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Watch | Why ‘follow your passion’ is bad careers advice

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Author Cal Newport  professor of computer science at Georgetown University explains why he thinks the American (and arguably Western) idea that following your passion will bring you happiness and success in your career is a bad piece of advice. He argues we have no pre-existing passion. Instead, passion is found by first building a rare and valuable talent and using it to take control of your career path. In other words, be so good and work so hard that no one can ignore you.

It kind of aligns with the writer Neil Gaiman’s 3 secrets to success. It’s with reference to being a freelancer but can apply to all areas I think:

You get work however you get work, but people keep working in a freelance world (and more and more of today’s world is freelance), because their work is good, because they are easy to get along with and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three! Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. People will forgive the lateness of your work if it is good and they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as everyone else if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

Read | Neuromyths

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We’ve all come across popular misconceptions concerning psychology and how the mind works. You’ll know doubt recognise some of the big ones:

Myth #1: We Only Use 10% of our Brains
Myth #2: It’s Better to Express Anger Than to Hold it in
Myth #3: Low Self-Esteem is a Major Cause of Psychological Problems
Myth #4: Human Memory Works like a Video Camera
Myth #5: Hypnosis is a Unique “Trance” State Differing
in Kind from Wakefulness
Myth #6: The Polygraph Test is an Accurate Means of Detecting Lies
Myth #7: Opposites Attract
Myth #8: People with Schizophrenia Have Multiple Personalities
Myth #9: Full Moons Cause Crimes and Craziness
Myth #10: A Large Proportion of Criminals Successfully use the Insanity Defense

This article from explains why each of the myths above is false and uses peer reviewed scientific research to explain how.

On a related note there a number of myths about learning which are affecting how children are being taught. For example 93% of of UK teachers in a sampled in a survey  thought that “Individuals learn better when they receive information in their preferred learning style (e.g., auditory, visual, kinesthetic),” This view has no scientific basis and has been proved to be false.

This article from Sense about Science explains how Brain Gym, Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences have been disproven. Be sure to follow the links to the various research papers. Papers such as this one ‘Neuromyths in Education: Prevalence and Predictors of Misconceptions among Teachers’

Helpfully The Wellcome Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation have got to together to launch a £6million fund for research on the use of neuroscience in the classroom.


Read | How Wonder Works

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One emotion inspired our greatest achievements in science, art and religion. We can manipulate it – but why do we have it?

Read | We Aren’t the World

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Joe Henrich and his colleagues are shaking the foundations of psychology and economics—and hoping to change the way social scientists think about human behavior and culture.

The research this article discusses has significant implications or rather, should have. The article explains why people from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic countries are the most unusual in the world and why researchers have been doing the equivalent of studying penguins while believing that they were learning insights applicable to all birds.

Humans share the same cognitive machinery, the same evolved rational and psychological hardwiring. These are fundamental assumptions upon which the entire fields of psychology and economics are based.

It has taken until very recently to realise these assumptions are wrong.

Consider this, a 2008 survey of the top six psychology journals found that more than 96% of subjects used in psychological studies from 2003 to 2007 were exclusively Westerners – 70% from the USA. This means that 96% of human test subjects came from countries that represent only 12% of the world’s population. I’m sure you’re able to figure out that making generalisations on human behaviour based on this is problematic.




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