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Meg Wolitzer – Messages From Another Planet – Think Again – a Big Think Podcast #142

Ambition and loyalty. What we want versus what we already have and should be grateful for. When there’s conflict here, in some ways it’s a tension between loyalty to others and loyalty to ourselves…or maybe loyalty to who we are now versus another possible future self. Have I overcomplicated my life out of impatience and ingratitude? Have I broken something …

Jordan Peterson

Jordan B. Peterson, raised and toughened in the frigid wastelands of Northern Alberta, has flown a hammer-head roll in a carbon-fiber stunt-plane, explored an Arizona meteorite crater with astronauts, and built a Kwagu’l ceremonial bighouse on the upper floor of his Toronto home after being invited into and named by that Canadian First Nation. He’s taught mythology to lawyers, doctors …

Improve your life: Quit resenting inequality and hierarchy

Jordan Peterson: If you don’t have anything to look up to, you don’t have anything to do, right? A lot of the meaning that people find in their lives is purpose driven. And in order to put effort into something, to work towards something, you have to assume axiomatically that what you’re working towards is better than what you have. …

Dan Cable

Dan Cable is Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School. Dan’s research and teaching focus on employee engagement, change, organizational culture, leadership mindset, and the linkage between brands and employee behaviors. Dan was selected for the 2018 Thinkers50 Radar List, The Academy of Management has twice honored Dan with “Best article” awards, and The Academy of Management Perspectives ranked …

Random fact roundup: Puppies, monarchy, and Abraham Lincoln

— That ‘new puppy smell’ is a real thing. The sweet smell (which some describe as smelling like chocolate or cinnamon) actually has to do with the puppy’s diet of its mother’s milk and the enzymes that break it down. It hasn’t been exposed to more complex dog food, so what you’re getting is an unsullied puppy digestive system.  — …

The communication error we all make, and how it intensifies conflict

Esther Perel: There are conversations that will intensify conflict or the potential thereof. And there are conversations who will intensify understanding, potentially even resolution. Conversations that are sure to polarize in which for everything you say I come back with what I have to say, without ever taking into account what you just said. You know what happens. When people …

Chris Hadfield

“Good morning, Earth.” That is how Colonel Chris Hadfield—writing on Twitter—woke up the world every day while living aboard the International Space Station for over five months. Since blasting off from Kazakhstan in December 2012, Hadfield has become a worldwide sensation, harnessing the power of social media to make outer space accessible to millions and infusing a sense of wonder …

Virginia Heffernan

Virginia Heffernan writes regularly about digital culture for The New York Times Magazine. In 2005, Heffernan (with co-writer Mike Albo) published the cult comic novel The Underminer. In 2002, she received her PhD in English Literature from Harvard. Go fearlessly into the Internet, but not blindly, says Virginia Heffernan – each corner of digital culture has its best practices. Not …

Don’t raise fools: How to prepare kids for life on social media

Virginia Heffernan: Watching children in early adolescence and in adolescents is always internally heartbreaking for adults. There was a great article in The Times magazine about Christmas maybe 20 years ago that the power of the Christmas mystery is when you look at a child the same way in the story that the Virgin Mary looked at her new son …

Random fact roundup, March 11th—18th, 2018!

It’s Sunday, and you know what that means! Actually, you don’t, because this is the first time we’re doing this. Welcome to Big Think’s inaugural random fact roundup, where we take 3 subjects and give you some great facts about each.  First up… — There are 2.2 million saunas in Finland, which averages to 1 sauna for every 2.5 Finnish people. …

Study reveals surprising link in the brain between coffee and cannabis

Coffee alters your metabolism in more complex and surprising ways than simply jolting you awake, according to new research. A study from researchers at Northwestern University showed that increased coffee consumption alters more metabolites than previously thought, and decreases those from the body’s endocannabinoid system, which processes cannabinoids found in marijuana.  In a three-month study, 47 people in Finland consumed …

How success and failure co-exist in every single one of us

Michelle Thaller: I have a slightly different career in the sciences in that I am a professionally trained scientist—I have a doctorate in astrophysics and I’ve done my own astrophysical research—but I decided to emphasize science communication and actually go more into education and policy and trying to communicate science to the public. And the interesting thing to me is that …

Steven Pinker – The Defeat of Defeatism – Think Again – a Big Think Podcast #138

I admit it. I confess. I’ve got a touch of what my guest today calls “progressophobia”. Ever since Charles Dickens got hold of me back in middle school, and William Blake after that, I’ve been a little suspicious of the Great Onward March of science and technology. Gene therapy, healthier crops, safer, more efficient forms of nuclear energy? Very nice, …

