The Smarter Brain
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Health Benefits of Gardens

“In 40 years of medical practice, I have found only two types of non-pharmaceutical ‘therapy’ to be vitally important for patients with chronic neurological diseases: music and gardens.”

— Oliver Sacks, Neurologist and Author

Source: Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales

Ideas Worth Exploring


Are Creative Geniuses Born or Made? (Part 1)

Throughout history, a handful of exceptional individuals have made ground-breaking contributions to their fields and changed the face of the world. A few names come to mind: Leonardo Da Vinci, Aristotle, Albert Einstein, Mozart, Marie Curie, to name a few.

We recognize genius when we see it, but one question remains unsolved: Are geniuses born or made?”

The popular ‘10,000-hour rule’ suggests that it takes approximately 10 years of deliberate practice to achieve world-class expertise in any field. But studies show that people who take less than 10 years to achieve expertise in a field are more likely to become geniuses and high achievers than those who take longer than 10 years.

Big idea: The “10,000-hour” rule is a myth.

Source: Mayo Oshin, The Smarter Brain ( 6 min read)


Statistics as Squid Ink: How Prominent Researchers Can Get Away with Misrepresenting Data

“Why do academic and business leaders endorse and then stand by scientific and technological claims that are based on falsified data? The short answer is that they don’t know about the falsification.”

“First is a don’t-rock-the-boat attitude: Whistleblowing can result in retaliation, and there is also loyalty to friends and colleagues…Second, when people like a story, they aren’t always inclined to look carefully at the evidence.”

Falsified evidence is a sort of scaffolding used to support an interlocking structure of beliefs…and, once the belief structure has been built, the details of the evidence don’t seem to matter.

Big idea: The dishonest use of quantitative analysis can serve as a sort of squid ink that hides the holes in scientific reasoning.

Source: Andrew Gelman & Alexey Guzey (2020) Statistics as Squid Ink: How Prominent Researchers Can Get Away with Misrepresenting Data, CHANCE.


People Would Rather Give Themselves Electric Shocks Than Be Alone With Their Thoughts (Study)

In an experiment where people were asked to sit quietly for 15 minutes and enjoy their thoughts or self-administer painful electric shocks, a substantial percentage of participants opted for the latter option—they had previously stated that they would pay money to avoid being shocked with electricity.

“If thinking for pleasure is an engaging, enjoyable activity, participants should not feel the need to administer themselves unpleasant shocks…In short, intentional thinking for pleasure is not something that people do very often or enjoy very much when they do. As noted by Milton in the opening quote to this article, it appears that people’s thoughts can just as easily make a “Hell of Heaven” as a “Heaven of Hell.”

Big idea: Studies suggest that people would rather receive an electric shock than sit alone with their thoughts despite its benefits.

Source: Wilson, Timothy D., et al. “The Mind in Its Own Place: The Difficulties and Benefits of Thinking for Pleasure.” PsyArXiv, 3 June 2019. Web. 


Strength Tips from the NFL’s Top Trainer

8 fitness tips from the strength and conditioning coach who trains the NFL’s best athletes:

1. Focus on progressive overload. “Regardless of what muscle or capability you are trying to build, you need to apply a stressor and then allow for recovery. Over time, as your body adapts, you progressively increase the stress by adding more intensity (weight or speed) and duration (repetitions or time).”

2. Be consistent. “[I]f you want to grow a certain system or capability, you need to train that system with specificity…Popularized “workout of the day” programs don’t work, unless your goal is simply to lose some weight.”

3. Stick to a one-to-five repetition range to build strength. “[S]o long as you train to fatigue, you’ll get a nice adaptation…Heavier loads are crucial for training the neuromuscular system to produce maximal force.”

4. Weight lifting improves endurance. “A lot of endurance and adventure athletes get worried about gaining mass so they stay away from the gym. This is a myth that needs to die, especially because strength is synonymous with injury prevention.” If you want to “generate more power [think: cycling or climbing] or the ability to withstand repetitive force [think: running], I think you’re better off training with heavy loads in the three-to-five repetition range.”

5. Squat! “[I]f I could recommend only one movement, it would be the squat. No other exercise increases strength, speed, and power like squatting. In addition to athletic performance, squatting helps with hip mobility.”

6. Stick to a sustainable diet. “People spend way too much time over-analyzing this. Follow these simple rules instead: Avoid processed stuff; carbohydrate intake should mirror training stress; and aim to eat well 80 to 90 percent of the time.”

7. Prioritize recovery. “There are all kinds of ways to recover…They range from listening to calm music, to massage, to aroma therapy…But all of that stuff pales in comparison to sleep.”

8. Look for scientific evidence. “Don’t just go with the flow. Use your head. Whether you are considering a new exercise, program, or nutrition strategy, look for evidence that something actually works…there’s far more quackery than science out there.”

Big idea: Focus on fundamentals, not hype.

Source: Brad Stulberg, Outside (4 min read)


The Evolution Of the Office Desk From 1981 (Video)

“[A] team at the harvard innovation lab has encapsulated this history of technology, as it relates to the office, in a video, ‘the evolution of the desk’, demonstrating the steep shift from cork boards and fax machines to pinterest and PDFs.”

Source: Harvard innovation lab, Vimeo (54-second watch)

What I’m Thinking About: Self-care is a priority, not a privilege.

Today I Learned: Researchers Blanchflower and Oswald, discovered that statistically speaking, going from age 20 to age 45 entails a loss of happiness equivalent to one-third the effect of involuntary unemployment. (Source)


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