People are quick to make certain judgements. Our minds have evolved to excel at drawing conclusions from minimal data and thinking quickly using heuristics and mental models.

But some judgements are more reliable than others. …

Born in France in 1623, Blaise Pascal’s intellectual prowess was evident early. He was writing about projective geometry and laying the groundwork for probability theory in his teens, and by his early twenties had built a calculating machine (the Pascaline) to help his father do his taxes.

When he hit…

Illustration by author

Deep inside the brain is a bundle of around 165,000 neurons, called the dorsal raphe nucleus. When prompted into action, the nucleus produces the neurotransmitter serotonin, which acts as a messenger to other areas of the brain. Two areas often in communication with the dorsal raphe nucleus sit just behind…

Technology is all around us. It is at once so ubiquitous as to be almost invisible, and in other areas so remarkable as to grab the world’s attention.

From ceramic cups to nuclear weapons; from the springs in your mattress to immersive virtual worlds; from paper and pencils to intelligent…

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

It’s always nice to have a good idea, but good ideas aren’t always easy to find. They’re often seen as something mystical, not reducible to a simple process but something that we wait and hope will burst up from the back of our mind.

This might be true to an…

Photo by Daniela Holzer on Unsplash

Thinking takes time and effort, meaning we can’t apply it to everything we do, otherwise it would take us too long to get anywhere.

For this reason we rely a great deal on intuition. It helps us navigate familiar roads, put our socks and shoes on, and get breakfast together…

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Teasing apart luck from skill in our decisions is difficult.

While most outcomes involve a combination of both, our improvement requires identifying what we should have done differently and what was out of our control.

Trouble is, when we try to identify what we did right or wrong, and what…

Humans 101

Our fast brains are gullible, and our slow brains can fix things up… when they get around to it

Blue reflection of person drinking from cup.
Photo: Johner Images/Getty Images

When you encounter new information but have yet to form a belief about it, what’s your immediate response? Do you hold it up in your mental spotlight and subject it to a critical analysis? Do you suspend your belief until you’ve either confirmed or denied it?

We have limited time…

Photo by Keenan Constance on Unsplash

“Uncertainty Is an Uncomfortable Position. But Certainty Is an Absurd One.”Voltaire

Certainty is a funny thing.

You can ask someone whether anything in life can be known without any doubt — are we living in a simulation? Are other people conscious? Were all your memories just deleted and…

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

There are different definitions of smart and stupid. For some, stupidity is what you find watching videos of drunk people jump from the top of a flight of stairs, only to have the railing catch them between the legs.

For others, it’s people who score sufficiently low on an IQ…

Sam Brinson

An emergent property of billions of chaotically firing neurons. Currently thinking about thinking.

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