How to look after numero uno? Share good luck when it comes your way

Sharing your good luck isn’t selfless, it’s actually the most selfish thing you can do, says author and risk expert Barnaby Marsh. Why? Because it’s highly likely that an opportunity you pass on to someone else will come back to benefit you down the track. Luck really is a social force. “There’s a saying we have, that, ‘You don’t get …

Barnaby Marsh

Dr. Barnaby Marsh is an expert on risk-taking. As a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, he did pioneering research on decision making in complex situations. He works with leaders of major corporations, foundations, and philanthropists, and continues academic research at both the Center for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Barnaby Marsh is the co-author …

Janice Kaplan

Janice Kaplan has enjoyed wide success as a magazine editor, television producer, writer, and journalist. The former editor-in-chief of Parade magazine, she is the author of thirteen popular books including the New York Times bestseller The Gratitude Diaries, which received international praise. Her new book is How Luck Happens. She has appeared regularly on network television shows and lives in …

How to luck your way into incredible opportunities

“It’s the people who you aren’t necessarily closest to who often can do the most for you,” says Janice Kaplan, author of How Luck Happens. Sociologists call this Weak Ties Theory, which describes the powerful effect random connections can have on your life. “Your very close friends, your family members tend to know the same people that you do, they …

Why your brain does dumb things, and how to smarten up

Dean Buonomano: So the brain is the most complicated computational device in the known universe. The brain is indeed the most complex device in the known universe. But it’s far from perfect, and the human brain, despite all its amazing features and abilities, has many glitches and problems and brain bugs.  One ability that the brain has is to store …

Take it or leave it: How to control a negotiation like a game theorist

Kevin Zollman: Game theorists have spent a lot of time analyzing various some models of negotiation. The idea is that you take what feels like a complex interaction, distill it down to it’s very simple elements and then you model it using the tools of game theory.  One of the things that game theorists have found is that in negotiation, especially …

Dean Buonomano

Dean Buonomano was among the first neuroscientists to begin to ask how the human brain encodes time. It’s not an easy concept to grasp, Buonomano says, and for that reason many researchers overlook it. “The first field of modern science was probably geometry, which was formalized by Euclid around 300 B.C.,” says the researcher, “What’s amazing about geometry is that …

Michael Shermer

Dr. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, a regular contributor to Time.com, and Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. His new book is The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom. He is also the author of The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them …

Carl Sagan’s baloney detection kit: How to improve your critical thinking skills

In 1995, just a few months before his death, astrophysicist Carl Sagan published The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. In that book, he wrote a chapter called ‘The Fine Art of Baloney Detection’, and from it sprang what skeptics call the ‘baloney detection kit’. This is a set of tools for critical thinking that has continued …

Why unequal societies have higher rates of depression and anxiety

Could an economic revolution end the depression epidemic? Anxiety disorders are common. Yet, many find current treatments methods only partially effective. The virtual reality that’s coming is like nothing we’ve ever experienced. Now’s the time to decide what it’s good for.  How does music influence behavior? Does what kind of music you play alter the benefits you get by playing …

The best science says depression is a social ill, not an individual flaw

Johann Hari: I kept learning intellectually about what causes depression and anxiety.  And that it’s much deeper than the story I’d been told by my doctor—that it’s just a missing chemical in your brain.  But I think it really emotionally fell into place when I went and met an incredible South African psychiatrist called Derek Summerfield. So Derek was in …

Does lack of exercise lead to dementia?

77 year-old Gladys Ngwenya (L) winces as she chews on a piece of ginger before a 'Boxing Gogos' (Grannies) session hosted by the A Team Gym in Cosmo City in Johannesburg on September 19, 2017. (Photo by Gulshan Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

Anthony Brandt

  Anthony Brandt is a composer and professor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. He is also Artistic Director of the contemporary music ensemble Musiqa, winner of two Adventurous Programming Awards from Chamber Music America and ASCAP. Brandt has received a Koussevitzky Commission from the Library of Congress and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet-the-Composer and …

Why not everyone feels the same emotions from the same music

Anthony Brandt: So one of the cool things about the human brain is that we’re born into the world able to learn any of the world’s languages. And, in fact, babies when they’re born they babble using all the possible phonemes, and then gradually those are pruned away mirroring their parents just to be limited to the phonemes of their native …

