Why do I change my mind?

I was just writing a post about Spiral dynamics and searching some resources to quote certain important bits and remind myself of things that I forgot (Spiral dynamics is a conceptual framework describing the evolution of society as well as individual). Since it is not a main stream school of thought I tried to find some criticism of it. After reading (only one) article I remembered something very interesting, why do I always change my opinion after a single piece of new evidence supporting the other side appears?

I remember very well (and I am not proud of it) how before I knew much about conspiracy theories every single piece of evidence was able to change my point of view, it got absurd after couple of times and now I have to stop and think about why is this so, why when I read about veganism let’s say (completely random), I do find why you lower your greenhouse gas emission but then in a single evidence, or even just an anecdotal saying I am back where I started. After I read exactly about the issue I go back again and again… back and forth it goes.

When I think about it I can clearly see first reason right off the back. If I do not know much about the topic before I cannot even decide what seems right and what not, I cannot simply filter out most of the crap. Also, I take an opinion after first piece of evidence and that surprises me, I could just as well hold back some time and not be surprised as much immediately. Last point is that most information, about conspiracy theory for example I take from the internet. This is very important because internet will always argue with two sides and it is just about the way that you write your question, this way you can manipulate yourself very easily (confirmation bias). In simple issues, you might find out very quickly that there are not many arguments for one side and those that exist were debunked hundreds of times.

When something is more complicated it is important to take some time.



Serious problem of mental masturbation

just to clear things up, yes mental masturbation is serious concept that actually exists though when I heard about it first I thought that it is just some joke or what.

Today I want to talk about YouTube, Khan Academy and what mental masturbation means.

This topic is kind of connected to procrastination  and multitasking and I already wrote about those in previous episodes of “serious problems”.

While procrastination is simply avoiding some work that you know you are supposed to do and multitasking is doing more stuff at the same time (which decreases your overall performance) mental masturbation is doing intelectuall things that could seem on the first hand quite good but are actually either preventing you from doing real action IRL or making you think that you are just at your top productive.

Now let me give an example.

The way I understand this concept is in watching educational YouTube videos. There are literary thousands of them, so you can spent a lot of time like that. Try to watch some video (best more) and after few days try to recall what was their content. SciShow is for example great channel for this experiment.

They release daily videos about science. Each is something like 4 minutes long and there are over 700 of them. Mental masturbation would be if I watched 10 of them and then did not remember a single thing but still thought that I was being productive by watching educational content (this is quite intuitive, if I watch so much at the same time without thinking about it I can not remember it). Actually, most people would probably agree with me and said something like “Yo man! You are doing some serious work on internet.”

Now the pitfall is of course that it is just wasted time and you do not even know it. You could say that you remember something and that is fine but you want to remember the whole video because maybe it was some high quality stuff but you just skimmed through thinking that “yeah this is great”.

The way I first noticed this was when I watched videos and then talked about them during family dinner. Sometimes I contemplated that I do not know mere minutes after it finished what it was about, though the false great feeling was still there.

This applies to lot and lot of stuff, reading too of course. I mentioned Khan Academy in the beginning. KA is a huge project that has lot of nice educational content. Like it or not, content needs to be tested and proper testing system in Khan Academy is basicly only in math sections. The other subjects you can use just as a tool for mental masturbation.

Derek Müller from Veritasium is pretty good in his physics videos. He discusses this issue in this one:

So how can you stop mental masturbation?

  1. Start taking notes from what you read, videos you watch, people you talk with
  2. Talk with someone who is interested in the topic or she/he saw the video too.
  3. Play it/read it it more times. Repetition of the best stuff is going to make you remember it whether you like it or not.

The last advice might seem like a waste of time but as it happens it does not need to be.


Peak-end effect

I was struggling what to write about today but finally I looked into my notes where all previous ideas for posts hide and I decided to write about peak-end effect which is something I have read about months ago though even today I think about it as something really cool. (Uhh, one sentence)

Important cognitive bias!

I found peak end when I was reading the book Organized Mind (or was it in Thinking fast and slow?). There was experiment described:

There are people in experiment. For one minute they will put their hand into bucket of water with 10°C (which is pretty cold and it hurts).

