July 7, 2015

The upright thinkers

Some time ago I mentioned Steven Weinberg's book The discovery of science which I liked a lot. Now there is a great new book about roughly the same topic written by physicist Leonard Mlodinow called The upright Thinkers.

While Weinberg's book emphasizes Ancient Greek and astronomy/physics Mlodinow's book is a bit broader in its focus. The upright thinkers' description of human's search for knowledge starts earlier, with evolutionary predecessors of homo sapiens. The book is also broader than Weinberg's book in the sense that it pays more attention to other sciences like chemistry and biology.

An admirable and fascinating book.

July 4, 2015

Written feedback using the plus, the arrow, and the question mark

Giving written feedback using the plus, the arrow, and the question mark can make your feedback more useful and the process of giving feedback more pleasant.

Many people frequently receive written feedback to what they have written themselves. Written feedback can fulfill an important function. Other people may have more knowledge and a different perspective which may enable you to learn from them. Also, feedback may help you check whether what you have written is clear and comes across as you intended.

July 2, 2015

Respecting truth

Philosopher Lee McIntyre has written a very interesting new book called Respecting truth: willful ignorance in the Internet age. If you liked my article On the importance of evaluating truth claims and my little tool for evaluating truth claims, you must also like this book.

In the book, Lee McIntyre argues that our relationship with truth is complex. On the one hand we often live our lives as if we believe that truth exists. On the other hand many of us are often willfully ignorant. What this means is that we refuse to consider evidence which contradicts our beliefs because we don't want to abandon those beliefs. McIntyre says that ignorance or false beliefs aren't what is dangerous but the choice to remain ignorant by insulating ourselves from new ideas or evidence.

Progress monitoring works

Does Monitoring Goal Progress Promote Goal Attainment? A Meta-Analysis of the Experimental Evidence
Harkin et al. (2015)

Abstract: Control Theory and other frameworks for understanding self-regulation suggest that monitoring goal progress is a crucial process that intervenes between setting and attaining a goal, and helps to ensure that goals are translated into action. However, the impact of progress monitoring interventions on rates of behavioral performance and goal attainment has yet to be quantified. A systematic literature search identified 138 studies (N = 19,951) that randomly allocated participants to an intervention designed to promote monitoring of goal progress versus a control condition. All studies reported the effects of the treatment on (a) the frequency of progress monitoring and (b) subsequent goal attainment.

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