Understanding Randomness

On the Inquiring Minds podcast they talk about randomness with science writer William Poundstone, author of the new book Rock Breaks Scissors.

Poundstone explains why we’re so terrible at trying to come up with random sequences ourselves—and how understanding these pitfalls can actually help you predict, with accuracy above chance, what someone else is going to do even when he or she is trying, purposefully, to act randomly.

 

Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain

Daniel J. Levitin on the benefits of monotasking and daydreaming, for The New York Times

If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods. Your social networking should be done during a designated time, not as constant interruptions to your day.
Email, too, should be done at designated times. An email that you know is sitting there, unread, may sap attentional resources as your brain keeps thinking about it, distracting you from what you’re doing. What might be in it? Who’s it from? Is it good news or bad news? It’s better to leave your email program off than to hear that constant ping and know that you’re ignoring messages.

What Makes A Family Of Artists

Another fantastic blog post by Maria Konnikova, for The New Yorker, discussing the studies that explore whether creativity is hereditary or not: 

After a decade of research, [Baptiste] Barbot has discovered that, if we are to understand the hereditary and environmental nature of creativity, we need to think of creativity as a constellation of factors that come together in the right way, at the right moment—“maybe a bit of intelligence, some associative thinking, some divergent thinking, and then some personality traits, like the tendency to take risks, your motivation, and your specific interests.” he said. “These factors are partly genetically based, and, of course, partly environmental.”