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8 Common Mistakes in How Our Brains Think and How to Prevent Them - Belle Beth Cooper

8 Common Mistakes in How Our Brains Think and How to Prevent Them - Belle Beth Cooper | Teacher Tools and Tips | Scoop.it

Get ready to have your mind blown.

 

I was seriously shocked at some of these mistakes in thinking that I subconsciously make all the time. Obviously, none of them are huge, life-threatening mistakes, but they are really surprising and avoiding them could help us to make more rational, sensible decisions.

 

Being aware of the mistakes we naturally have in our thinking can make a big difference in avoiding them. Unfortunately, most of these occur subconsciously, so it will also take time and effort to avoid them—if you even want to.

 

Regardless, I think it’s fascinating to learn more about how we think and make decisions every day, so let’s take a look at some of these thinking habits we didn’t know we had.

 

1. We surround ourselves with information that matches our beliefs

We tend to like people who think like us. If we agree with someone’s beliefs, we’re more likely to be friends with them. While this makes sense, it means that we subconsciously begin to ignore or dismiss anything that threatens our world views, since we surround ourselves with people and information that confirm what we already think.

 

This is called confirmation bias. If you’ve ever heard of the frequency illusion, this is very similar. The frequency illusion occurs when you buy a new car, and suddenly you see the same car everywhere. Or when a pregnant woman suddenly notices other pregnant women all over the place. It’s a passive experience, where our brains seek out information that’s related to us, but we believe there’s been an actual increase in the frequency of those occurrences.

 

Confirmation bias is a more active form of the same experience. It happens when we proactively seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs.

 

Not only do we do this with the information we take in, but we approach our memories this way, as well. In an experiment in 1979 at the University of Minnesota, participants read a story about a women called Jane who acted extroverted in some situations and introverted in others. When the participants returned a few days later, they were divided into two groups. One group was asked if Jane would be suited to a job as a librarian, the other group were asked about her having a job as a real-estate agent. The librarian group remembered Jane as being introverted and later said that she would not be suited to a real-estate job. The real-estate group did the exact opposite: they remembered Jane as extroverted, said she would be suited to a real-estate job and when they were later asked if she would make a good librarian, they said no.

 

In 2009, a study at Ohio State showed that we will spend 36 percent more time reading an essay if it aligns with our opinions. "Whenever your opinions or beliefs are so intertwined with your self-image you couldn’t pull them away without damaging your core concepts of self, you avoid situations which may cause harm to those beliefs." – David McRaney

 

This trailer for David McRaney’s book, You are Now Less Dumb, explains this concept really well with a story about how people used to think geese grew on trees (seriously), and how challenging our beliefs on a regular basis is the only way to avoid getting caught up in the confirmation bias:

 

2. We believe in the “swimmer’s body” illusion

 

This has to be one of my favorite thinking mistakes I came across. In Rolf Dobelli’s book, The Art of Thinking Clearly, he explains how our ideas about talent and extensive training are well off-track: "Professional swimmers don’t have perfect bodies because they train extensively. Rather, they are good swimmers because of their physiques. How their bodies are designed is a factor for selection and not the result of their activities."

 

The “swimmer’s body illusion” occurs when we confuse selection factors with results. Another good example is top performing universities: are they actually the best schools, or do they choose the best students, who do well regardless of the school’s influence?

 

What really jumped out at me when researching this section was this particular line from Dobelli’s book: "Without this illusion, half of advertising campaigns would not work."

 

It makes perfect sense, when you think about it. If we believed that we were predisposed to be good at certain things (or not), we wouldn’t buy into ad campaigns that promised to improve our skills in areas where it’s unlikely we’ll ever excel.

 

3. We worry about things we’ve already lost

 

No matter how much I pay attention to the sunk cost fallacy, I still naturally gravitate towards it.

 

The term sunk cost refers to any cost (not just monetary, but also time and effort) that has been paid already and cannot be recovered. So, a payment of time or money that’s gone forever, basically.

 

The reason we can’t ignore the cost, even though it’s already been paid, is that we wired to feel loss far more strongly than gain. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains this in his book, Thinking Fast and Slow: "Organisms that placed more urgency on avoiding threats than they did on maximizing opportunities were more likely to pass on their genes. So, over time, the prospect of losses has become a more powerful motivator on your behavior than the promise of gains. The sunk cost fallacy plays on this tendency of ours to emphasize loss over gain."

