I really like psychology. I like it so much that even though I’ve already got a couple of degrees in it, I continue to learn/read about psychology. I also really like magic and illusions. There’s something about the mystique of believing that what you’re seeing is actually happening — even though you’re sure that it’s probably some sleight of hand. While some may think that magic and psychology aren’t related, they most certainly are. Just for fun, here’s an article from Psychology Today of 5 Amazing Psychology Magic Tricks.
Naturally, my interest in these subjects led to my desire to go see Now You See Me. As Jon Stewart said a couple of weeks ago, “Morgan Freeman’s in it, so it’s gotta be good.” I thought it was pretty good, but that’s probably more a result of the “life lesson” that I culled. Now, what I’m about to talk about may be perceived as a spoiler, but I’m not talking directly about the plot. I won’t mention any characters or anything specific about the movie (even though it would help with analogizing), but as I said, some may consider even what I’m going to talk about as a spoiler.
Can you think of one moment in your life where something changed? A moment to which, had you chose differently, your life would be completely altered? Maybe you think that if you’d gone to a different university your life would be very different. Or maybe you think that if you’d chose to take the job offer from company X instead of company Y. What about those smaller moments, the ones that don’t “seem” as powerful, can you think of any of those that might have had that same impact?
Watching this movie reminded me to take the “long view” on life. Not only when thinking about the ‘bigger’ life decisions, but also the smaller, day-to-day decisions. It’s truly impossible to know how what you’re deciding today will impact your life in 10 years. Impossible! One can speculate, yes, but that’s all — speculation. Even the best forecasters are terrible.
Of course, it’s probably not a good idea to always be taking the long view, but every once and awhile (monthly? weekly? daily?) it’s probably a good idea to check-in with that long view and see if you might be taking something too seriously. It’s really hard to know whether what’s happening to you in your life — right now — is a good thing. Maybe this time of hardship will make you appreciate something that’s going to happen later. Maybe this time of hardship is teaching you about what it’s like to have hardship, so that when you no longer have this hardship, you’ll have more empathy for those that do. As I’ve said before in regards to thinking about whether something is good or bad — we’ll see…
Posted in Entertainment, Philosophy, Psychology
Tagged Advice, Cognitive science, Context, Counsel, Fresh Perspective, Jon Stewart, Lesson, Life, Magic, Morgan Freeman, Movies, Now You See Me
Star Trek was a show that certainly had an influence on me during my formative years. That is, Star Trek: The Next Generation. I remember gathering round the TV with my family to watch new episodes when they came on (or reruns). From time-to-time, I still like to catch an episode or two. Last night, I happened to catch a couple of episodes, one of which I think has an important lesson.
The episode in question is called: Peak Performance. It comes from near the end of season 2 (of The Next Generation). Earlier in the episode, Data and another character, one who is a ‘grandmaster’ at the game Strategema (strategy-like game), sit down to play. During their first encounter, the grandmaster beats Data. This puts Data into a bit of a tizzy as he is an android and should — theoretically — be unbeatable. That’s one of the subplots throughout the episode, but not the main reason I’m writing this post.
Near the end of the episode, the grandmaster grants Data a rematch. I’ve been able to find the clip online, so I’ve embedded it below (at just about the time of the clip where the scene with Data and the grandmaster commences):
It’s such an important lesson — sometimes playing not to win (is a form of winning). In some circles, folks might think of this as playing fearfully. In other circles, one might call this “risk mitigation.” In reflecting on what happened, it seems that Data knew he couldn’t beat the grandmaster, so he employed the next best strategy — stalemate.
I like to play chess every now and again — playing for a stalemate is a strategy. If you know you’re playing against a formidable opponent, a draw may be just as satisfying to you as a win. I think this is one way to look at this clip.
The other way I want to explore is the idea of risk mitigation. I know, I know. That phrase sounds a bit “bleh,” right? Well, it’s important. It’s important to minimize risk, or minimize one’s exposure to risk. This is exactly what Data is doing when he is playing for the draw. If Data had pursued those obvious places for advancements, he would also be leaving himself open to attack.
Posted in Entertainment, Wisdom
Tagged Brent Spiner, Chess, Data, Lesson, Risk, Risk Mitigation, Stalemate, Star Trek, Star Trek Next Generation, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Strategy
A little over a week ago, I was introduced to Mind Lab from Japan’s Science and Technology Agency. It. Is. Awesome! There are 4 lessons that take about 15 minutes each, so you could (theoretically), complete the lessons over your lunch break. There are some parts with sound (so you may want headphones), but theoretically, you could skip those parts and still get the gist of the lesson. If you want, you could also bookmark the page and come back to parts. So, if you only had 15 minutes, you could do the first lesson and then go back at a later time when you could finish another lesson (or all the lessons).
In the first lesson, we learn about blind spots, eye saccades, and apparent motion. In fact, you even get to measure the size of your blind spot. In the second lesson, we learn about 3D images in a 2D space, and how shadows effect our perception. In the third lesson, we learn about colors and the way that our brains can interpret the same image in two different ways. Lesson #3 is very intriguing. It reminds me of the those cognitive illusions you’ve probably seen in a psychology class. In the fourth lesson, we learn how contours effect how we perceive the existence of objects. There’s also something else during the last ‘slide’ of lesson #4 that I don’t want to spoil for you — but I really hope that you check it out.
In fact, after you’ve done lesson #4, be sure to come back and check out this link. The implications of what you’ll discover at the end of lesson #4 have been written about in that post.
I also wanted to mention that it’s been pointed out that the interactive nature of these lessons would likely eclipse any way in which they could be taught in the “old-fashioned” way.