Category Archives: Psychology

Born Vegetarian? The Evolutionary Psychology Behind Not Eating Meat

I’ve been a vegetarian my entire life. No one in my family or anyone I knew was vegetarian; it was something I came to on my own. When I was a child, people would often ask me why I didn’t eat meat, as if there was some moment or reason that precipitated it, but I never had an answer. Today I can name a whole host of reasons to be a vegetarian—ethical, health-related, and environmental—but I wasn’t aware of those benefits of vegetarianism when I was four years old. Yet as far back as I can remember, I’ve had an instinctual disgust toward meat. It was as though I was born a vegetarian. But is that possible? Are certain people natural vegetarians?

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Why Are so Many Creative People Anxious and/or Depressed?

Introducing Kafka by R. Crumb

Consciousness, or what makes humans human, is inherently tied to imagination. Imagination allows you to predict possible futures before they happen—be it what a predator such as a tiger will do (harm you), what a rock could turn into (a tool), or what a seed could become if you plant it (food). That type of future-thinking birthed agriculture and civilization, and it all stemmed from imagination—imagining what not yet is but could be. No other species can do that (that we know of).

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The Big Five and INTP

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A couple of years ago I wrote about how I was an INFJ according to the Meyers-Briggs personality type indicator, but it turns out I might actually be an INTP. Back then I took several MBTI tests and got INFJ more times than not (though there was some variation). Now when I take the test, more times than not, I am an INTP (though again there is some variation, sometimes getting INTJ). The more I read about INTPs, the more that type seems to fit me. One thing is clear, however: every time I take the test, then and now, I am always firmly IN (Introverted and iNtuitive), it’s only the last two letters (thinking/feeling and perceiving/judging) that vary. Continue reading

Solitude Inspires Creativity

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Solitude makes people more creative. When isolated from other humans, you become extremely bored. (This includes both in-person interaction and indirect forms of human communication, such as via the internet, watching television, or reading books.) When completely deprived of interaction with other people, you become so craved for some kind of stimulation that you’re forced to fill that need yourself—in your imagination. You create fictional characters and stories in your head to fulfill your innate need for stimulation and social interaction. Continue reading

Best Nonfiction Books I Read in 2019

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1. The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence by Ray Kurzweil (1998)

Kurzweil is an inventor and futurist famous for his optimistic predictions for technology in the future, particularly the idea of the singularity—when humans will be able to upload their minds to computers and potentially live forever—which he predicts will happen by the year 2045. Kurzweil has his doubters, but it’s hard to dismiss his track record of predictions when you look at how many have already come true in this book written over thirty years ago. Continue reading

The Purpose of Stories

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One night when I was in college, a group of friends were thinking about going to a movie, and someone said, “No, I don’t want to go to a movie where you have to think.” It bothered me that someone could ever feel that way. I thought those were the best types of movies. What’s the point of watching a movie if it doesn’t make you think?

I was reminiscing about that night from college recently while contemplating the purpose of stories. They’ve been around for the entirety of human history. Storytelling is what makes humans human; it’s what separates us from other species. No other animal can tell stories to each other and pass on wisdom and knowledge through language. Continue reading

Why People Love Post-Apocalyptic Stories

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Whether it’s zombie outbreaks, nuclear wastelands, or climate change, people love post-apocalyptic stories. Examples include books like The Road and A Canticle for Leibowitz, TV shows like The Walking Dead and Jericho, video games like Fallout and The Last of Us, comics like Y: The Last Man, and movies like Mad Max, I am Legend, World War ZBook of Eli, and The Postman. The causes and effects differ, but what these stories share is the setting of a world after civilization has fallen, with people living in brutal conditions where everyday survival is a struggle. The themes are dark and dour, yet these stories are extremely popular. The question is: why are people so drawn to post-apocalyptic stories? Continue reading

Recommendation Algorithms Rule Your Life

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Cultural critics used to be essential curators of music, movies, books, and art. When there were only a couple of newspapers or radio stations or TV stations, the select few professional critics had enormous power in telling the public which art they should pay attention to. Then came the internet and everything changed. With blogs, message boards, and podcasts, anybody could become a critic. Both the creation and critique of art became more democratic. Traditional critics became less important. People preferred to take recommendations from like-minded people in their specific cultural niche. This gave real cultural power to bloggers and amateur critics on the internet who developed a following. Continue reading

Overthinking is NOT the Problem

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The term “overthinking” seems to have been stigmatized by society as a bad thing. Why is that? To think is to be human. Thinking is literally consciousness, or self-awareness, the most cherished of human traits. Some people think less and are less self-aware than others; therefore, they are less conscious. They are more animalistic and act on gut and instincts rather than thinking of the consequences to their actions. That’s certainly not good. Prisons are full of people like this. Continue reading