 

This research study is a great example of how it works: Hal Arkes and Catehrine Blumer created an experiment in 1985 which demonstrated your tendency to go fuzzy when sunk costs come along. They asked subjects to assume they had spent $100 on a ticket for a ski trip in Michigan, but soon after found a better ski trip in Wisconsin for $50 and bought a ticket for this trip too. They then asked the people in the study to imagine they learned the two trips overlapped and the tickets couldn’t be refunded or resold. Which one do you think they chose, the $100 good vacation, or the $50 great one?

Over half of the people in the study went with the more expensive trip. It may not have promised to be as fun, but the loss seemed greater.

 

So, just like the other mistakes I’ve explained in this post, the sunk cost fallacy leads us to miss or ignore the logical facts presented to us, and instead make irrational decisions based on our emotions—without even realizing we’re doing so:

 

The fallacy prevents you from realizing the best choice is to do whatever promises the better experience in the future, not which negates the feeling of loss in the past.

 

Being such a subconscious reaction, it’s hard to avoid this one. Our best bet is to try to separate the current facts we have from anything that happened in the past. For instance, if you buy a movie ticket only to realize the movie is terrible, you could either:

a) stay and watch the movie, to “get your money’s worth” since you’ve already paid for the ticket (sunk cost fallacy)

or
b) leave the cinema and use that time to do something you’ll actually enjoy.

The thing to remember is this: you can’t get that investment back. It’s gone.

 

Don’t let it cloud your judgement in whatever decision you’re making in this moment—let it remain in the past.

 

4. We incorrectly predict odds

 

Imagine you’re playing Heads or Tails with a friend. You flip a coin, over and over, each time guessing whether it will turn up heads or tails. You have a 50/50 chance of being right each time.

 

Now suppose you’ve flipped the coin five times already and it’s turned up heads every time. Surely, surely, the next one will be tails, right? The chances of it being tails must be higher now, right?

Well, no. The chances of tails turning up are 50/50. Every time. Even if you turned up heads the last twenty times. The odds don’t change.

 

The gambler’s fallacy is a glitch in our thinking—once again, we’re proven to be illogical creatures. The problem occurs when we place too much weight on past events, believing that they will have an effect on future outcomes (or, in the case of Heads or Tails, any weight, since past events make absolutely no difference to the odds).

 

Unfortunately, gambling addictions in particular are also affected by a similar mistake in thinking—the positive expectation bias. This is when we mistakenly think that eventually, our luck has to change for the better. Somehow, we find it impossible to accept bad results and give up—we often insist on keeping at it until we get positive results, regardless of what the odds of that happening actually are.

 

5. We rationalize purchases we don’t want

 

I’m as guilty of this as anyone. How many times have you gotten home after a shopping trip only to be less than satisfied with your purchase decisions and started rationalizing them to yourself? Maybe you didn’t really want it after all, or in hindsight you thought it was too expensive. Or maybe it didn’t do what you hoped, and was actually useless to you.

 

Regardless, we’re pretty good at convincing ourselves that those flashy, useless, badly thought-out purchases are necessary after all. This is known as post-purchase rationalization or Buyer’s Stockholm Syndrome.

 

The reason we’re so good at this comes back to psychology: Social psychologists say it stems from the principle of commitment, our psychological desire to stay consistent and avoid a state of cognitive dissonance.

 

Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort we get when we’re trying to hold onto two competing ideas or theories. For instance, if we think of ourselves as being nice to strangers, but then we see someone fall over and don’t stop to help them, we would then have conflicting veiws about ourselves: we are nice to strangers, but we weren’t nice to the stranger who fell over. This creates so much discomfort that we have to change our thinking to match our actions—i.e. we start thinking of ourselves as someone who is not nice to strangers, since that’s what our actions proved.

 

So in the case of our impulse shopping trip, we would need to rationalize the purchases until we truly believe we needed to buy those things, so that our thoughts about ourselves line up with our actions (making the purchases).

The tricky thing in avoiding this mistake is that we generally act before we think, leaving us to rationalize our actions afterwards.