Daniel Alarcón – there’s no such thing as glamor, really – Think Again – a Big Think Podcast #131

    Subscribe on Google Play, Stitcher, or iTunes Come talk to us on Twitter: @bigthinkagain A listener commented the other day on Twitter that on two completely different recent episodes of this show – one about technology and the other one about jellyfish, the same idea came up. That stories play a powerful role in shaping our real lives. This idea comes up so often, …

How you perceive your own weight may be a psychological illusion

Our body size has social implications, mostly self-imposed, which we generally focus on. But the truth is, there are all kinds of sizes within a spectrum that could be considered healthy. It’s the extreme wings of the spectrum, either remarkably skinny or obese, that are particularly dangerous for our health. Admittedly, there’s a growing worldwide obesity epidemic, meaning most people …

Liv Boeree

Olivia “Liv” Boeree is a poker player, TV presenter and model from England who won the 2010 European Poker Tour in Sanremo. Born in Kent, Boeree studied at Ashford School before going on to earn a First Class Honours degree in Physics with Astrophysics at the University of Manchester. She was the #1 ranked female player on the Global Poker …

Why elementary schools should teach poker

Liv Boeree: Do I think we should teach poker in elementary schools? Yes, I think there are elements of the game that you should teach in terms of like—because what poker really does is teach you how to deal with probabilities and uncertainties, and that’s so integral to life.  Everything we try to do—“should we take this route or that …

Karl Ove Knausgaard – The Way I Should Be in the World – Think Again – a Big Think Podcast #132

    Subscribe on Google Play, Stitcher, or iTunes Come talk to us on Twitter: @bigthinkagain Wherever you are right now, take a look around you. Let your eyes rest on the first thing that catches your attention. For me, while writing this, it’s a bowl in Big Think’s offices. Highly polished, assembled, it seems, from curved, stained strips of wood. If I kept going, I …

Kevin Zollman

Kevin Zollman is an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University. He is also an associate fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, visiting professor at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (part of Ludwig-Maximilians Universität), and an associate editor of the journal Philosophy of Science. His research focuses on …

This Week in Comments: January 21st—January 28th, 2018

Sompob Pordi: It doesn’t matter what he said he mean or didn’t mean. Audience’s interpretation and understanding are all that matter. And he knew he didn’t talk to the audiences in front of him. His intended audiences are ones at home whose votes are required for his 2nd term. Politics is just like that. Very twisting, deceptive and most of the …

Michelle Tillis Lederman

Michelle Tillis Lederman is known for her energetic, engaging, and authentic presentations. An expert on workplace communications and relationships, Michelle’s mission is to help people communicate and lead with confidence, clarity, and connection. She is an accomplished speaker, trainer, coach, and author of three books including The 11 Laws of Likability, Heroes Get Hired and Nail The Interview – Land …

Attitude over aptitude: How to nail your next job interview

Michelle Tillis Lederman: One of the most common mistakes I see in interviewing is that the candidate puts on what I call the interview mask.  They shift from who they are to “I am now the ideal candidate.” And it almost becomes robotic. And it becomes disconnected. And we sit there in front of somebody and we’re not really us. I’ve …

Ariel Levy

Ariel Levy is a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine and author of the book Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Vogue, Slate, Men’s Journal and Blender. Levy was named one of the “Forty Under 40” most influential out individuals in the June/July 2009 …

How Schopenhauer’s thought can illuminate a midlife crisis

Despite reflecting on the good life for more than 2,500 years, philosophers have not had much to say about middle age. For me, approaching 40 was a time of stereotypical crisis. Having jumped the hurdles of the academic career track, I knew I was lucky to be a tenured professor of philosophy. Yet stepping back from the busyness of life, …

Mark Epstein

Mark Epstein, M.D. is a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and the author of a number of books about the interface of Buddhism and psychotherapy, including Thoughts without a Thinker, Going to Pieces without Falling Apart, Going on Being, Open to Desire, Psychotherapy without the Self, and The Trauma of Everyday Life. His newest book is Advice Not …

Through the Looking Glass – Jeremy Bailenson (VR expert) – Think Again – a Big Think Podcast #133

    Subscribe on Google Play, Stitcher, or iTunes Come talk to us on Twitter: @bigthinkagain How do you know that you’re really where you are right now? I mean, where are you getting this sense of place from? A bunch of data from at least some of your five senses enters your brain where it’s cross-referenced with categories from memory. You’re making a probabilistic calculation: …

