A Brief Exploration of the Cute

In 2016, I wrote about what makes things “creepy” in another brief exploration post, which you can find here. This time around, I’d like to take a look at what makes things “cute.” Interestingly, but unsurprisingly, our notion of cuteness stems from evolutionary biology. In 1949, Nobel laureates Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen described the “Kindchenschema (infant…

Why Escapist Fantasies Are So Compelling

I spent the last month writing a lot about work and careers, and I want to get away from that a bit to better fulfill the promise of this blog: Connecting and condensing the world’s most useful information, not all of which is about careerism, obviously. So today, we’ll discuss why people seek out escapist…

Role Fulfillment: How We Play Our Parts Socially

I’ve noticed that some bloggers I admire, Fred Wilson and Seth Godin among others, will write very short pieces that elegantly encapsulate a single thought. As I find myself busier and busier, I’ve decided that I’ll try my hand at doing something similar. I don’t want to short-change my readership, so I don’t want to…

Will We Need Sociopaths in a World Without Crisis?

One of my most popular articles ever on Thought Distiller was called “Are Sociopaths Good for Society?” and I think the time has come to dig into another angle on the topic of sociopathy. Last time, I determined that sociopaths (at least the higher-functioning ones) are genuinely good for society. This time around, I’m thinking…

Gaslighting, Conformity, and Lies

The phrase “gaslighting” has come up more and more often after Donald Trump’s election and inauguration. But where does that term come from? What does it really mean? And how does it work in our daily lives? The term “gaslighting” traces its origin to a 1944 film starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, aptly titled Gaslight.…

The Canvas Strategy & Choice Architecture

Today’s post will focus on how to set yourself apart when you’re just starting out in your career (i.e. have no management responsibilities and therefore no control over the corporate direction). To do that, we’ll look at a key strategy by Ryan Holiday and then investigate Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s idea of choice architecture, first…

What Does It Mean To Have A Polarizing Personality?

For much longer than I’ve run Thought Distiller, I’ve been meaning to take a look at what it means when someone is described as having a “polarizing personality.” What is it about a single person that can inspire both awe and revulsion? Thus far, it’s been difficult for me to adequately phrase my thoughts on…

Things Fall Apart: A View of Why Relationships Fail

Not long ago, I wrote about how modern relationships don’t form deep roots because of the “trading up” phenomenon, which refers to the influence of dating apps like Tinder on people’s dating preferences. Instead of finding someone good enough and settling, people get addicted to “swiping right” and think they’ll be able to find some…

Decisiveness with Low Information

In virtually every area of human life, we lack some of the necessary information to make decisions. But somehow, we are still able to function; we can make decisions without spending inordinate amounts of time on them. How is that possible? Low information rationality is a social theory, first proposed by political scientist Samuel Popkin,…

Context — not Content — is King

Context is defined as “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.” Without context, none of human knowledge would make sense. Context provides the necessary background from which we can connect dots and draw novel conclusions; a lack of…