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Stories by Jag Bhalla

Happiness Should Be a Verb

Flourishing should be the new happiness. What most pursue now ignores old wisdom and the logic of our biology. A verb capturing the required recurring effort is better than a noun describing the desired static state--by nature, not a thing we can be or get but that we do...

June 7, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Colonoscopies Clarify Inner Workings of Minds

Memories are story shaped. As are understandings. To remember, or make sense of, a thing is to have a story about it. Colonoscopies and correcting cathartic errors can probe the inner workings of these stored stories...

May 31, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Justice Is in Our Nature

Social contracts are written into our biology. As is the justice they need. The arc of our evolution has long bent towards the justice of “laws” fittest for team survival.

May 29, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

The Cognitive Science of Star Trek

Star Trek needs more advanced cognitive science. The work of Kahneman can augment one of its central philosophical themes. We now have less warped models of intuition, logic, and morality...

May 24, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

We Fit Nature to Us: Evolution's 2-Way Street

It is in our nature to fit nature to us. We are best at it, but other species do it. This obvious but overlooked factor contradicts the dominant one-way-street gene-centric view of adaptation...

May 22, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

What Rational Really Means

The word rational is widely misused. Scientists often apply it unnaturally, in ways that conflict with our biology. Nobel laureates Daniel Kahneman and Gary Becker, and their respective schools of thought, are on opposite sides of this breach with our nature...

May 17, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Tools Are in Our Nature

Tools have changed our genes for millions of years. Paleo-people were not possible without them. Artificial aids preceded and enabled our bigger brains.

May 15, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Kahneman's Clarity: Using Mysterious Coinage in Science

Feeling is a form of thinking. Both are ways of processing data, though one is faster. Establishing those re-conceptions required a powerful under-noticed scientific technique that needs no instruments or mathematics, just new language...

May 10, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

It Is in Our Nature to Need Stories

It is in our nature to need stories. They are our earliest sciences, a kind of people-physics. Their logic is how we naturally think. They configure our biology, and how we feel, in ways long essential for our survival.Like our language instinct, a story drive—an inborn hunger for story hearing and story making—emerges untutored universally in healthy children...

May 8, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Kahneman and Bentham's Bucket of Happiness

We need a new happiness. The one most people use now is confusing even our smartest scientists. The problems start with "Bentham's bucket error" but Plato's pastry and a rare case of reality in Freud can revive healthier pursuits of happiness...

May 3, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Our Ruly Nature

It is in our nature to need rules. By enabling better social productivity rules beats no rules. We can clarify our biological rule dependence by analogy with language and tools.

May 1, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Inheriting Second Natures

It is in our first nature to get second natures. Born with the habit of acquiring new habits we access a behavioral toolkit that is nowhere in our genes.

April 25, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

It Is in Our Nature to Be Self-Deficient

It is in our nature to be self-deficient. This applies initially, chronically and inalienably. Now those once self-evident truths are obscured by errors of biology defying individualism.Though the opposite is often said, no human has ever been “born alone” and survived...

April 19, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Science's Cult of Calculation

E. O. Wilson says great scientists need be “no more than semiliterate” mathematically. He says: doing the math is often easier than generating ideas; the math is usually out-sourceable; we have more mathematicians than useful ideas; and science advances by better ideas which typically don’t come from mathematical reasoning.In this Wilson revives two old rivalries...

April 9, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Better Models of Our Nature

The human condition is more conditional than many think. Iffy ideas and popular errors bedevil our view of ourselves, but violence can lead to better models of our nature.In The Better Angels of Our Nature , Stephen Pinker, cognitive scientist, big-idea-big-book builder, and noted metaphor-breaker, has amassed armies of reason, deployed over 800 pages, to fight faulty ideas about human violence and its surprising decline...

April 4, 2013 — Jag Bhalla
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