After one minute they will warm they hand back and then it continues. Another minute in bucket of 10°C water and then 30 seconds in the same bucket but with temperature secretly rised to about 12°C (you can feel the difference).

Now they asked them if they would rather repeat the first part which means one minute in 10° or the second (1 minute 10° and 30 seconds 12°) (in the original experiment the temperature may be different)

Well what would you do? Both hurt but the second clearly hurts more because it is exactly same but with another 30 seconds in which your hand will get even colder. It is clear that anyone outside the experiment would choose the first option but most if not all subjects chose the second because of peak end.

As Kahneman says, the people chose the second one because they liked the memory of it better.

The mind tends to remember ends of events and also the peaks which means both up and downs. In the experiment people remembered that the water was a bit warmer in the END so they wanted to repeat it.

Of course you can transform this situation into your life. For example I often rate my life from 0-10 points, how much I am satisfied with what I am doing here. Now every time I do it I remember how much I am influenced by the last events, the END and how much by the PEAKS (bad and good school reports, girl relationships and so on).

So yes, I think that people often make statements by the peak-end rule saying things like “my life sucks” and so on though it can influence your life in the other way, so that you think everything is fine while it may not be.

Also remember that effects like this are used by companies. It is very easy for hotel or for some holiday organization to make your feelings better when they satisfy you in the end of your visit.







Argumentative foul: Emphasis on unknown authority

last time I mentioned straw man as the first argumentative foul, today I will continue with the emphasis on unknown authority.

I think that this one is very very famous. Just take the following sentence.

American scientists say that apples are poisonous!

You have hears something like this, starting or ending with some authority. The last time I remember hearing it was when me and some people were talking about what is called: consciousness after death. Few were christians and their opinion is that it proves God. To make their argument stronger they said:

Even scientists proved that some people remembered things when their brain did not show any evidence of functioning!

It is kind of hard to say something against it, because scientists are authority, but unknown. The problem is that nobody else then them knew anything about the authority and it could seem kind of reasonable to believe it, because scientists must be right.

Do not get fooled.

What was their source? Did the source said the same thing? What is their definition of scientist? Why could actually such a thing be true when it collides with the rest of science?

Such an authority can be for example government, or doctors, or people who work there a long time and have experience.


Feel free to share you experience with argumentative foul in comments!



Argumentative foul: The Straw Man

I decided to make some post about argumentation, this is partial because of what happened today (which was quite interesting though I will write about it a bit later) and also because argumentation is so important to me. Probably the first argumentative foul that has ever been known to me was the “straw man”.

I heard about straw man for the first time when my brother showed me some meme and there were those two words.

So I asked: “What does straw man means?”

“Imagine debating with me about God, I would be an atheist and you the one who believed in God. We would make some arguments and then I would say: Imagine old man sitting on a cloud with shiny thing around his head looking down and letting people do wars.”

This is nice example of straw man, in this situation I believe in God and the other person does not even need to know what I exactly mean by God but he says this. Creating an argument which I do not even need to believe in, making it ironic or so. This is the building of straw man, now he burns this straw man down by saying: “Could you really imagine it? This is so stupid, old man on cloud -_-.”

This is of course argumentative foul because I never said something about old man sitting on cloud, plus the person is acting ignorant. Of course you can not always see it so easily but once you know that it exists you can detect when this straw man is being build so dont let yourself be thrown down by such a thing.


2nd foul: Emphasis on unknown authority



Serious problem of reciprocity

today I would like to write about giving presents, doing favors, blogging and twitter, all of those things have something special in common.

This is called reciprocity. It’s synonyms could also be mutuality or intercommunity, let me give an example.

When somebody gives you some present, it may even be unexpected or the present is really, really great, you feel like you should give it back to them to equal the values of both sides to erase some kind of “debt”. This does not need to be materialistic, I can even imagine when it could be even emotional or so. Or somebody helps you so you feel that you should do the same to him. This is reciprocity and it seems to me that it is simply everywhere.

Reciprocity does not always work in this way but it can also work like revenge. When somebody does you something bad, you will feel that you want to return it to them, to make revenge. And well revenge seems like a bad thing, so is reciprocity bad? Should we feel it and behive like it says to us?