Annie Duke

Annie Duke has leveraged her expertise in the science of smart decision making to excel at pursuits as varied as championship poker to public speaking. For two decades, Annie was one of the top poker players in the world. In 2004, she bested a field of 234 players to win her first World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet. The same …

‘I don’t know’: Why uncertainty is the best decision-making tool

In the earliest stages of our educations it gets drilled into us that certainty is good, and phrases like “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” are lesser ways of thinking. That’s a shame, says former World Series poker champion and self-professed “uncertainty evangelist” Annie Duke: being uncertain is a much more accurate representation of the world than concrete certainty—there …

Want to lose weight without even trying? Have your partner lose it for you.

Research has shown that our environment, especially the people we are surrounded with, is a very important factor when it comes to changing our behaviors. For example, studies indicate that obesity can “spread like a virus”—when one person gains weight, close friends tend to gain weight as well. Now it turns out that the opposite is also true: losing weight …

5 steps to disrupting your comfort zone and embracing creativity

Communism can stifle creativity. At least that’s the sentiment among a certain population in China, where the younger generation is rebelling against the social norms of their parents. Their main weapon to combat the boring ravages of collectivism is the smartphone app, Meitu, in which social media hopefuls attempt to digitally construct the perfect wang hong lian—“Internet celebrity face.” No …

Brent Gleeson

Brent Gleeson is a business consultant, entrepreneur, decorated Navy SEAL combat veteran, highly-sought keynote speaker and author of TAKINGPOINT: A NAVY Seal’s 10 Fail Safe Principles for Leading Through Change. Inspired by his time as a Navy SEAL and experience building successful award-winning businesses, Gleeson has created a revolutionary roadmap for today’s existing and emerging business leaders and managers to improve their ability to successfully …

How Navy SEAL Hell Week builds indestructible teams

Brent Gleeson: When I think about how critical internal and external trust are to the success of any business organization I first go back to how important this principle was from day one of SEAL training.  We talk about discipline, we talk about trust, accountability, mental fortitude, but I had a unique experience happen to me, which is pretty rare …

Imaginary Histories, Possible Futures – Jacob Sager Weinstein (Children’s Author) – Think Again – a Big Think Podcast #134

    Subscribe on Google Play, Stitcher, or iTunes Come talk to us on Twitter: @bigthinkagain Once upon a time, there was a rabbit. No…Not a rabbit. Lewis Carroll already did that… How about an Amazonian river dolphin. Ok. once upon a time there was an Amazonian river dolphin who wondered about his cousins in the wide, open ocean, free from mud and muck and strangling …

Melissa Dahl

Melissa Dahl is a senior editor for New York Magazine‘s The Cut, where she covers health and psychology. In 2014, she co-founded NYMag.com’s popular social science site Science of Us. Her work has appeared in Elle, Parents, and TODAY.com. Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness is her first book.     Big Think Edge helps organizations by catalyzing conversation around the …

Stuck in an awkwardness vortex? Here’s how to embrace the cringe

Why is it awkward to listen to a recording of your own voice? What makes us cringe? For the last few years, Melissa Dahl, co-founder of NYMag.com’s popular social science site Science of Us, has been digging for answers. The culmination of her research is ‘cringe theory’—a psychological explanation of why we find awkward moments so painful. A central part …

Matt Dixon

Matt Dixon has been the Global Head of Salesforce Effectiveness at Korn/Ferry International since June 2017. He served as Group Leader of the financial services, customer contact and customer experience practices at CEB, and held various management positions, including leading its sales and service and new product development groups. Dixon holds a Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Public and …

How to grow from “no”: Listen to rejection to become more persuasive

Matt Dixon: When I think about the job of being a salesperson—and there’s so much great work out there, you know, Dan Pink’s book ‘To Sell Is Human’ is a great piece that really speaks to the fact that we’re all salespeople, whether we’re teachers or we’re actually salespeople for a living or we’re business leaders or community leaders, we’re …

Johann Hari

Johann Hari is the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream, which is being adapted into a feature film. He was twice named Newspaper Journalist of the Year by Amnesty International UK. He has written for many of the world’s leading newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Le Monde, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, the …

The best treatment for depression lies in our evolutionary history

Johann Hari: There’s a really heartbreaking study that asked Americans, “How many close friends do you have that you can call on in a crisis?”  And when they started doing it decades ago the most common answer was five. Today the most common answer is none. It’s not the average but it’s the most common answer. And I thought a …