Last Week’s Links

How Your Brain Morphs Stressful Family Vacations Into Pleasant Memories

“We have two ‘selves,’” explained Dr. Omar Sultan Haque, a Harvard University psychiatrist and social scientist. “The experiencing self and the remembered self. In the midst of vacation stresses, we may be stressed and annoyed by family and children and the indignities of bureaucratic travel, but the remembered self easily turns nausea into nostalgia.”

This article puts the specific twist of vacation memories onto the more general concept of how different individuals remember the same events and experiences differently. There are some reasonable suggestions on how to maximize vacation enjoyment with both younger (toddlers who need naps) and older (teenagers who won’t want to put down their phones) children.

The Cognitive Biases Tricking Your Brain

Ben Yagoda discusses

the tendency people have, when considering a trade-off between two future moments, to more heavily weight the one closer to the present. A great many academic studies have shown this bias—also known as hyperbolic discounting—to be robust and persistent.

In this long but interesting article Yagoda examines the research into this phenomenon and how to counteract these cognitive biases in making decisions such as which job candidate to hire or which financial investments to make or avoid.


I’m not sure which fact is worse: that we’re all more susceptible to BS than me think, or that some academicians have actually made studying BS their life’s work.

This article focuses on one particular kind of BS:

what [Gordon Pennycook, a psychology professor at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan who has been researching BS for years] and other BS researchers call “pseudo-profound bullshit” — those “seemingly impressive assertions that are presented as true and meaningful but are actually vacuous.” Pennycook cites a tweet sent by the popular alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra as an example: “Attention and intention are the mechanics of manifestation.”

You’ve probably seen a lot of this. It’s those pithy sayings, often superimposed on a lovely photo, that fill up your Facebook feed.

The author of the article concludes, “Needless to say, as the BS piles up around us, there is more work to be done.” Unfortunately, he offers no explanations of what that work might be or what strategies we might all employ in our everyday lives to avoid being influenced by such BS.

The 2,000-year-old origins of EQ and how it became a crucial job skill

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is one of the most important skills candidates need when they’re looking to land a job. And it’s also a key factor to move up the ranks more quickly. We’ve also heard that EQ is a better predictor of success in the workplace than IQ, and that’s been backed by numerous studies in both academia and through data from companies on their employees.

Lydia Dishman traces the notion of emotional intelligence from its ancient Greek origins through its more recent application to success in life, for example by Daniel Goleman in his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence. “Since then, numerous corporate and academic studies have tested the concept to prove that EQ does indeed surpass IQ when it comes to succeeding in the workplace.”

Cold-Case Cure: Inside New Era of Hunting Serial Killers

law enforcement figured out that they could team with up with forensic genealogists to create DNA profiles from decades’ old suspect DNA and upload those profiles into genealogy databases, following a gnarled family tree until it bears fruit.

This article from Rolling Stone looks at the rise of forensic genealogists and autosomal DNA testing to solve cold-case crimes.

© 2018 by Mary Daniels Brown