 

Being aware of this mistake can help us avoid it by predicting it before taking action—for instance, as we’re considering a purchase, we often know that we will have to rationalize it to ourselves later. If we can recognize this, perhaps we can avoid it. It’s not an easy one to tackle, though!

 

6. We make decisions based on the anchoring effect

 

Dan Ariely is a behavioural economist who gave one of my favorite TED talks ever about the irrationality of the human brain when it comes to making decisions.

 

He illustrates this particular mistake in our thinking superbly, with multiple examples. The anchoring effect essentially works like this: rather than making a decision based on pure value for investment (time, money, etc.), we factor in comparative value—that is, how much value an option offers when compared to another option.

 

Let’s look at some examples from Dan, to illustrate this effect in practice:

One example is an experiment that Dan conducted using two kinds of chocolates for sale in a booth: Hershey’s Kisses and Lindt Truffles. The Kisses were one penny each, while the Truffles were fifteen cents each. Considering the quality differences between the two kinds of chocolates and the normal prices of both items, the Truffles were a great deal, and the majority of visitors to the booth chose the Truffles.

 

For the next stage of his experiment, Dan offered the same two choices, but lowered the prices by one cent each. So now the Kisses were free, and the Truffles cost fourteen cents each. Of course, the Truffles are even more of a bargain now, but since the Kisses were free, most people chose those instead.

 

Your loss aversion system is always vigilant, waiting on standby to keep you from giving up more than you can afford to spare, so you calculate the balance between cost and reward whenever possible. – You Are Not So Smart

Another example Dan offers in his TED talk is when consumers are given holiday options to choose between. When given a choice of a trip to Rome, all expenses paid, or a similar trip to Paris, the decision is quite hard. Each city comes with its own food, culture and travel experiences that the consumer must choose between.

 

When a third option is added, however, such as the same Rome trip, but without coffee included in the morning, things change. When the consumer sees that they have to pay 2,50 euros for coffee in the third trip option, not only does the original Rome trip suddenly seem superior out of these two, it also seems superior to the Paris trip. Even though they probably hadn’t even considered whether coffee was included or not before the third option was added.

 

Here’s an even better example from another of Dan’s experiments:

Dan found this real ad for subscriptions to The Economist, and used it to see how a seemingly useless choice (like Rome without coffee) affects our decisions.

 

To begin with, there were three choices: subscribe to The Economist web version for $59, the print version for $125, or subscribe to both the print and web versions for $125. It’s pretty clear what the useless option is here. When Dan gave this form to 100 MIT students and asked them which option they would choose, 84% chose the combo deal for $125. 16% chose the cheaper, web-only option, and nobody chose the print-only option for $125.

 

Next, Dan removed the ‘useless’ print-only option which nobody wanted and tried the experiment with another group of 100 MIT students. This time, the majority chose the cheaper, web-only version, and the minority chose the combo deal. So even though nobody wanted the bad-value $125 print-only option, it wasn’t actually useless—in fact, it actually informed the decisions people made between the two other options by making the combo deal seem more valuable in relation.

 

This mistake is called the anchoring effect, because we tend to focus on a particular value and compare it to our other options, seeing the difference between values rather than the value of each option itself.

 

Eliminating the ‘useless’ options ourselves as we make decisions can help us choose more wisely. On the other hand, Dan says that a big part of the problem comes from simply not knowing our own preferences very well, so perhaps that’s the area we should focus on more, instead.

 

7. We believe our memories more than facts

 

Our memories are highly fallible and plastic. And yet, we tend to subconsciously favor them over objective facts. The availability heuristic is a good example of this. It works like this: Suppose you read a page of text and then you’re asked whether the page includes more words that end in “ing” or more words with “n” as the second-last letter. Obviously, it would be impossible for there to be more “ing” words than words with “n” as their penultimate letter (it took me a while to get that—read over the sentence again, carefully, if you’re not sure why that is).However, words ending in “ing” are easier to recall than words like hand, end, or and, which have “n” as their second-last letter, so we would naturally answer that there are more “ing” words.

 

What’s happening here is that we are basing our answer of probability (i.e. whether it’s probable that there are more “ing” words on the page) on how available relevant examples are (i.e. how easily we can recall them). Our troubles in recalling words with “n” as the second last letter make us think those words don’t occur very often, and we subconsciously ignore the obvious facts in front of us.

