Weekly Pulse by William Meller | Week 19, 2023

The Weekly Pulse is my content curation and my highlights from readings, books, podcasts, insights, and everything I discovered during the week.
The Weekly Pulse is my content curation and my highlights from readings, books, podcasts, insights, and everything I discovered during the week.

So, let’s go with some discoveries from the week!

#1 – Why We Buy Things We Don’t Need
#2 – When Does Intelligence Peak?
#3 – Some Reflections on Being Off Social Media


Why We Buy Things We Don’t Need

Source: Time
Author: Alana Semuels

Summary: Compulsive shopping could be an evolutionary problem. We are, after all, evolved from blobs that survived because their networks of cells learned to repeat decisions like moving towards a tasty treat or backing away from a predator. Today, we have some 86 billion neurons, the “action cells” in the brain, that are constantly creating circuits to reinforce rewarding behavior, releasing dopamine as they do so, in order to help us learn how to get a reward. We seek out those releases of dopamine, and at the same time, learn to repeat the actions that lead to them.

3 Highlights:

“… The best way to alter the overconsumption habits that have gotten us here is not to stop buying things completely…”

“… All things being equal, we are predisposed to try to acquire more and more stuff and to try and work less to get it…”

“… That’s why Duhaime stresses that our brains are not “hard-wired” to keep consuming more and more…”

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When Does Intelligence Peak?

Source: Scientific American
Author: Scott Barry Kaufman

Summary: When does cognitive functioning peak? As we get older, we certainly feel as though our intelligence is rapidly declining. (Well, at least I do!) However, the nitty gritty research on the topic suggests some really interesting nuance. As a recent paper notes, “Not only is there no age at which humans are performing at peak on all cognitive tasks, there may not be an age at which humans perform at peak on most cognitive tasks.”

3 Highlights:

“… In the intelligence field, there is a distinction between “fluid” intelligence (indexed by tests of abstract reasoning and pattern detection) and “crystallized” intelligence (indexed by measures of vocabulary and general knowledge). But domain-specific expertise—the dark matter of intelligence—is not identical to either fluid or crystallized intelligence. Most IQ tests, which were only ever designed for testing schoolchildren, don’t include the rich depth of knowledge we acquire only after extensive immersion in a field…”

“… They found that after adjusting for covariates, purpose in life acted as a protective factor against cognitive decline. The researchers argue that purpose in life could be used as a treatment technique for cognitive decline in clinical settings…”

“… The good news for older adults is that not only can we continue to acquire domain-specific knowledge into older age, but purpose in life is also modifiable. It seems that the question “When does intelligence peak?” is actually a rather meaningless question…”

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Some Reflections on Being Off Social Media

Source: Scott Young Site
Author: Scott Young

Summary: You’ve probably signed up for a lot of online services that you no longer use. Most of those accounts probably still exist, and they likely contain a mix of your personal data, identity details, and credit card numbers. Don’t leave juicy targets lying around for attackers.

3 Highlights:

“… Instead, I feel like my internet usage now is much closer to how it was when I began blogging—curated information sources rather than algorithmic feeds…”

“… I think the anxiety-lowering effects of going off Twitter are more significant than the time savings. While I enjoyed the intellectual discussions, the overall hostility definitely made me more anxious…”

“… Why is Twitter smart and nasty, but Reddit is dull and fun? The choice to follow people rather than topics seems pivotal here…”

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