Make Better Decisions: Redefining “Giving Up”
In this 5-part Big Think Mentor workshop, Julia Galef, President of the Center for Applied Rationality, teaches how to better understand some of the most common cognitive biases and fallacies - and ultimately make better decisions.
We’ve all been there. You’re 100 pages into a novel you just don’t like. Do you continue reading? You’ve already committed the time and energy reading the first 100 pages. The story has been set up, and maybe the novel will become better, hopefully, eventually. It’s easy to decide to not finish a novel after investing in the first 100 pages, but what if you invested years into a PhD program? Or a career track or a relationship? The higher the stakes, clearly, the harder it is to walk away, even if the rewards would be greater than staying in a situation that’s no longer desired.
One of the hardest decisions to make is when to give up. In fact, “giving up” seems like a taboo, which can weigh heavily on how we see ourselves and how we fear others see us. But there can be a lot of value in being able to stop and decide to move in a new direction.
Julia Galef, the President of the Center for Applied Rationality, teaches how to make better decisions and how to understand some of the most common cognitive biases and fallacies in this 5-part series from Big Think Mentor. In the first lesson, she explains the sunk cost fallacy—the belief people carry that causes them to stay in situations that no longer serve them.
Galef should know how difficult it is to make this type of decision. She spent years, she says, in a PhD program that she had lost interest in. Other options and possibilities eventually tempted her away from a path she had worked hard to get on for years in order to even be accepted into the program.
Why is it so hard to change our minds about goals we’ve had for a very long time? “This pattern of thinking is surprisingly common,” says Galef. “The sunk cost fallacy means making a choice not based on what outcome you think is going to be the best going forward, but instead based on a desire not to see your past investment go to waste. Once you start paying attention to the sunk cost fallacy you’ll notice at least a few things that you would like to do differently.”
Do you have situations in your life that you’ve outgrown? Would you like to learn how to be more cognizant of the common biases that influence your decision making and learn to make better choices?
Watch a clip from Galef's Big Think Mentor 5-part series and subscribe:
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If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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