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…

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.…

MAYA: Most Advanced Yet Acceptable

First off, I’d like to wish you a happy new year! Here’s hoping 2017 treats you well; may you find what you seek. To start this year off, I’m following up on last year’s “familiar with a twist” piece. As it so happens, an industrial designer named Raymond Loewy came up with a theory surrounding…

The Success Myth

As Mark Twain once said in a letter to Helen Keller: “It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a photograph, or a telephone or any other important thing—and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite —…

The Birth Lottery: Your Success Depends On Other People

Many people acknowledge that their success, at least in the traditional sense of upward economic mobility, is not of their own making. But most don’t realize how strong an impact external variables have on children’s outcomes. In most cases, birth and early childhood circumstances (i.e. the birth lottery), not intrinsic traits, are the leading forward…

The Doctor-Surgeon Spectrum: A Theory of Tradeoffs

While commuting every day, I’ve found myself with a lot of time to philosophize about the connection between work and value. Why is it that, in extremely similar professions, we sometimes see a huge difference in pay? For example, consider a doctor and a surgeon. Both spend years getting educated. Both are medical professionals who complete…

Are Sociopaths Good for Society?

The title of this post suggests an insane line of inquiry, which makes it perfectly appropriate for Thought Distiller. Whether sociopaths can be pro-social or benevolent has a huge impact on society. This is the pivotal question here: (a) are sociopaths capable of social good, broadly defined, and (b) if so, are they better at doing…

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…