year. “How we spend our days,” Annie Dillard wrote in her timelessly beautiful meditation on presence over productivity, “is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Horowitz begins by pointing our attention to the incompleteness of our experience of what we conveniently call “reality”: Right now, you are missing the vast majority of what is happening around you. Minor clashes between my dog’s preferences as to where and how a walk should proceed and my own indicated that I was experiencing almost an entirely different block than my dog. The book was her answer to the disconnect, an effort to “attend to that inattention.”
No one can replace you Famous Advice on Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers By Maria Popova By popular demand, I’ve put together a periodically updated reading list of all the famous advice on writing presented here over the years, featuring words of wisdom from such masters of the craft as Kurt Vonnegut, Susan Sontag, Henry Miller, Stephen King, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Susan Orlean, Ernest Hemingway, Zadie Smith, and more. Please enjoy. Jennifer Egan on Writing, the Trap of Approval, and the Most Important Discipline for Aspiring Writers “You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly… Accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well.”
The Science of Your Racist Brain Neuroscientist David Amodio on subconscious racial prejudice and why we're still responsible for our actions. —Indre Viskontas and Chris Mooney on Fri. May 9, 2014 6:00 AM PDT When the audio of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling telling a female friend not to "bring black people" to his team's games hit the internet, the condemnations were immediate. When you take a look at the emerging science of what motivates people to behave in a racist or prejudiced way, though, matters quickly grow complicated. Much of the time, these are not the sort of people whom we would normally think of as racists. Welcome to the world of implicit racial biases, which research suggests are all around us, and which can be very difficult for even the most well-intentioned person to control. How do we know implicit biases exist? These types of biases are quite prevalent. And why do these split-second negative responses exist? 1. 2. 3. 4. And that's just the beginning.
How Our Minds Mislead Us: The Marvels and Flaws of Our Intuition by Maria Popova “The confidence people have in their beliefs is not a measure of the quality of evidence but of the coherence of the story that the mind has managed to construct.” Every year, intellectual impresario and Edge editor John Brockman summons some of our era’s greatest thinkers and unleashes them on one provocative question, whether it’s the single most elegant theory of how the world works or the best way to enhance our cognitive toolkit. One of the most provocative contributions comes from Nobel-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman — author of the indispensable Thinking, Fast and Slow, one of the best psychology books of 2012 — who examines “the marvels and the flaws of intuitive thinking.” In the 1970s, Kahneman and his colleague Amos Tversky, self-crowned “prophets of irrationality,” began studying what they called “heuristics and biases” — mental shortcuts we take, which frequently result in cognitive errors. System 1 infers and invents causes and intentions.
KOCH Brothers exposed - full movie Please click the Youtube player below to watch the film. If you have any technical difficulties, please e-mail email@example.com. Enjoyed the film? Here are a few things you can do next! Sign the petition demanding Congress to support and pass a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United and Mccutcheon. Donate what you can so that we can continue our work and create more content. Get your friends involved by sharing segments of the film with them. The Art of Wisdom and the Psychology of How We Use Categories, Frames, and Stories to Make Sense of the World by Maria Popova The psychology of how we use frames, categories, and storytelling to make sense of the world. “It’s insulting to imply that only a system of rewards and punishments can keep you a decent human being,” Isaac Asimov told Bill Moyers in their magnificent 1988 conversation on science and religion. And yet ours is a culture that frequently turns to rigid external rules — be they of religion or of legislature or of social conduct — as a substitute for the inner moral compass that a truly “decent human being” uses to steer behavior. Schwartz and Sharpe write: [Aristotle] thought that our fundamental social practices constantly demanded choices — like when to be loyal to a friend, or how to be fair, or how to confront risk, or when and how to be angry—and that making the right choices demanded wisdom. External rules, while helpful in other regards, can’t instill in us true telos. Practical wisdom demands more than the skill to be perceptive about others. The world is gray.