I mean when somebody does something nice to you, you should not feel that you should do the same thing. I am not saying that you should not be grateful or so, but do not get manipulated by someones behavior even if it is in a nice manner. You should not be in debt because somebody did something you did not even ask for, imagine getting money but having to pay it back with interest without somebody asking you if you need it.

Reciprocity is a great manipulating tool and it works perfectly because we are so deeply used to it.

When I wrote that reciprocity has to do a lot with blogging and twitter I meant this:
I feel that this happens to me a lot, especially on Twitter where lot of people simply hunt down new followers to get higher numbers on their twitter. I even found an account with 25,000 followers which is not a bad number at all when I consider mine: 16.. but at the same time, the person had 24,500 people who they followed. Now if you have never been on twitter you can not imagine how it looks like but I follow 70 people, those are mostly some famous people, organizations as NASA and so on so they are very active. I get hundreds of tweets every day but if I look at it thrice a day I can get through it and look on everything they posted, most is not so important to me, so it is pretty fast. Imagine what a tide of new tweets you must get when you have 24,500 follows, you are totally flooded and every time you refresh page there are tens of new tweets.

Why those people have so many of them? Reciprocity. They give a follow to you and wait day or two, if you follow them, sometimes under the effect of reciprocity you will keep their follow but if you do not you will lose their interest. This is a clear example of reciprocity because you feel as though you should look on their account and check out their work and even give them follow while otherwise without the effect you would most probably skip them because they are too boring.

Now I was just throwing it whole down but actually it may have a normal use, even the “golden rule” in ethics is a kind of reciprocity:

One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself

Or also in international politics this is used frequently. When one state gives the other some benefits it is usually followed by the other state doing the same, because it is just fair on the international level. Or this of course may be used in negative way with sanctions.

So I am not saying that you should not follow reciprocity at all, I am just saying that you should not feel disappointed in somebody when she or he does not return your favor because you have done it in free will and they also have a free will to decide if they will return it. At last:

You will never know all the details, but you have to count on all of them

This was kind of strange post for my blog but I have been thinking about this for some time already so I decided to share it with you, thanks for reading.






Book review 2) The Organized Mind

today I want to do a review of another book I have read. Enjoy reading.

Book: The Organized Mind

Author: Daniel Levitin

Genre: Psychology

Pages: 496

Rating: 10.5/10

Wow this book was so cool. I mean completely astonishing.

In this book Daniel Levitin starts with the concept behind organizing time. I already wrote about procrastination and multitasking, those are the things he is discussing there. He also talks about the organisation of social life and home. Huge part is only about decision making. How when we take decision it takes from us some energy and it does not matter how big this decision is, if it is “What socks should I take?” or “Should we move from town?” He says that the problem is that people make poor decisions because they wasted their energy on “socks decisions”.

There is also huge chapter about illnesses and how we should fight with them in rational way. He pays extra focus on prostate cancer and how even doctors can make mistakes. Last part is about learning children and how we should taught them to think critically most of all. There are parts about Wikipedia and how crowd sourcing is double edged weapon.

Last 100 pages are just citations for all the things he is saying in the book so there is no problem to find the source for any information.

The book is filled with various psychological experiments all of the stuff is perfectly understandable and when you pay just a little attention during reading this book will bring you unforgettable knowledge.


Serious problem of multitasking

when I was yesterday writing about procrastination, most of the memes I found were negatively turned towards procrastination while multitasking seems to look like a good thing to do, by most of the people on the internet.

Oh yes, I am trying to say that multitasking is really bad, but first lets define what exactly means to multitask.

So multitasking is apparent doing of several things at the same time.
I say apparent because what people actually do, is that they change their tasks very often so it seems that they are doing more things at the same time (this is exactly what computers do, switching between various tasks).

This can mean many things like: cooking and calling, emailing and eating, chatting and learning and so on, what is worse you add more and more things to do at the same time.

This takes price. Every time you switch from one task to another you must remind yourself what this task is and that takes energy so your brain eats glucose like crazy. What is even worse is that this switching between tasks releases dopamine.

Dopamine is hormone which does lot of stuff and is connected with Parkinson’s disease. This hormone is kind of good for you and your brain remembers exactly from what activity dope of dopamine was released. This is why you want to perform the task again, and again. Dopamine is stimulating your brain and this is where most of the addictions come from. So yes, what I am trying to say really is that you can get addicted to multitasking.

