Wisdom, Socrates, and the McRibb (not necessarily in that order)

Information is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom. This simple truth is often ignored.

Maybe it’s not surprising. After all, it doesn’t take much work for information to masquerade as knowledge.

With a million statistics and soundbites at your fingertips, the internet can be an incredible tool for information-mining. But a fistful of data points doesn’t necessary translate to truth. It’s a concept perfectly embodied by Wikipedia, that convenient-but-at-times-questionable fount of facts, inconsistencies, and outright falsehoods.

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The Top Six Errors in Unbalanced Brain Strategy

Recently, I talked about whole brain strategy.

This week, a look at what happens inside a workplace when a company or organization tries to implement a new policy without understanding how the human brain works. If you’ve ever witnessed a giant disconnect between the systems a company claims to use, and the way their employees actually operate (call it Ghost Ship Syndrome, if you will), unbalanced brain strategy may very well be to blame.

So without further ado, I give you: the top six errors in unbalanced brain strategy: Continue reading

Windex Philosophy and the “Tyranny of Or”

What do the lightbulb in your garage and your brain have in common? They both operate on about 60 watts of power. This is a problem for two reasons: first, your garage tends to be under-lit, and second, your brain doesn’t have enough processing power to deal with today’s environment. The human brain blueprint was built 40,000 years ago and hasn’t had any serious upgrades since. (Steve Jobs would be rolling over in his grave, if he hadn’t been cremated.) Continue reading

Hippocrates, Helen Fisher, and the Only Four Kinds of People You’ll Ever Meet

In 370 BCE, the great Greek philosopher Hippocrates was chilling out in the local public square (no one had invented the mall yet) and doing a little scientific inquiry.  In modern jargon we’d call this  “people watching.”  As he hung out and observed, he realized people fell into roughly four groups: the pushy ones, the ones that talk too much, the anal retentive, and those who think the sky is falling. Of course he called them by different names, because he spoke Greek, but you get the idea. Continue reading

Defragging Your Brain’s Hard Drive, a Handy Guide

Stanford neuroscientists have determined that 72 hours after someone delivers information verbally, we tend to remember only about 10% of what we’ve heard. That’s right: we forget 90% of what people tell us. This explains a lot. Our working memory dumps out faster than a guy on an all-prune diet. (Prunes are basically mummified plums––brutal way for a fruit to age)

Teenagers and the elderly have been taking a bad rap for years. It turns out those of us who are neither teens nor elderly have bragging rights when it comes to short-term memory.  What was I talking about again? Continue reading

Charles Lindberg, The Checklist Manifesto, and Overcoming That Goldarned Overhead Luggage Compartment

In 1927, Charles Lindberg, a.k.a. Lucky Lindy, took off from Long Island on the first successful nonstop Atlantic flight in history.  In 2010, I flew about 140,000 miles aboard various beat-up Delta aircrafts. Since the distance around the entire earth is about 25,000 miles, you can see I put in just a couple more hours than Mr. Ticker Tape Parade. Continue reading

Crayon Eaters, The Dude, and What’s Wrong With American Politics

After I graduated from college, I spent the first seven years of my professional career teaching school. If you think back to your own school days, you probably remember there was always one kid sitting in the back, not quite with the program, off on a secluded mental island where white sands and a steady sea breeze allowed him to float downwind from the cacophony of classroom chatter, unrestrained flatulence and the general din of anything I might be trying to teach. His unique approach also made it acceptable to eat a crayon from time to time, usually the red ones. (“Ah,” you say, “yeah, I remember that kid…”) Continue reading

The Great and Terrible Crocodiles of Denial

Why do we continue to eat when we are full? Why do we smoke cigarettes when we know they cause cancer? Why do we not exercise more when so many studies link exercise to a myriad of long term benefits?

Above is Chinatown’s Doyer Street. I took this picture a couple of weeks ago on a quiet Saturday morning. This humble corner––purported to be the only curved street in all of NYC––is sometimes known as “the Bloody Angle.” Back in 1909, it was the deadliest spot in the city, even more notorious than the Five Points of Scorceses’s The Gangs of New York.

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