Seeing the Eclipse in Totality

I’m fortunate that I was able to take some time off work this week to go see the eclipse. Coincidentally, I was helping a friend move down to Atlanta, so we easily drove just over 90 minutes to Clemson to get into the path of totality. Seeing the eclipse in totality was an awe-inspiring experience;…

Against the Wisdom of Crowds

The popular phrase “the wisdom of crowds” is derived from James Surowiecki’s 2004 book of the same name. The book contains its premise in its subtitle: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations. Simply put, the opinions of many people are, in the aggregate, more…

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…

Welcome to the Anthropocene

The Holocene was the most recent epoch in the history of the world. It began 11,700 years ago when glaciers from the last Ice Age began to retreat. This paved the way for organized farming, which in turn led to the dawn of civilization. From there, humanity prospered. We developed medicine and transportation, we mused…

Are Traditional Sleep Patterns Bogus?

Recently, there has been a flood of articles highlighting and pushing back against many people’s relationship (or lack thereof) with sleep. The most notable champion of this movement is Arianna Huffington, with her Sleep Revolution. Ms. Huffington and others make arguments that can be boiled down to a handful of key points: Our society values the…

The Science of Hangovers (and How to Avoid Them)

I almost skipped writing a post today because I turned 21 yesterday and spent the night partying too much for my own good. However, it dawned on me that I could write about hangovers and perhaps make some people’s lives marginally better. Everyone has a favorite hangover cure that they recommend to all their friends.…

One Formula to Rule Them All: The Maillard Reaction

A friend of mine recently asked me a question that seemed simple at first glance: what is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation for some topic of your choosing? Though I took stabs at his question over and over, I couldn’t conjure up a fitting answer. Nothing I knew about seemed “deep, elegant, or beautiful” enough to…