Jag Bhalla's Contributions
  • How To Avoid Your Own Brain's Biases

    Thinking, like seeing, has built-in blind spots. An old parable and Husserl’s matchbox can illuminate these geometric, biological, and cognitive limits. We can't evade their unseen dangers unaided. In the...

  • Changing Minds Isn't Like Changing Light Bulbs

    Changing minds often isn’t like changing light bulbs. Many bright ideas don’t fit your sockets. Wonks particularly need to grasp that incorporating new data or arguments can be closer to rewiring or...

  • Nerdier News And Plato's Math Error

    The new nerdier news has arrived. But can its nerd tools, honed in the “olicausal sciences” (oli = few), handle the greater complexities of journalism? Steven Pinker says, “No sane thinker would try to...

  • The Poetics of Data: Science Depends on Precise Metaphors

    Science and poetry both depend on metaphor. Science typically uses at least two. The first is usually Pythagoras’s astonishingly fruitful, but also limiting, “all things are numbers.” The second shapes what...

  • The Logical Limits of Liberty & Needism

    Your needs can’t all be as easily fenced off as land. But that map-like model lurks behind unbalanced ideas about private and public interests. The “public good” is both bedrock and climate to all private...

  • Markets & Curing Spontaneous Disorders

    Is the “invisible hand” always benign? Or can it be bad? Free-market fans love the idea that “spontaneous order” emerges from local decisions. But what prevents “spontaneous disorder”? Does prudence reliably trump...

  • Kahneman's Mind-Clarifying Strangers: System 1 & System 2

    Feeling is a form of thinking. Both are ways we process information, but feeling is faster. That’s the crux of Daniel Kahneman’s mind-clarifying work. It won a psychologist an economics Nobel. And strange...

  • What "War on Reason"? Kahneman's Truce

    Are reason and emotion sworn enemies? Many expert reasoners feel they are. But these supposed opposites overlap, emotions have logic and reason often blunders. Plato’s chariot and the anti-Freud can clarify. ...

  • Data vs. Stories: Incalculable Consequences

    "Be suspicious of stories," warns economist Tyler Cowen. Stories lower “your IQ by 10 points or more,” by seducing you into simplistic “good vs. evil” thinking.” Life is too messy to “filter” through the...

  • Human Brain = "Sexually Selected Ornament"

    Love might be blind, but she is rarely deaf: Language and love have always been intimately entangled. Indeed Darwin believed love was one of the main reasons we have language and why it's so witty and ornamental....