Archive for the ‘Oliver Burkeman’ tag

#  Interestingness vs Truth →

April 9th, 2014 at 14:22 // In Worth Considering 

Another in our regular series reminding you that if you don’t follow Oliver’s Burkeman’s “This column will change your life” in the Guardian, you’re missing out. In an idea I believe in strongly — my essay “On the Banality of Profound Truths” is something I refer to often even though I don’t love its prose — Burkeman argues that we pursue the interesting at the expense of the true:

If you care about the truth, Davis suggests, interestingness can mislead. That new book on how to get fit – or raise happy children, or invest your savings – caught your eye because it’s interesting. But is ittrue? (In science, this helps explain the “file drawer effect”: studies with interesting conclusions get published; boring ones, however true, get locked away.) Ultimately, interestingness is a form of excitement, and we all know how excitement can lure us off course: consider the thrill of an extramarital affair, or of driving at 120mph. But it’s intellectually respectable excitement, so it doesn’t ring alarm bells.

#  Louis CK and Jerry Seinfeld on a Boat →

January 6th, 2014 at 18:22 // In Worth Watching 

Jerry Seinfeld’s internet conversation/interview show kicked-off recently with a long episode with Louis CK. It was good “television”. You should watch it.

(via @waxpancake, whose describing it as “SO GOOD.” made me give it a shot)

Also: Jerry Seinfeld just did an AMA on Reddit.

And: And a piece about him from Oliver Burkeman. (via Mark Larson)

#  I Don’t Mind →

August 22nd, 2013 at 20:21 // In Worth Knowing 

Consider this is your monthly reminder that Oliver Burkeman is great and you should really read his column. This quote struck me as worthy of excerption:

The trick, I think, is to take his comment not as an instruction about how you ought to think, but a bare description of a psychological truth: if you didn’t mind what happened, then you’d never have any problems. That’s undeniable: “having a problem” and “minding something” are the same. It’s a restatement of the Stoics’ insight into human distress: no event can trigger upset without a belief that it’s undesirable.

#  Our Faulty Perception of Social Norms →

July 27th, 2013 at 17:05 // In Worth Knowing 

This is too appropriate to be the follow-on to Atul Gawande’s piece about changing social norms (LB). Oliver Burkeman has a brief column about how wrong we often are about that the Joneses are doing, and how correcting out misperceptions can change behavior:

Once upon a time, colleges used scare tactics, warning of the hellish consequences of overindulgence. Then they discovered something curious: whether students drank a lot or not, they reliably overestimated – a lot – how much other students consumed.

So the authorities tried a new strategy: ads reminding students that most of their peers, most of the time, drank moderately.

#  Self-Promotion is Good →

July 5th, 2013 at 17:53 // In Worth Considering 

I’ve spent most of my life allergic to the idea of self-promotion. For me, its causes were a desire for privacy and a deep certainty nothing about me was interesting. I’m working on it, and I think this point—made by Oliver Burkeman in his consistently fantastic weekly column—is one of the realization’s that’s made it easier for me:

Ironically, there’s actually something self-centred about being highly allergic to self-promotion, as if the world might end if you put a foot wrong. Step out of self-absorption, and it becomes easier to see that some forms of self-promotion aren’t only forgivable, but actively welcome.

#  Happiness is a Glass Half Empty →

June 21st, 2012 at 16:58 // In Worth Reading 

Have I told you how much I love Oliver Burkeman? Because it’s a lot. In this excerpt from his latest book, he says so many sensible things that people rarely do about life, failure, contentment, and consumer goods innovations.

The water-visualisers experienced a significant reduction in their energy levels, as measured by blood pressure. Far from becoming more motivated to hydrate themselves, people responded to positive visualisation by relaxing. They seemed, subconsciously, to have confused imagining success with having already achieved it.

(via The Browser, which I also love)

#  Changing the Question →

March 12th, 2012 at 19:18 // In Worth Knowing 

Oliver Burkeman’s latest features a very interesting, underrated, and useful observation about the way we think.

Faced with a cognitively demanding question, involving uncertainty – “Will this person do the job well if hired?” – interviewers unconsciously substitute an easier question, and answer that one instead: “Did this person impress me in the interview?” We all do it, all the time.

#  On Language Pedantry →

December 17th, 2011 at 17:08 // In Worth Considering 

Oliver Burkeman’s column is always worth paying attention to, but this line in the latest one was too good not to share:

Anger [about grammatical mistakes] delivers ego-enhancing pleasure; so does strengthening the boundaries of group membership – and carping about language is far more socially acceptable than explicit class snobbery or nationalism (not to mention less bother than confronting actual atrocities).

#  The Myth of Closure →

October 19th, 2011 at 13:16 // In Worth Reading 

I’ve seen multiple stories about this valuable idea in the last few months, but I just noticed I never actually posted any of them here. So here’s Oliver Burkeman writing around this book:

It’s that the whole notion is little more than a piece of rhetoric, unrelated to any real psychological process. It certainly helps people: it helps relationship gurus sell books; it helps death-penalty advocates argue their case, since executions purportedly provide closure; it helps politicians construct satisfying narratives. What it doesn’t seem to do is help people who are suffering, whom it instead pressurises.

#  The Value of Small Victories →

September 19th, 2011 at 16:20 // In Worth Considering 

The always-valuable Oliver Burkeman:

Almost 30 years ago, the organisational theorist Karl Weick made an observation that campaigners on everything from global warming to homelessness have been ignoring ever since. Sometimes, he pointed out, convincing the world that you’re fighting a Very Serious Problem actually makes it harder to solve. … Weick argued that perceiving challenges as huge made people seize up – disabling “the very resources of thought and action needed to change them”. The history of gay rights, feminism and environmentalism, he claimed, showed that pursuing little victories was the better plan. They delivered quick motivation boosts, triggering a snowball effect. Want to change the world? First, stop trying to change the world.