 

Although the availability heuristic is a natural process in how we think, two Chicago scholars have explained how wrong it can be:

 

Yet reliable statistical evidence will outperform the availability heuristic every time.

The lesson here? Whenever possible, look at the facts. Examine the data. Don’t base a factual decision on your gut instinct without at least exploring the data objectively first.

 

8. We pay more attention to stereotypes than we think

 

The funny thing about lots of these thinking mistakes is that they’re so ingrained, I had to think long and hard about why they’re mistakes at all! This one is a good example—it took me a while to understand how illogical this pattern of thinking is.

It’s another one that explains how easily we ignore actual facts:

 

The human mind is so wedded to stereotypes and so distracted by vivid descriptions that it will seize upon them, even when they defy logic, rather than upon truly relevant facts.

Here’s an example to illustrate the mistake, from researchers Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky:

In 1983 Kahneman and Tversky tested how illogical human thinking is by describing the following imaginary person: Linda is thirty-one years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in antinuclear demonstrations.

 

The researchers asked people to read this description, and then asked them to answer this question: Which alternative is more probable?

 

1. Linda is a bank teller.

2. Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.

 

Here’s where it can get a bit tricky to understand (at least, it did for me!)—If answer #2 is true, #1 is also true. This means that #2 cannot be the answer to the question of probability.

 

Unfortunately, few of us realize this, because we’re so overcome by the more detailed description of #2. Plus, as the earlier quote pointed out, stereotypes are so deeply ingrained in our minds that subconsciously apply them to others.

 

Roughly 85% of people chose option #2 as the answer.

 

Again, we see here how irrational and illogical we can be, even when the facts are seemingly obvious.

 

I love this quote from researcher Daniel Kahneman on the differences between economics and psychology: I was astonished. My economic colleagues worked in the building next door, but I had not appreciated the profound difference between our intellectual worlds. To a psychologist, it is self-evident that people are neither fully rational nor completely selfish, and that their tastes are anything but stable.

 

Clearly, it’s normal for us to be irrational and to think illogically, even though we rarely realize we’re doing it. Still, being aware of the pitfalls we often fall into when making decisions can help us to at least recognize them, if not avoid them.


Via Jim Manske, Jone Johnson Lewis
Sharrock's insight:

I can always use more explanations about fallacies and cognitive bias

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Troy Crayton's curator insight, October 4, 2013 3:00 PM

Thank you for making us "aware" of this article, Duane....

donhornsby's curator insight, October 7, 2013 9:52 AM

(From the article): Clearly, it’s normal for us to be irrational and to think illogically, especially when language acts as a limitation to how we think, even though we rarely realize we’re doing it. Still, being aware of the pitfalls we often fall into when making decisions can help us to at least recognize them, if not avoid them.

Have you come across any other interesting mistakes we make in the way we think?

Lawrence Lanoff's curator insight, December 30, 2013 12:18 AM

This article is dense, but profound. Worth chomping on if you have some time. 

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When all else fails, I like to turn to the food and philosophy of Mr. Shopsin, who taught me (and I quote!) “that not being so terrific -- that’s OK. Because most people who say they are terrific: Bill Clinton, Cardinal Egan. Anybody you want to talk about -- they’re not so terrific. Martha Stewart? Not so terrific either. There is nothing wrong with not being so terrific. It’s what the whole ball game is about, not being so terrific and accepting it.”  
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This kind of advice can be stretched--extremely stretched, but stretched--for us in other professions. 

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Who Rules America: The Class-Domination Theory of Power

Who has predominant power in the United States? The short answer, from 1776 to the present, is: Those who have the money -- or more specifically, who own income-producing land and businesses -- have the power. George Washington was one of the biggest landowners of his day; presidents in the late 19th century were close to the railroad interests; for the Bush family, it was oil and other natural resources, agribusiness, and finance. In this day and age, this means that banks, corporations, agribusinesses, and big real estate developers, working separately on most policy issues, but in combination on important general issues -- such as taxes, opposition to labor unions, and trade agreements with other countries -- set the rules within which policy battles are waged.

