From the category archives:


Putting Things Into Perspective

by Stephen Mills November 13, 2012

There are 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe. The universe itself existed for hundreds of millions of lifetimes before you were born.  Most of the mass of your body is made of stardust from stars that exploded billions of years ago. Your parents could have had a quadrillion different children instead of you based just on […]

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Should We Believe Experts?

by Stephen Mills April 9, 2012

The answer to that question is complicated and my answer is usually yes, but you have to be careful. We live in an age of explosive growth of knowledge. Much of it comes to us in the form of truth claims. Many of those claims are irrelevant to our lives, but some of them aren’t and some of them may are quite important. We all have busy lives and we can’t be experts at everything so in the end we have to rely upon the real experts, but we have to be very careful in how we do so.

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Uncertainty, Luck, and Talent

by Stephen Mills December 11, 2011

I submit the following points:

Most of the particular details of your situation came about by chance.
Most of your belief about your control of outcomes is simply an illusion of control.
People have different kinds and different amounts of natural talent
Despite all of the above, success is not just “dumb luck”. There is a reason why some people are successful and it has nothing to do with dumb luc

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Rethinking Positive Thinking

by Stephen Mills November 24, 2011

I now believe that much of the current propaganda about positive thinking is at minimum misguided and likely counter-productive for many people. It amounts to self-help snake oil. This represents a change in my own beliefs brought about by my own experience, my observations of others, and a lot of reading and thinking about it.

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The Triumph of the Trivial

by Stephen Mills October 8, 2011

The other day I went to a blog I regularly read and I was dumbfounded by the subject of the new article on display. It was something like “How To Read More”. I thought he has to be kidding right? But no, in all seriousness the article was about how to read more with 10 strategies to accomplishing this amazing feat. I’m not naming the blog because this celebration of the trivial is not unique to that blog. This celebration of the trivial is widespread and I’ve been guilty of similar things myself. I’m sure the author thinks he is writing something valuable. But what struck me was wondering how many of the hundreds of thousands of subscribers to that blog thought it valuable? Is anyone besides me thinking this is useless trivia? I doubt it, at least not many. Other than to actually pick up more reading material and turn more pages, I’m not sure exactly what it is I need to know.

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Viewing Life as Packaged Deals

by Stephen Mills September 17, 2011

Life is made up of a whole set of package deals. It’s the nature of a package deal that you have to accept or reject the whole package, you don’t get to cherry pick the parts you want and reject the others. The good usually comes packaged with some bad. It’s part of the nature of the world we live in.

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Critical Thinking Skills–A Skeptical Attitude

by Stephen Mills August 1, 2011

The ability to easily share information has led to rapidly advancing knowledge in many fields. At the same time the average person now has available what seems like an infinite amount of information at their fingertips. The ability to discover and take advantage of all this information may be the key to thriving in 21st century.

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The Modern Decline in Independent Thinking

by Stephen Mills March 12, 2011

The Internet was supposed to expose us to many new viewpoints, broaden our horizons, generate new ideas, and so on. To some degree it has but there is a very serious hidden danger in the fact that we are always connected to others. It’s not just that we are connected to others, it’s who and how we are connecting. We participate in groups through the Internet or other media technologies to a degree unimaginable just a couple of decades ago. So even though the impact of groups on individual thinking has always existed, its impact is much greater today. We are losing our ability and opportunity to think independently and in my view this has serious consequences.

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Balancing Short-Term and Long-Term Thinking– Part II–Your Health

by Stephen Mills February 16, 2011

If you haven’t read  Part I please do so before reading Part II. I’m going to use health as an example to illustrate some principles I think are important in balancing short and long term thinking.  With slight changes these same principles can be applied to almost anything. I really didn’t even begin to cover […]

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Balancing Short-Term and Long-Term Thinking–Part I

by Stephen Mills February 13, 2011

Should you save your money for retirement or spend it now? Should you enjoy those sugary deserts today or should you forgo them so you will be healthier in your old age? Should you work in a secure high-paying job you don’t like or be a starving artist at something you love? These kinds of questions have no simple answer; they are different for everyone. But even beyond that I submit it is next to impossible to even know the best answers for yourself. The reason is that the time spans involved are simply too long, life is too unpredictable, and the the world is changing at a rapidly accelerating pace.

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