13 Ways Some Companies Make Money While Causing Harm

I've often heard it said that if people buy the product a company or startup is selling, then the company must be creating value in the world. After all, why would someone buy a product if that product were not creating value? It would be really nice if this were a valid argument (since then more units sold = more societal benefit). Unfortunately, it's not valid. To help put the above flawed argument to rest, here's a list of 13 situations where a product that doesn't add net value to the world...
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Design for Non-designers – 39 Principles for Designing Effective Interfaces

I’m not a designer or UI/UX person by trade, but I have to think a lot about interfaces and design in my work. Here are the 39 things I’ve learned over the years (including illustrative examples) about how to create nice looking interfaces and an effective user experience. (In my own designs I still have plenty of room for improvement along many of these dimensions.) Keep in mind that even if you don't do design FOR your work, you may still need to do design IN your work, whether you're making ...
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The Theories of Change List: Causes of Behavior Quickly Shifting in a Positive Direction

Mostly people stay the way they are, or change slowly. So what are the reasons that individual human behavior sometimes quickly shifts in a positive direction? Here's my current "theory of change" list. It seems to me that developing a better understanding of behavior change is incredibly important for creating a better world. Some of these categories are, of course, overlapping. OPERANT CONDITIONING Rapid small rewards: your friends respond very positively when you crack jokes, so you end up ...
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Psychological Immune Systems – the List

A really important difference I've noticed between people is how their "psychological immune systems" work. In other words: people differ substantially in the collection of strategies that their brains use when bad things happen to prevent themselves from becoming too unhappy or too dysfunctional for too long. This seems like an important part of understanding why some people are happier than others, even in the face of difficult challenges. Here is my list of the different psychological immune...
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A Formula for Happiness

What does the formula for happiness look like? Here's my attempt at it: happiness =    social-acceptance + self-acceptance + meaning + hope + pleasure + efficacy + resilience + optimism - physical-wants - pain - anxiety - loss   Positives social-acceptance = human interaction with the sort of people you want to interact with in the form of warm and trusting relationships, and the gut level feeling that this group accepts you and likes you and respects you Interventions: exposure ther...
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The Maximally Cynical Glossary of Technology Terms

My attempt to write the most cynical glossary I could manage to help you understand and feel terrible about the latest key technology concepts and terms. REALLY not to be taken seriously, obviously this is mostly satire.  :) A Android phones: the closest a company can get to making an iPhone while risking at most a dozen lawsuits (see entry on "iPhones") Artificial Intelligence: the best name for Machine Learning if you're trying to make it sound cool to people that don't know much about it ...
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Better Formats For Group Interaction – Beyond Lectures, Group Discussions, Panels and Mixers

Nearly all large events use a combination of only these four simple formats for human interaction: lectures, group discussions, panels, and mixers. Yet there are more than 40 structured ways that groups of people who don't know each other can come together to interact, bond, learn, and help each other (see my full list at the bottom of this article, or click here for a spreadsheet version). Unfortunately, each of the four standard group interaction templates has significant flaws: Lecture ...
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What Seemed Like Perfect Reasoning Utterly Failed

Does warm water sometimes freeze faster than cold water when placed in the same conditions? "Absolutely no way," I said, a mere minute after I heard the claim. "People sometimes claim that NASA faked the moon landing too," I thought to myself. I pointed out why this claim is impossible. As warm water cools it must eventually reach the same temperature that the cool water started at. From that point on, the warm water will behave just like the cool water, but it will have taken the warm water a ...
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Convincing Your Future Self

You have control over yourself for the next eight seconds. Maybe even the next three minutes. Right now you can choose to go to the gym right now. Right now you can choose to start something difficult (but valuable) that you've been putting off for a long time. But right now you can't choose to go to the gym tomorrow. You definitely can't choose to quit your job a year from now. Because tomorrow if you don't feel like it, you're not going to go to the gym, regardless of what the you of today dec...
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What is the REAL effect of circumcising men?

Those who grow up in the U.S. are often surprised to find out that in many European countries almost no men are circumcised. In the U.S., where the majority of men have had the procedure performed on them, it is pretty common to hear people say that foreskin is unclean, ugly, or even unhealthy. On the other hand, Europeans tend to find the idea of circumcision bizarre. "Why would you cut off a healthy part of your body?", they wonder. And "How would you feel about a culture that cut off their ch...
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