Six Links: Knowledge, Data, Abuse

Here’s the second installment of Six Links! I’ve been neglecting Thought Distiller far too much lately; consulting, unknown to most, is in fact a seasonal business that is light in the summer and heavy in the winter. So with a lot of work in the pipeline for this holiday season, I thought I’d at least carve…

On Active Listening and Mental Fatigue

I’ve recently become interested in active listening due to some internal projects on the subject at work. People, especially today, mainly engage in passive listening. We hear the other person’s words but not their message. Mainly, we’re simply waiting for our turn to speak without even weighing the other person’s arguments, opinions, and points. This makes…

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…

The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Knowing Our Own Limits

Perhaps the biggest of my weekly indulgences is watching TV whenever I find the time. Of the few shows I’m committed to, I’m very fond of NBC’s The Blacklist, which focuses on the as yet unknown relationship between wanted criminal Raymond Reddington (James Spader) and rookie FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). During the fourth season’s…

Why Does Lateral Thinking Create Innovation?

Lateral thinking, first coined by Edward de Bono in 1967, refers to the practice of starting from a known idea and jumping out to solutions that might seem illogical at first glance. Rather than following step-by-step reason, lateral thinking relies on breaking traditional modes of thought. As such, lateral thinking stems from divergent thinking, the related…

Fortune Telling and the Forer Effect

Last night, I watched the film Now You See Me 2. The character Merritt McKinney, played by Woody Harrelson, is a hypnotist and mentalist. Notably, McKinney is able to “read” people in order to effectively use the power of suggestion on them. Such effects are clearly dramatized in the film series, but I began to wonder why…

How to Memorize Anything Quickly

When I was first starting this blog, I wrote a well-received article about speed-reading. I said that I wanted the power to read at superhuman speeds and have perfect recall of everything I read. I went on to remark that perfect recall was a topic for another day. Today happens to be that day. People can train themselves…

Speed-reading Nonfiction Books

If I could have any superpower at all, I would want to be able to read at superhuman speeds and have perfect recall of everything I read. At first glance, that seems like a stupid power to have; however, in the film Limitless, Bradley Cooper’s character uses those very abilities to become a successful author, financial…