While this conclusion may at first seem too simple or direct, leaving little room for elected officials or voters, the reasons behind it are complex. They involve an understanding of social classes, the role of experts, the two-party system, and the history of the country, especially Southern slavery. In terms of the big world-historical picture, and the Four Networks theory of power advocated on this site, large economic interests rule in America because there are no rival networks that grew up over a long and complex history:

There is no one big church, as in many countries in Europe
No big government, as it took to survive as a nation-state in Europe
No big military until after 1940 (which is not very long ago) to threaten to take over the government
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Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.


Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can't change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.


Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.


Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, "What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?"


Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.


Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.


Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.


Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.


Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.


Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope.

 

The key is to identify ways that are likely to work well for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience.

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RT @TheLeaderinMe: Do you check your blind spots when driving? What about as a school leader? http://t.co/MtgpkuEqHC #TLIM #edchat
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Financial institutions such as banks and insurance agencies continued to use redlining to discriminate against potential homeowners and to penalize those seeking insurance well into the 1970s and 80s. Even after a number of prominent lawsuits in the 1990s, small business in black and minority neighborhoods continue to receive fewer loans than comparable white areas.  At the same time, predatory home lending policies have increasingly targeted black and other minority consumers for subprime mortgages, pushing more expensive products on them even if they could qualify for less onerous payment plans.
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What Gorton and Limbaugh wanted students to learn was a commemorative version of the past—the familiar “heritage” view–rather than one where students apply historical thinking. Historian Gary Nash and colleagues stated the issue this way:

Should classrooms emphasize the continuing story of America’s struggle to form a ‘more perfect union,’ a narrative that involved a good deal of jostling, elbowing, and bargaining among contending groups? A story that included political tumult, labor strife, racial conflict, and civil war? Or should the curriculum focus on successes, achievements, and ideals, on stories designed to infuse young Americans with patriotism and sentiments of loyalty toward prevailing institutions, traditions, and values?
Sharrock's insight:

This is a powerful blog find after I read about the School As Factory Metaphor article by Larry Cuban that was shared by David Franklin, Ed.D. https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidfranklin. It's part of a series of observations that Larry Cuban is using for a forthcoming book. 


The article itself explores the different philosophies behind the teaching of history. One powerful point was the distinction: "commemorative version of the past—the familiar “heritage” view–rather than one where students apply historical thinking." 


This is something that indicates that there are powerful narratives driving Conservative Thought that is different from the Academic/Progressive Thought that drives some of the subversive Education Reform Thought. 


Those thinkers who are familiar with Duckworth/Bandura's grit and perseverance studies and Carol Dweck's Mindset studies and the promotion of the "open mindset" will take issue with a "curriculum focus on successes, achievements, and ideals, on stories designed to infuse young Americans with patriotism and sentiments of loyalty toward prevailing institutions, traditions, and values". 

 

This kind of curriculum would deny and reject failure and hard work as a factor in success. It also undermines the historical importance of collaboration, communication, problem solving processes, and political processes driving American history and accomplishment. This is a promotion of learning facts rather than encouraging individual thought and inquiry. This "heritage view" of history promotes dogma and the memorizing of dogma. Not to mention, the curriculum promotes a lie.


Secondary School history teachers should offer this article and others from this series to promote discussions in the classroom about the politics of education and learning. It can also explore the meaning of dogma and can explore the importance of "multiple perspectives" to approach truth. 


This article can also help with faculty in schools pursuing reform. Some of the educators may believe in the "heritage view" of history education but may not have understood how destructive it can be for lifelong learning goals. Education impacts attitudes and mindsets of students as well as educators. 

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Gladwell's practice theory is only partly right. A host of things must line up for the would-be prodigy to thrive

 

“Unfortunately, many people have an overly simplistic understanding of talent,” says University of Pennsylvania psychologist Kaufman, who writes about intelligence and creativity in his Beautiful Minds blog for Scientific American. “In fact, there is no such thing as innate talent,” Kaufman contends. “Gareth Bale wasn’t born with the ability to score memorable goals. There are certainly genetic influences, but talents aren’t prepackaged at birth; they take time to develop.” In other words, high achievers are born, then made.