So what other problems are there with multitasking? Well it is energetically inefficient but also it does not let you to dive to one problem and solve it properly with your best. Sometimes multitasking can even double the time it takes to finish the task, while you still think that you are extremely efficient when multitasking.

Last thing is that when you are actually learning and playing games at the same time, the knowledge from learning, even if you learned something, may be stored in the part of brain tagged as “fun or recreation or games”. What then happens is that you are not able to properly remember those things when you are learning something similar and your brain should normally say: “Oh yeah! I know this part already!”

So my best advice, stop it now! As I said in the post about procrastination, try to learn not to be distracted by other things around and focus only on one task, the most important one.


1st picture

Serious problem of procrastination

today again I am leaving the stuff around astronomy to write about something we encounter everyday. This is the matter of procrastination. I feel like everybody knows about it, everybody understands the concept but most people just make jokes about it (some of them are really good).
For this one thanks belong to Cyanide and Happiness.

So first I will try define procrastination with the help of Wikipedia. They say: “Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task which needs to be accomplished.”

Cool, what does that mean in reality?
This means that you are finding excuses for not doing something or you just do something which is more “pleasurable” than the task which you should be working on.

It seems that at this time when there is internet you can get to procrastination in no time.
So imagine you need to learn something for an exam. You sit in front of computer with your book or sheet of paper with your notes and you are trying to learn something.
The problem is that while you sit in front of your computer which you would not need to use at all, your attention slides more and more to Facebook or whatever thing you forgot to close. This also has to do with multitasking.

Then it reminds that you needed to respond to someone so you do that, your book still lying around. Then you check your email, nothing is there which is OK, you have done another task and it was much easier than learning for next days exam.

Like this it may continue for a long time. You suddenly recall that you met yesterday someone new and you want him in your friends. Then you check news around world, eat some food because it feels as that you are hungry and so on and on.

So what happens is that you delay the most important task which needed to be done. Actually sometimes the other things which you do are not so bad but finally the most important ones are not completed anyway, even if some like taking bin out should take you just a moment.

😀 well so what to do with that? Well actually it is pretty easy at that point when you know when you are procrastinating.
Just do the thing somewhere where there wont be any distractions around. Do not take your smartphone with you. Do not say to yourself that you will do something for some amount of time, because what happens than is that you will just check clocks for most of the time. Just do it exactly the amount of time it needs.

Maybe making list of “things to do” and ordering them by importance can help. If you are procrastinating you can not say that you don’t have enough time since probably most of it you simply waste on the stuff which does not need to be done in your most productive time.


I will surely continue with multitasking.
Second picture

1) Thinking, Fast and Slow: Two systems

Hello there!
I am now reading really amazing book which is called Thinking, fast and slow. It is https://i0.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71wvKXWfcML._SL1500_.jpgwritten by Daniel Kahneman who has got nobel prize for economy. It is absolutely amazing so when I want to read I am not sure if I should rather read Game of Thrones or this one. Well, It is so good that I will even write what I learned from it.

It is about thinking: People think in two different ways using two different systems: 1 and 2.
When you are using system 1 you are acting without you even noticing.
But using system 2 you are probably solving some more serious problem and your mind is awake.
System 1 is in use always, he is really good in telling you if something is going on, what are people around you doing and it can alert system 2.
https://i0.wp.com/cf.ltkcdn.net/stress/images/std/123680-425x300-mad1.jpgFor example, when you look on the picture your system 1 does many things without need of energy. You see that this person is angry on someone and it is probably saying something bad (I am nearly citating the book). This is what your brain does almost always and this way is prejudice also created so system 2 (you) should check decisions of system 1. Problem is that system 2 is usually lazy.
When it comes to using of system 2 you will use it when I give you this question: How much is 17×28? You probably needed to stop on a while because system 1 realised that he does not know, only thing he can say is that it is larger than 200 and smaller than 800. Then system 2 starts to count it.
Many physical things will happen to you like sweeting or higher pulse. If you have good working memory it wont take you a long time to do it from head, it  is 476.
Well this was just a start so maybe next time I will continue.