We need to give our impulses more credit

We often look at our impulses as a bother. Things to be overcome and controlled, but what if we are looking at them the wrong way?

Are we being too rational?

We all know a person who is unable to control their impulses. The friend who always buys the one thing they like but don't need, the one who drinks just a little too much, the one who can't finish their work because they need to check twitter for a second; all of them attract a little bit of our disapproval.

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Hope and despair exist on a spectrum — here's how to move toward hope

Hope is not as soft or as passive an emotion as we think. Here's how 'The Shawshank Redemption' can teach us the philosophy and function of hope as a response to possibility.

Hope's reputation is so good, it's bad. People hear the word and dismiss it as Hallmark, doe-eyed, emotional fluff. But hoping is not the same as dreaming or wishing: it is constrained by rationality, and unlike fantasy the possibility has to exist, even if the odds are slim. As Professor Andrew Chignell explains: you can wish the weather had been nicer yesterday, but you can't hope it. Hope is a spectrum of how you react to possibility, and it runs all the way to despair. Here, Chignell explains his latest research in philosophy, mindfulness, and uses The Shawshank Redemption to illustrate how closely hope and despair are related. This video is part of a collaborative series with the Hope & Optimism initiative, which has supported interdisciplinary academic research into under-explored aspects of hope and optimism. Discover more at hopeoptimism.com.

If You're Thinking Rationally, You’re Not Thinking Hard Enough

Your mind is built to process contradictory, irrational ideas. Use that to reach new intellectual heights.

We know it's a myth that "humans only use 10% of their brains," but there might be a function of your mind that you're neglecting to use: its sandboxes. Eric Weinstein borrows this term from computer science to explain the potential of experimental thinking. A sandbox in computing is a secured place where untrusted software can run without controlling the computer or accessing its vital resources. Security specialists, for example, use sandboxes to analyze how malware behaves. Once they see and understand how it works, they can then devise a strategy to defeat it, and strengthen their own system to prevent it from getting in again.

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Empathy Is Overrated – And It Can Actually Prolong Suffering

Oasis had it right: stop crying your heart out. Psychologist Paul Bloom argues that empathy may be working against our best interests, and that compassion may be a better strategy.

Yale psychologist Paul Bloom’s latest book is called Against Empathy, which doesn’t leave you guessing where he stands. Bloom argues that empathy is doing us damage – there is a place for it, but not so high up on society’s pedestal. Empathy can cloud our decision-making, and bring us too close to problems that require action rather than commiserations. Realizing that begs the question: in a world with less empathy, how do we connect and help our fellow humans? Bloom is banking on compassion, and makes a distinction between the two that transcends semantics: empathy is feeling what other people feel, imagining their predicament, echoing their emotional state. Compassion is more rational: you hear the other person’s predicament but you don’t feel their emotion – this frees you up to understand it, and to make headway on a solution. Bloom likens it to seeing a doctor or a therapist. Do you want them to feel and echo your pain or anxiety, or would prefer that they do something about it? If empathy is as overrated as Bloom suggests, then compassion may be the better way to show you care. Paul Bloom is the author of Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion.

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Tarot is Irrational, Superstitious Claptrap – But That Doesn't Mean It's Not Useful

Dreams are not rational, neither are fantasy novels and comic books and yet they're immensely valuable in processing our thoughts, feelings and moral quandaries. Does Tarot do the same?

Sylvia Quintero, an astrologist and Tarot card reader, shares her visions on politics and the future. (Photo: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GettyImages)

We are generally a rational species. We make decisions based on what we can observe, driven by our self-interest. Our modern societies are very much science-based, utilizing scientific inventions, derived through reason, and yet about 89% of Americans believe in a God (according to the Pew Research Center), a number that is not changing dramatically (down from 92% in 2007). While European countries are becoming less religious (and less Christian), the tremendous growth of Islam around the world ensures that a big portion of Earth’s population will continue to hold beliefs in the divine and supernatural for the foreseeable future. 

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