December 13, 2016

Review of Against Empathy – Paul Bloom (2016)

Ideas in psychology can be rather at odds with our intuitions. An example of this can be found in a new book, Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, written by Paul Bloom, psychologist at Yale University. Many people view empathy as an important source of all that is good in the world and the lack of empathy as an important cause of many bad things in the world.  Leaders like Barack Obama and scientists like George Lakoff and Simon Baron-Cohen view empathy as something of which people can't have too much. Bloom has a different view.

December 12, 2016

Four things unreliable helpers do

Can we always trust professional helpers? Unfortunately we cannot. Suppliers of help can even harm us when they tell persuasive stories and supply us their treatments. They might do this with the best of intentions and they may actually believe in their treatments. But there may also be cynical and unreliable suppliers who knowingly sell us ineffective and even harmful treatments. Let's look at how people of the latter category, these unreliable helpers, might work. I think, in essence, they do four things.

December 3, 2016

The vital role of frustration in deliberate practice

I received many responses to my article How we can keep on breaking through performance ceilings. Most were positive, some where constructively critical. Most were about the claim that stretching one's abilities comes with a certain discomfort and frustration. One person asked whether this frustration or discomfort is really necessary. Another person asked whether this frustration does not contradict the progress principle which says that experiencing meaningful progress is very motivational ("how can experiencing frustration ever be motivational?").

December 1, 2016

When is leadership legitimate?

Below I'll try to answer two questions which I have thought about for some time. First, I'll say some things about the value of democracy. Are democracies better than non-democracies? I'll show why I think the answer is yes. Second, I'll share my thoughts on when leadership of countries should be considered legitimate. I think that two basic requirements need to be met for that. After having explained this, I'll share my thoughts on the legitimacy of the leadership of the next president of the USA.

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