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Personality Tests Fairy Dust in Hiring

When we set realistic goals for employees, we improve their performance. When we believe in them, it improves too. Personality tests convince us to believe in our employees. Our belief more than the test itself accounts for the better performance of hires passing it. In medicine, researchers must account for the placebo effect. This occurs […]

Science’s Subjective Birth

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Practicing Safe Science

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Practicing Safe ScienceUnderstanding the birth and development of modern science helps us become better problem solvers. It was just an idea over 355 years ago. Today, it’s an industry. Ideas that old often take on the status of immutable truths. Dissecting the idea of modern […]

Computers as Better Listeners

Allowing people to talk reduces anxiety. It’s a form of therapy. Finding patient, disciplined listeners can be tough though. Computers, using artificial intelligence software, have infinite patience and tolerance. In “The Computer Will See You Now” (The Economist, August 16, 2014 edition), Jonathan Gratch (Institute for Creative Technologies) has successfully explored such computers as therapists […]

Authority Figures as Dangerous Figures

Authority figures help in many ways, providing expertise, guidance, definitiveness and certainty. We’re taught to respect them too. Yet, they can be dangerous. While easily seeing this when they abuse power, it’s difficult to see when their intentions are prudent. The article, “Just Thinking You Slept Poorly Can Hurt Your Performance” (Harvard Business Review, September […]

Leadership’s Secret Physical Characteristics

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series Leadership - The Secret

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series Leadership – The SecretThis Secret to Leadership Series began by stating leadership is an affect, an emotional influence that moves group members to action. It’s no secret that our physical characteristics influence people. The secret is the degree to which they do when they assess […]

Punishment’s Purifying Effect in the Workplace

While many won’t go through the mental moral gymnastics and anguish of Rodion Raskolnikov, Dostoyevsky’s protagonist in Crime and Punishment, for their wrongs in the workplace, punishments help employees’ feel better about their employers and themselves, emotionally purifying them. Often though, we’re too focused on extracting retribution or Pavlovian behavioral change, or simply too ignorant […]

Programming People with Big Data

Big data allows us to overcome the human tendency to oversimplify. Whereas we focus on one or two big causes to our problems, big data allows us to see the integration of many smaller causes. As the article, “Be My Guest” (The Economist, December 21, 2013 edition), exemplifies, this allows further detailing of our standard […]

Computer Viruses Illustrating Diversity’s Power

Computer security is a top priority in our digital age. Repeated reports of viruses and hackings remind us of that priority. Much of the reason for our information technologies’ vulnerabilities is their homogeneity. We build and run them similarly. In humans and nature, diversity prevents the entire demise of species. Someone, even many, will be […]

Practicing Safe Science

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Practicing Safe Science

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Practicing Safe ScienceJournalism has a persistent bias for the new and exciting. They sell in pop culture, and as it turns out, they sell in scientific culture too. This creates unintended consequences. Unlike pop or mainstream journalism, objectivity and peer review form critical cornerstones of […]

The “Big Three” Time Wasters in Business

The big three time wasters in business are emails, meetings and white tape, companies’ internal bureaucracies. All three aren’t new to most; however, what might be new is their severity. The problem isn’t just pain and suffering – our complaining. It’s also hard attacks on productivity. For instance, McKinsey found people spending 20% of their […]