Category: Ideas

On Advertising and the Loss of Free Will

In his treatise on free will, philosopher Sam Harris claims that if an act is formulated in our subconscious then that act cannot be said to be willed by us. A reflex action to catch a ball, an instinctual action to blink in heavy sunlight or the act of breathing are all acts that are ...

How Physical Proximity (and Social Psychology): Can Prevent Racism, Sexism and Discrimination in Our Society

In previous centuries divisions of society were mended and band-aided by communal meeting areas: Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and other religious and civic halls. The decline of religion, or at least the decline of religious attendance, has seen the decline of these common meeting places for the collective consciousness of mankind. No longer can you strike ...

The Media, Moral Rage and Moral Condemnation

Reading the letters of old writers and poets from previous centuries, you get the sense that they knew the ‘big events’ happening in the world at the time. These days, those "big events" are screened into our houses everyday, yet somehow we seem less capable of taking it all in. It is as if in the ...

Why Does Society Divide Itself Into Smaller Categories of People Over Time? (In-Group and Out-Group Formation)

We are born without prejudice. Ask a baby if he hates any particular person and he will stare at you, blink occasionally and eventually (as is the norm for someone his age) burst into tears –not because of a profound distaste for the idea of hatred- but because of a need for food, security or ...

How to Combat Schadenfreude, or Enjoying The Pain of Others

Due to evolution, when our enemy is hurt, we celebrate. When our enemy is killed, we chant in the streets. When many of our enemies are killed we declare: "mission accomplished" on an aircraft carrier. Survival of our 'tribe' mandates joy at the death of our enemies just as it mandates sadness at the death ...

Cezanne’s Writings and Finding Meaning in Nature

It’s becoming increasingly difficult as time progresses for humanity to have any connection to nature. And almost to solidify this, a lot of the books written on the subject seem to us to be some misguided attempt to strip away the modern pleasures that we enjoy – technology, entertainment and lifestyle. We rebel against the ...

An Entitlement Complex, or Gen Y’s Quest for Meaning?

In the late 1950s, Frederick Herzberg conducted surveys on what we now term “The Greatest Generation,” those who fought during WWII. Selecting a group of factory workers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Herzberg asked “what do you like and dislike about your job?” After months of research and a literature review of thousands of similar studies, Herzberg concluded ...

How to Find Meaning in Work

The argument for perspective has won. No longer can we question what is wrong with life, the world or the absurdity of a checkout line. Instead we must embrace -not the triviality of adult existence- but a new perspective on why the trivial is not so trivial at all. The late David Foster Wallace tells us that ...

Book Excerpt: On Empathy

It is a simple matter to rank the empathy we feel for those around us. Consider the following: How aggrieved would you be if a family member was murdered? How about a friend? An acquaintance? A stranger? A stranger overseas? A stranger 100 years ago in history? Our empathy diminishes the further we get from ...

Why Cliches are Meaningless (So Stop Using Them)

There is a growing trend of what I like to think of as the outsourcing of thought – where our own thoughts are subservient to those deemed “superior authorities”. Part of this collective-mind-holiday comes from the Internet: our tool to disassociate ourselves from the process of thinking. The rest comes from expert culture, and what ...