The Frontal Cortex

Archives for September, 2008

Loss Aversion and the Stock Market

Over the next few days, lots of people are going to be poring over their investment portfolio, trying to figure out which stocks to keep and which stocks to sell. Unfortunately, many of these investors will make the exact same mistake, causing them to lose vast sums of money over the long term. The problem…

Charles Murray

The hypocrisy is dazzling. Charles Murray (of Bell Curve fame) just wrote a book arguing that the vast majority of American college students shouldn’t actually be attending college, since they lack the cognitive ability to “deal with college-level material.” Instead, he argues that these people should become skilled laborers. (“There are very few unemployed first-rate…

The Perverse Imp

I couldn’t sleep last night. As far as I can tell, there was no particular reason for my insomnia. I wasn’t stressed, or anxious, or caffeinated, or sick. My mind was tired, but my brain just wasn’t in the sleeping mood. And no, I hadn’t been talking on a cell phone. For me, one of…

Architecture

Walter Pater famously declared that “all art aspires to the condition of music.” What he meant is that music is able to work on our feelings directly; no ideas interfere with its emotions. I’d amend that slightly, and say that art should also aspire to the condition of architecture, especially when the architecture looks like…

Buffett

The power of Warren Buffett is impressive. He decides to invest a few billion in Goldman Sachs and panicked investors calm down. And why not? Nobody has an investing record that can even come close to comparing with Buffett’s record: he is the lone outlier of Wall Street. According to most calculations, since 1951 Buffett’s…

Talks

A little housekeeping. First, I’ve got a new website! The best part is the article archive. I’ve also got a few speaking gigs in the next month, in case you happen to be in the area. On Friday, I’ll be at the Idea Festival in Louisville. On October 1, I’m at Georgia Tech. I’ll be…

Brain Metaphors

Over at BLDGBLOG, Geoffrey makes an astute observation about how the latest consumer technologies have a way of becoming metaphors for the mind. Before the brain was a binary code running on three pounds of cellular microchips, it was an impressive calculator, or a camera, or a blank slate. In other words, we’re constantly superimposing…

Magical Thinking

This is interesting stuff. As G.K. Chesterton is said to have once said: “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing – they believe in anything.” “What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy…

Quarterbacks

Last week, I had a short article in Play, the NY Times sports magazine. It was on how quarterbacks make decisions and why the Wonderlic is such a waste of time: Three and a half seconds: that’s how long, on average, a quarterback has to make a decision about where to throw the ball. So,…

Parking and Gender

I’m now officially the most annoying backseat driver ever. I was annoying before, but ever since I read Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic (a great book) I’ve turned into a Mr. Know It All, offering pearls of wisdom on everything from how to merge (be selfish) to the ideal type of intersection (the roundabout). I’ve even started…