Farnam Street

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The Spiral of Silence

Our desire to fit in with others means we don’t always say what we think. We only express opinions that seem safe. Here’s how the spiral of silence works and how we can discover what people really think. *** Be honest: How often do you feel as if you’re really able to express your true opinions without fearing judgment? How often do you bite your...

When Technology Takes Revenge

While runaway cars and vengeful stitched-together humans may be the stuff of science fiction, technology really can take revenge on us. Seeing technology as part of a complex system can help us avoid costly unintended consequences. Here’s what you need to know about revenge effects. *** By many metrics, technology keeps making our lives better....

A Primer on Algorithms and Bias

The growing influence of algorithms on our lives means we owe it to ourselves to better understand what they are and how they work. Understanding how the data we use to inform algorithms influences the results they give can help us avoid biases and make better decisions. *** Algorithms are everywhere: driving our cars, designing our social media...

Aim For What’s Reasonable: Leadership Lessons From Director Jean Renoir

Directing a film involves getting an enormous group of people to work together on turning the image inside your head into a reality. In this 1970 interview, director Jean Renoir dispenses time-tested wisdom for leaders everywhere on humility, accountability, goal-setting, and more. *** Many of us end up in leadership roles at some point in our career....

The Observer Effect: Seeing Is Changing

The act of looking at something changes it – an effect that holds true for people, animals, even atoms. Here’s how the observer effect distorts our world and how we can get a more accurate picture. *** We often forget to factor in the distortion of observation when we evaluate someone’s behavior. We see what they are doing as representative of their...

The Ingredients For Innovation

Inventing new things is hard. Getting people to accept and use new inventions is often even harder. For most people, at most times, technological stagnation has been the norm. What does it take to escape from that and encourage creativity? *** “Technological progress requires above all tolerance toward the unfamiliar and the eccentric.”— Joel Mokyr,...

Thinking For Oneself

When I was young, I thought other people could give me wisdom. Now that I’m older, I know this isn’t true. Wisdom is earned, not given. When other people give us the answer, it belongs to them and not us. While we might achieve the outcome we desire, it comes from dependence, not insight. Instead of thinking for ourselves, we’re dependent on the...

Appearances vs Experiences: What Really Makes Us Happy

In the search for happiness, we often confuse how something looks with how it’s likely to make us feel. This is especially true when it comes to our homes. If we want to maximize happiness, we need to prioritize experiences over appearances. *** Most of us try to make decisions intended to bring us greater happiness. The problem is that we misunderstand...

Job Interviews Don’t Work

Better hiring leads to better work environments, less turnover, and more innovation and productivity. When you understand the limitations and pitfalls of the job interview, you improve your chances of hiring the best possible person for your needs. *** The job interview is a ritual just about every adult goes through at least once. They seem to be...

Why You Feel At Home In A Crisis

When disaster strikes, people come together. During the worst times of our lives, we can end up experiencing the best mental health and relationships with others. Here’s why that happens and how we can bring the lessons we learn with us once things get better. *** “Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling...

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