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Laurence Gonzales on Everyday Survival

Laurence Gonzales, author of “Everyday Survival: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things”.

Question: What is your book about?

Laurence:    Well “Everyday Survival” is as the subtitle says about why smart do stupid things, but it’s about much more than that as well.  It’s an attempt to change the frame through which people view their world by giving them a different view of their place in it and the effects of the things they do.  So I start small with the kind of mistakes people make in everyday life that are governed by systems in our brains that we’ve inherited over millions of years of evolution.  And I build up from there to larger and larger subject matter until I’m literally talking about the cosmos and the rules by which nature operates, which dictates some of the costs that we pay for our behavior.  And this, in turn, feeds into a discussion of such things as global warming, which is one of the costs that we pay for some of our behavior.  So the idea is to create a state of mind in which you’re viewing your world and your behavior in it a little bit differently so that your behavior begins to modify itself.  You can’t get a free lunch anymore after you read this book or at least that’s my intention.

In his book, Laurence Gonzales goes from human behavior to the cosmos in an attempt to explain why smart people do stupid things.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

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Dinosaur bone? Meteorite? These men's wedding bands are a real break from boredom.

Manly Bands wanted to improve on mens' wedding bands. Mission accomplished.

Sex & Relationships
  • Manly Bands was founded in 2016 to provide better options and customer service in men's wedding bands.
  • Unique materials include antler, dinosaur bones, meteorite, tungsten, and whiskey barrels.
  • The company donates a portion of profits to charity every month.
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Conspicuous consumption is over. It’s all about intangibles now

These new status behaviours are what one expert calls 'inconspicuous consumption'.

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Politics & Current Affairs
In 1899, the economist Thorstein Veblen observed that silver spoons and corsets were markers of elite social position.
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