It's not just ostriches who stick their head in the sand.
- Not only does everyone have personal experience with how difficult it can be to change people's minds, but there's also empirical research showing why this is the case.
- A new study in Current Biology explains why some people seem to be constitutionally incapable of admitting they're wrong.
- The study shows the underlying mechanism behind being bull-headed, and there may be some ways to get better at recognizing when you're wrong.
Nikolaas Tinbergen's concept of "supernormal stimulus" explains why humans are attracted to a heightened version of reality.
- According to Pornhub's annual statistics, "hentai" and "cartoons" were among the most popular categories in 2018.
- Such pornography is a supernormal stimulus, an artificial object that triggers an animal's instinctual response more intensely than natural analogs.
- Supernormal stimuli not only explain our heightened response to pornography, but also art, junk food, and social media.
A study on the effects of LSD microdosing shows some fittingly strange results.
- A new study offers some of the first evidence that microdosing – taking tiny, regular doses of LSD – does have measurable effects.
- Subjects taking LSD were less accurate when estimating how long an image appeared on a screen than subjects who were sober.
- The mechanism that causes this effect remains unknown, but several ideas have been put forward.
Looking up big, fancy words won't make your writing better. But a thesaurus can help – if you use it like this.
- Using a thesaurus to find larger or more impressive words is misguided, says Martin Amis. Instead, use a thesaurus to find words with the perfect rhythm for your sentence.
- For example, the Nabokov novel "Invitation to a Beheading" was originally called – not for very long – "Invitation to an Execution". Nabokov nixed the repetitive suffix.
- A dictionary is also a writer's best friend; looking up words has a rejuvenating effect on your mind, says Amis. "When you look up a word in the dictionary you own it in a way you didn't before. You know what it comes from and you know its exact meaning."
- The body influences the mind: physical activity changes our brain chemistry.
- More activity in the body, and therefore in the brain, reorients us toward happiness, purpose, and meaning.
- Neuroplasticity suggests we can program ourselves to be more optimistic and hopeful.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.