 
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The avian flu pandemic, the worst in American history, has killed more than 47 million hens
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Where did this saying come from? It's attributed to Albert Einstein (probably not (link is external)), Benjamin Franklin (probably not (link is external)), Mark Twain (probably not (link is external)) and mystery writer Rita Mae Brown (probably so (link is external)) who used it in her novel Sudden Death (link is external). It's not clear who said it first, but according to at least one blogger (link is external) it's "the dumbest thing a smart person ever said." The catchy saying has gathered steam in the past few years (example I (link is external), II (link is external), III (link is external)), and regardless of the source, it's gotten a lot of mileage.
Sharrock's insight:

I totally agree with the statement above.I found this article while researching my own response to this ridiculous statement. 

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How to fix a broken system | Teacher Tools and Tips | Scoop.it

re: The financial crisis

 

"The origins of the crisis lie in the revolutionary changes in the structure of the global economy and finance in the 1990s and early 2000s (these are the “shifts” of the book’s title). The macroeconomic shift was the emergence of a “savings glut” as countries from China to Germany saved more than they invested, pushing down real interest rates. Both at a global level and within the euro area financial innovation and freer capital mobility transformed these excess savings into huge cross-border capital flows, sending asset prices and credit soaring and, in the process, creating an inherently fragile financial system. Unfettered finance transformed the savings glut into a credit bubble. And in both cases the bursting of that bubble worsened the savings glut, as households, companies and governments in Europe slashed their spending.

"Mr Wolf argues that the post-crisis recovery has been feeble because too many policymakers failed to understand this dynamic. Rather than accepting that bigger fiscal deficits would be the natural counterweight to private thrift, politicians pushed for austerity. Far too little emphasis was put on restructuring unpayable debts. At the same time, the underlying causes of the savings glut have, if anything, become stronger as deeper factors such as rising inequality have kept overall spending weak. Larry Summers, a Harvard economist, has argued that the rich world faces “secular stagnation”. Mr Wolf also believes that weak demand is here to stay. So, too, is the fragility of finance. Despite “manic rule making” he argues that banks are still a powder keg, with insufficient capital, and are liable to wreak havoc when they blow up.

Sharrock's insight:

excerpt: "[Mr. Wolf's] more moderate suggestions include requiring banks to hold vastly more capital and the creation of insurance schemes that allow emerging economies, the most plausible engines of demand, to import capital safely and sustainably. But moderate change may not be enough. Pushing his analysis to its logical conclusion, he argues that the only way to deal with today’s underlying problems—a fragile financial system and a secular weakness in demand—may be to move away from bank-based credit altogether and rely on permanent budget deficits financed by central banks. Forcing banks to match their deposits with safe government bonds would reduce the risks of bank crashes and encourage a healthier reliance on equity finance. Permanent money-financed deficits would, in turn, provide a safer way to sustain spending than private-asset booms and busts. If done responsibly, they need not cause inflation."

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A broken system

A broken system | Teacher Tools and Tips | Scoop.it
Nicaragua’s police force is in danger of giving socialism a good name. The country is one of the poorest in the hemisphere. Yet its annual murder rate, 11 per 100,000 people, is among the lowest in Latin America and eight times lower than in neighbouring Honduras (see map).
Sharrock's insight:

This article should be explored as a contribution to the debate on Justice systems--criminal justice and the penal system. It might be seen as an argument against the politically conservative attitudes toward criminals. To develop a more sophisticated argument, narratives and case studies should be found and used. 

 

On the other hand, the same article presents cases that support aggressive approaches against crime, like Rio de Janeiro's "pacification policy", in addition to progressive approaches that include education and social programs.

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The history of British slave ownership has been buried: now its scale can be revealed

The history of British slave ownership has been buried: now its scale can be revealed | Teacher Tools and Tips | Scoop.it
A new BBC documentary tells how a trove of documents lays bare the names of Britain’s 46,000 slave owners, including relatives of Gladstone and Orwell
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The International Resilience Project: Findings from the Research and the Effectiveness of Interventions

The coalescing views entailed recognizing some traits and characteristics these resilient children had that were different from or not as frequently found in children who were not resilient. The traits were identified by different researchers and practitioners, but there was growing consensus on their identification. The International Resilience Project organized those traits into the following categories: External supports and resources, including trusting relationships; access to health, education, welfare and security services; emotional support outside the family; structure and rules at home; parental encouragement of autonomy; stable school environment; stable home environment; role models; and religious organizations (morality); Internal, personal strengths, including a sense of being lovable; autonomy; appealing temperament; achievement oriented; self-esteem; hope, faith, belief in God, morality, trust; empathy and altruism; and locus of control; Social, interpersonal skills, including creativity; persistence; humor; communication; problem solving; impulse control; seeking trusting relationships; social skills; and intellectual skills.
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The Color of Money

The Color of Money | Teacher Tools and Tips | Scoop.it
Bill Dedman received the Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting in 1989 for researching and writing these articles.

