TED Talk: For argument’s sake

Daniel H. Cohen makes an interesting case that:

  1. We equate arguing to war; such that there are winners and losers.
  2. The loser is the one who makes a cognitive improvement, so losing gains the most.

So, we should strive to lose. “It takes practice to be a become a good arguer from the perspective of benefitting from losing.”

My personal observation is whether or not I win or lose an argument, explaining my position requires:

  1. Arriving at how someone else understands the world requires developing one’s Theory of Mind.
  2. Tailoring the argument such that the other(s) understand the position.

These explanations help expose both strengths and weaknesses in the position. In order to “win”, I have to shore up the weakness. That is a cognitive gain. Is it more than the loser who changed? Maybe.

If the above video does not work, then try Daniel H. Cohen: For argument’s sake.

I love logic.

TED Talk: Let’s try emotional correctness

Sally Kohn gets an unbelievable amount of hate mail for doing her job: being a liberal pundit on Fox News. Political persuasion begins with emotional correctness: the respect and compassion we show one another.

Our challenge is to find the compassion for others that we want them to have for us. That is emotional correctness.

Given the current climate of anger, this seemed pretty appropriate.

If the video does not load, the try Sally Kohn: Let’s try emotional correctness.

TED Talk: Don’t like clickbait? Don’t click

Fake clickbait like The Onion is good. ALWAYS click on The Onion. I don’t care if you dislike their fake news stories. I enjoy them. 🙂

The algorithms choose which stories we see. If you dislike what you see, then you need to change what you click. My Facebook feed? It is chock full of science, soccer, TED talks, baby photos, wedding photos, and of late Star Wars. I rather like my feed, but it took discipline not to send messages about my interest in fear mongering, gossip, and hate. Tough, I know. But the results were so worth it. I’m no longer thinking of declaring bankruptcy on Facebook.

As Twitter and other social media succumb to algorithms to display stories, apparently I am going to have to use the same discipline avoiding clickbait elsewhere. I wonder about the mental discipline required to achieve and maintain the Internet experience I desire. Hopefully in achieving it I develop good habits I can maintain.

Anyway, Sally Kohn discusses how to get the social media we want by being smart on what we click.


TED Talk: The magic of Fibonacci numbers

I first encountered the Fibonacci number series around 10 or 11 taking a class at the university offered to kids to make them excited about learning. In addition to math, I took rocket building, speed reading, and others. About this time I hated school, but I really enjoyed these because those teaching it always approached the material likeArthur Benjamin in this video: Look at this amazing thing!

TED Talk: How reliable is your memory?

The legal system heavily relies on eyewitness testimony. The erroneous thinking is that human memory works like a movie: events are committed to an infallible permanent storage system. Instead each time we recall a memory, we recall the memory of an earlier memory. If a detail was missing, then we can fill in information. The danger is that a questioner can lead the witness to plant false information and make people absolutely certain of details that convince a jury but never actually happened. People freed by DNA evidence often were convicted by evidence heavily reliant on eyewitnesses.

Elizabeth Loftus studies false memories.

It might be interesting to control behavior to make people feel disgust to soda or sugar and enjoy leafy green vegetables. Of course, it is also pretty ethically questionable.

TED Talk: How to make choosing easier

Choice overload first came to my attention through reading The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. (Schwartz’ strategy.) Sheena Iyengar has some newer research on choosing.

The difficulty is people BELIEVE they need more choices to make a good decision. Lots of choices make us happier in part because we invest more time making one which in turn we need to justify those spent resources with pleasure. (I’m thinking this is similar to how that $100 HDMI cable makes me feel better about the signal quality when technically it is not much better than the $5 one.)

The funny thing, though, is that all these choices prevent the making of them. Sales go up with fewer.

  1. Cut : get rid of useless alternatives
  2. Concretize : make it real
  3. Categorize : make differences understandable
  4. Condition : order choices obvious to nuanced

Funny enough, I also posted Malcolm Gladwell’s Pursuit of the Perfect Spaghetti Sauce. This is an illustration of how we get to choice overload. The revolution was that relying on self-reported data is unreliable because people say what is the conventional wisdom not their true desire. Taste tests are better because it measures what they actually like. BUT people are terrible at understanding what they want, which is why I think they bog down in choice overload. Too many options makes it difficult to figure out what is right for “us.”

Iyengar has another TED Talk which has a good primer on choosing. The end has a great story about her experiment with choosing a nail polish (she’s blind and suspected those advising her were influenced by the name).