‘Even with an entire dictionary in one’s head, one eventually comes to the end of words’

“Every sentence is a wispy net, capturing a few flecks of meaning. The sun shines without vocabulary. The salmon has no name for the urge that drives it upstream. The newborn groping for the nipple knows hunger long before it knows a single word. Even with an entire dictionary in one’s head, one eventually comes […]

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Medicating off the placebo

If you want to instantly feel better, step into a hospital. The placebo works every time. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Hospitals can make the healthy feel a bit ill. Does anyone like hanging out in hospitals? Placebo is a mere expectation. It helps only because we think it helps. But that psychological boon could […]

Skim reading is the new normal

Ziming Liu from San Jose State University has conducted a series of studies which indicate that the “new norm” in reading is skimming, with word-spotting and browsing through the text. Many readers now use an F or Z pattern when reading in which they sample the first line and then word-spot through the rest of the […]

‘We have built our great and towering civilization on the wreckage of a past’

“In coming to New Mexico, I had unexpectedly felt myself an alien—an immigrant—in my own country, and this lithic scatter reinforced this feeling. I was reminded that we Americans are interlopers on this continent; that we have built our great and towering civilization on the wreckage of a past that we know almost nothing about […]

Information resurfaced with Readwise

The glut of information means that we need to review things more than ever. And one of the most useful tools I’ve come across is Readwise. Each day or weekly (up to you), it emails you a dose of your Kindle and Instapaper highlights. Rereading through them not only reminds you of the interesting passages […]

‘Technology isn’t bad. If you know what you want in life, technology can help you get it’

Technology isn’t bad. If you know what you want in life, technology can help you get it. But if you don’t know what you want in life, it will be all too easy for technology to shape your aims for you and take control of your life. Especially as technology gets better at understanding humans, […]