The first series, published May 1-4, 1988, disclosed that Atlanta's banks and savings and loan institutions, although they had made loans for years in even the poorest white neighborhoods of Atlanta, did not lend in middle-class or more affluent black neighborhoods. The focus moved to lenders across the nation with the January 1989 article, "Blacks turned down for home loans from S&Ls twice as often as whites."

As a result of the stories, the federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act was expanded to provide more information to the public on the pattern of activity by all mortgage lenders.
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Reading dystopias ‹ Reader — WordPress.com

Reading dystopias ‹ Reader — WordPress.com | Teacher Tools and Tips | Scoop.it

Utopia: an imagined society or state of things in which everything is perfect or close to perfect.

Dystopia: an imagined society or state of things in which things are very far from perfect to a frightening extent.

An introduction to the genre of dystopian fiction through reading a classic dystopian novel.

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The Best Damn Guide to Men’s T-Shirts on the Internet

The Best Damn Guide to Men’s T-Shirts on the Internet | Teacher Tools and Tips | Scoop.it

T-shirts get their name from the T-shape formed by their boxy body and attached sleeves. And such T-shaped garments go back centuries; originally made from wool or silk, these sets of underwear often covered the whole body, were designed to absorb perspiration, and served as a barrier between a man’s skin and the more expensive garments he wanted to protect from bodily grime.

Sharrock's insight:

Some articles can surprise you with their information and history research. The t-shirt (aka undershirt) has some interesting connections based on how they were used and worn. 

 

Technology teachers, as well as secondary school teachers of history, can develop an interesting discussion about technology around its intended uses and actual/practical uses. Discussions can plunge deeper by exploring historical context, for example, social customs and practices as they are influenced by GIs returning from the war fronts to live as civilians. Words, attitudes, social interactions, gender politics, and more are influenced by the returnees. 

 

 

 

 

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The world eats cheap bacon at the expense of North Carolina’s rural poor

Pork has always been important to North Carolina’s economy. It was among 16 commodities used as legal tender by colonists in the early 1700s, and for almost as long, farmers and their neighbors have been fighting over how the animals should be managed. Today, the industry accounts for close to $8 billion a year in revenue and 46,000 full-time jobs in production and processing, according to the North Carolina Pork Council, making the state the second largest pork producer in the US.


Accompanying all those swine is a lot of waste—hogs produce two-to-five times as much waste as humans. North Carolina does not release exactly how much manure is produced a year, and Smithfield declined to disclose how much its pigs produce, but estimates range between 15.5 million tons (pdf, p. 5) for the state’s top five pork producing counties to 2.53 billion gallons for the whole state. The nearly 2.3 million hogs raised in Duplin County generated twice as much waste as the entire city of New York (p.11) in 2007, the nonprofit Food and Water Watch estimates.

Sharrock's insight:

This article could lead to deeper understanding of systems and the idea that there is no such thing as a free (or cheap) lunch. There are almost always victims in our economy. Food production is no exception.

 

What does this say about the relationship between democracy and capitalism? What are some easy solutions to the problems in this article? What are some predictions of unintended consequences? 

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WATCH: The Science of Beer

WATCH: The Science of Beer | Teacher Tools and Tips | Scoop.it
The world's first beer brewers came from ancient Egypt and the southern Mesopotamian civilisation of Sumer in modern-day Iraq some 8,000 years ago. They invented the crisp, amber drink by mixing bread, germinated grain and water in ceramic jars,...
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tone vocabulary

tone vocabulary | Teacher Tools and Tips | Scoop.it
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How America Became Exceptional

How America Became Exceptional | Teacher Tools and Tips | Scoop.it
The truth is that America as an exceptional nation is not a birthright to gloat upon, but a legacy to be lived up to—and lately we’ve been failing miserably.
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