Mental Mix

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” — Albert Einstein

Monday Morning Mental Mix March 2, 2020

Rats Are Us–That discovery was just the tip of the iceberg. We now know that rats don’t live merely in the present, but are capable of reliving memories of past experiences and mentally planning ahead the navigation route they will later follow. They reciprocally trade different kinds of goods with each other – and understand not only when they owe a favour to...

Monday Morning Mental Mix February 10, 2020

DIGITAL AUTHORITARIANISM: FINDING OUR WAY OUT OF THE DARKNESS–While democrats once believed that innovations in information and communications technology and data analysis would promote more open societies, the actual effects of these tools have been mixed. Authoritarians are using technology to deepen their grip internally, spread propaganda, undermine basic...

Monday Morning Mental Mix February 3, 2020

What Will the World Look Like in 2030?–When people imagine the future, they tend to assume that most things will stay the same, or that the trends of the recent past will continue in a linear fashion. But the world today looks very different than people expected it to look in 2010. And one thing that is virtually certain about this coming decade is that the...

Monday Morning Mental Mix January 27, 2020

Selective Hearing–Last August, one of the country’s most successful podcasts was accused of multiple incidents of plagiarism. Called Crime Junkie, the weekly show has used what seems to be an irresistible formula to rocket to number-one status in numerous rankings: In each episode, cohosts Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat give an intrigue-laced account of a...

Monday Morning Mental Mix January 13, 2020

The Equality Conundrum–The complexities of egalitarianism are especially frustrating because inequalities are so easy to grasp. C.E.O.s, on average, make almost three hundred times what their employees make; billionaire donors shape our politics; automation favors owners over workers; urban economies grow while rural areas stagnate; the best health care goes to...

Monday Morning Mental Mix May 27, 2019

Our Organ Donation System Is Unfair. The Solution Might Be Too.–But just like some New Yorkers and Californians thought the old system was unfair, people from states like Missouri and Iowa see unfairness in the new system. In January, 22 senators signed an open letter to the Department of Health and Human Services demanding answers about how the new policy...

Monday Morning Mental Mix May 20, 2019

DOES RAISING TEACHER SALARIES IMPROVE PERFORMANCE?–Fifteen years ago, Indonesia embarked on a policy experiment that shed new light on how salaries affect teacher effort. Over the course of 10 years, Indonesia raised salaries by more than a quarter for a subset of teachers. They randomized the roll-out across schools, which allowed researchers to compare...

Monday Morning Mental Mix April 22, 2019

The Paranoid Style in American Politics–American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But behind this I believe there...

Monday Morning Mental Mix April 15, 2019: The Return

How Ramona Quimby Helps Kids Make Sense of this Unstable World–Ramona reminds us that many of our adult-constructed rules don’t make much sense. Why would her teacher, who has told the class she cares for them and reinforced the importance of the kindergarten classroom practices, stay home sick and leave them with a stranger as a substitute—an older, sensible...